Jaime's Top Ten Tuesday!


This fabulous meme Is hosted by the even more fabulous The Broke and the Bookish!

Physically, emotionally or mentally, each of these books had their own reasons for being hard to get through. Without further ado....



The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This story is stunning, it is perfection, and it sent me on one of the most emotional book coasters I have experienced to date. There were times that I had to put the book down, and just sit and breathe. EVERYONE should read this book!



Swoon by Nina Malkin
A LOT of people didn't like this book, and since it is on my list you might think I am one of them. But, I honestly liked it. It was incredibly different, and intriguing. However, it embarrassed the crap out of me, and some parts were just... disturbing. So, it took me a while to finish it. 



Illusions by Aprilynne Pike
Don't hate me, Wings series lovers out there, but this series just didn't sit well with me. At all. Wings was a good book, and I enjoyed it. With Spells, it went downhill. And then came Illusions, which just cemented my dislike. I honestly don't know how I was able to continue the series. Must have been some serious determination. My ONE reason for almost not making it through? LOVE TRIANGLE. The worst one to date, and the one that has made me angrier than any other I have read before. On a good note, Destined was pretty great, and while it still angered me, the focus was on something much better. The battle!



The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi
I won't even go into my reasons this one made me mad, but I struggled to finish it. Finish it, I did though!



Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
This book is incredibly, deeply disturbing. Some of the scenes, the vulgar feelings coming off of the pages, were hard to get through. 



Fracture by Megan Miranda
I didn't connect with this one for some reason, and I really struggled making it to the end. Some books aren't meant to be, I suppose


 

Cracked Up to Be  and  Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
These books are amazing, and so thoroughly gut-wrenching and emotional that they are hard to read in one sitting. It is almost physically painful sometimes. Courtney Summers is amazing. 



Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz, Ron Bass
Lucid is amazing, it is beautifully written, it is a great book. It is also incredibly confusing. I didn't necessarily have a hard time getting through this one, more that I would have to stop myself and slow down, reread here and there, so I would catch something. And still, I missed things. This is one that needs multiple readings to catch all of the tiny little pieces of the puzzle. 



The Waking Dark  by Robin Wasserman
This book is great. This book is fantastic. The writing in this book is top notch. This book is also INCREDIBLY disturbing,  heartbreaking and nausea-inducing. It is not an easy book to read, and that was proven by the amount of times I had to stop and breathe, or wipe my eyes. 





Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell

By Lisa Maxwell
Published on October 8, 2014
Published by Flux
Source: ARC provided by Netgalley
Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But try as she might, she can’t come up with a logical explanation for the recurring dreams that have always haunted her. Dark dreams. Dreams of a long-ago place filled with people she shouldn’t know…but does.

When her family moves to a New Orleans plantation, Lucy’s dreams become more intense, and her search for answers draws her reluctantly into the old city’s world of Voodoo and mysticism. There, Lucy finds Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they’ve known each other forever. Lucy knows Alex is hiding something, and her rational side doesn’t want to be drawn to him. But she is.

As she tries to uncover Alex’s secrets, a killer strikes close to home, and Lucy finds herself ensnared in a century-old vendetta. With the lives of everyone she loves in danger, Lucy will have to unravel the mystery of her dreams before it all comes to a deadly finish.
 Lucy's dad gets an opportunity one summer in New Orleans, to be the head of a new plantation museum, that he and her mom just can't resist and they drag her and her little brother with them. Lucy is not happy about leaving her life behind, but made a deal with her parents that if she sticks it out for the summer and tries her best to enjoy herself, they will let her return home for her senior year and live with her aunt. Reluctantly, she agrees. To make matters worse, the recurring dream that she has had her whole life, makes a reappearance after leaving her be for a while. What a great start to her "trial stay" in Orleans, huh?

 Lucy does what she promised, and gets involved and works, and even makes a couple of friends along the way. But the nightmares have changed... and they are getting worse. The boy she met by the lake starts showing up in her dreams, and the dreams are incredibly real. And she feels tied to them, yet she doesn't know how. As the dreams continue, the events of the past start taking place again, in present day. Young girls disappearing, and their bodies being found, mutilated. Lucy must decide if she believes in Voodoo, and if she believes that it can help her figure out what is happening, and fast.

 I really enjoyed this story, in the beginning. Getting to know New Orleans with Lucy, in real life and in her dreams, was a great pull for me. I love New Orleans, and its ties to Voodoo/Hoodoo. The plot itself was a good one, and while not exactly fast paced, it had enough substance to keep me interested in the story. However, when I was about 3/4 of the way through, I hit a point in the story and seriously thought that I had somehow skipped about a hundred pages. It felt like I was HERE in the story and then, in the turn of a page, I somehow ended up all the way over...........................HERE. It threw me for a loop, and I never really got pulled back into the story as deeply as I was. I went back several times to see if I had missed something, but I couldn't find anything. It didn't necessarily feel like there was a complete hole, but maybe just some steps were missing along the way.

 All in all, Sweet Unrest is a good story. I am very glad that I took the time to read it, based solely on New Orleans and the pretty cover with the pretty great. Great characterization and a great city, plus flashbacks to the past, ghosts and voodoo, makes for a fun, mysterious ride with some heartbreak and happiness along the way. Not the best book in the world, but definitely one that I would tell you to give a chance to. I will be keeping my eyes open for a next book in this series, or by this author. Either way!

BLOG TOUR: TABULA RASA by Kristen Lippert-Martin


Thanks to the publisher, we are pleased to present a review and giveaway of Tabula Rasa, a new sci-fi thriller from Kristen Lippert-Martin.  Check out my thoughts on the book, then enter the giveaway (US/Canada only)!


By Kristen Lippert-Martin
Published on September 23rd 2014
Published by EgmontUSA
Source: Publisher
The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

Tabula Rasa plunges you right into its complicated, messy world as Sarah prepares to undergo the last surgery she needs to have her mind wiped so she will be completely free of a past that she only has the foggiest of memories of.  She can only guess at what her past is, which is not so great when people start to try to kill her because of who she is -- if only she knew who that was.

This is a fast paced book that I read over just a few sittings and definitely did not want to put down.  You definitely feel for Sarah, especially as she starts recalling her past, as it's not a great one.  She is strong and resilient, though, and even when circumstances look dire for her, she never gives up.  She just wants to make things right, by the end, and has to reconcile her past with her present, and figure out who she wants to be going forward.

There is some romance, and while it's not love at first sight, Sarah and her dude are really only together for a short period of time before things get shmoopy.  That said, the romance doesn't take over the book at all, and is really only a minor part of the plot.  

It does take a somewhat frustratingly long time to get answers, and you'll probably guess a few of them before the book gets you there. I liked that we got most of the answers, and that the book seems to be a stand-alone, but they're delivered in a few pretty big info-dumps that could maybe have been worked in a little more naturally.

Overall, this was a fun read that kept me interested the whole way through.  Like I said, it seems like a stand-alone, but if Lippert-Martin returned to this universe, I'd probably pick up the follow-up.  There are some kind of gross scenes in the beginning, talking about Sarah's brain surgery, and a fair amount of violence throughout the book (shooting, explosions, injuries, etc.) but otherwise is a clean read.

About the author...




Kristen Lippert-Martin has an MFA from Columbia University. She's worked at Time, the world-renowned Brookings Institution, and even had a stint as a stand-up comic before turning to writing full-time. She was awarded the SCBWI's Work-in-Progress grant in 2010.

She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband and four children. Tabula Rasa is her first novel.

Visit her online at www.kristenlippertmartin.com and follow her on Twitter @KLipMart
Make sure you visit all of the stops on the tour for reviews, interviews with author Kristin Lippert-Martin, exclusive excerpts from the book, and more giveaways!


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Crystalee reviews Sebastian and the Balloon

By Philip C. Stead
Published on October 7 2014
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Source: Publisher
On a boring day, on a dull street, Sebastian sat high atop his roof--something he was never supposed to do. When he launched himself into the air in his balloon made of Grandma's afghans and patchwork quilts, his journey took on a life of its own and his boring day turned into the adventure of a lifetime. From award-winning author/illustrator Philip C. Stead, comes another timeless adventure with his trademark whimsical illustrations and an unwavering spirit.A Neal Porter Book


There's a reason why Philip C. Stead won the Caldecott Medal for A Sick Day for Amos McGee. His illustrations are fantastic! And Sebastian and the Balloon is another imaginative work of art that kids will love.

When Sebastian gets bored, he builds a hot air balloon out of his grandma's quilts, and his imagination floats away! Along the way, he meets many new friends, including a "real bear." The text is simple and perfectly matches the colorful, textured illustrations.

I love books that encourages kids to use their imaginations, and this one does just that. It is sure to be a classic for years to come.




COVER REVEAL: The Green Dagger

 
The Green Dagger (BlackMyst Trilogy) by Kelly Hess
Publisher: Booktrope
Expected Publication: December 2, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Green-Dagger

Tensions rise between Delvengard and Sorak as the Sorak queen demands the return of the Blade of Torrill. As Delvengard scrambles to locate the mythical weapon, many fear war is inevitable. Fritz, who secretly possesses the dagger, is tormented by its evil. Eager to take control of its power, he journeys in search of a mysterious being who may be able to help. The Green Dagger, Book Two of the BlackMyst Trilogy, continues the adventure, five years after the events of Book One, Eyes of the Enemy.


About the Author

KellyHessAuthorPhoto

Kelly Hess grew up with a love of reading science fiction and fantasy that inspired him to write his own fantasy trilogy. He lives in Vacaville, California with his wife and son, and is putting the final details on the last two books of his BlackMyst Trilogy: The Green Dagger and The Third Power.

Made For You by Melissa Marr - Blog Tour Review (by Jaime!) and Giveaway!



Follow along with the entire tour at Xpresso Book Tours!



By Melissa Marr
Published on September 16, 2014
Published by Harper Collins
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely books Melissa Marr’s first contemporary YA novel is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder. A killer is obsessed with Eva Tilling. Can she stop him, or will he claim her?
When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.
For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling.

I absolutely adored Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, but I haven't had the opportunity to read any of her other books... Until now, that is! And Made For You? Further cemented my love for this amazing writer and the remarkable talent she possesses!
Made For You is completely different from the Wicked Lovely series and her other books as well. Stepping into a new genre has to be incredibly scary, but by golly she has done it, and she has done it SO WELL! From the opening scene, sitting with Eva and her friends at a party and getting a glimpse of what it is like for her as teenage Jessup royalty, to the ending scene of a story being written, I was completely stuck. Fast-paced, horrifying and even romantic, there is not a moment of down time. I was never bored, never frustrated, only completely hooked.
Made For You is told in several alternating POV's: Eva, Grace (Eva's BFF), Nate (old friend of Eva's), and the killer. Switching POV's is something that I adore if it is done well, if you know immediately who is speaking without needing a name at the top of the change. Melissa Marr did this perfectly. Eva, the queen bee who is very much NOT. She is down-to-earth, smart and sassy, strong and weak and HUMAN. Gracie is the best friend you could ask for; loyal and honest, and always there for you. Nate is a catch and half, who hides so much pain and hurt behind anger that is well deserved. And finally, the killer. Man, this person is creepy. One of the most terrifying POV's I have ever read. You will want to close your eyes, just stop reading, because the things in this POV are so intensely disturbing!
Made For You is a mysterious, dark and creepy YA thriller that will keep you up at night, eyes glued to the pages. You won't be able to stop until you get to the end, even though sometimes you really want to! I 100% recommend this book to YA and adult readers alike. But be warned: It is not easy to read. There are parts of this that are definitely hard to handle. If you decide to take a chance though, you are in for a great ride!


About the Author


Hmm, I’m never good at the bio bit. I used to teach college & bartend, now I write novels. I love to meet new people, to hear their stories, to walk through new streets and see new vistas. I enjoy art in all its guises–graffiti, surrealist paintings, classic sculptures, tattoos, interesting buildings, Renoir, photography . . . Art & nature, they feed my soul & thus my muse.






Giveaway Time!

Giveaway ends October 7th - US and Canada


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COVER REVEAL: DeadGirl

Curiosity Quills is excited to reveal the cover for urban-fantasy, paranormal-romance DeadGirl, by B.C. Johnson, which is scheduled for release November 6, 2014. The fantastic cover was designed by Andy Garcia.

   Deadgirl, by BC Johnson - cover

About DeadGirl: 

Dead is such a strong word …

Lucy Day, 15 years old, is murdered on her very first date. Not one to take that kind of thing lying down, she awakens a day later with a seemingly human body and more than a little confusion. Lucy tries to return to her normal life, but the afterlife keeps getting in the way.

Zack, her crush-maybe-boyfriend, isn’t exactly excited that she ditched him on their first date.

Oh, and Abraham, Lucy’s personal Grim Reaper, begins hunting her, dead-set on righting the error that dropped her back into the spongy flesh of a living girl. Lucy must put her mangled life back together, escape re-death, and learn to control her burgeoning powers while staying one step ahead of Abraham.

But when she learns the devastating price of coming back from the dead, Lucy is forced to make the hardest decision of her re-life — can she really sacrifice her loved ones to stay out of the grave?

Add DeadGirl to your Goodreads 'to-be-read' list.

B. C. Johnson - bio pic

About B.C. Johnson:

Born in Southern California, B.C. Johnson has been writing since he realized it was one of the few socially acceptable ways to tell people a bunch of stuff you just made up off the top of your head. He attended Savanna High School in Anaheim, and an undisclosed amount of college before deciding that weird odd jobs were a far greater career path.

This lead him to such exciting professions as: aluminum recovery machinist, lighting designer, construction demo, sound mixer, receptionist, theater stage hand, wedding security, high school custodian, museum events manager, webmaster, IT guy, copywriter, and one memorable night as the bouncer at a nightclub. He is trying very hard to add “vampire hunter” and “spaceship captain” to that list.

He currently lives in Garden Grove with his supernal wife Gina, his half-corgi, half-muppet dog Luna, and his new half-grayhound, half-living-tornado-of-destruction Kaylee. He also spends time with his two brothers, his parents, and his close friends, whose primary pursuit are usually healthy debates about movie minutiea. When he’s not working or writing, he’s been to known to pursue all conceivable geeky avenues of interest including but not limited to video games, the sort of TV shows/movies Benedict Cumberbatch might star in, graphic novels, podcasts, funny gifs, the whole thing.

He’s also been known to apply his special brand of hyperbole and mania to pop-culture humor essays for various websites that can be found on his homepage, bc-johnson.com. B.C. also has a high school noir short story called “The Lancer” available on Kindle.

Deadgirl is his first novel.

Find B.C. Johnson Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper - Review (by Jaime!) and Giveaway



By Kendall Kulper
Published on September 23, 2014
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.


Well, this book is definitely not a happy-go-lucky, skipping through the park and singing a tune kind of read. Salt & Storm is dark and bleak. It hits hard in some places, especially for an emotional reader like me. And...... I really enjoyed it!
It is a different take on witches. Definitely not something that I have read before. There are moments of happiness, and a sweet romance. But there is also heartbreak. I won't give any details for the story at all, except to say that Avery is a Roe witch, and she needs to awaken her magic. The journey to do so is this story, and this story is full of the tension and pressure and fear that Avery feels.
Tane was a good character, and I enjoyed the romance. But with this story, my focus was the magic. Witches are some of my favorites to read about and when I get my hands on a good witchy story, every other aspect takes a back seat. Tommy is also a character to watch for, and just be prepared for the... character that is Avery's mom.
All in all, this a great story. I really enjoyed it from beginning to end. I would absolutely recommend you giving it a try, but be warned! The ending of this is rough! In a good way. I love that Kendall Kulper isn't afraid to go places and do things that a lot of authors steer away from. It makes this book stand out. 



About the Author


 Kendall Kulper writes historical fiction with a fantasy twist for teen readers and knows more about nineteenth century whaling than she ever imagined. Her debut YA novel, SALT & STORM will be published by Little, Brown September 23, 2014. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and literature in 2008 and spent several years as a journalist before deciding to write full-time. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and now lives in Boston with her husband and chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd mix, Abby.




Giveaway Time


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Tour Schedule:
Week One:
9/15/2014- Novel NoviceInterview
9/15/2014- The Infinite To-Read ShelfReview
9/16/2014- All Things Urban FantasyGuest Post
9/16/2014- No BS Book ReviewsReview
9/17/2014- Such a Novel IdeaInterview
9/17/2014- Katie's Book BlogReview
9/18/2014- IceyBooksInterview
9/18/2014- Reading YA RocksExcerpt
9/19/2014- Wishful EndingsGuest Post
9/19/2014- Casual ReadersReview

Week Two:
9/22/2014- Supernatural Snark- Interview
9/22/2014- About to ReadReview
9/23/2014- The Cover ContessaGuest Post
9/23/2014- Imaginary Reads- Review
9/24/2014- Fire and IceGuest Post
9/24/2014- Once Upon a TwilightReview
9/25/2014Tales of the Ravenous ReaderInterview
9/25/2014The Best Books EverReview
9/26/2014Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
9/26/2014Tynga's ReviewsReview

Sarah loved The Island of Excess Love

By Francesca Lia Block
Published on August 26th 2014
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Publisher
Pen has lost her parents. She’s lost her eye. But she has fought Kronen; she has won back her fragile friends and her beloved brother. Now Pen, Hex, Ash, Ez, and Venice are living in the pink house by the sea, getting by on hard work, companionship, and dreams. Until the day a foreboding ship appears in the harbor across from their home. As soon as the ship arrives, they all start having strange visions of destruction and violence. Trance-like, they head for the ship and their new battles begin.

This companion to Love in the Time of Global Warming follows Pen as she searches for love among the ruins, this time using Virgil’s epic Aeneid as her guide. A powerful and stunning book filled with Francesca Lia Block’s beautiful language and inspiring characters.
Love in the Time of Global Warming was one of my favorite books last year, so whenever I found out there was going to be a follow-up, I was overjoyed.  My expectations were high, and I'm glad to say that author Francesca Lia Block met every last one of them.

The Island of Excess Love continues the story of Pen and her band of survivors from the great Earth Shaker. These books are all about chosen families, and Pen and company are just that -- a group of people who are family even though  they're not blood-related (for the most part). They're doing their best to get by, until strange things start happening again. No one wants to leave their happy little pink house, but these kids all have a sense of knowing that there is something much bigger going on in the universe and that they have a responsibility to do something about it.

As in the previous book, the group's travels are informed by the Aeneid, and they use the book to help them understand what's coming next. Although -- also like the previous book -- all because they can guess what's coming doesn't mean they're able to avoid danger and drama. There's heartbreak, broken trust, death, and lies.

Block's writing is really the main draw here. This is a book that I just wanted to soak up and take my time with, to really let her words sink in. Everything about this universe is surreal and the way she writes really helps amp that up.  I love everything about the way this book was written. Despite the surreal  nature of the story itself, the characters feel so real. They can be easily taken in by magic and spells, they hurt each other, they beg forgiveness.  There are no shortcuts or easy answers in this world, which would have been all too easy to do in a book with giants and harpies and enchantments.

I do recommend re-reading or skimming Love in the Time of Global Warming first -- I had forgotten a great deal of it, so I was a bit lost for a little while.  There is some sexual content in this book, along with violence and disturbing imagery, so younger readers beware. As with The Island of Excess Love, I don't think that this book is for everyone, but if you're a fan of Francesca Lia Block and/or mythology, I would definitely give it a read.


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