Friday, May 30, 2014

The Art Of Making A Book Boyfriend - Blog Tour Post

Today, Paula tells us all about crafting that perfect book boyfriend. Micah totally deserves to be on some end of the year swoon worthy book boys lists, and here is how Paula created him!

Deconstructing Micah

Kathy asked me to talk a little bit about how I crafted the my perfectly delicious book boyfriend, and of course I never miss an opportunity to blather on about Micah. He is so awesome he has his own book boyfriend post over at Reading Lark! Here are a few reasons I think he works so well as the swoony guy in THE ART OF LAINEY.

1. He’s awesome. Micah possesses the four most important traits a guy can have— kindness, honesty, a sense of humor, and a mohawk. Okay, maybe the mohawk is optional. Maybe. Bonus factor: he can bake.

2. He’s not too awesome. I love a guy with magical powers who speaks six languages and owns a mansion as much as the next girl, I’ve just never met one. I worked hard to make Micah feel like a real teen boy, with real teen boy habits and flaws. He tapes sheets over his windows, skips the occasional shower, and says inappropriate things without thinking. He snaps at his mom, acts out when he’s upset, he even smokes! (He’s totally trying to quit, though.) And like most guys, he’s not good at expressing his feelings. It’s easier for him to give Lainey a cookie at work or pretend a kiss is part of a game than it is to just tell her that he likes her. Basically, I wanted Micah to be an awesome guy, but still feel attainable. You, reader-person. You can absolutely have your own Micah. You deserve your own Micah. 

3. He’s a little bit real. So yeah, unfortunately Micah doesn’t exist. Most of him is completely made up, but tiny parts of him were inspired by four different guys I dated or used to know. A coffee shop barista shared the story behind his Roky Erickson pyramid tattoo with me. The mohawk was (is? I hope is, but I can’t say for sure) sported by one of the funniest guys I ever knew. Micah’s sweet side comes partially from the Perfect Ex-Boyfriend who shall remain nameless. And then there’s the Musical Genius, who taught me so much about music. It can be scary to use real-life people as inspirations, but I also think it can add a layer of authenticity. Fun fact: When Lainey’s mom talks about seeing a guy in a movie cutting up six-pack rings to save baby animals? Yeah, I saw the barista doing that one day and was instantly charmed.

4. He grows. A lot of readers have come down hard on Lainey for being judgmental in the beginning of the story, and I understand why. But Micah is just as judgmental (as you’ll see in the novella INFINITE REPEAT if you didn’t see it in Lainey) when it comes to Lainey and her “popular friends.” She thinks he’s weird. He thinks she’s made of plastic. I’ve actually experienced the whole book from Micah’s POV, too, and he’s just as freaked out by the idea of dating someone so radically different as she is. He goes through really similar questions—Is it just a physical attraction thing? Would we get along if we dated for real? Am I just rushing into something new?—and comes to the same conclusion as Lainey does: he no longer wants what makes sense for him, what he’s sure he can make work. He wants what he wants, even if it feels a little crazy to him.I’ve seen a lot of readers use the L-word to describe these two, and that makes me kind of happy because Micah and Lainey do not say “I love you,” and will not, for several months. They’re just more guarded than that. Yet when I finished the book, it felt like the beginning of love to me. Seeing so many people agree makes me feel like I did a good job showing instead of telling.

If you’re interested in getting to know Micah even better, definitely check out his e-novella, INFINITE REPEAT. It features Micah, Amber, and Trinity most prominently, with just a few dashes of Lainey for comedic relief.

Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she's not writing, she's kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online at or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Here are a few places to purchase The Art of Lainey

Amazon US:
Amazon Canada:
B and N:
Chapters Indigo:
The Book Depository:
Or order a signed copy from Paula's favourite indie, Left Bank Books. More info here:

Here is a rafflecopter for you to win a copy of The Art of Lainey! It's open internationally as well. Other giveaways are included with other posts on the blog tour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Release Date - May 20, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?
Authors who have the ability to write in multiple genres always impress me. Paula Stokes proves that she can move easily from historical mystery to contemporary with the delightful The Art of Lainey. It's a novel that is fun, humourous, and filled with heart.

Lainey is a complex character. She's not someone I would be friends with when we first meet her. She's judgmental, and a little selfish. I, sadly, predict many will find her 'unlikeable'. Lainey, for all her faults, is something more than that though. She's a character that you understand. Her motivations, her intentions, and even WHO she is (even at the beginning) are not only recognizable, but all too real. We know people like Lainey. Perhaps have even been friends with people like Lainey. Paula Stokes uses her flaws to allow for a stunning transformation that happens slowly, and realistically.

Plenty of gushing will be had of the romance, and more specifically Micah. All of it totally deserved but, in my opinion, the bright spot of the novel is Lainey herself. Her character growth and transformation is the heart of the story. It's what makes you want the romance. It is what makes you want to keep reading. She changes, and it's a joy to read. Her progression and eventual self awareness are what, in my opinion, make this story.

The secondary characters provide the necessary plot progression but there is one worth noting. Bianca, Lainey's best friend. This friendship is one of the best I've come across in a really long time. Bianca's unwavering support, and gentle nature contrast with Lainey. Through Bianca we get to see Lainey's growth all the more clearly. The ups and downs of the friendship only serve to strengthen the bond that these two young women have. I wish more novels would showcase friendships like this. Ones free of the typical cliche ridden drama so often found plaguing them. While they do sometimes hurt each other, there is no willful maliciousness. The message of finding who is truly important, and not taking them for granted is speckled throughout the novel, and it's even woven into this friendship. With all that said, Bianca is basically one of the best 'side kick best friends' I've had the pleasure to read about.

Micah, and the romance itself, are both very adorable and swoon worthy (as previously mentioned). Love should let you grow, and introduce you to new things. It shouldn't define you, but rather help you see new things about yourself that you never knew were there. Micah and Lainey both challenge each other to go outside their comfort zone. They broaden each other's experiences, and help them find out who they truly are. Lainey's someone that has always defined herself through her friendships and relationships. Micah helps her see that there is someone she'd been ignoring along the way - herself.

The Art of Lainey won me over with it's charm, heart, and it's sweet, almost John Hughes like nostalgia. It's a read that left me smiling and giddy. It's a perfect read when you need cheering up, and I recommend it for anyone who loves cute contemporaries with a little more character development.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tudor Thursdays Blog Stop

Today I am hosting Katherine Longshore as part of the Tudor Thursdays blog tour that I am hosting. I've got the next location of Katherine's tour of some of her favourite historical sites, and a romantic BRAZEN teaser (complete with kissing!).

Without further ado I turn this over to Katherine......

Trafalgar Square

The name of this particular historic site refers to an event (the Battle of Trafalgar, where Admiral Nelson defeated the French) that occurred 250 years after Henry VIII’s death, so how can it possibly be one of my favorite places?  Well, the easy answer is that I’m interested in more than Tudor history, but it’s really more complex than that.

The area has a long history (the site originally housed the king’s horses and hawks), but I love this area for three reasons:  the National Gallery (and National Portrait Gallery, where you can see original paintings of Henry, Anne Boleyn, and many other prime Tudor players), the VE (Victory in Europe) celebrations on May 8, 1945 (wonderfully imagined by Connie Willis in All Clear) and the four lions that surround Nelson’s column.  The lions are a part of my own personal history, as my family and I take a picture on one of them every time we visit London.

Katherine at Trafalgar Square. Copyright @Katherine Longshore

Of course, Trafalgar Square doesn’t feature at all in BRAZEN, so for this post, I’m just going to share with you one of my favorite scenes:

“You want to know what love feels like?” Fitz asks, and his voice is now low and sweet, twining darkness and sugar.

I can’t answer out loud, so I just nod.

“It feels like when you’re separated, you can’t think of anyone else.”

I keep my eyes on the space between us. But I think of how Fitz—and seeing him again—remained in the forefront of my mind throughout the entire spring.

“It feels like you’re a child again. And every new day is a discovery.”

He leans forward. I see the jeweled buttons of his doublet, the gold braid at the hem of his jacket. I think of the kingfisher. The sunrise. The taste of his skin.

“It feels warm.”

He puts his hands on my shoulders, and strokes them down to my wrists. The heat that follows his touch feels like it could never be extinguished.

“It feels”—he lowers his forehead onto mine—“right.”

I tilt my face upward just a little, our foreheads still touching.

“How do you know?” I ask, my lips so close to brushing his.

His answer is a kiss.

This kiss is like the dawn. Slow and graceful and gilded. It is right and warm and a childlike discovery, and it answers all of my questions and erases all of my doubts.

*Swoon* I am thrilled that I got to unveil a kissing teaser! They are my favourites.

I want to thank Katherine for the teasers, and the tour through some of her favourite historical sites. More will be revealed at the next stop of the tour. In the meantime you probably want to get your hands on a copy of BRAZEN. We have two contests below. One is USA/Canada and one is International. Be sure to enter the correct Rafflecopter. Winners will be emailed after the completion of the tour/contest.

USA/Canada Giveaway  a Rafflecopter giveaway International Giveaway  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Siren's Song Excerpt Reveal

Today, as part of a blog tour, I am unveiling an excerpt of Siren's Song. I am happy to report that it's a spicy excerpt too (which are obviously my favourite).
Luke stands next to me, and I swear I hear him inhale again. Tendrils of excitement take root in the simple brush of his arm against my hair. My heart pounds and my stomach back-flips. To hell with apathy! I spin toward him and barely control my gasp at his closeness. I lean back slightly so I can focus on his face. Time to take the offensive.

“So what? You were interested,” I throw up little quotation marks with my fingers, “the other night. But now you’re ignoring me?”

“It’s complicated.” He stares into my eyes as if willing me to just take his word for it.

I nod and repeat. “It’s complicated.” I frown. “Life’s complicated, or hadn’t you heard?”

He almost smiles. “I’ve heard that, actually.”

“So what’s so complicated that you’re not interested anymore?” Ah, the big question. I should get points for kick-ass bravery.

He shakes his head, sending the thick, perfectly casual mane swinging around his strong jawline. His dark, blue-black eyes catch mine again with an intense, hooded look. “Interested?” A low chuckle comes out more like a growl and I feel a prickle spider-walk along my shoulders. “More like obsessed.”
Siren's Song by Heather McCollum is already available, and can be found on Goodreads. Heather is on Twitter, and you can learn more by visiting her website, or the Spencer Hill Press Website.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Expo America

Book Expo America (or book heaven to anyone who loves books) is THIS week. In fact it starts tomorrow. I hope to run into a bunch of you there, so I thought I would post a "Where You'll Find Me" type post.

Javits Center (AKA BEA itself)

What are some of the places you'll find me during BEA itself?

- BEA Bloggers Conference - I'll be going this year! Excited to see everyone who will also be attending this event.

- Morgan Matson's line. I love Since You've Been Gone and can't wait to fangirl about it in person with Morgan.

- RL Stine's signing on Saturday - My niece Kenadie is a huge Goosebumps fan now. I'll totally be the coolest Auntie ever when I come back with a signed book for her.

- Heather Demetrios's signing for Exquisite Captive. Heck yes! I can't wait to read this one.

-Rebecca Serle's signing line. I need Famous In Love. NEED. It sounds adorable, and fun, and perfect for anyone who loves Hollywood and CW shows.

There are plenty more places you'll see me. Chelsey Philpot's line is another place. I'll also be grabbing a few moments to relax here and there down in the food court area (at least that is the plan).


Part of what I am most looking forward to though is the outside BEA stuff in New York. So where else will you find me?

Heathers, The Musical - Kelly (from Kellyvision) and I have tickets to the Friday May 30th showing of this. I am really excited to be going, especially as I've heard many of the iconic lines are featured in the musical in some way.

Shake Shack - At some point I am going to need to grab lunch or dinner here. I tried it for the first time last time I was at BEA, and I have basically been dreaming about having it again ever since.

The Strand

Pretty sure all the bloggers I am staying with will be making the trek to The Strand at some point during our stay. I've never been (shocking right?!) but I hear it's an amazing bookstore! Plus, Dash and Lily's Book Of Dares uses this as an important backdrop to the story, so extra bookish bonus points.

Most Anticipated Books

Someone asked me for a list of my most anticipated finds at BEA, so I am going to include that here as well.

- Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
- Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
- Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
- Anatomy of  a Misfit by Andrea Portes
- Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
- Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Plus many, many more. My list is pretty Harper Collins heavy, but they have an incredible Fall catalog this year!

If you see me around don't be afraid to say Hi. I am shy, but love to meet new people. Especially if it means talking books. Are you headed to BEA? Let me know where I might see you!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Favourite Books Since I've Started Blogging

I was recently asked about my favourite books. The books I would make everyone read if given the chance. The books that stayed with me years after I've finished reading them (or will stay with me).

Since I am out of town, I figured this would be a perfect chance to create a list of those titles (at least so far). I am keeping it to ones that I have reviewed on the blog. They'll all link to my review if you wish to check them out.

1 Stolen by Lucy Christopher

My first review, and I still love this one more than words can express. It's literally become a joke with the ladies of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book Club because I mention it so often during our chats. Incredibly written, emotionally draining, and it's a book that plays with your head. In the most beautiful way possible, of course. This one is making it's way to the big screen with Ryan Kwanten as Ty.

2 Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Jodi Lynn Anderson's beautiful writing reduced me to tears as Tiger Lily ended. This retelling of Peter Pan not only feels fresh and different, but is one of my favourite adaptations of all time. An unforgettable story about the girl with the crow feather in her hair, and the lost boy she fell in love with. It gets bonus points for being narrated by everyone's favourite pixie.

3 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

One of the best twists, EVER. I didn't see it coming, and (for me) it was brilliantly executed. Gillian Flynn's sharp, smart writing combined with a wrenching story of a couple falling in, and out of love serves to add a depth to this anything but typical mystery.

4 Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

Pretty sure Katherine's next book Brazen will be added to the list (I am halfway through and it's beautiful) but it's her portrayal of Anne Boleyn that stunned me. A novel that focuses on Anne's life, rather than her death. It shows that everyone deserves, and should fight for, their voice to be heard. A surprisingly uplifting and hopeful message that adds a bitter-sweetness to Anne's fate.

5 Vicious by V.E. Schwab

A deliciously dark look at what it means to be a hero, and villain. Unforgettable characters combined with Victoria's brilliant writing, and a rich, complex plot to create what is basically a perfect book. I ache to go back to this world and these characters. This one surprised me in the best way possible, and made me a Victoria Schwab fan for life. Apparently this one is also on it's way to the big screen. #DaneDehaanForVictorVale

6 Anna and the French Kiss/Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Cute and fluffy is what most people probably think when they read the titles for these books. WRONG. They are adorable, but they are also filled with humour, heart, and a realness that seeps from the pages. The characters are so completely developed they feel like friends, and it quickly became one that I want to read over and over again. Both of them. There are plenty of swoon worthy passages throughout the novel. The stand out in both is Stephanie's attention to the little details that go into a romance. The inside jokes, the little gestures, and the moments that make everything stop. She captures that falling in love moment effortlessly.

7 Just One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman

A duology that when combined tell the romantic, and engrossing story of two people's journey to each other. Often romance is about the couple, but Gayle shines a light on the two individuals inside that couple. We get to know them each so well, and this is a case where each novel is dependent on the other. Allyson's story isn't complete without Willem's and vice versa. It's the kind of novel that inspires wanderlust, and might just inspire you to take a few chances.

8 We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The less I say about this one the better. E Lockhart's gorgeous writing will pull you into the dreamy, summer vibe, but the mystery will keep you burning through the pages. Read it. Lie about it. Just make sure you experience it unspoiled as it's one that is meant to be experienced along with the characters.

9 Love Letters To the Dead by Ava Dellaira

A novel that is both heartbreaking and healing. It's letter style narration was done impressively well, and the emotions and character development impressive for this style as well. Ava's work reads gut-wrenchingly real that it feels like you're reading someone's personal letters at times, rather than a work of fiction. The celebrity angle works for the character and the story in a charming way. They become characters themselves. This was another surprise for me, but I was happy to fall under it's spell.

10 Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

I hugged this book when I was done. It's that adorable, and fun. It's one of those books that makes you feel good. The journey you take with the characters comes complete with a musical playlist which only adds to it's charm. The characters, the writing, and the depth this novel has is wonderful. It's one to pick up this summer and enjoy by the beach.

This is my no means a full listing, but these are the books I would want to make everyone read if I could.

What books make your EVERYONE MUST READ list?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

Very quiet mailbox this week (which is awesome with BEA just around the corner) so there's only one book to share this week.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand (goodreads)

I am very excited to read this. It's going to be amazing! I may have squealed when I got approved for this! Thank you Simon and Schuster.

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Not much this week, mainly because one this is overshadowing EVERYTHING else. It's Book Expo America time!


Penny Dreadful

I am enjoying Penny Dreadful quite a bit. Love what they've done with the Frankenstein story, and the inclusion of Dorian Gray this past week was a particular favourite. How hot is he?! If you like creepy, mythology based shows check it out!


Book Expo America

It's next week, everyone. NEXT WEEK! I leave for New York City Monday night. That's right... THIS MONDAY. *queue all the panic and running around to get everything done*. This time of year always makes me think of how fortunate I am to be doing this. I get to go to an event that is filled with bookish fun, bookish people, and come back with some pretty awesome books to read. Forever grateful.

With that the blog is going to be a little different while I am gone. Here is what that week looks like

Monday May 26 - A post highlighting some of my fave books since I've started blogging
Tuesday May 27 - Where To Find Me At BEA (and NYC itself)
Wednesday May 28 - A teaser for Siren's Song by Heather McCollum
Thursday May 29 - My Tudor Thursdays Blog Stop
Friday May 30 - My blog stop for The Art of Lainey Canadian Blog Tour

Saturday and Sunday will have no posts for that week. I'll be back on Monday though with a review and following that will be my BEA recap posts!

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Follow Friday

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is:

Have you ever convinced someone to read a book, a series, or a whole genre? What book(s) and who was it? Did they like it?

I push books on people all the time. I've gotten my friend Josh at work addicted to Cassandra Clare. I've made people read Stolen by Lucy Christopher just to name a few. If I love a book I've at the very least have given it to my sister to read. Sometimes they love them just as much as I do (and sometimes they don't) but I love chatting with them after they've read them.

Happy Weekend!

Wicked Games by Sean Olin

Wicked Games by Sean Olin
Release Date - June 10, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 1.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Wicked Games is the first book in a sexy thriller series where passion, lies, and revenge collide-perfect for fans of Simone Elkeles and Sara Shepard.

To all the locals in the small beach town of Dream Point, Carter and Lilah seem like the perfect It Couple-but their relationship is about to brutally unravel before everyone's eyes.

Carter has always been a good guy, and while Lilah has a troubled past, she's been a loyal girlfriend for the last four years. When smart, sexy Jules enters the picture at a senior-year bash, Carter succumbs to temptation. And when Lilah catches wind of his betrayal, she decides that Jules needs to pay.

By the end of the summer, the line between right and wrong will be blurred beyond recognition. Blood will be shed. Nothing in Dream Point will ever be the same.

This juicy summer read will keep readers turning pages until the shocking, nail-biting finale.
Wicked Games is part Fatal Attraction, and part Gossip Girl. I was expecting a sexy, debauchery filled thriller that was a little on the sudsy side. While some of this is true, it ended up not quite connecting with me the way I wanted it to.

It's rare for me to be indifferent about characters. I tend to have strong feelings either way. In this case, I think indifferent is the perfect word. I didn't feel anything for them, because I never got to know them. They remained surface characters with little being revealed as to their motivation or personality. As a character driven reader, I need to click with them in some way in order to immerse myself into the story. I don't have to like them, but I do have to understand them, and that just didn't happen for me with this one. The romances also suffered because of this. Other than a basic outgrowing of his relationship with Lilah, and it's obvious troubles, I am not sure what attracted Carter to Jules. It seemed to be purely because she was 'different' from Lilah. Carter wasn't happy in the relationship, and that's shown quite clearly, and is explored to some degree. It's the why behind his his feelings for Jules, however, that is not. I didn't get a sense of what drew them to each other in particular. This all comes back to the characters, and making them multifaceted, and engaging. If I care about them, I'll care about the romance.

The idea, and the plot itself was an interesting concept, I just didn't quite feel it was realized to the fullest potential. If a story is tightly spun, and engaging, character flaws can sometimes be overlooked. This story didn't quite feel fleshed out enough. Things happened too quickly, or seemed out of place. It just overall felt disjointed and not pieced together properly. This is a recognizable story, and one that has been told many times before. I wanted something that made this one unique, for me that just wasn't there.

Cheating is always a messy thing to portray. It's a grey area, and a hot button issue for a lot of people. Lilah's focus is on Jules, where her anger should be directed at Carter. I think she has a right to be angry with both of them, but Carter is the one who should show her the respect of breaking up with her before hooking up with someone else. The complicated aspect of the Carter/Lilah relationship is used as an excuse for Carter's behaviour, and it didn't come across in the best light. It put the blame on Lilah. Her actions are deplorable, but blaming her for someone else's actions felt off to me.

The ending fell a little flat for me because I wasn't invested in the characters. I didn't feel I had connected with them, or the situation they found themselves in, so when the pivotal moment came I found it lacked the emotional punch it should have carried. The end 'reveal' was also a little cliche and felt tacked on as a way to continue the story. It didn't mesh with the rest of the, very little, characterization we did get. Wicked Games ends pretty definitively with little room for a direct sequel, up until the epilogue. A companion novel situation would have worked much better, but I am unsure it'll go this route.

A novel that promised to deliver scandal, sexiness, and betrayal, but didn't quite hit the mark for me. There are certainly elements that I found engaging, but ultimately this was not a book for me. I wanted more from the characters, and a little more from the execution.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday..... Falling Into Place

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
Unexpected narrator?! Sold. I actually read another synopsis that reveals WHO the narrator is, and it's surprising, and unique. I am really excited about who is telling the story, because I don't think it's been done before (at least to my knowledge).

The other thing that caught my attention? The part that mentions that this is for fans of Gayle Forman. I am a Gayle Forman fangirl and YES! I need this book...immediately.

Expected release date - September 9, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry
Release Date - July 31, 2012
Publisher Website - Harlequin Teen
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 392 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
So wrong for each other …and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. 

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. 

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.
There are some books that you can't get away from. Those books that constantly pop up on your radar, and it seems like everyone is talking about them. Often, if I am being honest, those books scare me. Especially if I am late to the party. What if I am the odd person out? What if I simply don't love it the way everyone else seems to?  My hesitation before starting Pushing The Limits could easily fall into this scenario. Luckily, after finally succumbing to it's unavoidable presence, I ended up seeing exactly what everyone loves about this novel so much.

Echo is the type of character that grows on you. She, and every single one of her emotions, linger with you. She's broken, and damaged, and yet is trying so hard to hold herself together. You want her to succeed, and even want to protect her if you could. It's easy to see where Noah would feel the same, and that's when the story clicks. The characters and their motivations, and the chemistry between them all combine to create an addictive read. I would put the characters as the element that surpassed everything else. As easy as it would have been, they never come across as cliche, instead they seem all too real.

The secondary characters, particularly Isaiah and Beth, are fascinating. They make you want to know THEIR story, and get inside their heads. They both have issues of their own, and seeing them unravel, albeit briefly, made me anticipate the sparks that could result from their stories. It's immediately clear why their stories continued; the characters demanded it.

The unflinching truth that some events change you forever is seared within these pages. Echo will never be that girl she was before. No matter how desperately she tries. Noah, too, can never go back to the life he had before. It's this stark, clawing realization that these characters struggle with. The brushstrokes of hope that are throughout the story are just as powerful a message, and ultimately you see that even if you can't go back, you can move forward.

Katie McGarry's approach to the topic of teens and sex was a refreshing, and needed change from the usual. Kudos to her for presenting an actual safe sex talk between the characters, and making it seem authentic. This aspect is often glossed over, and sexual health is something teens need to discuss. It's a choice that I applaud her for making, and respect that it was organic to the story.

A story of two broken people coming together in a beautiful way to help each other heal. A sexy, heart crushing, but ultimately hopeful read that definitely made me see what the hype was all about it. To say that I am looking forward to continuing this series would be an understatement.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Once Upon A Time - Snow Drifts/There's No Place Like Home

Season finale time. Part of me is glad it's over. We're doing some time travel, so I would be delighted to see young Baelfire again! Doubt it'll happen, but one can dream.

We start the episode with a 18 years ago flashback to a group home in Boston. Emma's flashback, obviously. Dare I hope this episode is Emma's backstory? YAY! We see a blonde pretty girl crying. The group home leader (I assume) tells her not to worry and calls her Emma. Tells her she'll find a home. I hope that's not all we get to see of her story.

Storybrooke - Present Day

Emma wants to know if her brother has a name. Charming tells her that they normally have a ceremony to announce the name back in the Enchanted Forest, but they are going to do a much smaller version at Granny's diner in this case. Very sweet! I love that they have royal ceremonies for this stuff.

Henry rushes in. He's found an apartment. He wants to know what Emma thinks of his choice. Snow is quick to chime in and ask what does she think. Emma stalls and says that she thinks Charming and Snow are having a hard time coming up with a name. Emma obviously wants to leave. Poor Henry. He feels like Storybrooke is home, and so many people who care about him are there.

Regina and Robin have some romantic alone time together. Lots of kissing. It appears Regina has her heart back now. Regina is a little teary because she never thought she would have this. Robin tells Regina about Marion and it prompts Regina to tell him about Daniel. Regina tells him that it was Tinkerbell who made her think loving again was possible. She tells him about the tattoo and how she saw him all those years ago. He chuckles, and tells her that he thinks things work out when they are supposed to, that it's about timing and they kiss some more. Robin handled that much better than I expected.

Rumple puts the real dagger in a hidden compartment and enchants it. Belle comes into the shop and asks Rumple if they can hide the dagger (the fake one obviously!) somewhere. She feels it's too much power. Rumple tells her that it doesn't need to be hidden because he trusts her (and because you are a lying liar). Rumple wants to talk about their wedding. Belle's daddy gave his blessing because Rumple is a changed man. Everyone can see it, Belle says, especially her. Oh, Belle. This is sad. I want her to find out he's lying.

Everyone is partying it up at Granny's. Apparently Aurora is fine, and is not a monkey. Henry is reading the story of how Charming and Snow fell in love. Snow and Charming have a cute moment trying to one up each other about who saved who more. Hook seems shocked that Charming left Abigail because of the whole 'her father can turn things into gold' thing. Ugh, of course Hook. OF COURSE. It comes out that Emma wants to leave Storybrooke. Regina especially wants to know why they are going back to New York. Henry does not want to leave. At all. Emma says she doesn't want to talk about it right now. She leaves, and Hook goes to follow. Henry gives Hook the Fairytale Book to try to remind Emma where she belongs.

Henry sees a bright light in the distance, and asks "Grandpa" what it is. I love when he calls Charming 'Gramps'. Rumple tells them it's Zelena's curse. They run and see that Zelena is not in her cell. Regina accuses Rumple of doing something. Rumple is like "How? Belle won't let me remember?". They have the bright idea to check the tapes as the cell is under surveillance. Rumple fixes the tape so that it appears Zelena killed herself.  Rumple reminds them of the dangers of going into the past.

Hook shows Emma the book and tells her that she belongs with her family - all of them. Emma says she just wants a home. Hook tells her that New York was not real. Emma says they can make it real. She doesn't feel connected to the fairytale world. She doesn't want to be part of it. She wants to be with Henry. Young Emma had lots of issues. She keeps running because she wants to feel like she's home and she hasn't found it yet. Hook asks if she cares about her family or anyone for that matter. Emma says that she does, but she is focused on Henry. Emma sees the light coming from Zelena's curse and goes to investigate. Of course as she gets close it starts to suck her in. Hook stops them with his hook (haha) but can't hold on,  and Emma ends up falling through. He snarks that "one of these I am going to stop chasing this woman" and jumps in after her. Can that day be soon? Please?  Aww. We see that David was trying to warn Emma because she left her phone behind and he's calling her.

Enchanted Forest - In The Past

Emma falls to the ground and realizes she is in the Enchanted Forest. Hook says it's not a matter of where they are, but when. Emma sees a wanted poster of her mother and says that she has a pretty good idea.

Emma starts looking at the book to find out WHEN exactly they are in the Enchanted Forest. Emma points out that stuff like this does not happen in New York. This is why she wants to leave Storybrooke. They have a discussion about how to get back to their own time, and Emma brings up Marty McFly and tries to explain it to Hook. He doesn't get it (obviously). They have to rush off the road when Regina's carriage pulls up. Regina in full on Evil Queen mode is deliciously awesome. Aww, love the glimpse of Gepetto and Pinocchio. Regina threatens the crowd and tells them not to help Snow White or she'll kill them if they do. She is going to make an example out of a young peasant. Emma wants to go help. Hook reminds her of the dangers of interfering in the past. He says that she needs to change into clothes that are more fitting for the time period. Emma puts on a dress that shows lots of cleavage and Hook is delighted (sigh, of course).

Hook helps her put on the cloak that goes over the dress while telling her that they must be careful, because they could cause serious damage if they mess with the past. This is reminding me of Back To The Future. Emma could make it so that her parents never meet and she's never born.

We see the set up for when Snow robs Charming. I think they used the same footage even. I love this call back to the first season.

Hook and Emma hear another carriage coming and they get off the road to hide again. Emma sees that it's her father. Emma seems awestruck as she realizes she gets to see them fall in love. Emma's smile, and wide eyes are magical and remind me of what I miss about this show. She is charmed by the idea of seeing them maybe fall in love. Of course, Emma makes a noise that startles Snow. She falls out of the tree, and runs off instead of actually robbing Charming. Emma's already screwed up her parent's meet cute! She realizes this and tells Hook. They have to, obviously, fix this because otherwise Emma won't be born.

So in this 'new version' of the past Snow goes to Bluebeard and pays him to help her leave. Charming is at Abigail's palace which is entirely made out of gold, and doesn't seem overly happy.

Emma wants to go get help from Rumple. Hook says he should stay there, because Rumple wants to kill him. Rumple appears behind them and says he's been waiting for this moment. He starts to strangle Hook. Emma tries to intervene, and gets tossed aside by Rumple. She tells him to stop and listen to her, or else he'll never see Baelfire again (she doesn't use his name, because nobody does anymore). Oh, she just did mention him by name. She tells him all about the curse, and that she knows all about Baelfire. Rumple wants to know how she knows any of this. She mentions that she is the one to break the curse. The product of true love. Rumple scoffs that he hasn't done it yet so how does she know. He eventually gets that she's from the future (as is Hook) and asks if he finds Bae. Emma doesn't answer at first, and Rumple yells the question again. She admits yes, he does. She looks sad and wistful. Rumple gets all emotional about "Bae" and Emma has this sad, wistful smile on her face whenever he mentions Baelfire. Rumple asks for details of the reunion, but stops Emma before she call tell him anything. He doesn't want anything in his head that might ruin it if he does succeed. So not telling him Neal dies? Good to know. She tells Rumple that SHE might have already ruined it for him because she stopped her parents from meeting. I loved Emma's reaction to seeing him as the Dark One. She's only see him as Mr Gold. It was perfect.

Rumple takes them into his castle. He wants to know why he hasn't killed Hook yet. Hook mentioned they 'buried the hatchet'  in the future, and Rumple wants to know why it wasn't in Hook's skull. Belle walks in. Emma immediately seems happy to see her, and says hello. Belle wants to know if they know each other. Emma says no, it's because Rumple talked about her to Emma. That makes Belle smile. Rumple gets embarrassed and tells Belle to go read or "whatever you like to do" and come clean later. Emma tells him that it is a miracle that they fell for each other. Rumple snarks that he can't believe that he falls for the help. Hook wants to get Emma's parents back on track. Emma tries to tell Rumple the story of Snow and Charming, and asks Hook to give her the book. It's blank. Emma determines that they need to get Snow to steal the ring. Rumple says there is a party, and that he can help locate Snow so they can fix this. Rumple says he will help with a portal for them to go back home, but they have to get Snow and Charming together on their own.

Hook mentions that if Snow is looking for passage out of the Enchanted Forest, he might know a captain that can help them. Emma asks who, and he replies "Me". Smart plan, actually.

They go to where past Hook is partying it up. Emma is supposed to occupy 'past Hook' while 'future Hook' goes to take care of 'offering Snow help". Emma starts to sexy herself up since she knows that she's 'his type' and 'future Hook' tells her to be careful. Emma teases that if she didn't know better she'd think he was jealous. She goes over and starts to hit on 'past Hook'

'Future Hook' goes to talk to Smee, and Smee immediately senses something is different. 'Future Hook' snarls that it's because he is used to his help actually helping. He wants Smee to get Snow to come talk to him. Smee runs off to get her.

Emma's flirting includes asking how 'past Hook' got his hook. He wants to know her name. They make some sexual innuendo, and Emma tells him to slow down a bit. She wants a few drinks before they get to the sexytimes.

'Future Hook' is waiting for Snow on the ship. She comes, and he offers her passage. He wants her to steal something first, and lets her know that he is aware of who she is. He tells her that she needs to steal a wedding ring for him. Snow seems agreeable.

'Past Hook' really wants to leave with Emma. They leave and go to the ship. Smee is confused, obviously, and Emma distracts by more flirting. She tells "past Hook" to go get some 'nightcaps' and meet her downstairs. She warns 'future Hook' to leave, just as 'past Hook is coming down the stairs. Emma starts making out with 'past Hook' so that 'future Hook' can escape (OMG, too many Hooks). 'Future Hook' is getting jealous of 'past Hook' though and ends up punching him in the face. It knocks out 'past Hook' and Emma and 'future Hook' escape. This is the weirdest recap ever.

Emma and Hook are looking at the palace the ball is in, but are not sure how to get in. Rumple shows up with an invite. He magics them some proper ball appropriate clothing. He also disguises them so that people don't see them as they actually look. As they enter the ball, the introduce themselves as Prince Charles and Princess Leia. Emma is a little awestruck by the dancing, and everything. It's cute. Hook and her dance. Plenty of hints that Emma is softening to him this episode. Sigh. Pretty sure people who ship Hook and Emma are going to get what they want.

We see Snow sneaking into the palace to get the ring. I hope she does! She needs to meet her Charming.

Hook tells Emma that she's a natural, an obviously Princess. Emma getting to see all this may just sway her into wanting to be part of the fairytale life she should have grown up in.

Meanwhile Charming and Abigail are not getting along. Charming seems FED UP with her, and it's rather funny because he's being passive aggressively nice. Regina shows up at the ball (not good news for Snow). Emma panics, but Hook tells her to relax.

Snow is stealing the ring when Charming walks into the room. They meet cute once again. Abigail catches her, and yells that Snow White is in the building. Snow is her amazing bandit self and escapes quickly, with Emma watching on proudly. Charming seems pretty smitten. He yells after Snow that where ever she goes he will find her. Emma is happy that the mission is accomplished, and wants to leave. A guard is going to hit Snow with an arrow, so Emma stops him. She notices that the ring is on the ground instead of with Snow. Hook tells her to get it to Snow, that he'll fight the guards. Emma tries to run, but the other guards get her. They tell everyone she helped Snow escape. Regina walks up, and Emma tries to talk to her, and calls her Regina. Regina snarks that it's a bit formal, and says she prefers "your majesty". Hook comes in as Regina is telling Emma that her night has just begun. Regina orders the guards to take her away as Hook looks on helplessly.


Flashback to Portland! WE SEE NEAL! NEAL IS BACK! Another cute Emma and Neal moment. I am dying. They are breaking into some place. It's a carnival with rides and things. He gets Emma to sit on a swing ride, and they talk while drinking coffee. I love this scene so much. I am crying. They talk about his father, and how much regret Neal actually has. It was Neal that told her how she would know when she was home. I can't even. HE WAS HER HOME. He told her it was feeling she couldn't shake. That she would just miss it. IT IS HIM and he is dead and NONE OF THIS IS FAIR.

Enchanted Forest - In The Past

Emma is put in a jail. She is put next to Marion I think. At least it looks like Marion. OH NO! I think Regina is the reason Marion died. This is not going to go well, is it?

So Snow and Charming still had the cute moment at the net where the nickname Charming was born. I love it. I miss what this show was. Seriously, I miss it so much I ache. It was perfect. Of course this moment now has to include Hook because he has to tell Charming that 'his princess' (meaning Emma) has Charming's ring. He tells Charming that it's with her in the Queen's castle and that he will need their assistance in getting both the girl and ring back. Snow volunteers to help as she knows the castle well, since it used to be hers. There are some more cute moments where Snow is all "I won't have to ever see your charming face again" and Charming smirks at her. It's all very flirty and cute.

More cute Snow and Charming moments. I love early Snowing. LOVE! I love that Hook is just letting them talk. This is exactly what needs to happen. Snow goes into the castle alone, and tells them she'll be back with the ring. Hook and Charming have a fire while they wait, and talk about Charming's upcoming wedding. Hook is trying to push him towards Snow by pointing out how unhappy Charming seems. Hook talks about his love for Emma. Hook fears that her parents don't like him. Charming is all "but you are going through great lengths to save her so they'll approve". Sigh. Again with the Hook/Emma stuff. Red shows up to help them get into the castle. She turns into the wolf in order to help.

Emma and who I believe is Marion are talking about family. Marion is talking about Robin and Roland here I think. She talks about how much she misses them. Emma talks about how her mother would want her to have hope. Marion doesn't seems to have any hope. Emma does though. She picks the lock on the door, and gets herself out. Marion tells her to run, to forget her. She doesn't and frees Marion as well.

Charming and the group run into Emma and Marion. Hook is all "we were coming to save you" and Emma replies 'the only one who saves me is me'. I hope that is true Emma. Hook is not happy Emma freed Marion. He says that if she was supposed to die, it means she has to. Emma may have just ruined Regina's chance at love with Robin, but may have also prevented her from killing Robin's first love. Complicated. Charming breaks up their chatter, to say that they have to run away NOW.

While Snow is sneaking around she tries to sneak up on Regina. She wants to use the fairydust a dark fairy gave her to turn Regina into a bug and step on her. Regina laughs at her and calls for the guards. Regina and Snow have a moment where Snow tries to say it was not her fault what happened to Daniel. Regina isn't having it and says that Snow is to die tonight.

We see Snow set to burn tied to stake. Regina actually lights it. Emma is distraught obviously. If Snow just died, what does that mean for Emma?! OMG! Emma points out that she's still there. Something must have happened and that Snow didn't actually die. Hook is being annoyed by a bug. Charming realizes it is actually Snow and tells them not to squash her. The bug is calling out, and the Blue Fairy shows up. She knows exactly WHO Emma is, and agrees to keep her secret. She turns Snow back into human Snow. Emma hugs her and it's adorably awkward. Things seems to be fine as Hook points out. Except for the whole Marion is still alive thing.

Snow says goodbye to Red, and goes to Charming. They have yet another cute moment while Hook and Emma watch from a distance. Hook points out that Marion is going to cause a ripple, and who knows what that will change. Emma is like "She's harmless" and she wants to bring her back with them. OMG! This is not going to be good. Robin is going to be shocked. Regina is going to be pissed. Charming goes over and realizes that Snow actually stole the ring. He takes off to the troll bridge as he knows that's how she'll need to leave. Emma realizes that Snow doesn't have the dust to save Charming from the trolls, so her and Hook run off to help.

So much nostalgia. It's too bad Neal isn't the one doing all this with Emma. Charming and Snow are fighting off the trolls but Snow realizes that she needs the dust. Snow beautifully bluffs having the dark fairy dust, and gets them to let Charming go. Love it. They are totally on their way to falling in love, and without Emma's help. Things are back to how they should be. Loving that Emma gets to see all of this. It's hopefully going to make her realize that she wants to stay with them. She seems really teary and happy.  Hook is concerned when Snow and Charming walk away from each other. Emma says it's okay. It happened that way before. It took them awhile to admit their feelings. Hook mutters that it must run in the family.

Emma checks the book and it all comes back. Every page is back. The pictures are there, and hopefully things are back on track. It appears Evil Queen is right where she should be too with wanting to destroy Snow's happiness.

Rumple is going to create a memory potion, and tells them that he can't help them. Only the people who used the portal can open it. Emma could do that if she actually had magic. Hook wants to know what is going to happen to them since they can't go back. Rumple wants to keep them someplace safe, somewhere he doesn't even go. He magics them to the vault where Rumple keeps all his most dangerous things. Hook is happy to be handsome again as we see the spell Rumple put on them has lifted. Hook starts to search through things to find anything that will help. Emma tells him not to touch anything as it could be dangerous. Hook tells Emma to open the portal and get them home. He is sure it'll work. Since Zelena died he thinks Emma's magic should have come back. Emma says that if she could, she would. Hook tells her that it is time to stop running. Emma finally admits that she does want to stop. It was because she thought Snow had died. She needs her parents. I love that Emma is finally realizing this, finally admitting it. She realizes that she can't keep coming in and out of their lives. She needs to be there. He says that Henry brought her home. She admits that Neal was right. That she didn't realize she had a home until she missed it. As she admits this, her magic comes back. She can get them home now! So Henry and Neal not only got her home, but realizing this got her back her magic? Tell me again how they are not meant to be?! Sigh.

Emma, badass saviour, is going to get them home, Marion included. I can't wait for Emma to embrace everything and see her parents again.

Emma tells Rumple that Neal dies as the portal opens!! RUMPLE IS GOING TO FIX THIS. Rumple will fix this right? Please fix this Rumple. Emma breaks down and tells Rumple that Neal died a hero. She doesn't want that taken away from him. She cries that she loved Neal too, and wanted to save him. She tells Rumple that he could make it worse if he tries to bring him back. She begs Rumple to drink the potion and forget what she just told him. THIS SHOW. Literally everyone, including Marion, gets to come back from the dead, but NOT NEAL?! Rumple drinks the potion, and pushes her through the portal. We see that the memory potion worked, and Rumple no longer remembers. I hate this.

Emma, Hook and Marion arrive back in Storybrooke. Emma leaves Hook on babysitting duty with Marion and Emma rushes to see her parents. She tells them that she and Henry are staying, and Henry is happy to be staying for sure. Emma calls them Mom and Dad. I love this.

Emma fills them in on her escapades. She tells them that she wants to know the name of the baby. It's Neal. I am not even going to comment on how that makes me feel. Short version? I don't like it. At least someone remembers he was on the show though.

Emma goes outside. Tells Hook that she is in the book now. They flirt and she calls him Killian. They are totally going to kiss. She is going to move on with Hook, 100 percent. Hook tells her how he found her in NYC. He traded the ship for a bean to get back to Emma. This reveal that he traded his ship for her makes her melt and kiss him.

Belle and Rumple are getting married! Too bad he's a lying liar that lies. I would love this if he wasn't lying to her. I do think it was very romantic, but Rumple knows he is lying. I want him to be truthful to her. "sometimes the best teacup is chipped" *cries*. I love them together so much, but not like this.

Robin, Regina and Roland are having a family moment. Robin and Regina certainly love kissing. Robin is going to meet Marion isn't he? Emma doesn't realize what is going to happen. Marion recognizes Regina as the Evil Queen. She's obviously scared of her. Emma wants to introduce Regina and Marion so that they can smooth things over. Robin overhears and sees Marion. They hug, and Roland is all "Momma?!" and it's adorable. He's asking if she's his mother, and part of me is happy this little boy gets this, and part of me is sad for Regina. Regina is pissed. She tells Emma that she is just like her mother and that she doesn't think about consequences. Tells Emma that she better hope she didn't bring anything else back with her.

She did. Something from Rumple's vault. It opens and blue liquid begins to pour out. It turns into a person, and it's Elsa from Frozen! I am not sure what her name is going to be for the show, but it's totally their version of the Ice Queen. She looks like Elsa, so that's her name for now (at least to me)

I am not sure how I feel about this. Like at all. I need time to digest. I need time for my broken shipper heart to heal. I need this summer break.

Thanks for following along with these 'recaps' from Neverland to Oz and everything else!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

I had some amazing books land in my mailbox this week.

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine (goodreads)
Sway by Kat Spears (goodreads)
Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke (goodreads)
All Lined Up by Cora Carmack (goodreads)

Dollhouse by Anya Allyn (goodreads)

A huge thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for Of Metal and Wishes and Dissonance. Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for All Lined Up. Lastly, thank you to Paper Lantern Lit for the copy of Dollhouse. I am part of the blog tour for that one, so look for that in June.

I won a copy of Sway from a Twitter contest. Very excited to read this one as it sounds great.

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Here are my obsessions this week.


Isla And The Happily Ever After - ARC edition

Penguin Teen via their Instagram posted this...

Copyright to Penguin Teen via Instagram

And I freaked out. It's a real book. This means we almost get to read it. I can't wait until August!! I've already got this pre-ordered and am keeping my fingers crossed it gets here on release day.


The Night Before Our Stars

You may have heard about this event. It's an advance showing of The Fault In Our Stars and I believe there will be a Q & A session with the stars of the movie shown as well. I am excited to get my tickets for the Canadian events when they go on sale next week.

Disney's Cinderella (live action)

Only Disney could show us nothing but a glass slipper and convey the feeling of magic and wonder. The musical score is perfect, and easily fits the Cinderella tale. I am looking forward to seeing this in March.

They also released the first promo poster for the movie, and I adore it just as much as the trailer.

Simple, magical, and I love that this is the first image they released.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Follow Friday

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is:

Have you met a favorite author and have a picture? Share.

I've met quite a few of my favourite authors, and will be meeting more in just a few weeks when BEA happens.

Here is a photo of me with Michelle Hodkin

Happy Weekend!

The Here And Now by Ann Brashares

The Here And Now by Ann Brashares
Release Date - April 8, 2014
Publisher Website - Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 288 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. 

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. 

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 
I knew the bare minimum going into The Here and Now. I knew it involved time travel, and romance. Both of these ended up being true. It also has some decent world building, and a mystery that ends in a race to save the world as the clock runs down. This ended up being a novel that had things I really liked, and things I wished were explored more.

The novel starts out incredibly strong. The first few chapters pulled me in, set the tone, and captivated me. The world of Prenna's people is fascinating. The strict, rigid rules they have to follow. The swift, unforgiving consequences of breaking them. They live in absolutes, but nothing is ever that easy. The danger she is in is palpable, and undeniable. As a reader, I felt the unease Prenna would feel. It's one of my personal favourite aspects of the novel.

Prenna's life has been filled with rules, and fear. Her minor acts of rebellion quickly turn into larger ones. She is someone that is driven to do the right thing, even if it's the harder choice. She doesn't sit back and accept what is told to her. She showed early on that she was not only questioning everything she had been told, but that she was actively willing to defy it. It's her strong moral compass that endeared her to me. She didn't back down, even if it meant she'd die. She was willing to pay that price for her convictions, and to help better the world for others.

There is a cautionary environmental element to the plot that, for me, seemed heavy handed at time. It's something that we need to discuss, and having it examined in this way was an interesting idea. I think, however, that it didn't quite work for me. It felt like it was presented in a strictly black and white manner, instead of the complex reality of the situation. 

The mystery Prenna has to unravel, and the eventual race to save the world was done rather well. Little clues are peppered throughout the story, and we learn things at a nice pace. I wish it had been slightly more layered, and that we spent more time on the 'why' of everything. Everything is laid out, but it felt a little too rushed, and almost as a afterthought to the romance itself.

The romance is certainly swoon worthy. Ethan is not only incredibly sweet, but is relentlessly supportive. He is there for Prenna, and anything she needs. Seeing his unwavering support made the romance even sweeter, because he lets her see the strength she has inside. He helps her see that she has the ability to stand up for what she believes in, and do what she feels is right. He believes in her, and because she's not used to having that, it helps her see things in a new perspective. The consequences of them being together are real, and the reality is that happily ever after may not be in the cards. The 'star crossed' aspect of their romance was fleshed out more than I was expecting, as the novel tackles what harm them being together could do. This plot point is resolved in an unusual way, and left me wondering if this perhaps might be the start of a series. 

The promising ending was contrasted with what, I felt, is a weaker lead up to that ending. The pacing felt off towards the end, and things were quickly tied up without the build up I wanted. Not everything is neat and tidy by the end and that felt right for this particular story. I wanted more from it though, especially some elements outside of the romance. The promising threads of certain story lines were not developed as much as they could have been, and it lead, for me, to a unsatisfying later half. The ending itself wrapped up the novel in a surprising, yet honest way. 

A novel whose romance easily swept me away, but left me wanting a little more on the plot side of things. All the elements were there, but I feel the novel to be fleshed out just a little bit more, particularly with the second half. Ann Brashares writing style is evident throughout, so fans of hers will certainly delight in this aspect of the novel.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Once Upon A Time - Kansas

This is super late, I know. I haven't had time. So this will go up today and the finale recap will go up on the 20th (first empty date in my schedule). Let's finish up this season.

Storybrooke - Present

Snow is being rushed to the hospital. Snowflake is coming! Snowflake is coming!

Rumple is spinning straw into gold, like crazy. Zelena stops him and turns the gold into a replica of a brain. So she didn't need his actual brain. That's good. She says that she just needs one more ingredient and that's Snow and Charming's baby.

Oz - Flashback

Zelena is watching Regina's training and is getting grouchy and is obviously jealous of Regina. As she's pouting, Glinda comes into the Wizard's room. Zelena asks who she is and goes to attack. Glinda tells Zelena that she is there as a friend. Glinda is happy that Zelena turned Walsh into a monkey. She said it'll do him some good for being a trickster. She tells Zelena that she has a lot of power, and that she knows Zelena wants to change the past, but it's not possible. She beseeches Zelena to come meet her 'real sisters'. I bet these are the other witches  - East, South, and North.

Storybrooke - Present

Zelena is having Rumple dig something. Rumple tells her that she's going to fail basically. Zelena says she is certain she can do anything with the right ingredients. Rumple tells her that no matter what she changes in the past, she'll always be WHO she is, and that's a fate worse than anything basically. Zelena laughs at him. I really don't like her.

Emma is putting a protection spell around the hospital room. Hook comes up and says that he wants to help. Emma tells him that he and his cursed lips can get lost basically. She says if he wanted to help he would have told her. He says it would have been a death sentence for Henry if he shared that info. She tells him it's up to HER to protect Henry not him. She's wants to end this now, today. As she storming off Charming stops her. He tells her that she doesn't have to do this alone. Emma says that he has to stay with Snow. Charming agrees and tells her to take Hook. Is Charming insane? Hook needs to not have his lips anywhere near Emma's magic. Charming insists even after Emma asks the same question I just did. Charming says he understands why Hook did what he did. Emma says that of course he does because Charming knows all about secrets and lies. I like spunky Emma. In the end she takes Hook with her. Emma's magic will be gone before the end of the episode, I bet. Emma goes to say goodbye to Henry who trusts that she's totally got this. I love how proud he is of her here. So cute. Regina tells Emma that she'll keep Henry safe. Emma is determined, and I want her to kick Zelena's ass.

Henry is looking for apartments because he totally thinks they are staying in Storybrooke. It's sad that Emma wants to take him away from his family. He's talking to Archie about it, and Archie asks him to talk to Emma about it. Does Archie know Emma wants to leave? Interesting. It's a nice throw back to the therapy sessions they had together too.

Emma and Hook are having the same conversation they keep having. Emma says she wants to go back to New York. Her and Henry were happy. Hook tells her it wasn't real, and that she can't run from her family. Hook wants to know what Henry thinks of all this. She points out that she is his mother and she knows what is best for Henry. Hook says that she is using Henry as an excuse. She doesn't want to admit that she can see a happy future in Storybrooke. Emma snarks "Let me guess, with you?" and Zelena interrupts calling them 'adorable'. Emma tells Zelena that next time she wants to take her powers way that Zelena might try enchanting the lips of someone Emma would actually kiss (LOVE!). Zelena offers her a deal - she can get rid of the magic that she can't wait to run away from, or let Hook die. She has Rumple dunk Hook in a thing of water and hold him under.

Oz - Flashback 

Glinda and Zelena arrive at the 'heart of Oz' and Glinda introduces the other witches. Each witch has a specialty it seems, and Glinda tells Zelena that they are stronger together. Zelena assumes they are going to help her change the past, since they want to help her. Glinda says no. She offers her the remaining seat at the table. The seat of the West. West represents innocence Glinda explains. Zelena scoffs that she is not fit for the job as she's 'wicked'. Glinda says that she can choose to be good, and innocence reborn is just as powerful. Zelena thinks it's easier said than done. The other witches want Glinda to Zelena about the prophecy. Glinda relents. She tells Zelena about a protector that will arrive by cyclone who will protect them from a great evil. They think it's Zelena. Glinda urges her to let go of her past and embrace her destiny.

Storybrooke - Present

Emma pulls  Hook out of the water. She's understandably upset, and tries to revive him. She eventually gives in and does mouth to mouth. So there goes her magic. The curse works. So does that mean they are not true love? Shouldn't true love break any curse? Either way she saves Hook, and he realizes what happened and is horrified. At least he feels bad.

Oz - Flashback

Zelena is back at the Wizard's place. She checks in on Regina one more time, and tells her that she's 'over her'. Glinda appears and tells her that was nicely done. She gives Glinda a pendant that is pure white. She tells Zelena that it will harness and protect her power. If she looses the pendant she also looses her powers, but it'll help her grow as long as she wears it. It means she's one of the 'sisters' now. The pendant allows the green envy that has literally covered her skin to disappear. She thanks Glinda, but Glinda says it was all Zelena and that she let go of her envy. Sigh, this is so nice, and could have been good for Zelena. I wonder what happened to mess it all up. Dorothy I bet.

Storybrooke - Present

Zelena and Rumple are headed into the hospital. Grumpy goes running to warn everyone. Robin and the merry men are making a valiant stand to stop her, but she easily overtakes them with her magic. I hope Robin is back next season. I really like him. Belle tries to stand up to her, and tries to talk to Rumple. Zelena does something to Belle that makes her fall, and she snarls at Rumple that his choice in women has gone down hill. Heck no! Belle is the best. She's way too good and kind for Rumple. He's lucky to have her.

Regina sends Henry and Archie to go hide. She tries to stand up to Zelena, but is knocked on her butt for her trouble.

Oz - Flashback

Glinda and Zelena are outside when another cyclone appears. They go to investigate as they see something inside it. It's Dorothy. Zelena is going to be jealous of Dorothy I bet, since she might be mistaken for the saviour in the cyclone. They question Dorothy about where she's from. She mentions Kansas. Glinda tells her that if she survived that storm that she must be special. Tells Dorothy that everyone will be excited to meet her. Zelena half halfheartedly agrees.

Storybrooke - Present

Snow is in the last stages of delivering the baby. The lights flicker a bit (just like when Henry was born! Product of true love, baby) as the baby comes out. It's a boy! Awww. A little Prince. It's extra sweet because soon Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin will be welcoming a baby of their own. As soon as they get to hold the baby Zelena walks in, and freezes both Snow and Charming to steal the baby. She magics herself out of there with the baby as Snow starts to cry. GO SAVE YOUR SON CHARMING!

Oz - Flashback

Everyone is fussing over Dorothy, and Zelena is obviously jealous. Glinda realizes this and looks concerned. She goes to talk to Zelena. Zelena turns to show her that she's beginning to turn green with envy again. Glinda wants to know why Zelena is jealous of Dorothy. Zelena mentions they ways that Dorothy is superior to her, but it's all in Zelena's head. She points out that Dorothy is the saviour and is meant to banish the greatest evil. Zelena thinks that is her. Glinda tells her that it's what ZELENA thinks it means. She warns Zelena that it could be a self fulfilling prophecy and if she believes it she could become exactly that.

Storybrooke - Present

Charming jumps into action and goes after Zelena. Regina tells David to calm down. That he's going to get himself killed. Henry begs Regina to not let Charming get hurt. Emma walks in. Charming tells her that Zelena took her brother. Emma obviously feels guilty that she couldn't stop Zelena. Emma tells them that Zelena took her magic. Regina wants to know HOW that happened. Emma says it doesn't matter, and that they have to find another way to stop Zelena. Henry says that Regina could do it. She used light magic when she broke the curse by kissing Henry's forehead, so she should be able to do again. Henry gives the best pep talks. He rallies Regina and she's ready to kiss Zelena's butt after a show of support from Robin and the rest. Henry finishes it off by saying he believes in her, so she should believe in herself. Again, Henry is the best at pep talks.

Oz - Flashback

Zelena confronts Dorothy. Tells her that she's going to make sure Dorothy can't hurt her. Zelena goes after Dorothy with a fireball. Dorothy gets scared and throws a bucket of water at her. Zelena begins to melt until there is nothing left. Dorothy calls for Glinda in a panic as she feels bad. She keeps insisting it was 'just water'. Glinda looks at it as Dorothy is the one from the prophecy, and welcomes Dorothy to the sisterhood of witches. Dorothy says she wants to go home. Glinda tells Dorothy that only the wizard can do that, and he's now back to being a normal person since all Zelena's magic should be undone. They head off down the yellow brick road to find the wizard. As they head off, we see that Zelena is still very much alive and well.

Storybrooke - Present

Zelena puts the baby on the large symbol that her and Rumple carved into the ground. She tells Rumple that she is going to change time, and that he will choose her. Rumple says he will not, and that he'll find her no matter where she goes in time, and kill her.

As she begins to perform the spell Emma and the gang enter. Charming tells her that she hasn't won yet, and we see the baby's life force start to leave it's body. Regina enters and tells Zelena that she needs to stop. They are not going to let her succeed. Rumple is tossing everyone like they weigh nothing as Regina tries to get the pendant. Zelena is not concerned since Regina is just as dark as she is. Regina tells her she's wrong, and she channels some pretty impressive light magic and manages to get the pendant off of Zelena. The spell stops, and the baby is fine. So Zelena has no magic now! The baby is fine! The monkeys are back to being human (the ones not dead, obviously). Rumple wants to kill Zelena now. Regina is not having it though because she's all good now. Rumple wants vengeance for his son. Regina reminds him that heroes do not kill. Zelena scoffs at this, and Regina replies that today she is in fact a hero.

Oz - Flashback

Dorothy and Glinda arrive at the Wizard's place. Dorothy asks him if he can get her home. The Wizard agrees since Dorothy did free him from the witches' magic. He gives her the silver slippers and tells her how to get home (click your heels three times). Dorothy goes home. Glinda thanks him for his help, and tells him to show his true self. Its' revealed that it was Zelena. She is fully green, and her pendant is too. Zelena is determined to change her past. Glinda is just as determined to stop her. Zelena threatens to send her out of Oz and to the Enchanted Forest. Glinda begs her to reconsider and try to be 'good'. Zelena just says goodbye and sends Glinda off to her banishment. No surprise, since we knew she was banished.

Storybrooke - Present

They've locked her in a cell? Seriously, that's it? If she gets out and gets her magic back. I am thinking the should have let Rumple deal with her.

Zelena actually asks Regina to kill her and put her out of her misery. Regina says that she understands Zelena much more than Zelena thinks. They do have a lot in common. They both wanted things in life and both felt they didn't get what they deserved. Regina points out that if she succeeded in killing she would never have gotten Henry. She tells Zelena that she is giving her a second chance, and she implores her to take it. She reminds Zelena that evil isn't born, it's made. She urges Zelena to create a new destiny or else Regina will really crush her heart. Regina leaves to put the pendant somewhere safe (thank you!). Regina locks it up in her heart vault. That's a solid plan I guess.

Rumple and Belle reunion! This makes me happy. Basically the best part of the episode right now. They are super cute. Belle sees the good in him. Rumple doesn't understand why she continues to support him. Belle says it's because she loves him. She hands him the dark one dagger (which Regina gave her. Character growth people). Belle wants to give it to him because she believes in him. She asks him to promise her that he won't go after Zelena though. Rumple agrees because it means she trusts him. He wants to show that he trusts her just as much and asks her to hold onto the dagger for him. He asks her to marry him! Belle, of course, says yes. It's perfect and sweet! I can't wait for the wedding. She really will be Mrs Gold.

Charming brings the baby back to Snow, and it's a perfect family moment. Emma looking only proudly full of smiles. Hook and Emma have a moment where they celebrate that they won. He thanks her for saving him. He apologizes about her taking her powers away, and she says it's okay. She won't need them in New York. She calls to Henry and asks if he wants to meet his Uncle. Very cute family moment.

We see Rumple go to Zelena's cage. Oh, Rumple. Please tell me you're there just to talk. Zelena points out that Rumple can't kill her because Regina has the dagger. Rumple reveals that Regina gave Belle the dagger. Zelena surmises that Belle wants her dead. Rumple says no, actually she doesn't. He also reveals that Belle only THINKS she has the dagger. He gave her a fake. Oh, that proposal is less romantic now because he's a lying liar who lies. I hate this. If Belle find out she will not be happy. Rumple goes into the cage, and Zelena is practically begging him to not kill her. She asks why. He says that he is doing it for his son. He promised Neal that he would avenge his death. I will be the first to admit that Neal wouldn't want this. He would want Rumple to be a better man. Rumple turns Zelena into ceramic and breaks her into tiny pieces. I can't even be happy about this, because it is going to cause a rift between Rumple, and Belle. It's going to make Regina angry. Sigh.

We see her disappear, and that her death unleashes the magic from the pendant in Regina's vault, and triggers the spell she was trying to cast. The portal into the past is open! Back in time we go!

Season finale next week. Gotta say I am looking forward to this season being over. Lingering questions - Where are Philip and Aurora? I hope not dead. What is baby Snowflake's name? Will Emma get her magic back? Hopefully the finale answers some of these.

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