October 30, 2014

Blog Tour for THE WALLED CITY - Review +GIVEAWAY

Very excited today to part of the blog tour for 
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin!

About the Book

Author: Ryan Graudin
Pub. Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 448
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run. 

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

About Ryan:
Ryan Graudin grew up in Charleston and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Creative Writing in 2009. She is the author of All That Glows and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at www.ryangraudin.com.

Her work is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

When I read the blurb for this book I was pretty interested.  It sounded different from books I'd been reading recently, and the concept just sounded unique.  What I found was a fast-paced, at time heart pounding story.

First the story is told by three different main characters.  There is Dai who is full of mystery and ironclad determination.  He is a boy that knows what he has to do and sets out to do it without letting anything get in his way.  I completely admired that about him!  He is also surrounded by a cloud of mystery.  You know he's not like all the other kids in the walled city, but you don't know completely how he came to be there and why.  As the story progresses more and more of his background is shown.  I grew to really like him as a character and wanted him to succeed in this plan he pulls Jin and Mei Yee into.  

Then there is Jin.  I was blown away by her! Here is a young girl in the heart of a very cruel world.  This is a place that will chew you up and spit you out without a second thought! She is pretending to be a boy just to survive - if found out she could end in a very bad situation.  I loved her tenacity.  I wish I had half her fight!  There were times though that I wanted to shake her because of some of the choices she was making. I understood those choices and that she made them out a place of desperation - but man were they hard to watch her live with!  I loved how she ended up at the end of the book.  By the end I had a really soft spot for her.

Now Mei Yee - this girl was amazing.  Jin and Dai both had to learn how to survive on the streets of the walled city, but she had to learn how to survive in a completely different way.  Many girls around her didn't survive it at all, but Mei Yee's ability to figure out what to do to keep herself safe and whole was made me really like her.  I loved that she became part of the fight instead of turning into the one that had to rescued.  She wasn't the helpless girl locked in the tower needing saving.  She helped save them all.  

The plot is almost non-stop action, and when it's not action it's breathless tense scenes where one small move could blow everything.  I felt completely worn out by the time I finished it!

Over-all it was a great book.  The characters were so compelling that I couldn't help but like them and want to see what happened, and the plot pulled me along at such a force I couldn't stop!

One last note - the city in The Walled City is based on a real place in Hong Kong.  I had to stop part of the way into the book and read about.  It was absolutely fascinating.  That only added to how much I liked the book.  

Tour Schedule
 Week One:
10/27/2014- Novel Novice- Interview
10/28/2014- Seeing Double In NeverlandReview
10/29/2014- Reading YA RocksGuest Post
10/30/2014- The O.W.L.Review
10/31/2014- ParajunkeeInterview

Week Two:
11/3/2014- Xpresso ReadsGuest Post
11/4/2014- Reading with ABCReview
11/5/2014- Bibliolatry MeInterview
11/6/2014- Once Upon a TwilightReview
11/7/2014- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post

Giveaway Details:
(1) Grand prize pack: It includes: A finished copy of THE WALLED CITY, rice candy, a miniature lucky cat, a traditional Chinese paper cutout of a dragon, and a pamphlet from the real Walled City Park! US ONLY
(9) winners will receive: A finished copy of THE WALLED CITY. US ONLY.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 28, 2014

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Title: Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

I didn't read this book - my 15 year old daughter did, so I'm sharing her thoughts. 

Here's how her reading it came about. I had just gotten the ARC for review and had it sitting on the counter. She had to have a book for a book report paper for advanced English 10. She had originally picked something like Jane Eyre. After I left for work she must have picked the book up and looked at it. I get a text asking if she can take it to read for her book report. I of course said yes.  Now -the idea behind the book report was that it was to push her reading/thinking, so I asked her if she thought it would do that. She felt this book would definitely push her thinking as well as being something that interested her! 

What I have for the review are parts of the book report she wrote and conversations I had with her about the book.

From her book report:
I choose this book for many reasons, but mostly because it seemed like a good book with an intricate story as well as rounded characters. I choose it also because as soon as I saw it I felt like I would enjoy it, although it may not be something that I usually would read when picking out a new book.

Throughout this book there are several underlying themes, themes about love and hatred, and why we do the things we do, but there is one major theme throughout the book, which is even evident in it’s title. This prominent theme is the idea that we all tell each others and ourselves lies, and when we overcome these lies we can become better people in the long run. This theme is present not just in the name, but each chapter is a different lie that we commonly tell ourselves.

There are many conflicts in this book, many of them being person against person conflicts such as Linda against Sarah, but the main conflict through the book is person against society. The society is what Sarah, her friends, and her family. are trying to fight against. This is not specifically the people, although sometimes it doesn't seem like that. They are trying to fight against what people have grown up in and believe to be true above everything else. This society is what makes these characters so particularly evil in most cases.

Would I recommend this book to others? A resounding yes on my part (emphasis mine). This book would appeal to many people interested in the civil rights movement, or just historical fiction in general, but also any mature readers that read it will take a lot away from it. It is not a lighthearted book, so if people go into it knowing that, most readers should be fine. There are many great attributes to this book, including, as I mentioned earlier, well rounded and thought out characters, and a great and intricate plot line. It’s a very new book, only coming out this October, but it’s on a fast track to becoming well known.

My adding in:
What doesn't come completely through in that is what I heard in her voice when she talked about the book. She loved it.  She got super animated when talking about it.  She even took the book out at one point when we were in the car and started sharing the titles to the chapters.  They are all "lies we tell ourselves".  She thought that was the neatest thing, and she loved how the chapter titles tied in to what was happening in that chapter.  

Later we were talking about the book again, and she said it was now in her top three books along with The Book Thief and one more I can't remember.  I honestly don't think I'll ever see the book again, because it will go on her bookshelf with her special books.

Lastly we did talk about the two main character quit a bit.  She was very clear about what she liked and didn't like about them, but loved how they changed and grew throughout the story.  We also talked about the sexual orientation of the girls and how that was a part of the story.  It was amazing to hear her explain how it was a part of the story, how it affected things, but yet how it wasn't the focus.  

In the end - she loved it beyond anything.  After hearing my daughter talk about a lot of books over the years, it was clear to me this impacted her greatly and she will carry the story and the characters forward for a long while! 

October 24, 2014

Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler Blog Tour - Review +GIVEAWAY

Very excited today to be part of the blog tour for 
by Ann Redisch Stampler!  
I've got a review for you and a great giveaway being hosted by the tour!

First about the book
Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother--whose name her dad won't even say out loud. That's why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her… and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she's everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It's more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop...

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler's spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.

About the author
Ann Redisch Stampler is the author of young adult novels Where It Began and Afterparty, as well as several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Her books have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor notable books and an honor book, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year. Ann has two adult children and lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband. 
Website: annstampler.com 
Twitter: @annstampler
Facebook: https://facebook.com/WhereItBegan 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15751652-afterparty

When I was in high school a lot of people saw me as a “good girl”.  I didn’t get in trouble.  I didn’t drink.  I listened to my parents – hey I LIKED my parents.  So when I saw what this book was about I was intrigued because Emma is a “good girl” too.  The only difference – she decides it’s time to break out of that box.  Although I didn’t always agree with Emma’s choices, I completely understood where she was coming from and why those were the choices she made.  Her father is very controlling, plus she has some guilt over the history of her mother and she wants change how she lives her life.  Putting that all together made for a young girl that wasn’t always in the best place to make good decisions.  I felt for her.  She so wanted to be the good girl her father believed her to be.  I could feel her guilt any time she did something she knew he’d disapprove of.  Just the act of telling him one small lie was difficult for her!  Seeing this guilt was hard sometimes because I knew it tore at her even when she wanted to the very thing that was making her feel guilty!

Ok now about that friendship with Siobhan.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmm – I have to look at it two ways! To begin with it is a very unhealthy friendship - that is perfectly clear to everyone except Emma!  I have to look at it through the eyes of the age it was written for.  For them they see girls like Siobhan – or know if them so they can relate to who she is and how she is.  For me I teach middle school so there were times I had a hard time with her. BUT that is because I’m not the intended audience! She can be mean, pushy and demanding.  I don’t think the intended audience would struggle with her at all – she is a reality in a lot of schools and they would know that. Plus she had to be that way because she had to be the foil to Emma's good girl image. Now I also had to look at their friendship through Emma’s eyes. Siobhan was the complete opposite of Emma so of course she would find her so appealing.  Here is a girl that does and says everything that Emma would never be allowed to do.  She sees and gets this freedom with Siobhan that she has never had and that’s very appealing to her.  When I looked at Siobhan this way – I could completely buy into why Emma was friends with her.  I got it even if I didn’t agree with it. The friendship was completely necessary and exactly what it needed to be.  It drove the plot and the change in Emma. 

Now the ending.  Don’t worry I won’t give anything away!  I was pleased with the ending.  It gave answers without wrapping everything in a nice neat bow.  It was more realistic, and I liked that.  I felt satisfied with what I knew at the end and where I could see it going after the book was closed.

Over-all I enjoyed the book.  At points it was like watching a car-wreck about to happen because you knew Sib had trouble written all over her! But the motives and history of Emma kept me wanting to know how she would be.

The Giveaway
A hardcover copy of Afterparty
Emma’s contraband Sephora make-up
Emma’s Kate Spade make-up bag
Emma’s Bob Marley t-shirt
Emma’s vintage mother-of-pearl barrette
Emma’s cat’s eyes sun glasses
Emma’s ice blue nail polish
The sparkly hair pins Dylan pulls out of Emma’s hair
Dylan’s Kurt Cobain t-shirt
Siobhan’s gold nail polish
Mara’s Bakelite-style orange bracelet (+ two more)
Mara’s (tiny) Felix-the-Cat ring
An Afterparty tote bag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule 
Mon, Oct 6 - Read Now Sleep Later 
Tue, Oct 7 - What a Nerd Girl Says 
Wed, Oct 8 - Fiktshun 
Mon, Oct 13 - Nite Lite Book Reviews 
Tue, Oct 14 - The Windy Pages 
Wed, Oct 16 - A Bookish Escape 
Mon, Oct 20 - She Reads, She Blogs 
Tue, Oct 21 - Books Unbound 
Wed, Oct 22 - The Consummate Reader 
Thu, Oct 23 - Kid Lit Frenzy 
Fri, Oct 24 - The O.W.L. for YA 
Mon, Oct 27 - The Thousand Lives Tue, 
Oct 28 - Books Turn Brains 
Wed, Oct 29 - Fangirlfeeels 
Thu, Oct 30 - Romance Bookie 
Fri, Oct 31 - The Reader’s Antidote 
Mon, Nov 3 - Proud Book Nerd 
Fri, Nov 7 - Girls with Books

October 23, 2014

Beautiful Cover!!

This cover was just released.
I'm a sucker for a dress cover, and this one is amazingly beautiful!
Maybe I should read this series....

October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Soulprint

This post is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm waiting on:

Soulprint by Megan Miranda
Release: February 3, 2015
Why:  I love Megan Miranda!

Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private. June had accomplished the impossible: hacking into the soul-database, ruining countless lives in the process.

Now, there are whispers that June has left something behind for her next life—something that would allow Alina to access the information in the soul-database again. A way to finish the crimes she started.

Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.

Alina doesn’t know who to trust, or what June intends for her to know, and the closer she gets to the answers, the more she wonders who June was, who she is, whether she’s destined to repeat the past, whether there are truths best kept hidden—and what one life is really worth.