Friday, July 28, 2017

Blog Tour: Of Jenny and the Aliens by Ryan Gebhart...Review & Giveaway!




Today's book is a fun one so keep reading to learn more and to see what I thought about it...

Of Jenny and the Aliens

by Ryan Gebhart
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sci-Fi
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Synopsis:

When boy meets girl meets alien, the angst of first love gets an extraterrestrial intervention in a tale both outrageously funny and full of heart.

Ten years after Earth sent messages out into deep space, there has been an answer. Music from a distant planet has reached the world’s radios. Are aliens about to invade? No one knows, and almost-eighteen-year-old Derek doesn’t really care, because at a wild end-of-the-world party, Jennifer Novak invited him to play beer pong, and things, well, progressed from there. Derek is in love. Deeply, hopelessly in love. He wants it all — marriage, kids, growing old on a beach in Costa Rica. For him, Jenny is the One. But Jenny has other plans, which may or may not include Derek. So Derek will try anything to win her — even soliciting advice from an alien who shows up in his hometown. This alien may just be the answer to Derek’s problem, but is Derek prepared to risk starting an interstellar war to get his girl? Just how far is he willing to travel to discover the mysteries of the universe — and the enigma of love?






Ryan Gebhart is the author of the middle-grade novel There Will Be Bears, about which Publishers Weekly said in a starred review, “Fully developed characters, complex and realistic relationships . . . and a spot-on narrative voice . . . make this story stand out. About Of Jenny and the Aliens, the author says, “This book is about first love and discovering that we're not alone in the universe, and how maybe those two things aren't that different from each other.” Ryan Gebhart lives in Ohio.

His debut young adult Of Jenny and the Aliens, about first love and discovering that we're not alone in the universe, will be released Spring 2017 with Candlewick Press.





Title: Of Jenny and the Aliens
Author: Ryan Gebhart
Format: Digital ARC
Source: Netgalley

What would you do if aliens made contact with Earth and no one knew what it meant or what would happen next?  Well, for Derek and his friends and classmates, the answer is to throw a epic party.  At this epic party Derek encounters Jenny, his longtime crush and things definitely seem to go well for him.  But it's a different encounter on his way home from Jenny’s that changes Derek’s life in ways he wasn't expecting.  And as new and definitely unusual relationships develop, Derek learns more about life (both human and extraterrestrial) and finds himself affected by both new and old acquaintances.

Of Jenny and the Aliens gets off to a humorous and unexpected start and the fun continues throughout this complex story.  However, Ryan Gebhart has written a book that not only has a lot of humor, but also has plenty of heart and emotion. It was definitely a nice balance and I felt for all of the characters in the story as we learned a little more about each of them.  I laughed, I frowned, smiled, I may have even shed a tear or two or twenty, I felt all sorts of things reading this story and that's a good thing for me.  There are some heavy topics dealt with in the story including death, war, teenage drinking, difficult relationships, depression, and more. Everything from the characters and their individual stories to how that affected Derek, our main character was really well done.

Speaking of Derek, I’ve never been inside a teenage boy’s head so I can only imagine, but I really enjoyed getting his point of view.  There is such a realness to him that makes it easy to imagine or see Derek as just an average teenage guy. He was such an optimistic, fun and relatable character with a bit of a geeky side and an excellent sense of humor (yeah, I'm a bit of a geek, too).  He has his ups and downs just like any other teen and some of his downs are pretty deep.  I felt his confusion, doubt, fear, excitement, disappointment, awe, sadness, and more.  He has a tough background story that has affected him, even if he can't see it at first, and his relationships with others grow and change throughout the story. 

I really liked Derek and wanted to give him a big hug many times as I read (even though most of the time he said he smelled awful...I've been around teen boys, so I can imagine). I loved his interactions with his family, guy friends, Jenny, as well as Karo and the aliens.  Plus, seeing his reactions to all he experiences was definitely interesting and fun.  One minute he’s chilling with his boys or Jenny, the next he’s shooting the breeze with an alien.  No biggie.  I couldn't help but wonder how I or any of the other characters would react to Karo, though.  I’m sure we wouldn't be quite like Derek.  But I really liked how nonchalant Derek was about it all…of course, he lives in a world that's been thinking about and preparing for it plus he's a pretty easygoing guy.

I do have to say that while I loved Derek, Jenny, however, had some major drama and issues going on in her life that really affected both her and her relationship with Derek. She sent off way too many mixed signals and made some choices that made it hard for me to like her at first....well, you'll see if you read the book. Much of the book is devoted to him working through his feelings and relationship with Jenny which deeply affects Derek and his actions. I was curious to see how the author would handle it. It definitely felt like a true-to-life situation...well, except for the whole alien thing.

However, one of the things that first attracted me to this story was the whole alien thing, which is such a fresh and fun idea and I really enjoyed it.  I wish there had been more of it throughout the book and I definitely would have loved more of Karo and his unique world.  I loved their view of the universe. The second half of the book is where things really pick up with the aliens and I couldn't wait to see what would happen. And it was fascinating!  I don't want to say too much and spoil things for anyone.

I wouldn't mind reading more books like this and would definitely love to read more books by Ryan Gebhart!  

*I received a free digital arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blog Tour: Royal Crush by Meg Cabot...Review & Giveaway!


Have a fun middle grade novel to tell you about today by one of my favorite authors so keep reading!
Title: ROYAL CRUSH
Author: Meg Cabot
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 192
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Being the newest princess of Genovia is WAY more complicated than she expected, but Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is getting used to it. She gets to live in an actual palace with two fabulous poodles, a pet iguana, her very own pony, and, best of all, a loving family to help her figure things out!
And right now Olivia, having finally admitted that she likes Prince Khalil as more than just a friend, could REALLY use some advice. What is a princess supposed to do once she's found a prince she likes? With her half-sister Mia busy enjoying her honeymoon, Olivia turns to Grandmere for help.
The third book in the middle-grade Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.
About Meg: 
Meg Cabot is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of books for both adults and tweens/teens. There have been over 25 million copies of Meg’s nearly 80 published books sold in 38 countries. Her last name rhymes with habit, as in “her books can be habit forming.” She currently lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and various cats.

Title: Royal Crush
Author: Meg Cabot
Format: Hardcover
Source: Blog Tour/Publisher 

First, I have to say that I am a huge fan of Meg Cabot’s books, but please know that did not influence my review in anyway. But I love her adult books to her YA, and when I saw she had a middle grade spinoff series based on characters from The Princess Diaries, I was super excited.  Finally, books I could share with my young nieces.  And we all loved this series from the start.  So when the opportunity to read and review the most recent book in the series, The Royal Crush, arose, I was eager to see what Ms. Cabot had in store for young Princess Olivia and I wasn't disappointed. 

In this installment, young Olivia is excited to be an aunt as Princess Mia is due to give birth to twins. But Olivia is also dealing with some things of her own…like her first crush, a school field trip, annoying classmates and more.  So just when she could use some sisterly advice, her big sister has her hands full with other important matters. So where does she turn? Grandmer√©, of course.

I loved watching Olivia’s relationships with her newfound family and friends grow.  This is such a sweet and cute read that fits perfectly into the Princess Diaries/Middle School Princess Universe.  It has humor, emotion, and is fun to read regardless of your age. But young readers will probably be able to connect and relate to some of the things that Olivia and her friends go through.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
Tour Schedule:
Week One:
7/24/2017- YA Book NerdReview
7/25/2017- BibliobakesReview
7/26/2017- Margie's Must ReadsReview
7/27/2017- Never Too Many To ReadReview
7/28/2017- The Autumn BookshelfReview

Week Two:
7/31/2017- Little Miss Drama QueenReview
8/1/2017- The Book NutReview
8/2/2017- Becky on BooksReview
8/3/2017- Pervy Ladies BooksReview
8/4/2017- YA Books CentralSpotlight



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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Blog Tour: One Broken Day by Melissa MacVicar... Review & Giveaways!


Today I have an emotional and touching book to tell you about...
One Broken Day
by Melissa MacVicar
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction

Release Date: May 18th 2017

Summary:
After a notorious school shooting leaves her a shadow of the girl she once was, seventeen-year-old Lizzie Beringer moves to Nantucket Island. There, Lizzie vows to hide her identity as the shooter’s sister. All her efforts to fly under the radar, however, are complicated by her P.T.S.D. and the attention she receives from two competing boys. While fending off the not-so-subtle advances of popular athlete Michael Wickersham, she must also deal with her growing feelings for her shy lab partner Gage Pike. Gage may act like he’s all wrong for her, but the pull between them is undeniable. 
Under the threat of discovery and the possibility of testifying in a televised trial, Lizzie fights to keep her secrets and start her life over.
One Broken Day is a brilliantly imagined story exploring the ways we are all broken and at the same time, offered redemption in the most unexpected of places.

Buy on Amazon
About the Author
Melissa was born and mostly raised on Nantucket Island, and she currently lives there with her husband and two teenage children. When not being a wife and mother and teaching writing to seventh graders, she enjoys binge watching shows like Big Little Lies, House of Cards, and Outlander. Despite the rumors to the contrary, she does not actually wish she was a teenager again, nor does she see ghosts like the main character in her first novel, Ever Near. She does, however, love to hear from readers so send her a message on social media or at her email: melissa.macvicar@gmail.com
Title: One Broken Day
Author: Melissa MacVicar
Format: Digital ARC
Source: Blog Tour

In One Broken Day, Melissa MacVicar provides us readers with an emotional and entertaining read with memorable characters and a story that will make you think.

Lizzie, or rather Lainie as she is now known, has relocated to Nantucket with her former-actress mother after a school shooting, a shooting that was committed by her younger brother.  There she hopes to escape the cameras, questions and fame that come from not only being the child of famous parents but from also being the sibling of the perpetrator of a horrific crime.  She wants a fresh start with a new identity where she can just blend in.  And that's not going to be easy for her especially with a trial looming and her fear of her classmates discovering the truth.  

Lainie must also deal with PTSD and her own complicated emotions that come with what her brother did and the sudden changes in her life.  When we hear about crimes such as mass shootings, we rarely hear about the perpetrator’s families and I completely understand and respect why…it's not about them.  But I found it interesting and appreciated that Melissa MacVicar chose to go there…to show that families don't always know or see the signs and they can be as deeply affected as victims’ families.  The first chapter is a perfect example of this.  The families of perpetrators live with the crime, too, knowing what their family member did and wondering if they could have prevented it.  Lainie is a good example, no matter where life takes her, good or bad, she’ll always be affected by what her brother did.  But she is not her brother.

On a bit of a lighter note things also get complicated for Lainie when not only does she catch the eye of one of the school’s jocks, but also her lab partner.  And only one of them really catches her eye…Gage the lab partner (and I must say, he'd be my choice, too). This weird triangle thing definitely affects her ability to blend in as everyone notices the new girl especially when Wick the jock “calls dibs.” I enjoyed how each of the characters grow and change in unexpected ways throughout the book as unexpected relationships and friendships develop.

One Broken Day is a wonderful book about healing and dealing with something I can't even imagine having to go through. With its interesting characters, story, and a topic you don't read about that often or at least not from this POV, I couldn't put it down. I look forward to reading more books by Melissa MacVicar.



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



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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blog Tour: Artificial Sweethearts by Julie Hammerle...Excerpt & Giveaway!


It's time for some Summer love with today's YA Romance...
Keep reading... 
Artificial Sweethearts by Julie Hammerle
Release Date: 7/10/17

About the book:

It’s not chemistry between Tinka Foster and Sam Anderson that made them agree to fake date. With her parents trying to set her up with an annoying student golf coach, and intentionally single Sam’s family pressuring him to bring a date to his brother’s wedding, they could both use a drama-free summer.

So it’s not his muscular arms and quick wit that makes Tinka suggest they tell everyone they’re both taken. Definitely not. And it’s not butterflies that makes a kiss for appearances during the lake party go on way too long—so long that Sam wishes it were real.

But Tinka keeps people at arm’s length—she’s always been second best, even to her parents. And her relationship-for-show could crush everything when she realizes she’s done with fake, pretend, and second-best.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains bikinis at the lake, a lot of making out in dark theaters, and a meet-cute you’ll read twice.



Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us (Entangled TEEN, 2016) and the North Pole, Minnesota young adult romance series (Entangled Crush, 2017). She writes about TV and pop culture for the ChicagoNow blog, Hammervision, and lives in Chicago with her family. She enjoys reading, cooking, and watching all the television. 



Sam stormed out to the back deck, where he ran his hands along the slick, varnished railing and stared up at the stars in the cloudless sky. If this were a movie, now would be the part where Sam met the gorgeous girl next door. She’d see right through Sam’s physique to his big heart and better-than-average sense of humor.

He glanced over at the Fosters’ house, his new neighbors’ place. It was dark, as usual. Life wasn’t a movie. Life was life. Sam sighed and checked his phone. He opened up his contacts and found the name Harper had entered earlier

today—Dottie Gold, heart emoji.

“You texting Dottie?” came a voice from behind him. Sam turned toward Harper, hiding his phone behind his back. His sister was either a wizard or she had X-ray vision.
“Nope.”

“You should.” She stood next to him and placed her hands on the deck railing, facing the Fosters’. “You’re going to college soon, Sam. Get some experience before you leave.”

“I have experience.” He did. Ish.

“Kissing a random sophomore during a school play is not ‘experience.’”

She had him there. “I don’t want to start anything now. I’m leaving in a few weeks, and it’ll be hard enough leaving this town and you assholes.” He nudged his sister in the ribs.

“You’ll have no problem leaving Dottie, believe me.” She held out her hand. “Give me your phone.”

He hid it behind his back. “No.” Bringing Dottie into this wouldn’t solve anything.

“Suit yourself, but think about it.” Harper turned to leave, but stopped. “Make sure you’re honest, though, about what you want. Hooking up is fine, great even, as long as everyone’s on the same page. Don’t give her the wrong idea. I speak from experience.” Harper had run into a similar situation a few months ago with her friend Regina.

Alone again on the deck, Sam flicked on his phone and turned toward his neighbors’ house. He rested his elbows on the railing and stared at the screen. Hi, Dottie, he typed.

And he was stuck. He lifted his eyes to the Fosters’ second floor balcony again and was so lost in composing his message to Dottie that he almost didn’t notice the person standing there, a girl, resting her hands on the railing. Her long, blond hair curled around her shoulders, and it seemed like she was doing the same thing Sam had been—breathing, escaping.

The girl peered over at him, and he tentatively raised his hand in greeting. She, the actual girl next door, did the same for one brief second, then scurried into the house and slid the door shut.

Sam stared at the balcony for a moment, waiting for her to reappear. He put his hand to his chest, where his heart hammered against his sternum.

This right here was his problem, always had been. He was too caught up in the movie version of his life. That girl showing up on the balcony was a coincidence, nothing more. There was no deeper meaning. They weren’t destined to be together. There was a very strong likelihood they’d never even speak to each other. Sam couldn’t keep putting his life on hold, waiting for something amazing to happen.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Spotlight: Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson...plus an Excerpt!

Today I am spotlighting a wonderfully magical tale full of fun and adventure. Y'all it has dragons! And I LOVE dragons!

So here's a little bit more about this fascinating fantasy...

"Jorie and the Magic Stones is the first book in a new chapter book series, by A. H. Richardson, that follows one heroic nine-year-old girl on an unforgettable adventure. Children everywhere are loving this adventurous tale of Jorie and Rufus, two orphans from very different walks of life, who meet by chance and discover a mystic book about dragons, that soon leads them on a quest through a magical world unlike anything either of them have ever experienced…"

Keep reading to learn even more about the book, its author, and check out an excerpt from the story!

Synopsis:

When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn’t imagine the adventures she would have with dragons — good and bad — and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie — for that is what she prefers to be called — finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius. 

Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog — stones of enormous power — and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly.

Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship. 

Praise:

“An easy to read chapter book that can be enjoyed of children of all ages, Jorie and the Magic Stones succeeds at creating an extraordinary world full of memorable characters and dangerous villains. In Jorie and Rufus, the narrative follows the blossoming of a friendship, while exploring the strengths of each of these two main protagonists. Weaving in morales about important ideals like loyalty, bravery, and what it means to be a good friend, the story shows younger readers how important it is to do the right thing, no matter the costs. With rich descriptions, realistic dialogue, and settings you feel as if you are truly immersed within, this is the start to a promising new fantasy series...” - Red City Review

“Jorie is inquisitive, brave, and wise beyond her years, and yet still a child at heart… she is everything a heroine should be... All this, coupled with a one of a kind plot and an exceptional setting, brought to life an amazing fantasy tale.” - 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite

“If ever there was a children's book that was meant for children of all ages, this would be that book. From page 1, you instantly fall in love with the Jorie, the heroine. The storyline flows wonderfully. It makes you feel as if you're there with the characters feeling the excitement, fears, and joy that they feel as they go on an incredible adventure.” - 5 Stars, Matthew and Alicia Lucy

“I absolutely love this story! It just carried me away and I couldn't put the book down!! I loved all the different characters... The author did a wonderful job describing all of them and my imagination kept on going!” – 5 Stars, Amazon Review

About the Author:

A. H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author. 

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series. 

In addition to children’s books, she also enjoys writing murder mysteries. She is the author of Murder in Little Shendon, a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick,  Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. And she has more ‘who-dun-its’ with this clever and interesting duo… Act One, Scene One – Murder and Murder at Serenity Farm.

A. H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads

To learn more, go to https://ahrichardson.com/


Excerpt from Jorie and the Magic Stones

Once in the quiet of her room, Jorie closed the door and retrieved the book carefully hidden under the floorboard. She didn’t know why she felt it so important to hide the book, but her instincts told her that this was a very special book that needed to be carefully guarded. Before settling down to study it, she went to open the window in order to hear the sound of the horses when her aunt returned from her errands. In that way, she would have time to put the book back in its hiding place.    
Perhaps because of the rain and damp, the window was stuck and refused to open. Although Jorie pushed, it appeared that it was well and truly stuck shut. Jorie returned to her book and opened the pages oh-so-gently. She didn’t understand the words in front of her, even though she was an excellent reader. They were faded and seemed to be written in another language. Jorie spoke quite good French, but this was certainly not French. She thought it might have been Celtic, because there were c’s, and w’s and y’s, and they all seemed to run together.
She found one phrase that caught her attention, and carefully pronounced it under her breath. “Cwythr ogan mosdrath kiranog. I wonder if that is how it is pronounced.” Then in her most dramatic voice she called out, “Cwythr ogan mosdrath kiranog,” and felt a shiver run through her. No sooner had she said this than the window flew open. Jorie’s hand flew to her mouth. She inhaled, staring hard at the window. “That window was stuck and wouldn’t budge an inch, even under my tugging.”   
As she regained her composure, Jorie decided she needed to memorize these words. She had always been good at history and could easily remember dates of battles, when kings were crowned, and where, and all the things they make you remember at school. She turned the four words over in her mind, a bit afraid to say them aloud again. What if something else happened? Could it be a spell? Could it be a curse? Was it someone’s name? Although it would be a really long name. Of course, it could just as easily be a recipe for a jar of marmalade! Jorie giggled. They probably didn’t have marmalade back in those days, and why would they put it under a picture of a flying dragon? No — that didn’t make sense.      
Jorie studied her new wonderful find for most of the afternoon. After that, she lay back on her bed, her hands clasped under her head, and turned things over in her mind. She thought about the window; now that had been very, very strange! She was sure that Aunt Letty had no idea that the book existed, for had she known, she might have given it to a museum or a library for old stuff. If she had known about it, she wouldn’t have put it under old floorboards, covered with dust and cobwebs.
Jorie didn’t care much for spiders, but she had plucked up her courage and plunged her hands into that space, perhaps sensing that there was a treasure there.  
She wondered what her new friend Rufus might think of it. Should she tell him? Could she trust him? Might he not tell grownups, who she believed would take it away immediately, never to be returned? She couldn’t take that chance.
She needed to give her new friend a chance; perhaps Rufus would keep it their secret, and maybe the two of them could put their heads together and find out a little more about this book. Jorie felt that this discovery of hers had more to do with the history of Dunham and its mysterious past than it had as a mere fairy story.  
**********
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning about Jorie and the Magic Stones...it's a nice pick for parents and kiddos with some summer reading to do.  I'll be posting my own review and thoughts on the book within the next few weeks, but it's definitely an enjoyable story.  Hope you check it out!