Cover Release: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Get Even
Hey everyone! We are really excited to be part of the official cover reveal for Gretchen McNeil’s GET EVEN (Get Even #1). There is a Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom for a free copy.

Release Date:
 September 16th 2014

Publisher:
 Balzer+Bray

Synopsis: 

Follows the secretive exploits of four high school juniors – Kitty, Olivia, Margot and Bree – at an exclusive Catholic prep school.

To all outward appearances, the girls barely know each other. At best, they don’t move in the same social circles; at worst, they’re overtly hostile.

Margot Mejia – academically ranked number two in her class, Margot is a focused overachiever bound for the Ivy League.

Kitty Li – captain of the California state and national champion varsity girls’ volleyball team, she’s been recruited by a dozen colleges and has dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Olivia Hayes – popular star of the drama program, she’s been voted “most eligible bachelorette” two years running in the high school yearbook and has an almost lethal combination of beauty and charm.

Bree Deringer – outcast, misfit and the kind of girl you don’t want to meet in a dark alley, the stop sign red-haired punk is a constant thorn in the side of teachers and school administrators alike.

Different goals, different friends, different lives, but the girls share a secret no one would ever guess. They are members of Don’t Get Mad, a society specializing in seeking revenge for fellow students who have been silently victimized by their peers. Each girl has her own reason for joining the group, her own set of demons to assuage by evening the score for someone else. And though school administration is desperate to find out who is behind the DGM “events”, the girls have managed to keep their secret well hidden.

That is until one of their targets – a douchebag senior who took advantage of a drunk underclassman during a house party, videotaped it on his phone, and posted it on YouTube – turns up dead, and DGM is implicated in the murder.

Now the girls don’t know who to trust, and as their tenuous alliance begins to crumble, the secrets they’ve hidden for so long might be their ultimate undoing.

Find it on Goodreads
Pre-Order Links Will be available in the coming months, keep an eye on your favorite retailer for more information!
Gretchen McNeilAbout the Author:

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4’s Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She is a founding member of vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as “Monday,” and she is an active member of both The Enchanted Inkpot, a group blog of YA and middle grade fantasy writers, and The Apocalypsies, a group blog of 2012 children’s debut authors.

You can find Gretchen on TwitterFacebook, and on her blog.

Click below to enter the giveaway:

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Review: Croak by Gina Damico

CroakCroak by Gina Damico

Series: Croak

Pages: 311

Format: Ebook

Source: Barnes and Noble (also known as the land of butterflies and magical unicorns)

Rating: 4 and 1/2 stars

Synopsis:

Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex’s parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape.

But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach Lex the family business.

She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can’t stop her desire for justice – or is it vengeance? – whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again.

Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?

Review:

Contrary to what the cover and synopsis might suggest, Croak is not a hide-under-your-bed-the-grim-reaper-is-coming kind of book. Its not even a I’m-kind-of-scared-let-me-cuddle-with-a-puppy-for-awhile book.

Not even close.

No just no

Croak is hilarious. It’s one of those will-get-you-strange-looks-in-public-because-you-are-laughing-like-a-mainiac books.

So, Lex starts off the book like Dug from Up.

Squirrel

Except, instead of seeing squirrels and wanting to chase them, she sees people and wants to punch them.

Hermione punch

This made me squeal with happiness because, anger issues are not your typical heroine behavior.  So, after almost getting expelled from school because of the said anger management problems, her parents decide to ship her off to her Uncle Mort’s farm, which obviously means that she will be scooping horse poop and milking cows all summer. Nopedy nope nope.

Uncle Mort is actually a Grim Reaper, and so is pretty much everyone in his little town, Croak. They “kill” and “cull” souls and take them to the “afterlife”. Throw in a milky-eyed murder mystery, an insufferable yet undeniably hot partner, death jellyfish, Edgar Allen Poe, black hoodies, a Titanic poster, and a dash of awesome sauce and you’ve got yourself a book.

And not just any book, but a book without insta-love (praise the lord), with witty death puns, and with characters that actually are not cardboard cutouts.

Excuse me while I go explode with happiness.

confetty ponies

Witty quotes that I must share with all of you:

“Should she go on? Or drop it? Maybe this was one of those things that people should keep to themselves, like a hatred of baby pandas or a passion for polka music. Everyone needs a secret or two.”

“The list of scars my students have sustained at the hand of your daughter grows longer each week. Poor Logan Hochspring’s arm will forever carry an imprint of her dental records!”
“You bit him?” Lex’s father said.
“He called me a wannabe vampire. What was I supposed to do?”
“Oh, I don’t know–maybe not bite him?”

“There comes a time in every young girl’s life when she is instructed by a complete stranger to scale a tall ladder for dinner atop a roof, and in almost every case the best thing to do is refuse and run home to call the asylum from which the stranger escaped.”

“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye,” Ferbus said too loudly. “Then it’s one-eyed fun.”

I could go on, but I’ll leave some of the book for you to read.

Speaking of you reading, why are you still here? You should be frantically racing to the bookstore to go buy Croak. Go now my minions.

Minions conga line

~TRQ

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

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Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Series: Unwind Dystology #1

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 6 2007

Pages: 335

Format: Paperback

Source: twas a gift, dahling

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Review:

When you look at the cover and synopsis of Unwind, it looks pretty darn creepy. Like, horror movie creepy. If you’re considering this book because of its horror, you might be sort of disappointed. Although the premise that teens can have all their organs taken out and retransplanted into someone else is chilling, the book as a whole isn’t really like that. The book follows Connor, Lev, Risa, and several other unwanted children in their escape from the twisted laws that are in place.

Although the book leaves you with a pretty good idea of each character’s fate, it leave soooooo many questions. Questions the author himself doesn’t know the answer. The point of the book is obviously not the characters’ stories, but the super deep questions behind unwinding. Are you really alive when your body parts have been scattered? What would happen to your consciousness? Would it be as if you had died normally, or would you exist in each of the people who took an organ? Is unwinding any better or worse than abortion? These questions are discussed briefly by the characters, the Neal Shusterman’s purpose was probably only for us to think about it ourselves. Aaaand now I have a headache.

The characters were beautifully written. Connor and Lev in particular were excellent examples of character development. The only character I really had a problem with was Roland. His evilness seemed exaggerated. Perhaps I’m missing the point of his character, I don’t know.

I feel like Connor and Risa’s relationship was realistic. No insta-love here, folks. It was very refreshing to read a book where that wasn’t shown as one of the problems that needed to be resolved. I find it funny how some other dystopian books can have characters that are in mortal danger constantly, but still find time to stress over their love life. Maybe it’s just me, but if I were trying to escape from a bunch of crazy doctors that wanted to sell my kidneys, I wouldn’t be too concerned about whether a certain boy liked me or not. Priorities, people.

Like I said earlier, the whole book isn’t that creepy. But the part that was really was. I read it late last night and had trouble sleeping because of it. A+ for horror writing. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to write a scene like that.

I would recommend Unwind to someone who is interested in the genre of creepy YA, but still deciding whether they really want to read it or not. It gives you a piece of adventure/dystopian fiction with a little taste of scar-you-for-life near the end, almost like it’s teasing you with it. It left me wanting to explore Neal Shusterman’s writing a little more, but probably not the Unwind Dystology. I’m satisfied with the way the story ended and I’m afraid the next book will spoil it.

~Cheshire Cat. Rawr.

Review: No More Goddesses by Kim Baccellia

No More GoddessesNo More Goddesses by Kim Baccellia

Series: None

Published by Zumaya Thresholds on May 28, 2013

Pages: 252

Format: PDF

Source: YA Reads Blog Tours as a part of the No More Goddesses Tour

Rating: 3 and 3/4 stars

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Goodreads

Synopsis: 

Jordan Lake discovers an ancient bracelet in her grandmother’s house and uncovers a family mystery that links her favorite actress, Audrey Hepburn, a romantic movie, and an aunt she never knew. Jordan hopes the bracelet will bring her love. Instead, it brings one nightmare after another, unleashing Hathor, the Egyptian love goddess, who decides it’s fun to mess with the McKnight High School social scene. Jordan holds the key to vanquish Hathor, but will she figure out what it is in time to save her school, one of her best friends, and get a date to the Valentine’s Day dance?

So, for this one I have mixed feelings.

In general, I liked the author’s writing style. It was perky and cute, went into lots of detail.  In fact, the writing style for narration may have been my favorite part of the book.

Chuck norris gif

After that, the characters definitely were not terrible. They may have been a tad cliche, but I happen to like Audrey Hepburn and Jordan’s love *cough* obsession *cough* with her made me smile.

Audry Hepburn Smile

Selena, her “BFF” was a tad obnoxious. The author tried to overemphasize her “spanishness.” It would have been enough to mention it a few times, but having her mix in spanish over and over went a little over the top. Otherwise, Selena was alright. She had a reasonably similar personality to Jordan and added a few quirky lines.

Considering that this book is all about romance (and I mean all about), there wasn’t actually that much romance in the book. I’ve read YA books that’ve been passed off as Sci-fi or Adventure that had more actual romance in them. My main problem with the romance is that it was semi-there and semi-not. The two (yes there was a love triangle, drop your torches and pitchforks, it wasn’t that bad) love interests were never really elaborated on. I couldn’t get a clear picture of them in my mind and none of their scenes together really had any spark. That being said, I’m glad it wasn’t over emphasized and Jordan didn’t spent half the book wailing about who she was going to love. In general, there could have been more character development there, but it didn’t really detract from the book.

As for the plot, books centered around romance generally aren’t my thing, but this one was decent. There was an evil goddess trying to turn people and cats into green glittery ice cubes and whatnot, so it definitely kept me entertained.

Overall, No More Goddesses, with its action and romance, decent characters and some sassy one-liners, is a reasonably light read. Even though I liked the book as it is, I feel like it would be better classified as a middle grade novel. Although the characters were in high school, their dialogue and the plot seemed like a better fit for a younger audience. I think it is a middle grade novel disguised as a YA book.

disguise skill

In general, if your looking for a nice, light read for a rainy day. This one isn’t a bad pick.

-TRQ

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Matched by Ally Condie

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Matched by Ally Condie

Series: Matched #1

Published by Dutton Juvenile on November 30, 2010

Pages: 369

Format: ebook

Source: Barnes and Noble

Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Review:

The best word to describe my experience reading this book was a v e r a g e.

It’s basically your average YA dystopian romance novel. It was average length, with an average main character, average do-I-choose-the-blonde-or-the-brunette love triangle, average totalitarian government, average first sparks of a rebellion.

I hope this review doesn’t come across as too negative, because I did enjoy reading Matched. It did what an easy reading, young adult book is supposed to do. You can just curl up with a cup of tea and neglect your responsibilities for an hour or two, worrying about the character’s problems instead of your own. It was a perfectly good distraction.

Matched just wasn’t anything special. The main protagonist, Cassia, lives in a futuristic city where people are divided into different ranks. They have a mysterious, over-controlling government with an ominous-sounding name (The Society. Oooh, scary.) She’s matched with the boy she liked for most of her childhood (that would be the blonde), but another name face comes up at the last moment, the enigmatic Ky who shouldn’t have been in the matching pool in the first place (who is… wait for it… brunette).

It’s fairly obvious from the beginning who she ends up falling for. You probably can guess just from reading this review.

“But,” you ask, befuddled, “if this book was so run-of-the-mill, why does it have 3.5 stars, instead of just 3?”

Weeelllllllllllll, I have a soft spot for pretty writing, particularly symbolism, imagery, poetry-esque stuff. And Ally Condie is pretty darn good at writing those in. I’m just going to add a few of those passages because I’m a nerd.

“As I walk to the air-train stop the next morning, things feel crisp, less weighted. The cool of the night accomplished what the rain yesterday did not; the air feels fresh. New. The sun blinking through the last of the clouds dares the birds to sing, and they do. It dares me to let the light in, and I do. Who wouldn’t rage against the death of something so beautiful?”

“At first when the rain fell from the sky so wide and deep, it smelled like sage, my favorite smell. I went up on the plateau to watch it come, to see the gifts it always brought, but this rain changed from blue to black and left nothing.”

**could be considered a spoiler**

“So I fight. I fight the only way I know how, with thinking of Ky, even though the pain of missing him is so strong I can hardly stand it. I put the seeds into the ground and cover them with soil. Will they grow toward the sun? Will something go wrong so they never push, never turn into anything, just stay here rotting in the ground? I think of him, I think of him, I think of him.”

Matched by Ally Condie is a cookie-cutter dystopian romance. It might be enjoyed better by one who hasn’t read a lot of dystopian before. I would recommend it for someone who’s just starting to read that genre, because if you’ve already read a lot of it, it’s thoroughly ruined for you. It’s best redeeming factor is the pretty little pieces of writing scattered throughout. So if it’s raining hard, you have no where to be all day, and a 20 page paper you don’t want to write, go ahead and read it, but don’t bother if you don’t.

~Cheshire Cat

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Hello friends! First post of 2014 🙂

I’m a bit late jumping on the Divergent bandwagon, for some reason I just never read it  before.

I liked it a lot actually, it might not be my favorite book ever, but it was very good.

ALRIGHT SO,

Tris. I liked her character a lot actually, probably because of the way she thought of herself and the way she was portrayed, like she wasn’t particularly pretty, and she knew that. How she used her Abnegation qualities through Dauntless was pretty cool.

I’m not madly in love with Tobias.

But I liked his character especially when he says how he wants to have all the qualities of the different factions.

I also really liked some of the minor characters, like Christina, and some of her other friends.

And Al 😦

Aw and Will. Of course you shot Eric in the foot and Will in the head….

Oh Tris. What ever are we going to do with you.

Okay rewind to training –

Molly:

And Peter just makes me so mad. Anger.

So the thing I would say I didn’t like about this book is that I was reminded of the Hunger Games in a few ways, it has some very distinct differences. But a few things I just noticed were very similar…

I mean….. Tobias got manipulated then tried to strangle Tris?

But I did like most of the storyline.

The way Erudite used the serum to manipulate the Dauntless was very clever. Jeanine made me think of a meaner Rita Skeeter.

So basically.

I really liked this book! I’d probably give it 4 out of 5 stars.

And no, I have not read Insurgent or Allegiant yet,

so you comment spoilers,

So anyways.

Alice out.

beyoncé beyonce gif

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Series: none

Published on September 10th 2013

Pages: 433

Format: Ebook

Source: Barnes and Nobles

Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Review:

This isn’t exactly a rare thing. It’s about time someone wrote a book on it.

Oh my goodness, this book.

I very much enjoyed this book the whole time I read it. It’s an easy read that doesn’t require too much effort, energy, or thinking. It’s just one of those books you can sit down and absorb mindlessly.

Fangirl is a realistic fiction book, which is not a genre I’m used to. I generally read one of two kinds of books: dystopian, futuristic, dark and depressing books, like The Giver, or fantasy, swords-and magic-filled books like The False Prince and Harry Potter. This book caught my attention because it’s about a girl who reads those sorts of books. Cather Avery obsesses over the Simon Snow series, which is the Harry Potter of this fictional universe. She collects posters and commemorative busts, she judges the people who have seen the movies and haven’t bothered with the books, and she writes gay fanfiction. This is a character that I’ve met in real life but never seen in a book before. Also, I’ve heard good things about Eleanor and Park by the same author.

Before I launch into my rants about how good this book is, I’ll start by explaining why it didn’t get 5 stars. Several of the characters like to express themselves by swearing. Like, the f bomb. A lot. Most of the time it was completely unnecessary. Also, there were sexual references and situations throughout. It never got too bad, but it was there nonetheless. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now the good stuff… oh where do I start…

Cath. Cath was a really, really well written character. She’s a character I want to show all the other authors and use as an example of a good character. Cath is introverted and socially awkward. She’s really smart, but is slow to let anyone in the walls she’s built around her. She’s responsible and aware of her surroundings, but never distracted by them. She doesn’t succumb to peer pressure, but tends to lock out her peers instead. When she loves something, she really loves it, and she struggles to read people. Cather Avery is a three-dimensional, realistic, relatable character. She has real flaws and strengths. Possibly the farthest thing from a Mary-Sue I’ve ever read.

I fell in and out of love with Levi as I read. There were times when I was smiling my face off at the cute things he did and times where I hated how far he let things get in his relationship with an unstable freshman. I felt he took advantage of people sometimes. Honestly, I think I feel the same way many of the characters feel about Levi: confused.

Rainbow Rowell did some excellent pieces of writing in Fangirl. Since it is a book that focuses on the life of a Fiction-Writing major, she had to write Cath’s, Nick’s, and occasionally Wren’s stories. She also wrote every excerpt of Simon Snow that appears between chapters. Somehow, Rowell managed to give each of her character’s writings a different tone, so that you could tell which character was writing it without looking. She could distinguish the words of four different characters while keeping them all from sounding like the narrative. That’s pretty freaking impressive, and it was done so well that you wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t sitting down, writing a review.

The little pieces of Simon Snow, Carry On, Simon, and other bits of Cath’s fics might have been my favorite part of the book. They were almost always used to foreshadow something that was going to happen to a main character later. Cath’s fanfics were her version of a diary. They recorded her thoughts and feelings for us to see, but you had to look a little harder than you would in a normal diary. They were a great addition to the book.

The way this book ended was great too. There were several story lines going on in Fangirl: Cath’s love life, her relationship with Wren, her parents, her fic, and her Fiction-Writing class. Usually, authors tell you what happens in the end. Katniss and Peeta got married and had kids, Ron and Hermione and Harry and Ginny send their kids off to a Voldemort-free Hogwarts. Not this book. Cath’s story isn’t anywhere close to finished. The book gives you some idea of where everything stands, but it ends in such a way as to not spoil it. This was a concept actually explained in the book, it being a book about writers. The author writes their portion to get you started, then hands the notebook to you to finish for yourself. I have my own ending for Fangirl, and you will have yours.

My only criticism is the abundance of love scenes. There were a lot of things going on in Cath’s life, and Rowell chose to emphasize her love life. I would have liked to see more of Cath’s relationship with her mother. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to write that into my ending.

~Cheshire Cat ya’ll