Friday, October 24, 2014

A Call to Duty by David Weber and Timothy Zahn

A Call to Duty
* * *
Growing up, Travis Uriah Long yearned for order and discipline in his life . . . the two things his neglectful mother couldn't or wouldn't provide. So when Travis enlisted in the Royal Manticoran Navy, he thought he'd finally found the structure he'd always wanted so desperately.

But life in the RMN isn't exactly what he expected. Boot camp is rough and frustrating; his first ship assignment lax and disorderly; and with the Star Kingdom of Manticore still recovering from a devastating plague, the Navy is possibly on the edge of extinction.

The Star Kingdom is a minor nation among the worlds of the Diaspora, its closest neighbors weeks or months away, with little in the way of resources. With only modest interstellar trade, no foreign contacts to speak of, a plague-ravaged economy to rebuild, and no enemies looming at the hyper limit, there are factions in Parliament who want nothing more than to scrap the Navy and shift its resources and manpower elsewhere.

But those factions are mistaken. The universe is not a safe place.

Travis Long is about to find that out.


XO checking in again.  I am really spoiled by Nat when it comes to books.  She sees all these great sites, all these upcoming books, and when she sees one that I might like, she gently, kindly, looks at me, and in a sweet, sultry voice says “READ THIS IN 4 DAYS AND THEN REVIEW IT OR I WILL KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP!”.  I apologize, that’s a slight exaggeration.  She gave me 7 days. 

David Weber is back, and this time, he partners with Timothy Zahn, to take his fans of the Honorverse back to a time before the technological and military superiority of Manticore and her allies.  A Call to Duty, Manticore Ascendant Book 1, takes us back to a time when the Plague is still a recent memory, and the entire Manticoran Navy consists of 8 ships.  Far, far away are the days of Manticoran Fleets protecting the shipping lanes of the Silesian Confederacy from pirates, from going toe to toe with Thomas Theisman and Shannon Foraker and the battle fleets of Haven, and from defending your home world and its allies from attacks from Mesa.  What’s here now is a shrinking Navy with disappearing parts and budgets, a confused, squabbling and self-important political machine (OK, sorry, that won’t change anytime in their future), and a King who is tired keeping his fledgling world together.  And Travis Long, a young kid who has to make a decision one fateful night to be the getaway driver for his ‘friends’ or join the Navy.  Time will only tell if he made the right decision, and right now, Travis is not sure.

At its heart, this is a space pirate tale, with the scrappy newcomers fighting against a trained, smart, and well-funded pirate organization.  The pirates aren’t trying to rob a ship, they’re trying to steal one.  Well, two if they can get away with it.  Travis might be great at thinking outside the box, but it’s going to take everyone to get them out of this one, and if they’re all very VERY lucky, they’ll even be alive to see if it worked.    At the same time, there’s intrigue and struggles near the throne, and the King is tired, and Prince Edward has a feeling that he’s about to get handed the keys to the Kingdom.  The only question is will the Kingdom survive until he can get the Navy back in shape, and ready to face future threats.  And in the fine tradition of the House of Winton, the Prince will be trying to figure everything out while serving in that same Navy he’s trying to save. 

Sometimes Book 1 of a series can be a little dry, setting up the people, the places, the tech, and the society.  The story is fast paced, then slows, then speeds up again.  It is a bit of a roller coaster, but you know quickly who to love and who to hate (HA HA, no, it’s not going to be that easy, sorry, I was just seeing if you’d fall for it), and the political intrigue is present, as always in the Honorverse.  Weber and Zahn are a Sci-Fi geeks marriage made in heaven, and the book has both their fingerprints all over it.  I’ve missed Zahn since I first read his Star Wars trilogy, and I’ve been so hooked on Weber, I am almost always reading one, and rarely for the first time.  I look forward to seeing where the series goes, and hopefully this will not be the last collaboration between these two science fiction icons.   A good read, and more importantly, a set-up to a hopefully GREAT series.


the XO

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sway by Kat Spears Review & Interview

* * * * *

In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

This premise was plenty enough to persuade me to give this a go and what I discovered was not only far from expected but also exactly what I needed.

The story starts off with Jesse aka Sway getting beat up by Ken, the big man on campus, who has issues with Jesse being a little close to his girlfriend. From there we see how things came to this point. See, the term “I’ve got a guy” was tailor-made made for him. Jesse can get you anything you want and make arrangements for anything you need.  Nothing is off limits. Jesse doesn’t question the moral rightness of what’s requested.  So when Ken asks him to help him get close to a certain popular but quiet girl at school, Bridget, he doesn’t think twice.  His only rule is that he doesn’t allow anything to get close to him.  The Bridget assignment turns out to be a game changer. Not only does she get close to him, things also get personal.

There’s so much that goes on in Sway, from Jesse’s dealings with his peers at school to other questionable sorts away from it. Some of it is downright uncomfortable, morally questionable and well, illegal too.  But here’s the deal with Jesse – while he may be the biggest jerk who’s lacking a much needed filter, he has a keen understanding of human nature and how people think.  I found myself being impressed by his observations that are dead on and very matter-of-fact. For example, he has a particular business relationship with a certain dealer who is essentially a loser. However, Jesse glimpses a different side to the guy that wouldn’t have been as obvious to the rest of us.

What makes Sway intriguing is the fact that Jesse's this dichotomous personality that you can’t quite pin down. There are instances when he does things because they are self-serving yet you can't help but admire his business mind and ingenious plans. The guy is resourceful! Later, thanks to Bridget’s influence, he employs a different attitude. It’s a gradual evolution into becoming a different kind of man that’s as surprising to him as it is comical to the reader. By the end of the book, I liked Jesse so much that I was in complete wonderment as to how Spears pulled it off!

Another delightful aspect of the book is his budding friendship with two other characters – Pete, Bridget’s younger brother who’s about as anti-social as Jesse and Mr. Dunkelman, a gentleman at an senior community who pretends to be Jesse’s grandfather. Jesse and Pete have an antagonistic relationship that’s actually good for Pete, while Mr. Dunkelman gives Jesse just as much crap as he gives out. These two hit it off immediately and had me laughing so hard. Here’s an example of the humor and straightforward banter their unlikely friendship develops:

“It’s been a week. You’re not even going to try to talk to him?” Mr. D asked.
“What for?”
“I don’t know, “ he said. “You could try apologizing.”
“Apologize for what?” I asked as I looked up at him with a scowl.
“For being an asshole, “ he said impatiently. “That’s not in dispute, is it? The part about you being an asshole?”

See what I mean? This book is a fantastic read even if it has some somber and dubious moments.  Jesse with his complicated but intriguing persona surprised me by becoming one of my favourite characters this year. Sway is simply refreshing with its honesty and brusque language making it one of the best debuts I've read in a long time! 

~ Bel

Now for an added bonus, Kat Spears graciously agreed to an interview to talk about Sway. Some of her answers will surprise you. And she'll also share her thoughts on bacon.  Keep reading - it's so worth it!

What inspired Sway and the various personalities in the book?

Hoo boy, how much time do you have?

Sway is really the story of a friendship between two boys, Jesse and Pete. I studied a lot of Biblical history in college and found it endlessly fascinating. So,these two characters were inspired by Jesus and St. Peter and the relationship between them as portrayed through the Gospels.

I know. I know. I know what you are going to say. Jesse is a terrible person and Jesus was the son of God and a really cool dude who just wanted us all to be nice to each other. How could I even begin to compare these two people? But there are times when Jesus could be very hard on the people who were close to him, and St. Peter bore the brunt of that on more than one occasion. Eventually, though St. Peter had been a loyal and devoted follower of Jesus, St. Peter did betray Jesus more than once. It was a complicated friendship.

I really liked the idea of retelling that story, albeit with a huge amount of artistic license, as set in a contemporary high school. I didn’t follow the Biblical story to the letter, of course. Just looking at it loosely, Jesse performs a series of “miracles,” pulling off jobs and manipulations like no boy his age should be able to do; Pete becomes his disciple, adopting the bad boy persona. The betrayal in Sway comes from both sides, but I like to imagine that St. Peter felt somewhat betrayed when Jesus told the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer under torture and be killed. See what I mean? Complicated.

Other characters were all inspired by people I have known—some living, some dead. My biggest regret is that Carter was based on a boy I knew in high school and beyond. One conversation between Jesse and Carter was lifted from real life, a conversation he and I had when we were about 18. The person Carter is based on is now deceased, but I like to think he has become immortal through Sway.

Jesse is not the quintessential hero. He’s prickly and not exactly pc. Were you at all nervous about where he was taking you?

There are parts to Sway that I cringed as I wrote them. The one that really stands out for me is the scene in which Jesse describes the kids Bridget volunteers with at the Siegel Center. Though his delivery comes off as very insensitive, Jesse is really just describing what he sees. He’s brutally honest in his description of their physical disabilities, even mentioning that he finds the drool coming from one boy’s mouth to be revolting. This observation is cruel and unkind, and it makes us dislike Jesse a bit (or a lot).

There are two things at play that make this scene one that was both hard to write, and is now hard to read. One, is that we are socially conditioned to understand that describing people with special needs in the way that Jesse does is wrong. So, even if we were to think about a particular group of people in a certain way—whether you’re speaking of race, physical or intellectual disabilities, gender, religion—most people wouldn’t say it out loud, because most of the time it just isn’t socially acceptable (thank God).

And two, the other thing at play with this scene is that when a person feels really, really terrible—suffers from depression or has withstood tremendous grief—it becomes difficult to feel empathy and compassion for other people. Most of the time, when people are rude or unpleasant or mean, it is just because they themselves are deeply unhappy. So, Jesse, a deeply unhappy person who has closed himself off from feeling anything, can’t really see these kids in the way he should. He should feel guilt and remorse for being insensitive about the way he describes them, but he doesn’t, because he isn’t capable of experiencing those emotions.

Definitely some of the things Jesse says are offensive and make him a hard person to like. But there are a lot of people like that in the world, all fighting their own battles. It’s what makes this planet an interesting place to live.

Did I ever worry that my book would not be publishable, or people would be offended, because it deals with some issues that are not usually explored honestly and openly? Not really. All I did was write was a book that portrayed a high school I knew and understood, portrayed male teenagers in a way that I personally experienced them when I was a teenager myself. They say you should write what you know. The high school in Sway is the high school I knew.

Did I ever worry that people wouldn’t like Jesse (and, I suppose by extension, not like me)? If there is one important lesson it is that you can’t like, or be liked by, everyone in this world. All you can do is try to be nice to people and treat them the way you would like to be treated. Some people will be offended by Jesse, but I can’t help that. Others will appreciate his depth and complexity, and I wrote this book for them.

Did you have a specific message in mind when you wrote Sway?

No, I don’t feel like I really set out to create a message-driven book. These were just people who I got to know inside my head and they acted out the rest. But I have enjoyed reading about the meanings other people have discovered in reading Sway. One of my friends likes to discuss Sway as if it is real literature and not just something kind of funny that I wrote. She analyzes the characters’ personalities and motivations and it is fun to expand their back stories after the fact in conversation with her. I have to be honest, I was always really turned off by message-driven books for young people when I was a teenager so there is nothing I really preach in Sway. Except one point, that Jesse makes more than once, which is that recreational drug use is not the best idea if you want to accomplish good things in life. Smoking pot, drinking alcohol, dropping X—it doesn’t make you a better writer or artist. Quite the contrary. And I’ve lost several people in my life to drug and alcohol abuse, which is a horrible waste.

Which character in the book do you relate to the most or feel a special affinity with?

Jesse most of all. I understand that sense of turning off your feelings because some things are just too horrible to feel. Of course, then you have to let go of the good feelings too.

Jesse has chosen to wall himself off instead of experiencing hurt or regret. In a way, it’s almost…respectable. He doesn’t burden other people with his problems; never asks anyone to do him a favor he isn’t paying for with cash; and he tries to have the strength to navigate the world alone. In Jesse’s words: He’s a survivor. I can respect a survivor.

As you’re working on a story, when do you know that you’ve hit your stride?

Hmmm, I don’t think that I’ve ever hit my stride while writing. In fact, I really hate writing a first draft, getting the bones of a story down on paper. My first drafts always suck. A lot. My real joy is in editing and rewriting. I’ll write a draft, revise it about 100 times, hate it to the point of scrapping it altogether, and then one night I’ll wake up at 3:00 AM and know exactly what to do to make it perfect. It’s always a huge relief when that comes.With Sway I had the friendship between two boys and the characters were there but there was no high stakes, no real tension between them. And then, one day, I had the epiphany to throw in a dash of Cyrano de Bergerac and suddenly I had an underlying, secret conflict and with that a climactic betrayal to make it all work.

Now wed like to switch gears just because. The BiblioJunkies motto is “books, boys, pie”. That being said …

Is there a book that you enjoy to re-read?

There are many books I read over and over again—open them to my favorite part and relish a little ambush on the stockade in Treasure Island, or the gasoline can scene in Stick, or the detective interviews in Murder on the Orient Express, or the London scenes of Sense and Sensibility. I’m kind of a lazy reader in that way and I always have a hard time meeting a new author to fall in love with. But when I do find an author to fall in love with (ahem, Peter Abrahams, I’m waiting for your call), I fall really hard. I can reread an Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams over and over. My third child is named after the main character, Ingrid.

Between us three BiblioJunkies, we have several book boyfriends and we love them all. Who’s the ultimate book boyfriend to you?

God, Dallas Winston, of course. The quintessential bad boy with a heart of gold (hello, Jesse Alderman). And Ernest Stickley in Stick. Also a bad boy. And, of course, the perfectly broken and tormented male lead…Batman.

Which dessert describes you best?

Does bacon count as a dessert? If not, it should. I think bacon would describe me best. Salty, not great when it’s too crispy, not really good for you, and always makes a mess to cook, but some people like it enough that they put up with these faults.

Thank you Kat, for joining us and giving us insight into your remarkable debut. 

Connect with Kat:

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (123)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

All Broke Down (Rusk University, #2)By Cora Carmack
Publication Date: October 28, 2014

In this second book in "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author Cora Carmack s New Adult, Texas-set Rusk University series, which began with "All Lined Up," a young woman discovers that you can t only fight for what you believe in sometimes you have to fight for what you love.

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she's probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He's in for a different kind of fighting. And though he's arrogant and infuriating, she can't help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it's trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He's met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn't think he's broken, and he definitely doesn't need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.

Get HappyBy Mary Amato
Publication Date: October 28, 2014

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #3)By Michelle Hodkin
Publication Date: November 4, 2014

Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.

You Own Me Promo Blitz

YOM Promo Banner   
We are excited to bring you the Daily Deal Blitz for Shiloh Walker's YOU OWN ME! YOU OWN ME is a stand-alone contemporary erotica novella. 

And it's $.99 today only

Go grab this hot little read!

You own me

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** Kobo ** iTunes ** ARe

About YOU OWN ME: 

It had always been her… Ten years had passed since the doors slammed shut behind Decker Calhoun, taking away his freedom, but more importantly, locking him away from Elizabeth Waters, the only woman he’d ever loved—the woman he’d given up everything for. The day he was sentenced, he’d looked at her and said, No regrets, Lizzie. But he lied, because he did have one. Although he’s been out of jail for three years now, he was a year too late. Lizzie never knew how he felt and just months before he was released, she found somebody else and it’s too late. Or maybe not. It seems that Lizzie’s boyfriend wants an open relationship and two can play at that game. Now all Decker has to do is convince Lizzie that he’s the better man…and has been all along. 


Snarling, he tore his mouth from hers and jerked away, sitting at the far end of the futon. With hands that shook, he rubbed at his face.

“Lizzie…fuck. I’m sorry.”

A harsh intake of breath reached his ears and the last thing he wanted to do was face her, but that was what he made himself do.

The minute he turned his head to look at her, she surged up off the futon, moving across the small office to stand by her desk, head bowed, arms wrapped around herself. “Get out,” she said, her voice quiet.

Too quiet.

“Lizzie?”  Wincing, he climbed off the couch. “Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have—”

“Don’t.”  The word was pure steel and it caught him off-guard, for a second.

But just a second. Because while Lizzie was soft and sweet, under all of that, she was steel. She always had been—he’d figured that out when he hadn’t chased her off within the first few hours of meeting her. Now, as she turned and looked at him, tears glinted in her wide, dark brown eyes, but nothing could hide the fury, and the hurt, in those eyes.

Fuck, he thought miserably. Rising from the couch, he lifted a hand only to let it fall uselessly to his side. “Lizzie, I’m sorry. I didn’t—”

“I don’t want to hear it!” she shouted, cutting him off.

He had to duck to avoid the little potted orchid she sent flying his way. And damn, she still had a good throwing arm.

“Do you hear me?” she said, her voice starting to shake. “I don’t want to hear. I get it, okay?  Nobody wants me. No fucking body. I’m fine as a doormat for Noel as long as I let him treat me like shit, but he doesn’t want me. Neither do you. I get it. Okay?”

Stunned shock rippled through him as she shoved her tumbled hair back from her flushed face. Her eyes shot sparks as their gazes clashed. “I get the point. You’re a fucking hound dog and I know that. But I’m not good en—”

He caught the rest of her words with his mouth and when she went to shove him back, he caught her wrists, too. Sinking his teeth into her lower lip, he backed her up against her desk. “Not want you?” he muttered against her mouth. “Are you blind?”

She tried to turn her head and he tangled a hand in her hair, yanked it back. Her pupils flared, her mouth falling open on a startled moan. “Give me your mouth, Lizzie,” he said and then, without waiting, he took it, thrusting his tongue deep.

She bit him and he responded by letting her wrists go and catching her hips, boosting her up with one arm while he used the other to swipe out against her desk, clearing it with one careless gesture. Lizzie worked her hands between them and although he didn’t break away from her mouth, part of him held his breath—waited.

When she reached up and tangled her hands in his hair, he snarled in savage satisfaction.

Lying her down on her desk, he broke away. Her hands clutched at him and he caught them, shifted her wrists to one hand and pushed them up over her head. Then, as he held her gaze, he reached down and freed the top button of the top she wore. With each successive button, he bared more and more skin, pale, pretty skin, lush curves, her breasts cupped by silk and lace and his brain almost exploded as he flicked a look from her face downward to study those ripe curves.

“My hands are shaking,” he said, struggling to keep his voice from doing the same as he trailed his fingers along the delicate lace design of her bra, watching as a soft blush pinked her flesh and started to climb upward. “I’ve dreamed about touching you a thousand times and now I am and my hands are shaking…”

Now he looked at her, watched her throat work as she swallowed.

“And you think I don’t want you.”

Author PhotoAbout Shiloh Walker: 

Shiloh Walker is an award-winning writer…yes, really! She’s also a mom, a wife, a reader and she pretends to be an amateur photographer. She published her first book in 2003. Her newest series, Secrets and Shadows, launched in April 2014. Look for the newest book Deeper than Need, to be followed by Sweeter than Sin and Darker than Desire. She writes romantic suspense, contemporary and paranormal romance, and urban fantasy under the name J.C. Daniels.      

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Author Goodreads | YOU OWN ME 

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rowdy by Jay Crownover Release Day Launch

ROWDY RDL Banner 2  

We are over the moon excited to bring you the Release Day Launch for ROWDY by Jay Crownover!! ROWDY is the fifth novel in her Marked Men Series published by William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins and you do NOT want to miss it!  If you haven't read the Marked Men yet, you are totally missing out!


Amazon US ** iBooks ** Barnes and Noble ** Kobo ** IndieBound

EXCERPT: WHEN I PUT THE key he had given me in the door to his apartment it felt like the end of a long journey. Really it was only a little over twelve hours and I had stopped to nap once along the way, but it still felt like too long since I had seen his face or been able to touch all that toned and tattooed skin. Jimbo greeted me at the door when I pushed it open. His tongue lolled out of his mouth and he jumped up and put his paws on my legs. He was going to be huge when he finally grew into his fuzzy body and I was overwhelmed at how happy I was to see him. I dropped to my knees and rubbed my face in his neck as he licked me all over my face. I was obviously missed and I had to say it was just one more reason I knew I was finally where I was supposed to be. It was late, so the apartment was dark. I checked the dog’s food and water, trying to be quiet in case Rowdy was already asleep. I was winding my way toward his bedroom when a haphazardly discarded sketch pad lying on the couch caught my eye in the dim light. I paused for a minute to pick it up and felt my heart stop and then start to race as I flipped through the first few pages. There were a couple of drawings that were obviously for clients, tattoos that hadn’t made it from paper to skin yet, but most of the pristine white pages were covered with images wearing my face. There was mermaid me, and naughty- sailor- girl me. There was sassy Indian girl me with long Pocahontas braids and there was sexy devil me standing next to angelic me. There were dozens of them all in different shapes and sizes, but every single image was undoubtedly modeled after my distinct look. I wasn’t sure if he had drawn them all over this last week while I had been gone or over the months we had been chasing each other in circles. Either way it made my heart swell and the full certainty that I was it for him settle deep inside my bones. I set the pad down and tiptoed through the hall. Jimbo took one look at where I was going and huffed out a disgusted- sounding snort. The poor guy had learned early on that he wanted no part of what happened between his humans when they were together in the bedroom. The light was off and Rowdy was sprawled on his stomach across the covers. His blond hair was sticking up every- where and he hand one arm bent up under his head. The only thing that could have made the sight better would have been if he hadn’t bothered with the black boxers before crashing out. Even with them obscuring the view, I couldn’t complain. I let out a breathless sigh and crept closer so that I could lean over and touch my lips to that anchor on the side of his neck. I felt his pulse leap and tasted the salt on his skin as he murmured sleepily and rolled over onto his back. Those infinitely blue eyes glowed at me in the dark as a grin pulled up the corner of his mouth. “Hey.” 

   Rowdy Teaser 2  

  About ROWDY: The New York Times and USA Today bestselling Marked Men series continues with this sizzling, sexy story of love, heartbreak, fate, and second chances. After the only girl he ever loved told him that he would never be enough, Rowdy St. James knocked the Texas dust off his boots and set out to live up to his nickname. A good ol’ boy looking for good times and good friends, Rowdy refuses to take anything too seriously, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Burned by love once, he isn’t going to let himself trust a woman again. But that’s before his new co-worker arrives, a ghost from the past who’s suddenly making him question every lesson he ever learned. Salem Cruz grew up in house with too many rules and too little fun—a world of unhappiness she couldn’t wait to forget. But one nice thing from childhood has stayed with her; the memory of the sweet, blue-eyed boy next door who’d been head over heels in love with her little sister. Now, fate and an old friend have brought her and Rowdy together, and Salem is determined to show him that once upon a time he picked the wrong sister. A mission that is working perfectly—until the one person that ties them together appears, threatening to tear them apart for good.
   Sensual portrait of beautiful girl with tattoo lying on bed.   

About Jay Crownover: Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men series. She also introduced the dark and sexy world of The Point in a new series this last summer starting with BETTER WHEN HE's BAD. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

Get Happy by Mary Amato

* * * 1/2

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises.

Set in Evanston, just outside of Chicago Get Happy is a delightfully quirky and heartwarming story that I think many people will enjoy. Minerva and her best friend Finn have that typical teenage banter that’s filled with dry humor and endless sarcasm – all things that I love.

It's her birthday and all Minerva wants is this ukele that she's been eyeing for ages. She doesn't get it. Instead she receives a sweater from her mother - so not an uke. She also receives an unexpected gift from her absentee father that sends her into a tailspin and she's not quite sure what to make of it. She doesn’t disclose any of this to her mother who has an “off limits” attitude about the topic of her father.  That same day, Finn convinces her to try out for Get Happy with him. It’s a welcome distraction to audition for this business where they dress up as characters and sing for kids birthday parties. At the audition, Minerva and Finn meet Hayes and Cassie. These four are such a funny group together led by the business owner Joy who’s a bit of a character herself.  Some of the funniest stuff stuff in the book happens during the Get Happy birthday parties and Minerva’s first experience is hysterical!

I really liked Minerva, a remarkable songwriter who pours her emotions into her words. Her curiosity about her father overshadows a lot of the book and brings out the insecurities she has felt all this time but never admitted aloud. She’s curious but she can’t bring herself to reach out to him directly. Since her mother refuses to discuss him, she operates covertly to find any information she can about him. The more she finds, the more confused she feels about him. It all comes down to a very uncomfortable scenario that forces Minerva to confront her family for the truth. It's a painfully crushing experience that had me feeling so badly for her. 

One thing I can say is that not everything is resolved in the book and I’m good with that. It’s more the breakthrough that’s the important event in Get Happy. Minerva does have to survive the damage that's left when the truth finally comes out and the impact that it will have on her life. Even with the upheaval that ensues, Get Happy is enjoyable and the many mentions of different places in and around Evanston and Chicago made me smile extra, especially the description of riding the El which Amato nails perfectly!

~ Bel

Get Happy also features some of Minerva's amazing songs at the end of the book. Here's one of them performed by Jamey Geston:

To hear more fantastic songs:

Song from Get Happy performed by Jamey Geston

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Monday, October 20, 2014

A Peek In The BiblioBin #120

Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

For Review:

A Girl Called Malice (Popping The Cherry #2) by Aurelia B. Rowl via NetGalley

The Job (Fox and O'Hare #3) by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg via NetGalley


The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Eternal Night by Carina Adly Mackenzie (ebook)

Beneath The Stain (Serial 1-7) by Amy Lane (ebook)