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Friday, December 2, 2016

A LIST OF CAGES by Robin Roe \\ Glowing Review and Giveaway! #BeBrave #AListofCages

Review by Sara
Thanks to Disney for sending a copy, and for providing a prize pack!

A LIST OF CAGES
by Robin Roe
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (January 10, 2017)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian--the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

Just looking at this cover brings back all of the feels and emotions of this story. It takes an awful lot for a book to make me cry and this made me ugly cry. And not just at the end, I cried throughout the entire book. I don't say this often but I believe this book will change someone's life.

Adam and Julian are more than friends, they shared part of their childhood together when Julian lived with Adam as a foster child after his parents died. Julian left his happy life with Adam to life with his uncle, his only living relative. Life with his uncle turned out to not be as good as he had hoped. In fact, things were astronomically worse. But Julian is a people-pleaser so he didn't want to rock the boat, regardless of what it was doing to him. Little did Julian know that life would bring him and Adam back together at just the right time. Adam is thrust back into Julian's life when he is assigned to be the aide to the school psychologist. Adam is over-the-moon happy to be talking to Julian again but Julian isn't his normal outgoing self. That's when Adam realizes Julian is keeping secrets, dark secrets. Adam cannot sit by blindly while one of his friends, one that he considers a brother, has something awful happening. He sets out to find out what is going on with Julian and put a stop to it, even if it puts both of them in harm's way.

Ten million stars.

That is how I rate this book. This book hooked me from the first few pages and never, ever let go. When I wasn't reading this story, I was thinking about reading this story. I wanted to carry them with me wherever I went just in case I could steal a few moments to read a few pages. The pure raw emotion that come from A LIST OF CAGES was so powerful that it is still with me now and I finished this book a couple of weeks ago. What a beautifully haunting story about family, friendships, and brotherhood. This story also discusses ADHD, foster care, child abuse/neglect, trauma and so much more. This book is the trifecta and it is wonderfully done. The writing is masterful, and you will flow through this book without realizing how much you have read. Please note that all of these topics are very, very well discussed. They are not brought into the story just for the sake of a better story - they are legitimately very well thought out and brilliantly executed.

The two main characters now have a forever home in my heart. They felt so real and genuine that it was as if I could picture myself being friends with them in real life.

Adam has grown up with ADHD and most of his teachers just didn't know how to handle him in school. His mother made it one of her missions to get him off of all medicine and treat his ADHD with natural remedies. That type of mentality mixed with just being an overall good person meant Adam grew up being the embodiment of "a good person". He always had a bounce in his step and a smile on his face. He always wants to help everyone yet never take anything in return. He isn't in for "what can you do for me?". That is so refreshing in a protagonist. Adam quickly became one of my most favorite characters ever.

Julian had my heart from the moment he was introduced into the story. His soul is so pure that my heart broke with every struggle he had to endure. Reading everything he went through will shatter you but in the end, you will be mended. I promise. Just know Julian is another one of the most perfect characters I have ever read. I wanted to pull him out of the book, give him a huge hug, and tell him everything would be okay. I wanted to protect him from everything bad in the world.

The experiences Adam and Julian go through in this book test the boundaries of friendship but it also strengths them. They both grow so much. Adam already has a group of friends and happily brings Julian into the mix. Even though they don't think highly of Julian as first as they are Seniors and Julian is a Freshman, Adam does not let that bother him. He stands up for Julian every single time. Soon, everyone starts to see that Julian really is someone they want to have around. This group of friends will have a significant role later in the book. I won't give away anything here.

There is a line that is used in the book that hit me hard, "Hate ricochets, but so does kindness". This line was used in an exchange between Adam and Julian after Adam finds out some of the things Julian has gone through. It was said in regards to why the other chose to take the higher path of being positive instead of hitting back with anger and rage. This stayed with me because I feel this is something that almost all of us could stand remembering every single day. We could choose to be negative, hateful, and spiteful... but why? Just as much energy could be used to be positive and encouraging. Being nice to someone takes just as much of an effort as being mean. It is wasted efforts with no real outcome. You can't pay forward anger, but you certainly can pay forward kindness. I thought this was a beautiful and thought provoking line.

I know that bad things happen every day in the world, but this book reminded me just how much it can affect not just the person but those around them. This book makes me want to be a better person, and in that I feel this book succeeded where others have failed. I want to proudly display this on my shelf and highly recommend to every single person I come into contact with. I can say with absolute certainty that this book is already in my Top 5 Favorite Books of 2017. Please, add this to your TBR now, pre order it, request it from your library now. You will not regret it. If I could give this more than ten million stars, I would. It has earned every star in the universe.

www.wingedreviews.com

Giveaway:
  • One (1) winner receives 2 copies of A List of Cages, one to keep and one to gift to a friend.
*Giveaway open to US addresses only.*Prizes provided by Disney Hyperion

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About the Author
Robin Roe has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a master's from Harvard. She counseled adolescents in Boston before she moved to Dallas, Texas to run a mentoring program for at-risk teens. This is her first novel. 
Praise for A List of Cages

"A remarkably gripping and moving tale of a life saved—in more than one way—by the power of friendship."
—Emma Donoghue, best-selling author of Room

"As inspiring as it is heartbreaking, A List of Cages is a hero story you will never forget."
—Tamara Ireland Stone, best-selling author of Every Last Word

"A poignant, hopeful story about loss, grief, abuse, and the transformative power of friendship."
—Amber Smith, New York Times best-selling author of The Way I Used to Be

* "A triumphant story about the power of friendship and of truly being seen." 
—Kirkus Reviews starred review

* "A page-turner with a lot of compassion." 
—Booklist starred review

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Spotlight and Giveaway // THE BREAKUP SUPPORT GROUP by Cheyanne Young

*by Cheyanne Young

THE BREAKUP SUPPORT GROUP
By Cheyanne Young
Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: Swoon Romance (November 22, 2016)
Age Range: 12-17 years
Grade Level: 7 up
Language: English Goodreads | Amazon
After four years of first love bliss, Isla Rush just got dumped.

Any hope she has of winning her ex-boyfriend back is shattered when the town rezones her neighborhood, forcing her to spend senior year at a wealthy high school in the next town over.

With a broken heart consuming her soul, Isla can’t focus on anything in class. Hell, she can barely get out of bed each morning. Her new school has too many confusing hallways, unfriendly faces, and Emory Underwood—a ridiculously hot guy who dates a new girl almost every day. She can’t help but crush on him, even though she knows it’s wrong.

When memories of her ex make her cry in second period, the school counselor sends Isla to a club that meets during lunch. The Break UpSupport Group is a collection of broken-hearted misfits who are all trying to help each other heal.

For the first time since her break up, Isla’s heart is on the mend now that she has the support group. Then Emory shows up, forced to atone for all the broken hearts he’s caused over the years. While hiding her massive crush, she helps him understand the seriousness of breaking a heart and he helps her get back on the dating scene.

Part of her peer-prescribed therapy is to learn the art of dating around. Emory offers to be her fake date for the homecoming dance, and she’s happy to accept. He’s just a crush, after all—she can handle a night of playing pretend.

When the date ends with a toe-curling kiss on her front porch, all of her well-placed boundaries come crumbling down. After months of therapy, the pieces of her heart are finally healed. And now she just handed it over to a guy who only knows how to break them.

I had so much fun writing The Breakup Support Group! It is my 8th novel, and surprisingly, it's the first one I wrote with an inspiration board. I've seen other writers use this creative writing tool for years and I never bothered until the day I was brainstorming this book. I knew I wanted Emory to look a little like Caleb from Pretty Little Liars, but that's about it. So I went to Pinterest and started browsing, finding images that fit with the story in my head.

As I wrote the novel, I'd go back to Pinterest and add more images or reference the ones I already had. It helped a lot with the homecoming dance scene when I knew I wanted some kind of tulle and lights decoration but wasn't sure how to pull it off. I found an image online that was perfect. It went straight on the inspiration board.

Now I'm hooked! I can't believe I wrote so many books without inspiration pictures! I'm now writing my tenth novel and I created an inspiration board for it before I even started plotting the story. It's a fun way to visualize the images in your mind, and when you set the image as your computer's wallpaper, you'll never forget any of it because it's right there.

In addition to helping with my writing, this technique is also a fun thing to share with readers. It lets them get a feel for the story before they read it, and in some cases, it can be the deciding factor on if they want to read a book or not.

Plus, let's face it. It's just FUN!

Here's the board I created for THE BREAKUP SUPPORT GROUP using images on Pinterest:


Giveaway


To celebrate the release of The Breakup Support Group, I'm giving away a signed paperback and swag pack. To enter, fill out the rafflecopter form below:

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Cheyanne Young is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, and collecting nail polish. After nearly a decade of working in engineering, Cheyanne now writes books for young adults and is the author of the City of Legends Trilogy from Alloy Entertainment. She doesn’t miss a cubicle one bit.

Cheyanne lives near the beach with her daughter and husband, one spoiled rotten puppy, and a cat that is most likely plotting to take over the world.

Be the first to know when Cheyanne has a new book out & get access to exclusive giveaways. Sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bO3qgb

Connect with Cheyanne online! 

Website: http://www.CheyanneYoung.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NormalChey
Instagram: http://instagram.com/normalchey
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/CheyanneYoung

*This spotlight is a sponsored post

Thursday, November 3, 2016

SPINDLE by EK Johnston \\ Just Not Enough . . .

Review by Jackie

SPINDLE
by E.K. Johnston
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (December 6, 2016)
Language: English
The world is made safe by a woman...but it is a very big world.

It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen drove the demon out of her husband and saved her country from fire and blood. Her family has prospered beyond the borders of their village, and two new kingdoms have sprouted on either side of the mountains where the demons are kept prisoner by bright iron, and by the creatures the Storyteller Queen made to keep them contained.

But the prison is crumbling. Through years of careful manipulation, a demon has regained her power. She has made one kingdom strong and brought the other to its knees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with the final blow: a curse that will cost the princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her life.

The threads of magic are tightly spun, binding princess and exiled spinners into a desperate plot to break the curse before the demon can become a queen of men. But the web of power is dangerously tangled--and they may not see the true pattern until it is unspooled.
This is what I expected: color and lights and evil of the darkest kind (the kind that sets your soul on fire, and causes earthquakes, and predators to hunt) and a girl who was going to triumph in her own right. And while I got some of it (sort of?) I didn’t get near the amount that I was hoping for.

This is what I got: I got a slow-paced story, characters who I felt almost nothing for, and a dark spirit who did approximately nothing with her day-to-day activities. She waited. And waited. Annnnd waited. I got a group of friends trapped in the middle of no where on a journey to somewhere, and really, I was just bored. After the perfection that is A THOUSAND NIGHTS, this fell flat. I desperately wanted to love the characters, but I really just didn’t. Like, at all. I can say maybe this, maybe that all day long—I assume you’d rather me explain myself.

So, the question, dear reader, is how could I love the first book in this sort of duology, and not the second book that, for all intents and purposes, is in the same vein.

WELL THAT’S A GREAT QUESTION. THANKS FOR ASKING.

The evil wasn’t evil enough. This was like I was making black tea, but had the brew time of a green tea. (5 minuets versus 45 seconds) WHAT I AM SAYING THAT, WHEN A CHARACTER IS SUPPOSED TO BE DEATH INCARNATE, MAKE THEM SO THAT THERE ARE ICE CRYSTALS IN THEIR EYES AND SO THAT WHERE THEY WALK, THINGS TURN INTO CRISPS. 

The people who were supposed to be all ‘save the world’ were just sort of there. Little Rose and her compatriots. I wasn’t really feeling it.

The quest was not really a quest but more like aimless wandering with some chit-chat. Give me a reason to want the to succeed. Give me a reason to not want to set the book back on my shelf and come back at a different time.

To be fair, my dislike for SPINDLE had, in part, to do with I was so not in the mood for it. I was still able to recognize that the prose the author brought was killer. Gorgeous descriptions. It just fell flat in the connection aspect.

Arguably, that’s the most important part.


In the end, while I did finish reading it (hoping and wishing and wanting it to get better) I wouldn’t read it again.

Monday, October 31, 2016

THE SECRET SEA by Barry Lyga \\ Paranormal Sci-Fi Thriller

Review by Krista


THE SECRET SEA
by Barry Lyga
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (August 23, 2016)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon
Zak Killian hears a voice. Could it be a guardian angel? A ghost? No, that’s crazy. But sometimes the voice is so real…It warns him of danger—directs him to safety.

Then one day Zak is standing on the subway platform when the voice warns him to run. The tunnel starts to fill with water. His friends Moira and Khalid believe this is more than a premonition, and soon all three find themselves in an alternate universe that is both familiar and seriously strange. As Zak unravels the mystery behind the voice, he faces decisions that may mean the end of their world at home—if they can even get home!

The author makes a note that inspiration for this story came about when he read a story that a ship had been unearthed under the ground zero rubble. A boat, so far inland and how it got there and the message is sends to today. After reading that this story made a lot more sense to me. But going into the book not knowing that led to some very weird times when I was trying to piece together what was happening and how the events made sense blended together.

This story is a mixture of a thriller-adventure with science fiction and a bit of paranormal. Zak begins to hear somebody calling to him, and soon he finds that is is being drawn to the subway system downtown trying to get him to cross over to where ever they are. With some prodding and accompaniment of his two best friends Zak does find his way over the border into a new dimension, following the clues to who the voices belong to and their connection to him.

I found myself flying through this book, there was always something happening and ramping up the story lines as it goes. There were times that I would find some pause trying to figure out how certain events could play out in the story. For example Zak has a condition and when the jump to this new dimension he must find whatever version of the antidote the new world had so he didn't end up dead. At first leading me to believe that it was something the author did to add some drama to the story to give it more of a thriller feeling, being on a deadline to find the medicine, or die.

What I found is that it made me think a lot about how it is just the small things that can make major changes to our futures, medicine, weather and ideas. In this different dimension that they have to find their way around is a mixture of the current day New York City and what could be a slightly different one. One of the main focuses of this story is New York City itself. As I only have a very small idea of the streets, monuments and buildings are like there. I believe that people who are more familiar with the city will really enjoy this story as it does compare a lot of the landscape between the two worlds.

I came away from this book with more thoughts of "that was interesting" than anything else. I didn't love the story but I found it very entertaining and attention grabbing, especially in the end where it took a bit of an angle that I didn't see coming.
www.cubicleblindness.blogspot.com

Friday, October 28, 2016

THE LOVELY RECKLESS by Kami Garcia \\ ALL THE STARS!

Review by Jackie


THE LOVELY RECKLESS
by Kami Garcia
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Imprint (October 4, 2016)
Language: English

Goodreads | Amazon

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia, a contemporary romance full of loss, love and redemption…

Seventeen year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad―an undercover cop. She transfers to public school in the Downs, where fistfights in the halls don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him . . . and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

Your own heart will race with each page turn of this heart-stopping star-crossed love story.
All the Stars (5/5)

Some books leave me ridiculously happy in an almost stir-crazy kind of way. The Lovely Reckless is one of those books. This kind of joy is the best, most addicting kind. The notion of addicting joy is incredibly true when your (okay, I) had a mood plummet of sorts just before I started the book. As a matter of fact, that’s why I picked up the book. Why I so often pick up books. It’s like a hug from the universe and instant friends and compatriots who sort of just really get you and your struggles.

Not that I share the struggles of Marco or Frankie, or pretty much any one else in the book for that matter, but the whole being human, and being unseen, and picking yourself up by the bootstraps—that’s something everyone can relate to.

The Lovely Reckless is a modern and oh-so-sexy Romeo and Juliet with car chases, tragic back stories, and a cast of lovers that will have you grinning into your book pages. I give it the Jackie stamp of approval.

So let’s talk characters since I’ve basically given you a pretty vague outline of the plot (mwahahaha)

First off, we’ll talk friendship. I’m going to be blunt here: Frankie was a pretty horrible friend after her boyfriend was brutally murdered in front of her. This, as you might imagine, left the girl traumatized. Understandably, all she wanted to do was not think about it. Whenever she saw her best friend, Lexie, all she could think about was her dead boyfriend. Lexie stuck with her through this as she tried to re-align herself with the world. She’s a good friend. I like her (most of the time). There’s also Cruz, who I may actually be in love with. She’s an amazing racer girl who’s struggling with life a bit (GIVE HER A STORY!) and I like her. She helps Frankie find herself a bit in her new school.

We’ve also got the hella hot street racer Marco. With the two of them, it’s kind of insta-you’re-super-intriguing and then yup-it’s-love in a hot second. I didn’t have a problem with this for some odd reason. It probably has something to do with plot twists and bad people and the whole R+J aspect which I am hard-core digging. Love.

At this point you’re probably thinking that I had no issues with this book what-so-ever, and to be straight with you, I don’t. That being said, I do with I got to read a bit more street racing. It seemed that is supposed to be a huge part of Marco’s life, and Cruz’s for that matter, and I just wish I got to see that side of them more. There were maybe two or three scenes with all that jazz, but it wasn’t super fleshed out. There are a few books out in the world that do an AWESOME job with street racing depictions. Tweet me if you want to hear them!

I also wish that I got to see the rough-and-tough part of Marco along with the sugary sweet, total swoon-worthy man that I’m head over heels for. People seemed to fear him a bit, and I’m just over here with my head propped on my hand drooling as he does all sort of things to make my knees go wobbly. WHY DO YOU FEAR HIM, PEASANTS?

Anyways, I love it. There were things I would add, but nothing that I would change. Overall, I recommend this book from the bottom of my heart. You want swoons? This book will give them in spades? You want to see a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare with all the heartache and sorrow of a girl in the modern world? This book has it. It broke my heart and built it up again. Give me more. I want mooooooooore.
www.nobentspines.blogspot.com