Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Coincidence Of Callie And Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

* * * *
*Mature Content - Recommended for readers 17 years + due to sexual content and language*

 There are those who don’t get luck handed to them on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.

Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.

Now he can’t stop thinking about the girl he saw at school, but never really knew. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he does everything he can to try to get to know her. But Callie is reserved and closed off. The more he tries to be part of her life, the more he realizes Callie might need to be saved.

Since The Redemption of Callie and Kayden is due out shortly, I thought it would be nice to remember why this series is just another winner from Jessica Sorensen. Her stories are incredibly appealing and she manages to create some memorable characters in her books. The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden is another emotionally charged story, this time about two people who are so damaged that neither feels worthy of happiness or love.

I love how Sorensen sets us up with both Callie’s and Kayden’s point of views. It’s very much the same as with The Secret of Ella and Micha, a formula that works but one she tweaks in this book.  Unlike Ella and Micha, Callie and Kayden do not have an established history together or any sexual tension from the beginning. This time the full on ugly is displayed out in the open with both of them dealing with a lot of pain. For the first time in his life, Kayden wants to feel rather than go through the motions. His seemingly perfect life is far from that. Callie walked in on one of the worst moments of his life and rescued him without hesitation. He can never thank her enough for what she did. And because she did so, he has become curious about her. Who exactly is this quiet girl, known as a “freak” in high school who came to his aid and just disappeared.

For her part, Callie was surprised by what she did for Kayden. After  having witnessed what she did, she realizes that not everyone has a charmed life. She goes off to college a few days after the incident to focus on starting her new life and new identity away from the horror of her childhood and high school. Her past catches up with her when Kayden shows up at her college. With her new friend Seth, she learns to slowly open up and relinquish control so that she can have some normal experiences. It’s hard for her to trust anyone but she’s drawn to Kayden. After seeing him at his worst, she recognizes someone who is as anguished as she is. They’ve both been failed by their families. And as hard as it is to admit the secret that’s haunting them, they also find a strange kind of comfort in their growing friendship. Interestingly both sides wonder how wise it is to pursue their attraction to each other when they’re messed up themselves.

As gutting as some moments were, everything about this book is heartfelt and authentic.  Sorensen deftly handles two very sensitive issues with empathy and intelligence. Reading how Callie and Kayden wade through their emotional turmoil is hard.  I mean, they both need hugs! Neither of their issues are easy and no one has the right answer. But it’s beautiful to see these two people develop a genuine friendship where they become each other’s staunchest supporter. Kayden himself admits that he feels real and truly happy for the first time in his life. Callie is learning to trust and see that not everyone will hurt her. She takes big steps towards having happiness.

I love this book. I’m impressed with how it’s written, how Sorensen has managed to inject so much heart into it. She has given me a new couple to root for. I tell you what though – I am slightly mad at her for leaving me with a hell of an ending. It was so disturbing and intense I don’t think I was able to breathe until it was all said and done. Now I’m desperately waiting for the sequel so I can put my mind at ease.

~ Bel

Monday, July 29, 2013

BiblioJunkies Giveaways - the celebration continues!!!

Happy Monday folks!  Nothing makes you feel better on a Monday than free stuff (besides not having to go to work/school, etc).  If you've been following the blog, you know that all month we have been celebrating our 2 year anniversary/birthday.  We've saved the best for last! 

Over the last two years, we have had the extreme pleasure of meeting many fantastic authors, many of whom have signed copies of their books for us.  In this week's giveaway, we have two boxes of books, one YA and one for adults only.  Most of the books are signed, sadly some are not, but there are a ton of great books in both boxes!  

You know the drill, fill out the rafflecopter below for your chance to win.  Please only enter the giveaway for adults if you are 18 or over.  This is our last giveaway for our big celebration.  We hope you have enjoyed the ride!

Thanks for stopping by and good luck!

~Shel, Bel & Nat

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 26, 2013

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

* 1/2

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.

What I liked …

The story is really well written and evokes some very strong images. The close sister-like relationship between the narrator and Aurora was very touching. They hung out all the time, partied together, went to shows together. It was very obvious that while Aurora was the impulsive shining star that people tended to gravitate toward, the narrator was the one who grounded them and protected them from harm.  I also liked the many musical references that reflected the various changing moods of the characters or set the tone for the scenes.

The other …

There were elements of this story that I was very uncomfortable with.  Like my reaction to Uses For Boys, I apparently I can’t stomach crap parenting in books.  I just felt that these two young girls were so lost, especially Aurora who was spiraling rapidly down a very, very dark hole that there was no way her friend could help her get out of it. 

And then there was the strange combination of reality and the supernatural that made me wonder if the characters were high the entire time.  To be honest, it got absurdly creepy with the introduction of a seedy character named Minos.  At this point, I was hoping someone would come along and save these girls from themselves.   The ending absolutely unsettled me.

I chose this without a clue about the plot. Admittedly, this is not the kind of story that I would naturally pick up for myself. It’s just not my thing but I give credit to Sarah McCarry because her vivid descriptions did create a range of images in my mind from sweet to weird to grotesque. In the end, every writer wants to succeed at drawing you into the world they conceive and this one certainly did.

~ Bel

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Invisible by Marni Bates

*** 1/2

From KTeen:

It's not easy being best friends with a celebrity...

I'm invisible at my high school and I'm fine with it.  It's kind of inevitable with a name like Jane Smith.  But when the school newspaper staff insisted that I write a cover story, I decided to find out just how much scandal one geeky girl could uncover.

Except I never expected to find myself starting a fistfight, auditioning for the school's Romeo and Juliet musical, running away with a Romeo of my own, befriending the most popular girl in school, or trying to avoid one very cute photographer, who makes it impossible to be invisible...

I admit, Decked With Holly remains my favorite in this series, but Invisible was a cute, fun read that had me laughing out loud.  Jane is a very typical teen in her reactions to the troubles with her friends.  And while the situations in the books exaggerated and unbelievable, the reactions and characters stay true to themselves.  

I will admit that I was puzzled by Jane's attraction to Scott, who spends most of the book acting like a complete jerk and is openly hostile.  The only thing that makes him remotely redeemable (aside from being cute), is that he challenges Jane where everyone else coddles her.  Still, this wasn't enough for me to actually like or root for him.

If you haven't started this series yet, definitely pick it up for your fun, light reading requirements.  The next in the series, Notable adds a little mystery to the mix and I cannot wait to see how the Queen of the Notables handles life in Cambodia.  Notable is available October 29, 2013.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Q & A w/ Michael Griffo author of The Darkborn Legacy

The awesomeness continues with our special guest, Michael Griffo joining us to discuss his two series, The Darkborn Legacy and The Archangel Academy.  When you're done catching up with him, don't forget to enter our birthday giveaway sponsored this week by Kensington where you could win your very own copy of Moonglow!

Why did you set this trilogy in Weeping Water, Nebraska?

Originally I was going to set the series in the fictional town of Faith, South Dakota.  Why?  I have no idea, but it is a part of the country that intrigues me and I did want to make the location of the trilogy somewhat isolated and rural, definitely not a town near a big city. However, everything changed while I was doing research on the state. I came across some notes I made for the Archangel Academy Series and reread the information I found on Weeping Water, Nebraska, which is Michael Howard’s hometown. By the time I was finished reading I knew I had to set this new trilogy in the same town where Michael grew up. 

Weeping Water is a small, isolated town that’s already been touched by the supernatural, so I thought it was perfectly fitting to make this Dominy Robineau’s hometown as well. I thought it would also be fun for anyone who’s read the Archangel series – kind of like when two TV series do a crossover episode.

On a selfish note, I’ve always loved the name Weeping Water and since Michael moves from there early on in the series I didn’t get to explore the world of Nebraska all that much, so now I can.

How will this trilogy differ from The Archangel Academy Series?

The biggest difference that readers of both series will notice immediately is the writing style. I wrote the Archangel series in the third person so I was basically omniscient. I knew everything that was going on, both inside my characters’ minds and all throughout the outside world. The Darkborn Legacy is the complete opposite.

This series is written in the first person so everything comes from Dominy’s mind, her point-of-view, and literally, from her sight. Nothing happens that she can’t see or feel. I’ve never written in this style before so in the beginning it was quite a challenge. I even had a mini-meltdown and thought of changing it back to third person because I didn’t think I could meet the challenge!  I was nervous I wasn’t going to be able to tell three books from only one character’s point-of-view or be able to have the story reach its full potential. After writing the outline I thought I was going to be limited in my storytelling, but luckily, I was wrong and just the opposite occurred. 

Writing in the first person has really opened me up creatively and forced me to come up with new ways to share what’s going on in Dominy’s world—all the secrets, adventure, and romance—that not only happens to her, but to all of the characters. 

In addition, I’m writing in the present tense, not the past tense. So not only does the reader experience everything through Dominy’s eyes and mind, but they experience it as it happens to Dominy. I think it makes for a much more immediate and intimate experience because the reader really can’t get any closer to Dominy than this. It’s as if all the drama is happening to them.

One final difference, which I think is a direct result of this type of first person storytelling, is The Darkborn Legacy is in many ways smaller and more contained. There’s just as much action and drama, but there are fewer characters and locations, so the writing is a bit more focused and the reader gets to invest more in each person. Whereas the Archangel series was sweeping, almost epic, Darkborn is a bit more personal and intimate. 

What is the central theme of MOONGLOW?

In a word, the central theme of MOONGLOW as well as SUNBLIND and STARFALL, the next two books in trilogy, is friendship. In The Archangel Academy Series, the central theme was the love story between Michael and Ronan, but here I wanted to explore a different kind of love, the love between two best friends – Dominy and Jess.

For most of us, our first and most enduring relationships are friendships.  Boyfriends and girlfriends, even spouses, come and go, but (as cliché as it may sound) friends are forever. I wanted to explore that relationship in these books because, in my life, friendship has always been vitally important. In fact, I have friends from the sixth grade and I haven’t been in grammar school for quite a long time! 

So these books focus on a different type of love story, the love between two friends put to the ultimate test. Dominy and Jess suffer greatly because of the curse that’s been placed upon Dominy and it should destroy their relationship, it should sever it forever, but instead it strengthens the bond between these two girls. I think readers will truly embrace their friendship and see it as an example of how wonderful life can be if you go through it with a friend by your side.

Considering the trilogy is called The Darkborn Legacy, how dark will these books get?

Well, things do get pretty dark. The trilogy is definitely for the young adult audience, but for every bit of action and violence there are emotional ramifications. Dominy goes through a terrible time as a result of this curse – both physically and psychologically.  She suffers and is damaged, but unfortunately, in order to grow as a person and to rise above harsh circumstances, there sometimes has to be damage. 

Since Dominy is the narrator I wanted to take advantage of that fact so I tried to push the envelope a bit. I didn’t want her world to be neat and tidy, there needed to be some mess or else the reader won’t care if she overcomes the struggles and hardships she’s confronted with because they’d always know she’d come out of it unscathed. 

And the hardships can’t only be physical, she can’t just win fights and wars, she needs to suffer emotionally as well and I can tell you that Dominy does. But without giving too much away (and this is, after all, a trilogy!) she also overcomes many obstacles.  If I’ve done my job right, the reader is going to suffer—and survive—right along with her.

How are Dominy Robineau and Michael Howard of the Archangel Academy similar/different?

At first glance Dominy and Michael are nothing alike. Where he was introverted, quiet and nervous, Dominy is outgoing and spirited and fun.  Michael grows into the man he was always meant to be, but Dominy starts out very comfortable in her own skin. Unlike Michael, she’s very lucky – she likes herself and most of the people in her world like her too. 

But when their lives are forever changed—when Michael is turned into a vampire and when the curse strikes Dominy—they react in a similar fashion. Initially, they’re frightened, they don’t know what’s happening to them, but even in their confusion they refuse to let outside forces destroy them and they fight back, and that’s what, I think, makes them interesting, relatable characters. Readers want to think they too would fight and not crumble in the face of adversity, they want to think they would have the inner strength to survive, and through Michael, and especially Dominy, they get to experience what it’s like to overcome. They stumble, they fall, they make mistakes, but they never stop trying to reclaim their lives and that’s an important lesson for anyone.

Thank you Michael for your time! Read more about his series by visiting his website www.michaelgriffo.com or follow him on Twitter @Michael2264

Waiting on Wednesday (73)

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

Rose Under Fire

By Elizabeth Wein
Publication Date: September 10, 2013

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spirit (Elemental #3) by Brigid Kemmerer

* * * *

With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.
Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

Regular followers of the blog know that The Elemental Series is a big hit with Shel. And it wasn’t until recently that I finally had my turn with the books. I read Storm and Spark which I enjoyed immensely but it was the e-novella Breathless that completely won me over.  Kemmerer excels at giving her characters a turn in the spotlight, this time being Hunter’s, and gives them the time to develop properly. And even though Hunter is not a Merrick brother, he is very much connected to them and there’s no escaping that tie.

Hunter is a surprising revelation in Spirit. He appears to be a jovial, easy-going guy in the previous books but in Spirit, all his insecurities and demons are played out. He’s mentally in a bad place here with issues at home and at school which means he’s making some bad decisions that land him in all kinds of messes. Of course, he’s still on the outs with Gabriel Merrick and the rest of the brothers because of his “spying” in Spark. Right now being isolated from the people he has considered friends leaves him very vulnerable to trouble. And trouble comes in the form of Kate, the mysterious new girl at school who befriends him and the Merricks. Spirit has everyone figuring out what exactly honesty means, who can be trusted and how to stand their ground while they’re being hunted mercilessly.

Readers, The Elemental Series has been a blast! Once you get started, it’s hard to put the books down – any of them. One of the best things about the series is that even though these are all teens with special powers, they’re also so very human and relatable.  Everything they go through be it sibling rivalries, high school drama or dislike of authority figures, they’re all reminiscent of stuff we’ve all been through. There are so many times where you’ll find yourself going, “been there", "oh that guy" or “yeah that sucks”. There's bound to be a character or a situation that will remind you of someone you know or something that has happened.

Spirit continues the superb, fast-paced action and humor of its predecessors.  The plot may be thickening but the bonds between our dysfunctional but utterly awesome Elementals are also getting tighter. I’m excited for more!

~ Bel

Monday, July 22, 2013

Let The Birthday Celebration Continue!

We're getting into the thick of summer - seriously that humidity lately has been torture! But what we really mean is that we have another week of fantastic giveaways in July to celebrate our 2 year anniversary! 

We'd like to thank Kensington for being so awesome to us and our followers for providing some terrific goodies this week. 

Excited, aren't you? Now go forth, enter the giveaway and spread the word! 

Broken Cover Reveal Blog Tour and Q&A With CJ Lyons

BiblioJunkies is thrilled to be part of the Broken Cover Reveal Blog Tour. Broken is the latest release from CJ Lyons and will be available through Sourcebooks Fire this November.

Q & A with CJ Lyons


For Scarlet Killian, every day is a game of Russian roulette—she has a 1 in 5 chance of dying…


New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page.


Fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has one chance for a normal life. Only problem? It just might kill her. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, Scarlet has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. Scarlet has come to terms with the fact that despite the best efforts of her doctors and parents, she's going to die. Literally of a broken heart.  So when her parents offer her a week to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now... or never.


Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But for the first time in her life she makes real friends. She also makes new discoveries about the truth behind her illness... a truth that might just kill her before her heart does.


Q: Is Long QT a real disease?

CJ: Yes. As a pediatrician I diagnosed my niece with Long QT Syndrome when she was born. Her heart specialists believe she's the youngest person in the world diagnosed with Long QT. She's had to take medicine every day of her life and can't ever skip a day. So far that's added up to over ten thousand pills taken.

You know that feeling you get when you've run as hard and fast as you can and you stop but your heart keeps galloping along? And you wonder for a second if maybe it's not going to stop, but will keep galloping out of control? But then of course it settles back down. For people with Long QT, their heart doesn't change gears well, going from regular to galloping and back again. So they have to avoid anything that would make their heart race.

No sports or aerobic exercise. No horror films. No roller coaster rides. No jumping into cold water on a hot summer's day.

But that doesn't have to stop someone with Long QT like my niece from having a great life. Today she is a brilliant, active fourteen-year-old who gets straight A's, enjoys riding horses, archery, reading, breeding Rottweilers, and who wants to grow up to be either a fashion designer or President of the United States. Her main fashion accessory is her portable defibrillator, Phil, who goes with her everywhere, including camping, to the beach, and recently to her first Broadway show.

BROKEN is dedicated to her fearless approach to life where outwitting Death is simply part of her daily routine.

Q: What was it like working in an ER? Is it like on TV?

CJ: Definitely nothing like Grey's Anatomy, but the first few seasons of ER get it right. Working in the ER is basically about learning how to control (and live with) chaos, the art of listening, and how to quickly decide what's the most important thing you need to tackle next.

I worked three jobs to put myself through medical school and one of them was waitressing at a very busy family restaurant. Honestly, that was the best preparation I ever could have had for life in the ER.


Q: Why did you leave medicine to write books?

CJ: I've been a storyteller all my life—a fact that used to get me placed in time-out a lot as a kid. But writing stories has always been my way of making sense of the chaos that goes on in the world around us. I wrote my first novel in college and wrote two more science fiction novels in medical school.

Then, while I was an intern at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, one of my close friends was murdered. Dealing with that grief and trauma while still working seventy hours a week and trying to save lives—I wasn't prepared for that. So I turned to my writing and that's when I wrote my first thriller. I never thought about actually making a career of it until years later when friends who were published authors encouraged me to enter a national writing contest and I was a finalist. This led to several publishing contracts and I realized that as much as I loved being a doctor, here was a chance for a second dream come true: being a full time writer.

It was a huge leap of faith leaving my job (and my patients—I missed them, a lot!) but I've always believed that if you're going to dream, you should dream big, so I went for it. Since then I've published twenty books, hit #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, won awards for my writing, and most importantly, have had the chance to impact millions of people through my novels. Talk about a dream come true!


Q: What's your best advice for someone who wants to be a writer?

CJ: Never surrender, never give up. Writing is hard work, it takes years to master the craft, so you need to stick with it. And read, read, read…pay attention to what makes the books you like work as well as why the books you don't like fail. You never stop learning in this job, but that's also what makes it so much fun.

About CJ Lyons

A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge thrillers with heart. CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine), and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday). The author of thrillers such as the Lucy Guardino FBI series, she has sold over 1 million books in the last year.

When not writing, she can be found walking the beaches near her South Carolina Lowcountry home in Columbia, SC, listening to the voices in her head and plotting new and devious ways to create mayhem for her characters. To learn more about her Thrillers with Heart go to www.CJLyons.net.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Openly Straight* * * * *

A funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He's won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade, and he isn't teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret -- not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn't even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.


I first heard about Openly Straight when David Levithan wished Bill Konigsberg a Happy Launch day and recommended it by saying,  ”If you are looking for a pride-month read that you can most definitely take pride in, look no further.”  I actually WAS looking for some Pride-month reads and since I will pretty much do anything David tells me to do, I hopped onto my library account to reserve it and found myself picking it up only a few days later.

Rafe is a teen that has everything going for him.  He’s active and smart.  He has parents that actively support and encourage him in everything.  His mom is the president of their local PFLAG chapter and through her encouragement and passion Rafe has become a spokesperson for the LGBTQ teen community.  But Rafe isn’t nearly as thrilled about that as some may think.  He’s tired of everyone identifying him as the gay kid.  He wants people to see the other parts of him.  So many people are so focused on the gay that they don’t see that the rest of what makes up Rafe.

Rafe’s solution is to attend a private all-boys school on the east coast.  His reasoning to friends and family is that he wants a better chance to get into an Ivy League school – which is partially true.  But the other and more important reason is that he wants to go to school with people that don’t know he is gay.  A place where he can make friends without anyone judging him.  A place where he can just be one of the guys.

At first everything is exactly as he wished.  But as his first semester progresses he finds that being just one of the guys by hiding an important part of himself may not be the easiest or truest thing he has ever done.

I read this book over a month ago and I am still trying to find a way to express my feelings.  Much like The Fault in Our Stars, it left me breathless and without words.  This story makes you laugh and makes you think.  It will make you realize that there is nothing more fulfilling than openly celebrating who we are.  It will teach those that haven’t learned it yet that no matter our mistakes life goes on, it does get better and we will survive.  And most importantly it will teach us that CELEBRATING is so much better than meager acceptance.  Yes, it was a wonderful Pride-month read but it is also so much more than that.  This is a story that EVERY teen and adult can relate to at any time of the year.

This is, hands down, my favorite read of 2013.  I recommend that EVERYONE read Openly Straight and celebrate the amazing writing of Bill Konigsberg.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (72)

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

Dead EndsBy Erin Jade Lange
Publication Date: September 3, 2013

Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of “haves,” being a “have not” makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he’s not exactly a “have” himself. The biggest thing Billy’s missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search.

A bully and a boy with Down syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past. But they’re all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy shouldn’t have been keeping.

As a journalist, Erin Jade Lange is inspired by hot button issues like bullying, but it is her honest characters and breakneck plotting that make Dead Ends a must-read.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

* * * * 

A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.

A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

You never know quite what you’re in for when you take on a book like this. Cook and Halpin have given Emmy and Justin very distinctive voices that have made this a fun read.  I was struck by Emmy’s flat out cynicism and disdain for her surroundings from the first page. She doesn’t feel connected to her family and thinks everything is a perpetual reminder of how she doesn’t fit in. Justin presents his story with immense but appealing sarcasm, feigns nonchalance and is perpetually angry about something or other. Both sides of their experiences are written with such humor and honesty, this book just may be one of my favorites of the year.

I enjoyed everything about this. Both Emmy and Justin are hysterical, dry and complicated kids who are too stubborn to search within themselves and admit to what has brought them to Heartland Academy in the first place. They’re surrounded by peers with their own bizarre issues: one is in for his constant need to create and live out different identities and another who has selective mutism. Things get very interesting when their counselor suggests that they would be rewarded for good behavior if they work together as a group to hold each other accountable for an entire week. With this carrot stick dangling in front of them they reluctantly fall in line. Forcing them to be accountable to each other gives them a chance to get out of their self-absorbed worlds and focus on a shared end goal.

Some of these kids start out so jaded and lost within their own pity party. But since being forced to work together these misfits find camaraderie and a safety zone. Plenty of hilarious scenarios take place, including a ridiculous one involving a pig, that will have you laughing until your belly hurts. Then there are quiet, profound moments such as this one that has stuck with me where Justin describes his depression kicking in: 

"I didn't know what it felt like for other people with this diagnosis.  For me, it was like somebody squeezing my stomach with a cold iron fist. Except it wasn't really a physical pain. It was just like the act of being alive hurt so freaking much that if anybody touched me I thought I might shatter into a million pieces."

It is a very honest and vulnerable moment captured so eloquently. I also like how there's no neat ending tied up with a lovely bow as the book draws to a close. While Emmy and Justin eventually have their breakthroughs there's still a lot of hard work ahead. The quick pace, brilliant writing and charismatic characters are so engaging which make me want to add A Really Awesome Mess to my shelf because it really is awesome!

~ Bel

Thank you to Egmont USA and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this title.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tremble Playlist Presented By Jus Accardo & Giveaway

It's always fascinating to learn what that first inspirational spark for a story idea is. And it's easy for us readers to romanticize our favorite authors sitting at a desk, wired from their fifth cup of coffee, words pouring out of them faster than they can type. And for us it's always exciting to learn how music plays a huge part in the writing process.

Today we are thrilled to have Jus Accardo, author of the Denazen series, join us to share her music inspirations with us.

Music is a huge motivator for me. I can link all the memorable and life changing moments in my life back to a specific song. Writing is no different. The perfect tune can bring a scene or character to life. It can chase away writer's block and help set the tone.

Like Touch, the opening scene for Tremble came to me from a song. I'd written an entirely different first chapter, and wasn't happy with it, then boom! I heard Powerman 5000's Bombshell—which is exactly what Dez gets in those first few pages. A bombshell.

In Tremble, Kale goes through some serious changes, and he's dealing with a lot of anger. Cage the beast from Adelita's Way is perfect was get me in that frame of mind.

Dez is going through a lot in Tremble, too. Dido's Here with me is a good representation of her mind frame. She's determined, regardless of how impossible things seem.

And then, of course, you have to have a good conflict song. Shinedown's Enemies fits the bill (plus it's just such an awesome song!). Dez's enemies seem to be everywhere. 

Dez is a girl who is definitely not afraid to fly her freak flag. Halestorm's Freak like me is totally her. 

There's a scene at the end of the book—I can't really say anything about it without spoiling it—that is perfect for Adele's Someone like you

Then, of course, there are multiple songs that are just inspirational be it for characters, scenes, or the overall feel of a book. Avatar's Smells like a freakshow was playing in my head for multiple scenes. 

Puscifer's The Undertaker is another example. 

Without music I wouldn't get past the first sentence in a book. What about you guys? Is there a certain song that makes you think of your favorite fictional couple or scene?

You can find the full playlist for Tremble here!

Thank you Jus for spending time with us today and introducing us to some great new music. And now we have the perfect soundtrack to listen to as we read Tremble!

Visit Jus at www.jusaccard.com or follow her @JusAccardo

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Looking for Love Blog Tour - Guest Post with Erin Kern & Molly Cannon

We are thrilled to be a part of the Looking for Love Blog Tour!  To celebrate the release of their latest works, Erin Kern and Molly Cannon stopped by to talk about their Top 5 Favorite Things About Summer.  

Erin Kern is the author of the Trouble series (Looking for Trouble, Here Comes Trouble and Along Came Trouble).  

Erin's Top 5 Favorite Things About Summer:

5.  Sunsets - Although Texas has some of the most spectacular sunsets around, there's something about the sun disappearing behind the Wyoming foothills.

4.  The sound of locusts - This might be a strange one to some of you, and this really has nothing to do with my writing.  But anyone who's lived in Texas or spent a summer here, knows what I'm talking about.  For me, it's summer's soundtrack.

3.  Lightning bugs - Again, a Texas thing.  Actually not sure if they get these in Wyoming.  But put yourself in a wooded area in Texas, in the summer, and you're bound to see some lightning bugs.  And, want to go one even better?  Try catching one in a Mason jar.  Now, that's summer!

2.  Swimming - Specifically in a local lake, which we have a ton of in Texas.  But I love a good romance where the H/h take a cooling dip in a lake.  At night.  With lightning bugs in the trees.  

1.  Road trips - Who doesn't love just hopping in the car and going wherever impulse takes you?  Sort of what Avery does in Looking for Trouble.  

Molly Cannon is the author of Ain't Misbehaving and Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

Molly Cannon's Top 5 Favorite Things About Summer

1.  Vacation.  Getting away from it all whether it is visiting family or exploring some place new.  I love having a break in the regular routine.  Staying in a nice Bed & Breakfast like the Hazelnut Inn is always one of my favorite things to do!

2.  Going barefoot!  While many of my friends are crazy about shoes, I'm crazy about not having to wear them at all.  Barefoot is my footwear of choice.  

3.  Flowers!  I love seeing all the colors popping up in my yard.  White daisies, purple irises, orange day lilies, pink vincas - ah!  I get such joy filling all the pots on my patio with as many different plants as possible, so when the Hazelnut Inn needed to be spruced up quickly, Noah designs flowering container plantings to fill the porches and patios.

4.  Snow cones.  To say Texas summers are hot is an understatement.  Nothing is better for cooling down on a hot, lazy afternoon than a cherry snow cone.  Luckily, I have a drive thru stand close to my house, so that helps with the lazy part.  

5.  Cook outs with family and friends.  BBQ, hamburgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, baked beans, and homemade ice cream - throw in a cold beer or a pitcher of iced tea and I'm a happy camper.  Donny Joe's Ham in the Hole takes it to a whole other level.  

Thank you ladies!  We couldn't agree more, we love all the food, friends and lovely memories of summer (but especially the food)!

For more information about Erin, Molly and their books, go here:

Check out Erin's website here:  http://erinkern.webs.com.

Check out Molly's website here:  www.mollycannon.com.

Or stop by the Forever Romance website:  www.forever-romance.com.

We hope you all have a fabulous summer weekend!  Don't forget to check out our giveaways happening all month long to celebrate our 2nd birthday!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Shadow of the Mark by Leigh Fallon - Blog Tour

We are super excited to be a part of the Shadow of the Mark Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours!  A huge thank you to the ladies of Rockstar Book Tours, Haper Teen and Leigh Fallon for including us in this great tour.  Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post for your chance to win awesome prizes!  Here at BiblioJunkies HQ we are busy stuffing ourselves with  pie and celebrating out 2nd birthday, so if you are so inclined, check out our other giveaways currently going on and throughout the rest of the month for other fantastic books!  Without further adieu, I give you my review of Shadow of the Mark, I promise, no spoilers!

Their love could destroy them all.

Through the ages, Marked Ones have harnessed the powers of the four elements: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Much about the elements is shrouded in mystery, but one thing is certain: A relationship between two Marked Ones has the potential to cause widespread devastation.  Megan and Adam—Air and Water—are determined to defy the risks.  But the power that swirls inside Megan is growing in twisted ways.   And the closer she is to Adam, the closer Megan comes to unleashing a dark force that could spell destruction for the entire Marked line.

The Bad:
It can be a bit difficult to keep all of the people and groups at play in Shadow straight and the science behind the Marked and mating is a bit confusing.  There were also times I found Megan to be either completely oblivious or willfully ignoring warnings of trouble, which was a touch annoying.  

The Good:
Shadow of the Mark is an interesting story about the continuing struggles of people who can control the elements.  You all know how much I love stories about elemental magic, so I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next.  Where Megan was sometimes annoying, Adam's family is compelling and likable (hot boys!).  I also loved the twists and turns the story took.  It's not many books that can keep me guessing, so I am greatly looking forward to the next installment in the series.

Harper Teen is having an awesome giveaway in conjunction with the Blog Tour.  Check out the awesome prizes!

Giveaway Details:

1st place - a signed copy of Shadow of the Mark and a boat load of goodies inc. a silver bookmark USA only.

2nd  place - a $10 book depository gift card & some signed swag . International.

3rd place- signed swag International.

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  AND check out Leigh's website and blog for more info.


About Leigh:

Leigh Fallon was born in South Africa, raised in Dublin, Ireland and moved to Cork in her 20's. While living in beautiful Kinsale, her novel, The Carrier of the Mark was conceived. She promptly abandoned her 'riveting' career in corporate treasury and discovered Inkpop, a website for budding writers of teen fiction. Within weeks her manuscript hit the coveted top five spot and was reviewed by an editor at HarperCollins. A few emails and some hysterical screaming later, she signed her first deal. Leigh and her family now share their time between Ireland and the US.

Website: http://www.leighfallon.com/index.php

Blog: http://www.leighfallon.blogspot.com/

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