Thursday, April 30, 2015

TV Talk with Kelly - Bates Motel - Season 3, episode 8


You may recall that Kelly from Kellyvision and I 'recapped' Bates Motel season two on my blog. We loved doing it so much we are going to do it again for season three. You can expect these to be up on Fridays for the most part (unless we're delayed).

This isn't really a recap, more just our reactions as we watch the show. There is totally going to be SPOILERS so maybe don't read until you've watched the episode. If you haven't watched it our notes may not make a whole lot of sense anyway but still SPOILERS!

My notes are marked by this colour and Kelly's have her initials by them and are in blue.


Bates Motel - Season 3 - Episode 8 - The Pit


KH: We so need to talk about Norman. DO SOMETHING!


‘I am so glad Alex came” Awww.


Dylan is right. They do need to talk about Norman.


KH: Norman is so creepy.


KH: Is this bypass work? No! She's getting her pool! Yay for blackmail!


I love Norma’s “A pool?” Like she’s all shocked. I thought it was the bypass too. Does the hotel have a pool in the movie? ‘Just be happy you’re getting a pool’. Yeah, Norman. Shut it.


KH: no, I don't think so.


Romero wants to buy a car? Oh, he’s getting Norma’s car back. That’s really sweet.


KH: NO! Don't hurt James. :(


Ugh, this guy. He’s an ass in all the shows, isn’t he? They better not hurt James the therapist. Oh, no. Eeeep! They better not seriously hurt him.


“Why are you talking about me in the third person?” Haha, neighbour guy is hilarious. Ugh. Look at Caleb shoving himself into things that Dylan does not want him to.


‘I think it’s a little dramatic, but sure’. Again, neighbour guy is hilarious. I agree with Caleb though. Nothing better happen to Dylan.


KH: oh no.


Oh, Poor James. :(


Norma, pretty sure he won’t be returning that phone call. He’s going to be running as far away from you as he can after that beating. :(


KH: love Norma's reaction to getting her car back.


I know. She’s all giddy and skipping over to Alex. Too cute.


Um… I would want to know what the pool would look like. It is her hotel. She deserves to know what they are putting in.


OMG! STOP BEING CUTE YOU TWO! She’s like a little kid there! SO cute. Moments like that make me sad that she’s going to be dead very soon. :(


KH. oh, my face. WOW.


Love how protective Alex is. He immediately goes and starts asking about the giant hole in Norma’s yard.


I really hate this guy. REALLY HATE THIS GUY.


KH: me too.


Romero now knows that there is more going on with Norman than he even thought because of this conversation. Wonder if he’ll push Norma about it.


KH: well, you didn't blackmail anyone for a fence, so...


Did she ask for a fence? Pretty sure she did. Haha.


Dyan and Emma are VERY flirty right now. Emma totally has a crush (so does he though).


KH: they so are!


Neither of them can stop smiling.


Hahaha. Norman’s fence is freaking rope?! That’ll keep people out. Also, odds on them being left with a giant hole in the yard and no pool? I’d say pretty good.


KH: "It's a pit."


KH: oh no! Breakup?


‘I am breaking up with you because you’re too into your mother. Also, I kind of like your brother maybe’. That is basically what Emma is not saying.


KH: totally the subtext. ;)


Um… o.O


KH: Oh, this is a sad episode. Nooooo! Alex, no. :(


So sad. His “Goodbye Norma” was heartbreaking. Her calling after him. :( They were so cute just a few hours (minutes for us) ago.


I feel that no good conversation starts this way.


KH: Um, Norma, no. Not normal.


NOT NORMAL NORMA! NOT AT ALL. She sounds like she’s really trying to convince both of them. This is enabling behaviour, Norma. She’s treating him like he’s 5 and needs to cuddle.


KH: I think so, yeah.


KH: Emma, what are you doing?!


I am not sure I would be following some random guy’s instructions to some place that is secluded. Just saying. #DoNotDieDylan #DieCaleb


OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! DYLAN. STOP PUTTING YOURSELF IN THESE SITUATIONS BECAUSE I DO NOT LIKE IT.


KH: oh, crap. I'm glad Caleb saved Dylan but I still hate Caleb. Sorry not sorry.


Yes, fine. He saved Dylan. Still does not give him a pass on all the other jackass stuff he’s done.


Um...James is legit running away. He is packing up and leaving. Whoa.


His advice for her to leave town might not be such a bad idea actually.


KH: shit, they'll blame Norman, right? For James' face?


The police? Yeah, they might.


KH: nice to finally see context for "You're gonna kill me, Norman!"


Yup, and it’s heartbreaking. Also very forshadowy.


KH: WOW. Fake Mother is questionable.


Yeah. Just a little. o.O Love the use of her in the window for that moment. Very Psycho.


KH: is that Bradley?

Bradley! Is she really there though? Or is she another of Norman’s hallucinations?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rules of Seduction by Jenna Mullins



Rules of Seduction by Jenna Mullins
Release Date - April 21, 2015
Publisher Website - The Studio, Paper Lantern Lit
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
My Rating - 3/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The first rule of seduction is: don’t fall in love.

Fresh out of college, Dani Young heads for the LA sun to chase her dream of becoming a screenwriter-director. So when her former BFF turned actress Elise offers Dani the opportunity to work on the hit teen show Vamp Camp, Dani can’t refuse, even if it comes at a price: Elise wants Dani to seduce her boyfriend, Vamp Camp superstar Tate Lawrence. Turns out Elise has some major trust issues, and needs Dani to test Tate’s faith. The only rule: don’t fall in love with him.

Sure, Dani doesn’t mind occasionally glimpsing Tate’s megawatt smile…or accidentally-on-purpose brushing up against his perfect torso…but she’s no fool. There’s no way she’d ever fall for a shallow celebrity and no way one would fall for her, a lanky movie nerd.

But amidst vampire-crazed fans, a conniving fellow intern, and a devilishly handsome showrunner, Dani feels like all the rules she used to know have disappeared, except for one: Love doesn’t play by the rules.

Part The Devil Wears Prada, part How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days, this story of friendship and romance is sure to appeal to fans of Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer E. Smith, and Anna Todd. 
It seems fitting that a novel set in Hollywood would be so reminiscent of a romantic comedy movie. Rules of Seduction hits all the classic tropes for a rather enjoyable, sweet read. If you've ever day dreamed about being on a hit television show set, this novel is for you.

This novel tackles that time right out of college when you're filled with so many expectations and wide eyed dreams. The reality of the situation is not always the way you view it through these more dream filled glasses. The reality of being thrust into 'adulthood' is often not like our expectations, and that is the story this novel is really telling. Dani quickly learns that her vision of her life after college will not be what she immediately walks into. The Hollywood of her dreams is vastly different from the one she gets. Life sometimes has other plans, and changing your view on something can be jarring but rewarding. It subtlety showcases how these changes can open you up to new experiences and and take your life in unexpected, but rewarding places.

Jenna Mullins' writing strength is her humour and satire. The novel is filled with funny moments and lines that are used to enhance the characters and plot. She plays with the genre and the inherit clich├ęs that come with it by embracing them and using them for humour. It's sort of 'tongue in cheek' about it, and it works for this type of story.

Dani's penchant for creating lists was used effectively throughout the novel. It's a cute character element that feels true to who she is in the novel. While I enjoyed all of the characters, the only down side for me, was that I didn't feel like I got to know them. Other than Dani they felt like characters with potential, rather than fully fleshed out characters.They read like characters in a TV show where it takes time to get to know them. The positive side to this is that there is plenty of potential for companion novels since the secondary characters are charming and memorable, even if I wish we had gotten more of them.

The budding friendships and relationships in the novel also shine. They are slowly built, and a foundation is constructed before any romance enters the scene. It helps that nothing feels instant about the connections being built. Tate and Dani are friends first and even that connection takes time to establish. The budding friendship between Dani and her room mate Brit is also slower building. It makes these connections feel more natural and authentic.

Predictability is part of this novel's charms. You know what is going to happen, and you know there will be a happy ending on the horizon. This is the novel version of comfort food as a result. It's the kind of read that you'd curl up with while eating ice cream after a really bad day.

A novel that will pair nicely with a day by the pool or at the beach. It's a light, frothy, fun read that has a little bit of everything - romance, friendship, humour, drama. If you love romantic comedy movies, and Hollywood, it's one worth checking out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Heather Demetrios Annoucement


Did you fall in love with Heather Demetrios' novel Something Real? Did you immediately wish for a sequel or companion novel? Well.... you're getting your wish. A companion novel from the point of view of Lexie is in the works and in true Lexie fashion she's telling her story HER way.

Lexie's story will be told via various social networks, and via various media types. Here is the official press release with all the details you'll need to know in order to be following the story.
YA AUTHOR HEATHER DEMETRIOS ANNOUNCES SEQUEL TO SOMETHING REAL

Brooklyn, New York (April 27, 2015)—Heather Demetrios announced today that she is writing a sequel to her critically acclaimed debut novel, Something Real.

The Lexie Project is a multi-media, multi-platform storytelling experience, a novelized memoir that reaches readers through social media, including Wattpad and Tumblr. Demetrios will be writing the story in serialized form with weekly installments, at no cost to the reader. Daily updates on Lexie’s social media accounts will give readers the chance to interact directly with Lexie, as well as provide readers with opportunities to influence the course of the story.

Said Demetrios, “YA readers are passionate fans and their deep investment in the stories they love is something I took into consideration when I set out to work on the sequel. Lexie’s story is about a reality TV star who’s now trying to make it in Hollywood. As such, I want to give my readers a fresh, modern way of entering into into her story—this is how Lexie would tell it. Fan interaction and crowd sourcing allows the YA fandom to be part of the creation of the story and I’m excited to see where it will take us.”

The first installment of The Lexie Project comes out on Wattpad on June 8, 2015. Lexie is already active on her social media accounts. Readers can find out more on www.heatherdemetrios.com/books/lexie_project
Heather also revealed the cover for The Lexie Project which I think fits perfectly.

Cover art by Meaghan Isaacs


Fun right? To get more details, and to read a forward to The Lexie Project from Chloe, head on over to Heather's website.

Be sure to follow Heather's Wattpad, Lexie's Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest as well as the Youtube channel (soon to launch) so that you do not miss one single part of this story.

You can add it to your Goodreads to be read shelf now, and join in me in the wait until June 8th for the first instalment!

Heather and Lexie
About Heather Demetrios

When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the East Coast home. Heather has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real. Her other novels include Exquisite Captive, the first in the Dark Caravan Cycle fantasy series, and I’ll Meet You There. She is the founder of Live Your What, an organization dedicated to fostering passion in people of all ages and creating writing opportunities for underserved youth. Find out more about Heather and her books at www.heatherdemetrios.com or come hang out with her on Twitter (@HDemetrios) and any number of social media sites.

Monday, April 27, 2015

99 Days by Katie Cotugno



99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Release Date - April 21, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

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

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me. 
99 Days is going to produce strong reactions in readers, no matter how they feel about the book itself. Katie Cotugno has crafted a messy, murky story that has a complicated situation at it's core. She's created characters who will push you outside your comfort zone, and hopefully, make you see this not black and white situation through different eyes.

Human interaction can be messy. It can be flawed, imperfect and mistakes can be made. We're layered, and complex. Katie Cotugno takes this and creates characters who feel authentic. Ones who make horrible decisions that just happen to feel right for the characters. As much as you may not agree with those choices, they make complete sense as you're reading. KatieCotugno shows through her characters that nobody is perfect, and that everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

Seething anger coursed through my body while reading this novel. The amount of rage filled texts and tweets I sent to people is probably borderline scary. The harsh light that this novel shines on double standards, as blood pressure raising as it is, is extremely important. Molly is vilified. She's the evil temptress who came between two brothers. She's the girl who couldn't keep her legs closed. She's the one to shoulder all the blame. Gabe, the golden boy, gets pretty much a free pass even through he did exactly the same thing that Molly did. They hurt the same person, and each had a connection to him that was forever altered. He played a part in what happened as much as Molly did, however it's not his car getting keyed, or his front lawn being toilet papered. My constant all caps messages to my friends of "Blame Gabe, too" was something I felt was expressed throughout the entire story. The notion of 'blame the girl' is what this story is really about underneath it all and Katie Cotugno captures that unfair bias pitch perfectly.

Molly is wracked with guilt. She's incredibly harsh on herself, and even believes the taunts of 'dirty slut' that follow her. This novel shows, however, that she's only human. Humans make mistakes. Humans will sometimes make awful decisions. Yes, she hurt Patrick. Patrick should be angry at her (AND HE SHOULD BE ANGRY  WITH GABE!). Everyone else, however, should not have an opinion. Katie Cotugno adeptly shows how the stigma sticks to Molly and follows her like a scarlet letter A branded on her chest. The most heartbreaking aspect is that Molly hasn't forgiven herself for what happened. She continues to berate herself, and question her self worth.

As we see Molly make the same mistakes again it'd be easy to grow frustrated with her. She certainly makes some unwise decisions, and it may seem like she's repeating those same mistakes over and over again. However, looking underneath everything you see that it's necessary to Molly's journey. Molly runs. It's what she does. It's her coping mechanism. She runs so she doesn't have to deal with things, or work through them. She ran after sleeping with Gabe and never sorted out her feelings, or the issues that they brought to the surface. Of course it makes sense that she would have to work through them to move forward. Of course it means her making those mistakes again so she can learn from them properly. As much as we want her to makes the choices that are better for her, the character growth she is to experience during the novel depends on her reliving what happened. If she is to come to a place of acceptance and self forgiveness she needs to actually deal with everything, instead of running away.

The friendship between Molly and Imogen is the bright spot of the novel. We see forgiveness and communication. Imogen was hurt when Molly just ran away with no word before she came back. At first I was worried that Imogen was being distant from Molly because of what had happened with Gabe. Instead, we find out how hard it was for Imogen when Molly left. We see how hurt she was. Molly genuinely apologizes and Imogen and her work through their issues. It's not automatically the same but they are working through things. It contrasts how everyone else treats her and hits home the message of forgiveness and understanding.

A novel with a lot to say about double standards, forgiveness and the mistakes we make. There is a lot going on under the beachy setting, and not all of it is pretty. It's messy, uncomfortable but honest. It may make some readers uncomfortable, but that is because it's challenging the way we perceive things, and how we relate to flawed, imperfect characters. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

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 only have 1 ebook to share this week and it's one that I purchased immediately because I love this author's previous novels, and cannot wait to see what happens next in this sequel novella.


Happy Again by Jennifer E Smith (goodreads)

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

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.

TV/MOVIE

Penny Dreadful - Season 2


The second season of Penny Dreadful is just around the corner, and the first episode of the season was released by Showtime early on the website. As I am obviously someone who likes to suffer and torment myself I caved and watched it. This means I have an extra week to wait for the next episode, but it also means I can tell you it was amazing.

This show quickly became a favourite of mine last year, and I am so happy that the second season seems to be just as captivating. I am very happy to have Vanessa, Ethan, Victor and the rest back on my TV (or, you know, will be once the season officially starts).

Jared Leto's Joker

Ever since Jared Leto was cast as the Joker there has been plenty of speculation about the look of the character, and the vision the director and Jared had for THIS Joker.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of this iconic character, David Ayer released  the following image on his Twitter account sparking much debate....

Photo courtesy of David Ayer's Twitter account

I, personally, think this was just a photo shoot to release something for the fans on a significant anniversary. However, if this ends up being the look for the movie, it has potential. No matter what your feelings may be about the look though, you can not deny the transformation. Jared Leto is almost unrecognizable here.

OTHER

Book Expo America

The official signing schedule was released (minus the in booth signings) and it's prompted much excitement, planning and general flailing. My favourite part of BEA is getting to meet bloggers, and authors. We do not get a lot of signings in Ottawa, so getting to meet and interact with some of my favourites during the event is a highlight. It's a whirlwind and there are so many amazing authors I am excited to fangirl over this year! 

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, April 24, 2015

TV Talk With Kelly... Bates Motel, Season 3, episode 7


You may recall that Kelly from Kellyvision and I 'recapped' Bates Motel season two on my blog. We loved doing it so much we are going to do it again for season three. You can expect these to be up on Fridays for the most part (unless we're delayed).

This isn't really a recap, more just our reactions as we watch the show. There is totally going to be SPOILERS so maybe don't read until you've watched the episode. If you haven't watched it our notes may not make a whole lot of sense anyway but still SPOILERS!

My notes are marked by this colour and Kelly's have her initials by them and are in blue.

Bates Motel - Season 3 - Episode 7 - The Last Supper


KH: oh, Emma's dad! We haven't seen him in ages!


Um...Dylan is kind of hitting on Emma, non? I like them together BUT HER AND NORMAN!!!


KH: little bit!


I legit forgot her dad existed. Haha.


KH: nothing exciting EXCEPT I SLEPT WITH MY THERAPIST WHO IS MY BOYFRIEND LIKE A QUESTIONABLE WOMAN.


‘Following after you in a very masculine and attractive way’. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, Norman.


KH: This is a great scene. Very funny. :) And I love how Norma called it "a mood." Understatement.


KH: OH CRAP. Could you read the note? I couldn't.


I am a bit behind so I could “I officially withdraw my candidacy for sheriff” so Romero’s competition is dead with a note.


KH: Way to be, Romero!


Was it for sure Romero though? I imagine so.


KH: He did shoot him.


KH: Why is she so mean?


‘What does everyone immediately jump to I died?’ Oh, Norma. Foreshadowing just a bit.


KH: only another few years? Oh, Emma. :( $20,000 to jump the transplant list? That's not much.


Poor Emma. It’s convenient that Dylan is finding out all of this. He does have a pot farm, and knows tons of shady people he can get money from (steal it, most likely). He’ll get her the money.


I think I’ve caught up to you now (I am currently on commercial).


KH: yes. :)


KH: another episode, another chance for Caleb to die already.


Romero’s face when he found out that the guy was Caleb...priceless. He’s like “this asshat”. Also, yes, please die Caleb. He can be the finale death.


KH: we don't need to wait til the finale.


I am fine if they want to kill him off early. Haha.


Is Romero about to go arrest some people?!


WHAT?! HIS MOM?! HUH?!


KH: His ghost mom! His crook dad! WTH?


Dylan is about to have the “So, your son dresses up and thinks he is you” conversation. Those are never not awkward.


KH: "Yeah...I don't want to have this talk, either."


“That’s nothing new for Norman. There is always something dead in the basement” OMG. I should not be laughing this hard at that. WOW, Norma. Just WOW.


kH: It IS a valid point! But so many times he could've gotten help!

Dylan is basically telling her they have to do something and it’s obviously ignored.


Romero’s Dad? I guess.


KH: I think so.


I am going to go with never, Caleb. You’re never allow to stop by.


Dylan is going to do whatever it is for the money to give it to Emma. He better not get himself killed.


KH: $25,000. That's convenient.


Very convenient. Love that Caleb automatically assumes Dylan got Emma pregnant. Not everyone is YOU, Caleb.


KH: right? SHUT UP, CALEB. ALSO, DYLAN IS A GROWNUP.


Yup, and he’s trying to do the nice thing here. Unlike your grossness.


Norman’s like “What? Therapist? Huh?”. I wonder if he realizes that Norma likes the therapist. This could go REALLY badly.


KH: This is so creepy.


KH: Norman will kill him, won't he?


YES! Norman is going to kill him.


OMG! “How was it sleeping with my mother?” That is creepy.


KH: HOLY FUCKING SHIT.  Holy crap, Norman. Holy. Crap.


He’s insane. ‘What was she like?’ Um, Norman. VASTLY INAPPROPRIATE.


EVERYONE IS UNCOMFORTABLE NORMAN. EVERYONE.


KH: I am super uncomfortable.


This therapist guy is asking questions that are not going to end up with anything good happening as a result...like that. See, Norman is choking him now because of the questions.


When a therapist is telling you that your son needs help, you listen. DO IT NORMA (*cries because she won’t*).


KH: I didn't think he'd kill him TODAY. And yeah, no kidding. Everyone sees it but you!


The therapist immediately picked up on the way Norman is overly attached to Norma though.


"I can't even tell you...also, I may have choked him a little bit."


Ah yeah. Also, he started the conversation by asking about sex with his mother.


We all go a little mad sometimes...love the use of that.


KH: ME TOO!


Norma and Romero FOREVER! I ship it.


Norma’s “Shut up” I laughed so hard.


KH: sounds like Emma has a thing for Dylan. :-/


Pretty sure she does. Cannot blame her. He’s totally cute.


Um...Norma and Romero are really getting touchy feely. Can we call it that he’s the boyfriend?


KH: Questionable Norma returns!


KH: could be either.


I love that he told her that she’s beautiful.


KH: me too!


Awkward...Dylan is telling Norma about his dinner plans with Emma.


I wonder how Emma will react to dinner at the house, instead of going out with Dylan.


DYLAN TOLD YOU NOT TO COME. WHY DO YOU NOT LISTEN? SIGH.


KH: "We can't be friends, Caleb!"


KH: NORMA, NO. NO. NO.


Norman is not going to like this. At all. He hates Caleb. I predict attempted murder at the dinner table.


KH: "he's working on something in the basement. It may be the therapist."


HAHAHA!


KH: impressive!


Queue Norman coming and freaking out in 3...2….1…


KH: that face!


Romero’s like “WTF?”


Most awkward dinner EVER.


Maybe having Norman next to Caleb is a big mistake (or you know...the best thing ever in our case).


KH: yeah, he may be about to die. Oh, Norman's face.


He’s legit thinking about stabbing with the fork. Haha.


KH: he is so creepy! God, Norman!


Um… o.O That was SO SO SO unsettling.


Only 3 more episodes now? Or two?


KH: 3.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman



Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
Release Date - April 21, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**


**SPOILERS FOR PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?
After the powerful Prisoner of Night and Fog I was anxious to see what would come next for Gretchen and Daniel. Anne Blankman shows off her versatile skills with a sequel that takes a slightly different direction, and yet continues the story in a believable way. A breathless, dizzying murder mystery is the heart of this novel, and it's one that will have you burning through the pages unable to read fast enough.

Where Prisoner of Night and Fog was more of a psychological thriller, this second novel feels more like a classic 'who done it' style of storytelling. In this case it's more of a 'why done it', but the formula feels similar. The added element of increasing support for Hitler and his ideas, however, increases the risk and danger. It feels more palpable because it feels tangible and grounded. Anne captures the historical elements so flawlessly that it's all to easy to image.

Anne stepping from a thriller, to more of a murder mystery with such ease shows how versatile she is as a writer. The writing seems completely at ease in either, and I predict that she may end up being an author that dabbles in various genres. The attention to detail, particularly for a novel with a historical setting, is vital. It immerses you into the story, and there is a sense of foreboding that overcomes you. We have hindsight, and with it comes the knowledge of what happens next. History is working against what we as the reader are hoping for. We know what occurs after Hitler gains power, and that reality feels like a rock in your stomach as you tear through the pages hoping fruitlessly that history changes.

Hilter was such a domineering, driving force in Prisoner of Night and Fog. He was central to the plot. In this novel, however, we see him from a distance instead of up close and personal. We see him the way everyone following the story at the time would have. The paranoia, mixed with an all consuming fear, felt authentic. It gave a taste of how his name must have struck fear into those in hiding. The glimpse we're provided of wanting to be overlooked, of wanting to remain safe, and being terrified that Hilter or his men would find you is terrifying.

The romance between Gretchen and Daniel is so achingly realistic. The problems they face in this novel, outside of the obvious ones, are ones that couples face all the time. The idea of what makes each of you happy, and that it might not be the same thing, and what that means for the relationship is adeptly woven through the entire story. Loving someone enough to want their happiness, even if that is not with you, is a huge sacrifice, and struggle. The pain of this is crushing, and how leaving them hurts, but hurting them by not letting them go hurts more. They way they work through their issues, and actually communicate is healthy. They may in fact be one of my favourite relationships I've recently read because of how functional they are together.

Those who love historical novels will fall in love with this duology and Anne Blankman's writing. Those who like their history with action, excitement, romance and intrigue will devour this high speed plot. I can only hope that we have many more future books from this author to enjoy, as she's certainly one to watch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Game of Love and Death Blog Tour - Guest Post



Today I am delighted to host Martha Brockenbrough with a guest post as part of the blog tour for her book The Game of Love and Death.

First, here is a little about the book in case you haven't heard of it before. Also be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom because you NEED this book.
Title: THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH

Author: Martha Brockenbrough

Pub. Date: April 28, 2015

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)

Pages: 352

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.
Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.
I asked Martha to discuss the link between love and death in so many stories and why exactly she thought that connection exists. 

It is often said that love and death are linked. It's often found in tragic love stories (think Romeo and Juliet). Why do you think there is this link between them?

This is such an interesting question, and I think there are both emotional and structural links. When you write books, creating high stakes is key. It doesn’t mean every book has to end in a nuclear explosion. And it doesn’t mean that anyone has to die—the stakes come from how much someone wants something and what they’re willing to endure to get it.

Not long ago I watched a video of a ferret trying to leap from a counter to an ironing board, and there was this tense period in which it wound its little body up, relaxed, wound it, rolled around, wound up once more—and then finally took the leap only to experience heartbreak and humiliation.

With love, the stakes are high. Our bodies might not die without it, but our spirits surely do. We are wired to love and to be loved, and the loss of it hurts like nothing else. (It can also literally cause heart damage.)  Inside of a book and in life, death is the ultimate obstacle two characters in love can face. ‘Til death do us part’ is the biggest promise we can make each other in this life. Certain stories are going to demand that particular stake.

Emotionally, though, the link is more subtle. One of the themes I thought about with The Game of Love and Death is the tragedy of death-within-life. In other words, if you’re not living with love and authenticity, you’re dead already. So, love who you must love and live as you must live. Doing otherwise is a fate worse than death.

What’s more, if there wasn’t death, none of this would matter. We could do whatever we wanted, because the highest stakes would be suffering, and even that would mean less. When you have infinite days, what’s a bad one now and then? For all of us, the inalienable prospect of Death is a challenge to live as well as we can while we can.

Her guest post is amazing, and I am so happy to share it......

A huge thank you to Martha for writing this!
Martha Brockenbrough (rhymes with broken toe) is the author of two books for adults and five books
for young readers.

She's the founder of National Grammar Day (every March 4), and she's written game questions for Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. The former editor of MSN.com, Martha has interviewed lots of celebrities, including the Jonas Brothers and Slash (his favorite dinosaur is the diplodocus). Her work has been published in a variety of places, including The New York Times. She also wrote an educational humor column for the online encyclopedia Encarta for nine years.

She lives in Seattle with her family. Her favorite kind of food is Indian, although Thai runs a close second. Besides writing, she likes board games, playing music with the family band, travel to places far and near, drinking lots of coffee, and working out really hard at the gym.

Now for the giveaway! FIVE winners will each get a finished copy of The Game of Love and Death. Use the Rafflecopter to enter below.

Also be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more guests posts, reviews, interviews and much more!

Week One:

4/20/2015- Alice Marvels - Interview
4/21/2015- Books, Bones and Buffy - Review
4/22/2015- A Glass Of Wine - Guest Post
4/23/2015- Jump Into Books - Review
4/24/2015- IceyBooks - Interview

Week Two:

4/27/2015- Fiction Freak - Review
4/28/2015- Nerdophiles - Guest Post
4/29/2015- The Starry-Eyed Revue - Review
4/30/2015- Seeing Double In Neverland - Interview
5/1/2015- Winterhaven Books - Review

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