Thursday, April 17, 2014

Prisoner of Night and Fog Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Release Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog, Book 1
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository B&N Kindle iTunes
Goodreads Website

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

Wow. I was completely BLOWN AWAY by Prisoner of Night and Fog. Seriously, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. I tend to love reading about historical fiction, particularly surrounding large events in history, such as wars, regimes and such, and this was such an amazing read. Anne Blankman has the ability to transport the reader to one of the deadliest and most devastating times in history, and make one feel as though they are apart of the action. The amount of time she must have spent researching the topic... oh boy. It was so well-detailed and I feel that her facts checked out for the part of the book that revolved around non-fiction.
What first caught me was the cover. I saw this while browsing on Edelweiss, and I knew that I HAD to download it immediately. It was only after when I found out that it was about Hitler. There are a ton of books out there that focus on World War II and the awful things that Hitler did, but I’ve never ever come across a book (in YA at least) that includes him as a character– and a major one at that! It was really strange, to be honest, to have him apart of the action and interacting with the characters in this book, knowing that he’s one of the worst people in history. But there are quite a lot of interesting facts about him that I had no idea about that pop up in the book, and it really allows you to see how he becomes his monstrous figure in our world’s history.

I’ve been kind of in a slump lately, because so many YA heroines set my teeth on edge. It was so refreshing to finally find one that I actually LIKE. Gretchen was a great character– really strong and determined. It’s illuminating to see the transition of a character throughout a book, and her character certainly does have one. It’s interesting to see her involvement in the plot, as well as several other characters, as they’re fictional, and how they interact with characters based on real people and are apart of events that really did happen is just a testament to how well the author blends fact and fiction in Prisoner of Night and Fog.
Daniel! *swoon* Of course, love love LOVED him. The romance really reminded me of Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye, where the protagonist and her love interest are from two sides that are in conflict with one another. Let’s just say that I’m SUPER excited to see what happens in the next book in terms of the romance, because while there is some in this book, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more development further on in this series.

There’s a lot of shocking revelations and twists and turns. I would just advise you as a reader, no matter how tempted you are, to NOT look up any of the characters, particularly Hitler’s. It gives away some of the smaller reveals later on in the book, so DON’T. I’m glad though that a lot was fiction, or was based on the facts and melded into the story to fit another purpose, because this really kept up the surprises that come along in the book. The author even has a really great afterword about the characters and events, and what’s real in the book and what isn’t. 

Prisoner of Night and Fog is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Anne Blankman masterfully navigates the history, particularly the beginnings, of WWII, bringing to life the people and characters involved. Beautiful and heart-pounding, this debut will have readers spellbound from start to finish. Can’t wait for the sequel!

If you like this, try...

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Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

Website Twitter Goodreads

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Giveaway time!


One (1) ARC copy of Prisoner of Night and Fog!

Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Click on the button below or on the tour banner at the top to see the rest of the stops!

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Thanks so much to FFBC tours for having me along!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 108

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It’s to spotlight upcoming reads that I’m DYING to get my hands on!

This week’s WoW is:
Inland by Kat Rosenfield

The psychological labyrinth of a young woman’s insidious connection to the sea, from the Edgar Award nominated author of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone.

Callie Morgan has long lived choked by the failure of her own lungs, the result of an elusive pulmonary illness that has plagued her since childhood. A childhood marked early by the drowning death of her mother—a death to which Callie was the sole witness. Her father has moved them inland, away from the memories of the California coast her mother loved so much and toward promises of recovery—and the escape of denial—in arid, landlocked air.

But after years of running away, the promise of a life-changing job for her father brings Callie and him back to the coast, to Florida, where Callie’s symptoms miraculously disappear. For once, life seems delightfully normal. But the ocean’s edge offers more than healing air … it holds a magnetic pull, drawing Callie closer and closer to the chilly, watery embrace that claimed her mother. Returned to the ocean, Callie comes of age and comes into a family destiny that holds generations of secrets and very few happy endings.

June 12, 2014 ● Goodreads

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone was absolutely gorgeous, so there’s no doubt why I’m anticipating Rosenfield’s upcoming novel, Inland. It sounds suspenseful and hauntingly beautiful– I definitely can’t wait to sink (pun intended) into this one.

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

When soldiers arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock 'n' roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever. Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children, weak from hunger, malaria, or sheer exhaustion, dying before his eyes. He sees prisoners marched to a nearby mango grove, never to return. And he learns to be invisible to the sadistic Khmer Rouge, who can give or take away life on a whim.

One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn's never played a note in his life, but he volunteers. In order to survive, he must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand—and steal food to keep the other kids alive. This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated from the Khmer Rouge, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier. He lives by the simple credo: Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down.

Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace, from National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick.

I’m ashamed to say this: I’ve lived in Asia for most of my life and not once have I ever learned about the Khmer Rouge. It’s sad that not many people actually know what happened in Cambodia, and I think in general, the history that I’ve learned in school tends to be more one-sided, as I barely know anything about Asian history, even studying in international schools in South East Asia. Never Fall Down was an enlightening experience for me, as it revealed the horrors that took place and the childhood experiences of Arn Chorn-Pond, a very well known human rights activist, during the Pol Pot Regime.

I love how much the writing is reflected onto what would be the basic English-speaking capability of Arn during his childhood in Cambodia. The writing was simple yet so impactful whilst reading. To see this through the eyes of a child, and all the horrors of the events, just makes it all the more distressing that this actually took place. The author really took the time to make sure that she got the basis of his story, and it really does show throughout the novel. It’s also interesting because it shows the inability of Arn to express himself, confining him to what he can relay back to the reader as a child, while he deals with the deaths and the emotional trauma surrounding the regime. It makes it all the more scarier to see how people resort to cannibalism in extreme cases, turning against each other, and doing what they can to survive, as it gives a broader overview of the events as well.
I liked how there was particular focus on how Arn did survive, through playing music. The lengths Arn had to take in order to survive, learning to play an instrument he had no experience with and gaining more confidence day by day, still shocks me. The fact that a lot of these details are true makes it all the more surreal, making this an amazing and profound survival story, one that people need to hear.

I started this book and couldn’t stop reading until I’d reached the end. Never Fall Down was a heart-pounding read, a gruesome and realistic portrayal of how a country turned on itself, and how one boy found a glimmer of hope surrounded by death and destruction. Patricia McCormick’s writing hits hard and true, illustrating the horrors and traumatic experience of war. Moving and fierce, Never Fall Down is one not to miss.

If you like this, try...

  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys Goodreads
  • Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong ● Goodreads
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ● Goodreads 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

A Message from Clinton Festa, author of The Enchanted Harp

Fellow readers:

People in prisons and juvenile detention centers don't have many options for recreation.  They love reading as much as we do, but they rely on a steady supply of books.  Have you ever wondered what to do with your old books?  Maybe your mother/father/wife/husband has asked you several times to clean out your 'old books that you're never going to read again.'  You can even donate your sports magazines and comic books to one of our featured juvenile detention centers.

Please 'like' the Facebook page below and join the Goodreads group to get updates from Sentences Book Donations on the latest needs from individual prisons and JD centers.  Check out past posts, or wait for future ones, and you're sure to see a prison that needs exactly what's on your shelf.  Stay connected, and you'll find an opportunity to make a very efficient, effective donation.  Your books will be read!  We'll tell you how to donate, where to send it to, etc.  Thank you for your donation!

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The Enchanted Harp is available for free on Amazon now until April 14, 2014.

If you’ve never downloaded a free e-book, it’s very easy.  Just log in and purchase it (for $0.00) like you would any product.  You can begin reading right away.  No Kindle required.

The book takes place in 1920 London.  Lillian Paisley is a fifteen-year old errand girl for (the fictitious) King Richard XVI, or Rick, as he prefers.  Her saintly mother died when she was only three, leaving Lilly with a vague, frustrated memory of the person who should be the most important role model in her life.  Lilly was left in the care of her three loving but very meddling godmothers, Matthea, Marcia, and JoAnna.

Mattie, Marcia, and Jo tell mythic stories of Lucy Paisley, Lilly’s mother, which only frustrates her more.  They claim that Lucy did jumping jacks on water, or turned rocks into brownies and dirt into frosting.  On an errand to a church in the poorest part of London, Lilly says a prayer to understand who her mother really was.  The result is a concert grand harp enchanted with the spirit of Lucy Paisley.

From there, anything real becomes unlikely, and anything absurd becomes the norm.  With Lucy’s wisdom and Lilly’s courage, the mother-and-daughter team set out to make things right in their troubled town, performing a few miracles along the way.

So, what category is The Enchanted Harp in?  That’s a tough question to answer.  It’s Young Adult… 50% comedy… 25% romance… 33% historical fiction (don’t worry if these numbers don’t add up)… 10% mystery… 33% religious themes, which include angels, demons, saints, etc… which also makes it 20% paranormal…  Okay, let me try to say what it’s not.  It’s not a mean-spirited, obnoxious, slow-paced read full of self-destructive characters that make you cringe at their unrealistically poor decision-making.

The Enchanted Harp is my second book, following Ancient Canada, both published by SynergEbooks.  Ancient Canada is available in print; The Enchanted Harp is a new release and only available as an e-book right now.

Remember, The Enchated Harp is available for free until April 14th on Amazon!  Don’t miss the chance to get it for free!

Thanks everybody for reading,
Clinton Festa

Friday, April 11, 2014

Frozen by Erin Bowman

Frozen by Erin Bowman

Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Taken, Book 2
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed – thanks Richa @ City of Books!
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Read my review of Taken HERE

The Heists were only the beginning.

Gray Weathersby escaped from the primitive town of Claysoot expecting to find answers, but what he discovered shook him to the core: A ruthless dictator with absolute power. An army of young soldiers blinded by lies. And a growing rebellion determined to fight back.

Now Gray has joined a team of rebels on a harsh, icy journey in search of allies who can help them set things right. But in a world built on lies, Gray must constantly question whether any ally—or enemy—is truly what they seem…

I had a couple of fears going into this book. One of them was that I wouldn’t remember what happened in Taken and this book would be a big pot of confusion. Fear number two was that it would fall into the category of not-as-great-sequels as can be found with several YA books. Turns out, I really didn’t have to worry– Frozen was an amazing ride, and even though I'd read Taken a while back, many of the details and names of characters and places came back to me eventually. It was a great follow-up to an amazing start, and didn’t let me down.
I was pretty bummed when I didn’t manage to get a copy of Frozen, but luckily for me, one of my best friends Richa had an ARC so I was able to read this well in advance before publication date. However, it does mean that now I have to wait a SUPER long time for the next book... which doesn’t even have a name yet! The ending of this one just blew me away and made me ravenous for more.

Gray has developed a lot as a character, because in Taken, he made a lot of stupid, rash decisions that had me slapping my forehead in frustration. You can really see that he’s more mature in this book, although he still feels so much confusion as to which girl he should be with. I like that this book is from a guy’s point of view– it’s nice to shake things up once in a while! There is a definite outcome of who Gray is with at the end of the novel (well... pretty much). Since I was already okay with either Bree or Emma from book one, and I didn’t have a preference since both had their strengths and flaws. I kinda wish that the romance was stronger, but on the other hand I’m still glad that the main focus was placed on the action.
As I’d mentioned before, eventually all characters came back to me when I read through, and there are a couple of new characters as well. I really found Jackson’s character interesting, as the book introduced a new group of “people” known as Forgeries and this definitely seems like something that will be further explored in the next book.

I definitely did NOT see that ending coming. My sister read the book before I did and taunted me endlessly with the shocking twist. Even though my mind thought endlessly about the possibilities, I never ended up imagining the ending that this book has. Needless to say, I’m blown away and dying to find out what happens next!
I also liked the contrast in settings that this series presents, as along with an original concept, different landscapes arise and it was very easy to imagine the journey that these characters take as well as the areas that they land up in. The world building is absolutely gorgeous and Bowman’s writing really allows the reader to understand and build up this dystopian setting whilst reading.

Frozen was an enthralling follow-up to Taken. While I’m sad that there is only one more book to go, I’m anticipating the finale and answers to all the questions I’ve had since I started this series. Captivating and beguiling, Erin Bowman’s sequel is bursting with action, suspense and deception, topped off with a likeable protagonist and wonderful descriptions. Can’t wait for book 3!

If you like this, try...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ask Me Blog Tour: Dream Cast by Kimberly Pauley


Kimberly Pauley is the award-winning author of Sucks to Be Me, which was honored on the YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers list, and a paranormal mystery starring an oracle, called Ask Me. Born in California, she has lived everywhere from Florida to Chicago and has now gone international to live in London with her husband and son. She is also the founder of YA Books Central, one of the first and largest teen book websites in the world. Visit her online at

TwitterFacebook SohoPress

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Dream Cast for Alex
by Kimberly Pauley

Alex from ASK ME is 17. He’s athletic (he plays multiple sports) and tall and just generally a big guy. He’s got dark curly hair and intense eyes. He feels stuck in the small town that he’s in (and in his family), so he’s got some pent up resentment and anger. That might be one of the reasons that he’s drawn to Aria in the beginning of the book. Maybe he can sense that she’s struggling too. 

He’s actually the hardest to cast as far as his look goes because the general trend among actors is to be thin...not that Alex is overweight, he’s just big and muscular. In fact, I haven’t yet found a current young actor that screams Alex to me. The closest thing I have come up with so far is a young Mark Ruffalo (a young Marlon Brando would also do...seriously, Google it!).

I did have some “inspiration” pictures saved on Pinterest for possible Alex-like photos. The ones marked “A” are for Alex.

Mark Ruffalo actually does work in a lot of ways (well, if he were a lot offense to him...I love him to bits but he’s even farther away from 17 than I am). Alex can be quite broody and a bit moody and sometimes volatile (didn’t Ruffalo play the Hulk??). And I like the intenseness in his eyes. I think Alex would communicate a lot with his eyes as well. Alex often stands up for Aria, though she’s not sure why or what he’s after.

A fan did suggest Logan Lerman and Tyler Posey. Of the two, I’d say Tyler’s not a bad choice! The teen wolfishness of him is good too. He’s got strength, which is good.

Alex, by the way, is named after a friend of mine from high school, though he doesn’t look anything at all like him and this friend was much more of a skateboard punk rocker kind of guy.

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Thank you so much to Kimberly for stopping by! I’m really looking forward to Ask Me– I’ve read several great reviews :) Here’s a little bit more about the book:

Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone. 

But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture.

Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Meredith Barnes for having me on the blog tour! ▪ ▪ ▪

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 107

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It’s to spotlight on upcoming books I’m DYING to get my hands on!
I’m so sorry for being so AWOL at the moment... school’s going to finish up soon and then it’s exams, so there’s a lot of last minute topics and homework and it’s just getting a little bit out of control. That will mainly be the reason why I won’t be posting all too often, but hopefully I find sometime here and there when I can post.

This week’s WoW is:
Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back-but that's assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid.

In her enthralling debut, R.C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets . . . and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy's future-and her own-in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

October 14, 2014 ● Goodreads

I’m always down for a fairytale retelling! I still need to finish the Cinder series, but this one sounds like another amazing take on a popular story. Can’t wait for this one!

What are you waiting on?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Liv, Forever Blog Tour: Dream Cast by Amy Talkington


Amy Talkington is an award-winning screenwriter and director living in Los Angeles. Before all that she wrote about music for magazines like Spin, Ray Gun, Interview, and Seventeen (mostly just as a way to get to hang out with rock stars). As a teenager in Dallas, Texas, Amy painted lots of angsty self-portraits, listened to The Velvet Underground and was difficult enough that her parents finally let her go to boarding school on the East Coast. Liv, Forever is her first novel.

WebsiteTumblr Twitter  Goodreads

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Liv really doesn’t know know what to make of Wickham Hall so she spends most of her time holed up in the painting studio working. But, her sharp wit and artistic passion gain her the attention of Malcolm Astor. Liv is not one to put her emotions out there but, just when she’s starting to open up to Malcolm, she is murdered. Liv is a fighter, and she works together with Malcolm and campus oddball Gabe to solve her murder, uncovering a dark conspiracy at  Wickham Hall. Elle Fanning is a perfect Liv. She has an artistic spirit and an undeniable strength. And her timeless look will help make Liv an indelible heroine.

Okay, so she may not be a brunette, but hey, that’s what hair dye is for.

This is a girl who will fight to solve a mystery.

She might be fearful but she will not run away.

If you want to know all the latest on Liv, Forever follow me on Twitter @amytalkington and Tumblr

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Thank you so much to Amy for stopping by! Really excited to see Elle Fanning in Maleficent, so I’m sure she’s an amazing choice for Liv! I’m really excited to get into the book, and so here’s a little more about it:

When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier—especially when Malcolm Astor, fellow artist and scion of one of the school’s original families, starts falling for her. Fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols warns her not to get involved with a “Wicky,” but things are finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy it.

But Liv’s bliss is cut short when she is viciously murdered. In death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that spans 150 years and many, many lives. Gabe, cursed with the ability to see their ghosts, turns out to be Liv’s only link to the world of the living.

Liv must rely on Gabe’s help to prove to Malcolm that she’s still present… lingering with the other spirits. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham before more lives are lost.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Meredith Barnes for having me on the blog tour! ▪ ▪ ▪

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Side Effects May Vary Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book DepositoryBarnes & NobleiTunesKindle

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? 

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most? 

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

After catching a glimpse of the really interesting and cute cover, I knew I had to get my hands on Side Effects May Vary. The premise sounded original, and sure enough I wasn't disappointed. I've heard many things about this novel, good and bad, and I'm glad that didn't affect my judgement on this book. While I did love the story and most of the characters, as well as the structure, there were just some things about this novel that I couldn't get into or enjoy. I will say though– Julie Murphy can WRITE, and beautifully at that.
I was super excited when I got the chance to be apart of this blog tour. I realised that after reading The Fault in Our Stars, I actually didn't know that much about cancer. Sad isn't it? Unfortunately, it's so widespread now days, but I barely know anything about it. I thought that this could possibly help with that, and I thought that the portrayal of Alice's struggle through cancer and her fight to live life to the fullest was so realistically depicted, and as a person who really doesn't know much about cancer, it really illuminated the different consequences it can have on a person.

Alice pushed me to the end of my tolerance for characters. I'm going to be honest: I've never been more frustrated or appalled by a character. I mean, she literally made me clench my jaw. There's annoying and then there's I-want-to-run-you-over-with-a-truck. Guess which one she was? I hated how her character constantly used Harvey over and over again, and she was clearly just looking for revenge. I was a little let down, because I thought that she would grow and understand her mistakes and so on, but nope. Her character is so static throughout the book, that it nearly pushed me over the edge.
Thank goodness for other characters though! Even though I thought his mooning over Alice was a little too much, I really loved Harvey's character. I wish that Dennis and Deborah's characters were more developed because I enjoyed their presence in the book so much. It was also interesting how the parents play into the story and how their actions and backstories, etc. all mingle with Alice's and Harvey's.

I liked the fragmented structure of the story, how it not only switched perspectives but also time periods, oscillating from "Then" and "Now". It lead to some confusion on my part, because I wasn't very good with keeping track of what was going on or when during the chronological sequence of events that certain scenes were taking place, but it was really unique to see the cause and effect of past actions into the present. It's certainly something that isn't very common in YA, and I thought it was very original on Murphy's part to include this.

Overall, while some parts nagged at me throughout the book, Side Effects May Vary has a gripping plot that teens and adults alike will find captivating from start to finish. Murphy's debut explores the emotional rollercoaster that is the teen years, filled with pain, love and heartbreak, and coming to terms with oneself. 

If you like this, try...

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Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she's not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie's debut novel. 

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It's time for a giveaway!

Enter to win...

(1) Finished Copy of SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy!


Enter in the Rafflecopter below!

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Click below to see the rest of the stops on the blog tour!

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Thanks so much to FFBC Tours for having me along!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 106

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight on upcoming books that I'm DYING to get my hands on.

This week's WoW is:
Remember Me by Romily Bernard

**Spoilers from Book 1**
In the sequel to Find Me, Wick Tate, sarcastic teen hacker, is back and once again dealing with criminals and corrupt cops…and a brooding new love interest. Will Wick persevere when some secrets refuse to stay hidden?

Wick had thought her troubles were over.

But she should’ve known better.

Not only is she embroiled in a new murder case, which starts with a body with “Remember Me” carved into it and doesn’t stop there, but she also discovers new evidence surrounding her mother’s suicide…which leads her right back to her imprisoned deadbeat dad. And she has to deal with her flirty new hacker friend, Milo, sniffing around—which her boyfriend, Griff, isn’t too happy about.

The pressure might be too much as secrets—including Wick’s own—climb to the surface.

September 23, 2014 ● Goodreads

I loved Find Me (review HERE) and after that ending, of course I was hungry for more! Why does September have to be so far away?! Anyway, more mystery, more hacking and more Griffin, so my appetite should be satisfied at the end of this one. Can't wait!

What are you waiting on?