Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Blog Tour: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas...Review & Giveaway!


Another amazing book to tell you about today!
Keep reading to learn more and to enter to win a copy!
Title: THE CHEERLEADERS
Author: Kara Thomas
Pub. Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 384
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBD

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
About Kara:

Kara Thomas is a true crime addict and the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, LITTLE MONSTERS, and THE CHEERLEADERS, all published by Delacorte Press. You can find her on Twitter (@karatwrites), Instagram (@kara__thomas), or at http://www.kara-thomas.com.


Title: The Cheerleaders
Author: Kara Thomas
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher/Blog Tour 

With The Cheerleaders, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Was it going to be a mystery? A thriller? A horror story? A drama? Well, it turned out to be all of these things in a way and more....well, maybe not so much a horror story, but I still loved every bit of it.

When The Cheerleaders first begins we meet Monica, a high school dance team member going through some personal drama. Her sister also happens to have been one of the local high school’s last cheerleaders. You see, five years ago, after the tragic deaths of five cheerleaders, the squad was disbanded. Two of the five were killed in a car accident, two were murdered, and one, Monica’s sister, killed herself. Now, as the anniversaries of the deaths approach, Monica is discovering things may not quite be what they seem when it comes to these deaths and she is trying to discover what really happened and if the deaths were connected in some way.

To be completely honest, when I first started reading, I had no idea what direction author Kara Thomas was going to take the story. Would history repeat itself? Was this going to be a story of justice finally being served? Or would this turn out to just be a case of an unreliable narrator? I won’t spoil the story and say exactly what happens, however, I will say that while there were so many different ways Thomas could have taken or handled the actual main plot and mystery of the story that Monica sets out to investigate, I was both surprised and pleased with how the story unfolds.

In The Cheerleaders each new discovery Monica makes or the author reveals through flashbacks from other characters’ POVs, leads to a new twist or turn exposing a new detail in the story from the past ultimately leading to a fascinating and stunning conclusion as everything begins to click into place. From beginning to end, it was perfect and I couldn’t wait to see how the story would play out and how the characters we meet throughout the story were connected or involved in the overall plot, if at all. Everyone seemed to have a secret related to or a connection to the tragedy. Like Monica in the story, I was never quite sure who or what was relevant. And I definitely was not expecting the outcome, but thoroughly enjoyed it and the entire book. I love reading suspense and mysteries and dramas or whatever you want to classify this book as...it had a little bit of everything that would surely please fans of all of these genres.

As for our main character, Monica, she goes through a lot in this book both on-page and off-page. In addition to dealing with some heavy personal stuff, discoveries made by Monica turn her world upside down affecting not only what she thought to be true in the deaths of her sister and her sister’s friends but also who she remembered and thought her sister to be. As she looks deeper into the past and learns more about her sister, she also uncovers some uncomfortable truths about herself and those close to her. I don’t want to say too much, but the ways in which the author subtly tied Monica’s story to her sister’s and the similarities between the two was so well-done.

The Cheerleaders is easily one of my favorite reads in a good while. This is not only a story with a bit of mystery and suspense, but also one filled with heart and emotion. I loved how Thomas balances and blends everything into a cohesive and engrossing story. The Cheerleaders had everything I love in a book: great characters, an entertaining story, an unpredictable outcome, plus it left me wanting to read more.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE CHEERLEADERS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tour Schedule:
Week One:
7/23/2018- The Heart of a Book BloggerReview
7/24/2018- A Dream Within A DreamReview
7/25/2018- Portrait of a BookReview
7/26/2018- Here's to Happy EndingsReview
7/27/2018- Books and LaddersReview

Week Two:
7/30/2018- The Clever ReaderReview
7/31/2018- Diary of an Avid ReaderReview
8/1/2018- Never Too Many To ReadReview
8/2/2018- Confessions of a YA ReaderReview
8/3/2018- Adventures of a Book JunkieInterview

Week Three:
8/6/2018- laura bookish cornerReview
8/7/2018- The Phantom ParagrapherReview
8/8/2018- Mama Reads BlogReview
8/9/2018- To Be ReadReview
8/10/2018- Savings in SecondsReview

Week Four:
8/13/2018- The Young FolksReview
8/14/2018- BookHounds YA- Interview
8/15/2018- Simply Daniel RadcliffeReview
8/16/2018- Moonlight RendezvousReview
8/17/2018- Two points of interestReview




Friday, July 27, 2018

Blog Tour: Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder...Review & Giveaway!


Wonderful new book to share with you today...
Title: LETTING GO OF GRAVITY
Author: Meg Leder
Pub. Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 432
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD

Twins Parker and Charlie are polar opposites.

Where Charlie is fearless, Parker is careful.

Charlie is confident while Parker aims to please.

Charlie is outgoing and outspoken; Parker is introverted and reserved.

And of course, there’s the one other major difference: Charlie got leukemia. Parker didn’t.

But now that Charlie is officially in remission, life couldn’t be going better for Parker. She’s landed a prestigious summer internship at the hospital and is headed to Harvard in the fall to study pediatric oncology—which is why the anxiety she’s felt since her Harvard acceptance is so unsettling. And it doesn’t help that her relationship with Charlie has been on the rocks since his diagnosis.

Enter Finn, a boy who’s been leaving strange graffiti messages all over town. Parker can’t stop thinking about those messages, or about Finn, who makes her feel free for the first time: free to doubt, free to make mistakes, and free to confront the truth that Parker has been hiding from for a long time.

That she keeps trying to save Charlie, when the person who really needs saving is herself. 

A gorgeous, sad, funny, and wise book about letting go and finding your place in the world. Meg Leder has written a story about a brother and sister that will break your heart and have you whispering 'I got you' long after you've closed the book." –Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces

“For readers who love and appreciate a good coming-of-age story, a realistic romance, and a novel where every character gets to be a hero.” –Kirkus

“A poignant and carefully crafted story….  A compelling coming-of-age novel sure to appeal to those who love realistic fiction.” –School Library Journal

“Effectively shows how illness affects families and how a person can get stuck acting out a persona and end up knowing very little about herself.” –Publishers Weekly

About Meg:
Meg Leder is the author of Letting Go of Gravity and The Museum of Heartbreak, and the coauthor of books including The Happy Book and The Book of Me. A former bookseller and teacher, she currently works as a book editor in New York City. She spends her free time reading, looking for street art, and people watching. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Tim Riggins.

Title: Letting Go of Gravity
Author: Meg Leder
Format: Digital ARC
Source: Blog Tour

Letting Go of Gravity was an unexpected surprise...I mean that in a good way, I promise. I was a little worried I’d be a sobbing mess by the end of the story after reading the blurb and considering the subject matter, but surprisingly I smiled as much as I cried reading this one, if not more.

The main focus of the story are fraternal twins Parker and Charlie, individuals who couldn’t be more different. A recent high school graduate, Parker is an introverted, people-pleaser who has her life planned out...a summer internship at the local Children’s Hospital and then on to Harvard where she hopes to study to become a pediatric oncologist. On the other hand, her twin brother Charlie is extroverted, outspoken and has no clue what the future holds as he has fallen a year behind in school thanks to a recent reoccurrence of leukemia. Parker’s carefully planned out summer doesn’t quite go as planned thanks to her changed relationship with Charlie and to renewed acquaintance Finn, a street artist who has been leaving cryptic graffiti messages all over town as well as a few discoveries she makes about herself.

This could have easily been a super heavy and emotional read, but there was still a lightness to it, if that makes sense. The characters of this story help with that as does Meg Leder’s way of telling us the story.

As for that story, it is told from the POV of Parker and Letting Go of Gravity is definitely Parker’s story so I understand why we only get her perspective, but to be honest I wouldn’t have minded getting Charlie’s perspective on a few things. There are occasions and interactions between the two early on where I could sense Charlie’s frustration at the situation and how people treat him, yet Parker seems oblivious to it. But I wonder if that is how it is in real life sometimes...that we are sometimes too close to a situation to actually see what is really happening or what we are doing or saying, but a third party can easily see it. I admit this made me frustrated with Parker, but it also added a realness to the story.

Parker definitely grows as the story progresses and she begins to learn more about herself, what she truly wants out of life, and what makes her happy. She begins to see past events and current situations in a new light. It’s a fascinating journey of self-discovery and I enjoyed how real it felt. It doesn’t happen overnight, but is more gradual lending a believability to the whole situation and to everything that occurs. It’s the little things that lead Parker to see the bigger picture. Leder does a fantastic job at showing how a character can grow and change as a result of self-discovery and reflection.

There are several other relationships and characters in the story that also help shape and affect Parker and her choices. From Finn to Ruby to Carla to Alice and many more, Meg Leder has done a fabulous job with each of these characters and relationships as each has an important role to play in Parker’s story even if it’s not apparent to Parker or the readers at first. I liked how each made her see things and question things in a way no one else had before. She was already on her way, but each gave her that extra nudge by providing an outsider’s perspective. Parker’s interactions and relationships with other characters were wonderful additions to an already enjoyable story. Oh, and I really loved Finn, by the way...even little Finn, who we meet in a flashback/memory.

Now, I feel I can’t let this review end without commenting on Charlie’s cancer as it is a big part of the book. As someone whose family has been affected by leukemia as well as other types of cancer, I feel that Meg Leder did a lovely job of showing how it affects an entire family in ways that aren’t always obvious. I’m paraphrasing (and badly at that), but there’s a beautiful passage in the book that likens cancer to a river moving through a family. You don’t notice it at the time, but your family is forever changed. Just like a river changes the terrain as it flows, wearing away at its banks and forever changing them, cancer changes a family and there’s no going back to who you were before. This is so true and now I must stop or I will be a sobbing mess, but this passage just stuck with me and I wanted to point it out.

Overall, I found Letting Go of Gravity to be a wonderful and touching story about relationships, growing up, and discovering yourself.


*I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will win a finished copy of LETTING GO OF GRAVITY, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
7/23/2018- A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt
7/24/2018- Here's to Happy EndingsReview
7/25/2018- The Pages In-BetweenReview
7/26/2018- 100 Pages A DayReview
7/27/2018- Never Too Many To ReadReview

Week Two:
7/30/2018- Book Princess ReviewsReview
7/31/2018- Nicole's Novel ReadsInterview
8/1/2018- The Reading Corner for AllReview
8/2/2018- Do You Dog-ear?Review
8/3/2018- BookHounds YAInterview


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Book Spotlight: Copycat by Hannah Jayne...Excerpt & Giveaway!


Hannah Jayne is one of my go-to authors when I’m in the mood for a good thriller and I am so pleased to be able to tell you about her latest release from Sourcebooks Fire, Copycat!
Title: Copycat
Author: Hannah Jayne
ISBN: 9781492647393
Release Date: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Praise for Copycat:
“A twisty rollercoaster ride that mixes fiction with reality and truth with misconceptions...lovers of mysteries will certainly enjoy this fast-paced page turner.” —Library Media Connection

Summary:
From the author of The Escape, Twisted, and Truly, Madly, Deadly comes a chilling new thriller that asks: what happens if your real life became stranger and deadlier than fiction?

Everyone is dying to read the latest book in the popular Gap Lake mystery series, and Addison is no exception. As the novels biggest fan, she’s thrilled when the infamously reclusive author, R.J. Rosen, contacts her, giving her inside information others would kill for.

Addison’s always dreamed of what it would be like if the books were real…. But then she finds the most popular girl in school dead. Murdered. And realizes that life imitating fiction is more dangerous that she could have imagined. As other terrifying events from the books start happening around her, Addison has to figure out how to write her own ending—and survive the story.

Hannah Jayne decided to be an author in the second grade. She couldn’t spell and had terrible ideas, but she kept at it. Many (many) years—and nearly twenty books—later, she gets to live her dream and mainly does it in her pajamas. She lives with her rock-star husband, baby daughter, and their three overweight cats in the San Francisco Bay area. She is always on the lookout for a juicy mystery, an exciting story, or a great adventure.

One

There was something inordinately creepy about being at school after dark. The place was deserted—­the benches and picnic tables in the quad looked ominous and foreboding under the flickering yellow lights. Crystal Lanier shivered and pulled her jacket tighter against an imaginary chill. The weather was mild at Gap Lake in September; the days still sunbaked, the nights, like this one, a gentle mix of fading summer and impending fall. But the bare bones of the deserted campus had put a chill in the air, and shot a blast of cold right through Crystal.

“I’m creeping myself out,” she muttered shifting her books from one arm to the other.

A wisp of wind cut through the quad. Crystal was almost sure she heard someone laughing—­a weak, choked giggle, like someone was trying to swallow it down.

“Hello?”

She spun, her long black hair fanning over her shoulders. “Is someone there?” She knew she sounded like every horror movie victim ever, and her heart hammered in her throat as her skin prickled with beads of sweat.

This was Gap Lake, she reminded herself. It was a tiny town where everyone knew everyone else, and nothing bad ever happened. She was thinking that when the shadow approached. When he reached out for her long black hair. She was thinking what a nice, safe place Gap Lake was when he clamped a hand over her mouth. When he strangled her scream and drove the needle straight into her throat.

***
“Addison!”

Addison glanced up and blinked, feeling redness stain her cheeks and ears. She closed the book slowly, looking around at the two dozen sets of eyes staring back at her.

“I’m sorry.”

Mrs. Lea took two steps forward and held out her hand. Addison cleared her throat and shifted in her seat.

“The book, Addison.”

Reluctantly, Addison handed over the dog-­eared book.

“Can I get it back after class, please?” she asked, her voice meek.

***

Maya Garcia hiked her backpack over her shoulders and stepped into the junior hallway. “Okay, how many times has Mrs. Lea taken that thing from you?”

Addison shrugged, falling into step with her best friend. “Let’s see, I’ve read it about fifty-­seven times so…fifty-­six?”

“You are the biggest, nerdiest R. J. Rosen fan ever.”

“Hey, I’m president of his fan club. It’s mainly research.”

Maya shook her head sadly. “It’s borderline obsessive.”

“Who you calling borderline?” Addison flashed a wide grin. “It’s not entirely my fault. Rosen needs to write faster. If he could keep up with the public’s rabid love for the Gap Lake mysteries, I wouldn’t need to constantly reread—­”

“And reread and reread. And write massive amounts of fan fiction.”

Addison rolled her eyes.

“Don’t get me wrong, Adds. I love the books too, but you’re a teenager. You need a more destructive hobby to fit in.”

Addison nodded sagely. “I see where you’re coming from. What do you suggest?”

“Drinking, drugs, reckless driving.”

“First of all, to drive recklessly, I’d have to drive, which I will not. And as for the other stuff, what am I? A stereotype?”

Maya narrowed her eyes, crossed her arms in front of her chest. “I feel like you’re not taking me seriously.”

Addison stopped at locker 221 and spun the lock, pulling open the metal door. “I like to read. So what?”

Maya yanked a handful of books out of Addison’s locker before dumping them back in again. “So, you should shelve a few hundred of these books and live in the here and now with the rest of us who have boyfriends who don’t live only on paper.”

“Number one, have you read the first Gap Lake book? Not only is Crystal’s boyfriend, Declan Levy, not a one-­dimensional paper product, he may or may not be responsible for her murder—­I vote not. But if that doesn’t make a rounded character, I don’t know what does.”

“Character,” Maya enunciated. “That’s the magic word. A character is not a real person.”

“And speaking of not real people, who’s this boyfriend of yours you seem to be referring to?”

A fierce blush crept across Maya’s olive cheeks. “I didn’t say that I had a boyfriend. But there are possibilities. Men in the wings. Plans afoot and so forth and…stuff.”

“‘Plans afoot’? ‘So forth and stuff’? Who are you?”

Maya put her hands on her hips. “I’m your best friend, Addie. Remember me? I’m not a mystery novel, but I’m pretty damn fantastic if I say so myself.”

Addie pulled the book back. She gave it a quick kiss, before stashing the book in her backpack.
Maya gaped. “Did you just kiss a book? Seriously?”

“It’s my lifeblood.”

Maya cocked an eyebrow and Addie shrugged.

“Okay, so it’s research.”

“Tell me you still want to be a writer and haven’t decided on serial killing as a career goal.”

“According to my father, the latter pays better.”

“How is the wolf of Wall Street?”

Addie blew out a sigh. “Buying low, selling high, still wishing his disappointing daughter had a penis or a power tie.”

“Well, I know what to get you for Christmas.” Maya stopped dead in her tracks. “Don’t look, but you’re being ogled. Possibly even being fantasized about in weird and uber-­sexual ways.”

Addie immediately crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Now I feel skeevy.”

“I’d pay a thousand bucks if Spencer Cohen was staring at me that way.”

Addie shrugged, trying to play it off like she didn’t care. “You need a life.”

Maya groaned and shook Addie’s arm. “And you need two feet in reality or you’re going to prom with a cardboard cutout.”

“If it’s a cardboard cutout of Declan Levy, sign me up.”

“So you are into serial killers.”

“Declan didn’t do it!”

Maya rolled her eyes. “Declan totally did it. He killed Crystal, then did Andy and Rhodes. It’s textbook. I know because I am the daughter of cops, times two.” She held up two fingers a half inch from Addie’s nose. “He had motive, opportunity—­all those other CSI words.”

“That’s what the author wants you to think. And you totally fell for it! You are so R. J. Rosen’s target audience!”

“And you’re his secret side chick.”

Addie snorted. “I prefer biggest fan.”

“Well, it seems like Spencer Cohen is your biggest fan, and he’s coming over here.”

“Hey, Addie.” Spencer grinned, one of those three-­point grins that hit his dark-brown eyes, chin dimple, and Crest-­white smile.

I’m not in love with Spencer, she told herself. Infatuation. Puppy love, maybe. He’s just so cute…
“Hey, Spencer.”

Maya stepped forward. “Addie was just telling me how much she loves water polo. And dancing.”
Addie blinked. “I was?”

“I play water polo.” Spencer brightened and Addie gritted her teeth. She had been to nearly every one of his matches. True, she was usually up on the last bleacher with her nose in a book, but she watched whenever Spencer was in the pool. He never even noticed her.

“Yeah,” she said with a slow nod. “I’ve seen. I mean I know. I know because I’ve seen you. Not in a weird way, like in a fan way. Not, like, a weird mega fan or anything but, like, a Hornets fan. You know.” Addie fisted her hand and punched at the air. “Go team!”

Maya threaded her arm though Addie’s and gave it a yank. “We have to go.”

“Why did you do that?” Addie hissed once they were out of earshot. “Spencer and I were having a conversation.”

“Have you ever heard the term dead in the water? Because that’s what you were. ‘Go team’?” She shook her head sadly.

“Did I sound that bad?”

“Yes, yes you did.”

Addie sighed. “See? That’s why I should stick to guys on paper.”

“Oh honey,” Maya slid an arm over Addie’s shoulders. “At this point I don’t even think your book boyfriend would talk to you.”
Prize: 2 Copies of Copycat
Runs July 3rd - 31st  (US & Canada only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway