Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blog Tour: Loop by Karen Akins Review and Interview

Loop (Loop #1) by Karen Akins
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Age Group: YA
My Copy: eGalley via NetGalley
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: 10/21/14
Review by: Alicia


At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future. 


I have been wanting to read Loop ever since I heard it was about a time traveler who accidentally brings a boy from the past into the future with her, and oh yeah, he’s in love with her future self. I mean, how does that not interest you? So yeah, I’ve really been looking forward to Loop. Luckily for me, Loop was even better than I thought it would be.

The book starts off by literally throwing you into the story. There is no slow start; it starts off with a bang. Because of that, I had a little bit of a hard time getting into it, but once I got a little ways more in, I was hooked. Bree has a lot of different slang and it was part of the reason as to why I wasn’t all that into Loop. Once I got the hang of it, the slang was fine. Actually, the slang leaned on the cute and funny side which I loved. All of the future technology, words, ect. were also a little hard to follow at first, but once I was past the first couple of chapters, I was able to understand it and had no more problems. Akins does also explain everything, so you won’t spend the entire book lost and confused.

Loop had a lot of mysteries going on, as is the case with most books dealing with time travel. I’m usually really good at figuring everything out in books before the truths are revealed, but Loop stumped me. I think I only figured one or two things out, the majority of the twists and revelations surprised me. I was a little suspicious of the person who turned out to be the attacker, but even then I pretty much dismissed them. Major props to Karen Akins for writing a book that will leave readers guessing and unable to figure everything out.

And Finn. Their first meeting was the best. They didn’t leave the best first impression on each other, especially since Bree ended up “kidnapping” him, which was absolutely hilarious. They spent a lot of time after that bantering and bickering. I love reading about couples who banter, and Bree and Finn’s relationship definitely has that throughout the entire book. Their relationship is too freaking cute. Honestly, they just had a lot of cute and funny moments together. Finn is definitely a new book boyfriend. He’s confident, hot, not at all embarrassed by his nerdiness, protective of Bree, but also knows that he needs to back down because she can do things herself, and it’s easy to see just how much he loves her. *happy sigh*

And Bree. Oh, Bree. You are fabulous. One of my favorite heroines. She’s snarky, fearless, willing to do whatever it takes, and very easy to relate to. I had absolutely no problems about liking Bree. Her narrative is easy to follow and enjoy. She is also funny and smart. I spent half of the book laughing at the things she said or thought. Bree may be smart, but she does have a few moments where she messes up. When those happened she owned up to it and tried to come up with ways to fix it, even if it didn’t turn out all that right.

If you are looking for a book that is funny, cute, romantic, fun and unputdownable pick Loop up! I could go on and on, but this review is already getting long. Just get a copy of Loop. Trust me.

The sequel, Twist, will be out on March 31, 2015. You can bet I’ll be counting down the days until I can get it.

Cover Comments: I’m not a huge fan of kissing covers, but I do like this one. Especially the background—it looks like a time vortex.

Overall: 5/5 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today to celebrate the release of LOOP!

1. What was your favorite scene to write?

 Ooh. This is a hard one. There’s one particular scene where Bree and Finn are trapped together in a small vehicle from the future called a Pod, and it was fun to write because they’re packed in there so tightly that I was hyperaware of all their body movements. I could just feel their awareness of each other as I wrote it out. And it’s a scene were she starts to open up to him, so it gives that extra dose of closeness.

 2. If it was possible to time travel, would you?

 Part of me would want to go back to my own past and observe special moments (like my wedding or my sons’ births), but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to ruin them. Everyone tells me how happy I looked on my wedding day—that I didn’t stop smiling the entire time—but I think I’d be picking apart details. For instance, my husband surprised me for our ten-year anniversary last week with a slideshow of our wedding pics, and I noticed that my shoes looked weird from a certain angle.

 So now, even though I know there’s almost no chance that people were staring at my shoes that day, I will always wonder.

 3. Do you have any favorite time travel books, movies, and tv shows?

 Oh. My. Word. You have opened up the floodgates. I LOVE time travel. I love to pick it apart and find loopholes in it. I think that’s part of the fun.

 My all-time favorite time travel is Back To The Future. It’s actually the first movie that I remember seeing in the theaters. (And little spoiler alert: There’s a scene paying homage to it in TWIST.) My husband and I have heated discussions about whether II or III is superior (II, obviously).

 In recent years, I really enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past. I thought the way they tied the present together with the changing past was brilliant. Looper held my attention, but dang it was gruesome.

 In books, I've actually avoided reading time travel while I've been writing LOOP. There are already so many similar themes in the sub-genre. I didn’t want to be overly influenced by other authors. And let me tell you, it has been hard. Once I finish my final polishes on TWIST, I’m going to have a total time travel binge. I’m looking at you, Julie Cross, Myra McEntire, and Cristin Terrill. J

 4. What are some of your favorite books and which books are you looking forward to?

 Well, I mentioned the impending time travel binge.

 All-time favorites are Harry Potter, everything by Jane Austen, The Hunger Games series, Anne of Green Gables, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tuck Everlasting, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. In recent years, I really liked The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats, The Mediator series by Meg Cabot, and the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis. I haven’t had a chance yet to read Beth’s book The Body Electric, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to a few of my crit partners’ books. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio is coming out at the end of April, and I can’t wait. I got to read an early version, and it’s fabulous. Kimberly Loth’s sequel in her Kissed series is coming out soon, and she very cruelly hasn’t let me read any of it yet. I’m looking forward to that one, too.

 5. What are you working on now?

 At this moment, I’m waiting on copy edits for TWIST. I’m also finishing up revisions on a Middle Grade story that’s been percolating in my head for quite awhile. And then, there’s a shiny new idea brewing that I can’t talk about just yet.

 Thanks again for having me! I hope everyone enjoys LOOP. <3 nbsp="">

To find out more about Karen, you can visit her: website, twitter, tumblr, facebook, goodreads, instagram, and pinterest.

Raven Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

All reviews in October that have a "Halloween" feel are labeled Raven Reviews 

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Raven Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents’ tragic deaths to her guardians’ half-truths about why she can’t return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who’s a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren’t pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy-tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy-tale curses of their own ... brothers who share a dark secret. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

Review: First off, I really liked this book and I thought it was a quick, imaginative read. At the same time, I can see people getting frustrated with Mira. I know I did. She is thrust into this new world where fairy tales are real, and they aren't always beautiful, so she's understandably confused and seeking answers. However, she also ignores a lot of well-meaning advice, even when proof is shown to her that she is doing the wrong thing. I just wanted to shake her and tell her to wake up before you get hurt! I guess it wouldn't be much of a journey if Mira always did the right thing though.

I loved how Mira met a variety of people who are fated to play out fairy tale roles. Some of them are excited about it, like a boy named Freddie, while others are afraid, like a girl named Viv. I won't tell you the curses these teenagers are afflicted with because figuring it out is half the fun. As is probably obvious, Mira belongs among this group. I think her fairy tale curse is a bit obvious, but again, I'll let you learn that on your own!

That what we want - what we're willing to fight for - matters as much as, or more than, our curse."
p. 167

As for the two brothers mentioned in the summary, that would be Blue and Felix. Both of them share the same curse, except Blue seems unwilling to give into his and is desperate for Mira to stay away from his brother. The aforementioned annoyance with Mira definitely occurs during these encounters. In time, though, Mira's eyes are opened to the true reality she now lives in, but is it too late for her and those she loves?

The book is in third-person point of view, following Mira, with a few moments of Blue's perspective. I think this worked well. Mira might be in the dark about a lot of things, but some of it are things you can still try and work out on your own. As for Blue, his moments show you more of his curse and how it affected him, which also helps you understand Felix in a way.

Kill Me Softly is a great book for this time of year, but it's also great for anyone fascinated by the dark side of fairy tales.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cover Reveal: Vitamins and Death by Medeia Sharif


YA Contemporary, Prizm Books

Release Date December 10, 2014

Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother’s briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High.

Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, Deidra thinks no one will figure out they’re the Battles from recent news and that they’re safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed her life.

Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.

Find Medeia

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Review by Lauren

Source: library copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way.

Review: I read Ella Enchanted for my children's literature course when we focused on fairy tales. Levine's novel is a different take on the Cinderella story. While there are many similarities between this book and the Cinderella you know from the Disney version, Ella is more feisty and capable of taking care of herself. She does eventually fall for a prince but they do get to know each other beforehand. They see the good and bad within each other.

Ella's circumstances are not fun. She is cursed her whole life with obedience, meaning she must do whatever people tell her to do. Most are not aware of the curse, but when the knowledge enters the wrong hands, it adds even more trouble to Ella's life. More than anything she wants to find Lucinda, the fairy who cursed her, so that she can gain control of her life instead of being pushed around by her absent father and new step-family.

This book is full of magical creatures, curses, fairies, and ultimately, the blessing of true love. Levine has created a version of Cinderella that truly celebrates being true to oneself.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Swapoween Blog Reveal!!!

Chaotic Goddess' Swapoween has ended, and I am here to share the lovely items that I got from my new blog friend. I was paired with Jennifer from Innerworkings of the Female Mind. As I post this, she hasn't posted what I got her yet, but here is what she got me!

Jennifer told me that she really loved decorations, so we ended up getting some similar items for each other. I also sent her some fun Halloween decorations and a koozie! My fun koozie (Witches Brew) even glows in the dark, as does one of my sticker sets.

I have the felt pumpkins on my fire place right now, and the wooden pumpkin set in the back (they are connected) is in my dining room. As for the Halloween bag, I currently have that in the kitchen. The candle next to it is a cookie scent. I'm not using it yet, but I will be! I also have some fun stickers, a grow your own pumpkin kit, and a Halloween Scare in Washington book since that is where Jennifer is from. I love the book; it's so cute and such a nice touch!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo 

Review by Lauren

Source: library copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

Review: This was another novel that I was assigned for my children's literature course. I saw the movie back when it was released, but I had never read the book. I'm glad to finally have had the chance to do so, though, because the story is really cute. It follows a few different points of view to give an overall fairy-tale like story.

Throughout the book there are some black and white drawings depicting certain scenes, which was a nice touch. This would be a great book to read aloud as DiCamillo often addresses the readers. She asks them questions and tells them to imagine moments. It's a nice way to get them involved and further interested in the story.

I love that DiCamillo explains the emotions of the characters in the book. Even if they do not always behave well, she helps the readers understand where they are coming from.

A cute book overall!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Raven Review: Horns by Joe Hill

During the month of October, I am calling all "Halloween" type books Raven Reviews.

Raven Review: Horns by Joe Hill

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own 

Official Summary: At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge. . . . It's time the devil had his due. . .

Review: The official summary for this book is quite long, so I will try not to waste a lot of time describing actual moments from the book. Instead, I just want you all to know that I absolutely loved this book. I've been wanting to read something by Joe Hill for awhile now (I even own Heart-Shaped Box) but it took realizing that the movie adaptation is fast approaching for me to grab a copy of Horns from the library. I'm a huge fan of Dan Radcliffe and I try and see anything he is in, so I was excited to learn he would be playing the title character, Ig, in the movie. After reading the book, I know it will be quite a departure for him but he looks great in the trailers!

Ig (Dan Radcliffe) and Merrin (Juno Temple) 
Anyway, back to the novel. Horns follows the third-person point of view of Ig Perrish whose girlfriend was raped and killed. Ig was was never charged, but most of the people where he lives seems to believe he did it. When Ig develops the horns, he finds that touching people will show him terrible things they have done, and he can often persuade people to do bad or dark things. In all, though, Ig is not a bad guy. It's interesting to see him manifest physically into the devil because there are still so many aspects of his personality that do not match up. Yes, he is capable of bad things. Yes, he does carry out some of these wishes. At the same time, he cares about people. He gets his feelings hurt, especially learning people's dark secrets concerning him.

Ig (Dan Radcliffe) and Terry Perrish (Joe Anderson) 
Horns allows you to see back in time, to learn how Ig grew up, how he and Merrin met and fell in love. It also gives you background information about other characters that is very much necessary for the story. Horns is difficult to talk about because everyone has a secret. I will tell you that the mystery of Merrin's death does not remain a secret for too long; at least concerning who killed her that night. From there, it is a dark path that Ig takes in terms of learning the truth and figuring out just what he wants to do with that power.

Finally, for those that are not aware, Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King. I tell you this in case you are a fan of King's and it helps you become more interested in Joe Hill's work. As of now, I have read one book by each of these men, and to be honest, I'm far more interested in reading more by Hill at the moment than King.

And now, for those who are interested, here is one of the Horns trailers. Horns is released in theaters on Halloween (Oct. 31).

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