Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin: Review and Giveaway

A Really Awesome Mess
by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Published by Egmont USA
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Pages 288
Source: ARC from Media Masters Publicity and Egmont USA
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Indiebound

A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves. 

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy. 

Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends. 

A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

My Thoughts

A Really Awesome Mess really does serve up a mess and I enjoyed every moment of it. The fun cover and the comparison to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Juno appealed to me and made me want to read about Emmy and Justin and their experience at Heartland Academy. It is witty, a bit raunchy (but not too much), sometimes a little far-fetched (but weirder things have happened), and completely entertaining. 

While the book itself is relatively short (could be read in just a few hours), it took me several days to read it because real life events kept me from reading it straight through. But the characters and their conversations left an impression on me that I didn't have to go back a read previous paragraphs or pages. They were so memorable that I could pick up right where I left off. 

I liked all of the pop-cultural references scattered through-out the book. This keeps the story current and lets readers know that it happening right now, but I'm curious how this will be accepted by readers in the future. Will they understand the references because they are so specific or will it date the story? I always wonder about this when reading books with a lot of pop-culture references. 

Another thing that I like about A Really Awesome Mess was that there is a balance between the humorous episodes and the serious moments. I think the authors did an incredible job of showing how all pain is relevant and shouldn't be rated, compared, or easily dismissed. Each kid is at Heartland Academy for a reason and one is not more important than the other. Pain is pain. One passage that stuck with me was when Justin, who is clinically depressed, shared his thoughts, connecting his pain and anger:
"It was just like the act of being alive hurt so freaking much that if anybody touched me I thought I might shattered into a million pieces.
And this brittle feeling was really closely related to the anger. Because when you're in constant pain, people who aren't in pain were really annoying. And people asking you to do stuff you didn't want to do were even more annoying. Like, really, why the hell would you ask me to take out the garbage when it took every freaking ounce of energy just to feign normalcy while I was sitting here?" (pg. 98)
Reading this passage made me take a pause because of it's intensity and honesty. And there were other passages that wowed me and one that even brought me to tears. 

My emotions were all over the place while getting to know about these characters and they are again as I try to finish up this review because I'm making the book sound really intense. I want to share how funny I think it is and I laughed too many times to count. I guess all I can say is that A Really Awesome Mess lets the reader experience it all.

Disclaimer:   I received this ARC from Media Masters Publicity and EgmontUSA in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the ARC provided. Quotes are taken from the ARC and may differ from the final version. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


If A Really Awesome Mess sounds like the kind of book you would want to read, then you are in for a treat. EgmontUSA has generously offered one hardcover copy for giveaway to one of my blog readers.

Giveaway Details

Enter by Rafflecopter below

U.S. addresses only

must be 13 or older to enter

one winner will be selected and announced via Rafflecopter
prize provided by Media Masters Publicity and Egmont USA
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 27, 2013

It was a Good Week in Books (3)

Bookish things that grabbed my attention this week:

  • The first seven chapters of Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling's It List #1 is available for FREE (at time of posting) on Amazon. This PREVIEW will tide me over until the book releases on September 3rd.
  • Simmone Howell's review of Just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth - I don't even know what to say. I know this is going to be an important book. Just read the review and then read the book. I know I will.
  • I saw the cutest bookish party favors at Shooting Star's Mag. I think I may have to get these for a future book club meeting or author/blogger meet-up.
 And if that was enough:

  • Katie Kacvinsky, author of First Comes Love, Second Chance, and the Awaken series, decided to offer a sneak peek of Finally, Forever and I get to share it on my blog!!! As a treat to her fans and new readers, we'll get to read more of Dylan and Gray sooner (August 7th) rather than later. I'm currently hosting a giveaway for one of her books for the Summer of Love Giveaway Hop.  If you want a chance to win Katie's books, please stop by the giveaway and enter. And then spread the word!!
  • I discovered a new author thanks to Ginger at GReads! Ginger gave me a copy of Ruthie Knox's Ride with Me - a sexy contemporary romance. I read it immediately and now want to read more of Ruthie's books. Thanks Ginger!!
Other happenings:
  • On Thursday, author Claire Legrand held her Third Annual ARCAPALOOZA  and I won a copy of Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott. Extremely excited to win this one. I've read most of Elizabeth's books (well after checking Goodreads, I realize I've read about half of them) and recommend them to anyone who wants to read more YA contemporary. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Sick by Tom Leveen

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


by Tom Leveen
Published by Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Pages: 288

(from Goodreads)
Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead as a group of unlikely allies tries to survive a deadly outbreak.

Brian and his friends are not part of the cool crowd. They’re the misfits and the troublemakers—the ones who jump their high school’s fence to skip class regularly. So when a deadly virus breaks out, they’re the only ones with a chance of surviving.

The virus turns Brian’s classmates and teachers into bloodthirsty attackers who don’t die easily. The whole school goes on lockdown, but Brian and his best friend, Chad, are safe (and stuck) in the theater department—far from Brian’s sister, Kenzie, and his ex-girlfriend with a panic attack problem, Laura. Brian and Chad, along with some of the theater kids Brian had never given the time of day before, decide to find the girls and bring them to the safety of the theater. But it won’t be easy, and it will test everything they thought they knew about themselves and their classmates.

Why I'm Waiting

Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead.
That Is All. 
Oh, and it's Tom Leveen.
Now that's all.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer of Love Giveaway Hop

The Summer of Love Giveaway Hop (hosted by YA Romantics) is the first of three Summer Giveaway Blog Hops that I am participating in.

For this hop, I am giving away one copy of First Comes Love or Second Chance by Katie Kacvinsky. I absolutely love these characters and their story (see my review here) and identify with them in many ways and would love to introduce them to new readers.

About First Comes Love:
Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl always searching for what's next, seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving and besides, opposites attract.

What starts as friendship, turns into admiration, respect and caring, until finally these two lone souls find they are truly in love with each other.

But staying in love is not as easy as falling in love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they're going to have to work at it. And learn that sometimes love means having to say you're sorry.
I'm not going to share the synopsis of Second Chance for fear that there be a spoiler or two for First Comes Love. I wanted to make the choice available for anyone who has already read First Comes Love.

Giveaway Details
Enter by Rafflecopter below
U.S. addresses only
must be 18 or older to enter
one winner will be selected and announced via Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for entering. Now check out the other participating blogs!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Taking Time to Reread: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

 If I Stay 
by Gayle Forman
Published by Dutton Juvenile
April 2, 2009

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.
(from Goodreads)


I first read If I Stay back in February 2010. At the time, I wasn’t blogging but I’d read several bloggers’ reviews and all everyone was saying was how much they loved it and how it was one of their favorite books. I didn’t know too much about it but figured I should read it too because so many people were extremely positive and I didn’t want to miss out.

So I did read it, but I wasn’t as moved by it and I really didn’t understand why everyone made such a big deal about it. Now that I’ve just reread it, I feel like a complete idiot - because I do get it. It made me very emotional as I read Mia’s story and everything that she went through and remembered as she was deciding to stay or to pass on.

Why was my response to the reread different from the initial read? There are a couple of possible reasons. One is that just before reading If I Stay, I’d read several books that left me emotionally spent: After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr, After by Amy Efaw, and The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, just to name a few. They exhausted me - reading too much of the heavy can do that sometimes. Another reason is that I’ve read Where She Went. Knowing the complete story and how Mia and Adam’s lives intertwined and changed over the years, makes me see the characters in a new light.

I initially rated (on Goodreads) If I Stay with 4 stars but I gave the reread 5 stars. I was committed to really understanding Mia’s struggle as she remembered her relationships, not just with Adam but with her family and her friends too. I happy to have reread this If I Stay because it was a completely different experience the second time around.

Do you reread books? Or do your every growing TBR piles keep you from picking up some of your favorite books? I'd love to know your thoughts, so leave a comment.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Giveaway: Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

 I recently read Impostor and really enjoyed it. (from my review): "Impostor is a thrilling read - full of danger, suspense, horror, and a little bit of romance (because you can't leave that out). If this is science fiction, then give me more please. I can't wait for the next book!!"

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Razorbill Books I have am offering a copy of Impostor by Susanne Winnacker for giveaway.

by Susanne Winnacker
Published by Razorbill
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Pages: 274

 Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late? 

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again.

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Giveaway Details
Enter by Rafflecopter below
U.S. addresses only
must be 16 or older to enter
one winner will be selected and announced via Rafflecopter
prize donated by Razorbill Books


Friday, July 12, 2013

Jennifer Echols Week: Such a Rush Review

In honor of the July 16th release of Jennifer Echols's Dirty Little Secret, Katelyn of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands wanted to share her love for all of her books and declared this week Jennifer Echols Week. Katelyn then asked other bloggers to join in to share the love and I immediately had to sign up. I think Jennifer Echols is an entertaining author with her mix of romantic comedies, romantic dramas, and now her adult contemporaries. 

While I am a fan of Jennifer's books, Such a Rush is the only book that I have reviewed on my blog. When I started reading Such a Rush, I just wasn't feeling it. I didn't want to admit it because I'd loved all of her other books. I continued with the story because . . . well just because. I'm extremely happy that I did or I would have missed out. I'm sharing my original review again and would love to read you thoughts on Such a Rush. Please leave a comment below.

Such a Rush
by Jennifer Echols
Published by MTV Books
Publication Date July 10, 2012
Pages 320

Review originally posted July 20, 2012
It took me quite a while to get into this story and it almost became a did not finish. How is this even possible? At the 100 page mark, I set the book down. Something about the story seemed a bit disconnected. There was a lot of descriptive information but not enough action or dialogue to keep me interested. BUT how is this even possible?!?!  I love Jennifer’s books - her characters and plots always keep me reading furiously until the last page but it just wasn’t happening this time and couldn’t understand why.

I think that it may have been because, in much of the beginning of the book, there was so much focus on Leah’s impoverished home life. While they may be accurate, a lot of the descriptions used for the trailer park seemed cliche, and they were so repetitive that it was off-putting. Leah’s situation was dire, her mother was selfish and neglectful. I didn’t need to be convinced. I got it. (Maybe this hit a little too close to home for me).

Then there was a turn around, I’m not sure the exact moment but it felt like a Jennifer Echols story that I’ve come to know and love. I could have been when there were more interactions with the characters. The story wasn’t so much about Leah’s thoughts and every day routines.

Leah was a character that I respected, rooted for, and cheered on. She knew that she had to make her own way. She decided the life that she wanted for herself - anything completely different from her mother and did what she could without cheapening herself to make it happen. She was strong and willful. But there were times when I was furious with her decisions - I just wanted to yell, “Leah, I know that you are so much smarter than this!” (thinking that Mark had any good intentions toward her at all).

What I did love about Such a Rush is that it was more than story about romance (which was hot and I appreciated, thank you very much), but it was about ambition and determination and family. These kids flying airplanes were pretty kickass. It was exciting to read and to think about doing such a daring job at a young age when most teenagers would work in restaurants or malls.

Not that it needed to redeem itself at the end, but it was a book that upon finishing, I wanted to open up and experience again. I even considered rereading it before posting this review to see how my thoughts changed because I hate that my initial reaction was that I may not even finish this book. While this isn’t my favorite Echols book (that would be Endless Summer), it is definitely a book I would recommend (and plan to convince my book club to read). This is a book I want to talk about some more.

What do you think of Such a Rush? Did anyone have the same initial impression that I did? Please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jennifer Echols Week: My Favorite Cover

In honor of the July 16th release of Jennifer Echols's Dirty Little Secret, Katelyn of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands wanted to share her love for all of her books and declared this week Jennifer Echols Week. Katelyn then asked other bloggers to join in to share the love and I immediately had to sign up. I think Jennifer Echols is an entertaining author with her mix of romantic comedies, romantic dramas, and now her adult contemporaries.

Today Katelyn is sharing her thoughts on the covers she loves and the ones that she doesn't love as much. So I decided to share my favorite cover too.

My Favorite Cover

I swear this is not going to be just an Endless Summer Week. But this is my favorite cover. I love that it is intimate and just the right amount of sexy for the age of the characters. 
And it screams summer romance!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jennifer Echols Week: My Favorite Jennifer Echols Book

In honor of the July 16th release of Jennifer Echols's Dirty Little Secret, Katelyn of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands wanted to share her love for all of her books and declared this week Jennifer Echols Week. Katelyn then asked other bloggers to join in to share the love and I immediately had to sign up. I think Jennifer Echols is an entertaining author with her mix of romantic comedies, romantic dramas, and now her adult contemporaries.

To kick off Jennifer Echols Week, I'm sharing my favorite Echols book: 

 Endless Summer

Add to Goodreads

This version includes both The Boys Next Door and Endless Summer. It is the first book by Echols that I read and it is still my all-time favorite and the one that I recommend the most. I think that I loved it so much because it brought back so many memories of spending the summer on the lake with my friends and it reminded me of what it felt like to be a teenager.   

It's a fun summer romance that made me all giddy and the hilarious hi jinx kept me in stitches. And the love triangle between Lori, Adam, and Sean kept the pages turning. I fell in love with Adam and in 2010 declared him one of my Top Ten Fictional Crushes.

In Endless Summer, the characters spend a lot of time wake boarding and after reading it, I decided I had to try it. The characters made it seem easy, but I discovered it is not. I attribute that to the fact that I was attempting to wake board in the bay and not a lake. I think that is another major reason why I like Endless Summer as much as I do - it convinced me to step out of my way too comfortable comfort zone and try something that I was scared to attempt. I might not have been successful, but I felt adventurous.

* * * * * * * * * *

Below is a list of all of the other participating blogs in Jennifer Echols Week. I'm excited to check them out and discover what they love so much about her stories and her characters and how they connected with her books.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Unexpected Forever (Teaser #4) by Heidi McLaughlin

  Today I'm sharing the fourth and final teaser of Heidi McLaughlin's My Unexpected Forever. If this doesn't make you want to read this book, then something is just wrong. 

Teaser #4

and a song off of the My Unexpected Forever playlist

Need more of Harrison and Katelyn? 
Check out the other teasers of My Unexpected Forever.

Lost in You - Out Now!

Forever My Girl - The Beaumont Series #1 

My Everything - A Beaumont Series Novella

My Unexpected Forever - The Beaumont Series #2 - September 1, 2012

A USA Today Best Selling Author

An Amazon Best Seller

A Barnes and Noble Best Seller


My Unexpected Forever releases September 2nd, except for Naughty Mafia attendees. Pre-buy $15 and get a copy in Vegas. First 100 people to pre-buy will receive exclusive swag. Order here:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Camp Boyfriend by J.K. Rock

Welcome to my stop on the Camp Boyfriend by J.K. Rock Blog Tour!!! I'm providing a review of Camp Boyfriend, which I adored, and hosting a giveaway. You can find the giveaway below my review.

Camp Boyfriend
by J.K. Rock
Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Pages: 324
Source: ARC provided by publisher

The summer of her dreams is about to get a reality check.

They said it couldn't be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren's nerves and she can't wait to return to summer camp where she's valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she's broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn't even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.

But Matt isn't giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn't really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she's more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren's friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she's changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?

My Thoughts

Camp Boyfriend is fun and entertaining and a great book to kick-off my "summer-themed" reading. It is full of humor and drama (a lot of drama) as Lauren spends the summer deciding who she wants to date and tries to discover who she is and figure out who she wants to be. 

One thing that I really like about this story is that there is a love-triangle that really is one at all. Lauren does have feelings for both boys - one, a lifelong friend who in recent summers became her summer boyfriend and the other, a boy who she's dated for the past eight months but is just now beginning to really know. As she tries to understand her feelings, she doesn't pit the boys against each other or run from one guy to the other when things start become even more confusing for her. She considers their feelings and tries to be honest as possible. It does take her a while to get to this point but she does. I probably would have been irritated Lauren went back and forth between the boys giving both of them false hope.

In the midst of all of this "camp boyfriend" drama, Lauren experiences a heavy dose of drama from her friends and bunk mates of Munchies Manor (all the cabins have names). They have a hard time dealing with the new parts of Lauren's popular girl persona that she brought with her to camp and they start to shun her for it because she is not the girl that they remember from years past. What is so heartbreaking about this is that she really didn't change as much they only perceive a huge change in her because she looks a little different. She's always on the ins and outs with her friends and her fun summer at camp isn't anything like she expected it to be.

As if all of the drama at camp isn't enough, she has troubles back home too. She's become her sister's wedding planning minion, her mom's makeover project, and her dad (the one person who knows her the best) is overworked and doesn't have time for her anymore. All of this just adds to the new stress of camp and makes Lauren even more overwhelmed and confused.

The title Camp Boyfriend suggests that this book is only a summer love story. Yes, that is in there, but it also a story of self-love and understanding and acceptance. It's also a story about friendships and growth and independence. I never went to a summer sleep-away camp, but Camp Boyfriend makes me wish that I had. I adored this book and recommend that it be added to all summer readings lists!

Fans of The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller are sure to love this one too.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Spencer Hill Contemporary in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the book provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Now the Giveaway!!

There will be two types of prizes for this tour.
Enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

Daily Prize:  
Camp journal, pen, bookmark, friendship bracelet and I <3 camp="" font="" tattoos="">colors and style may vary (see picture).

Grand Prize (tour wide):  
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles,The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt, That Summer by Sarah Dessen, Always You by Kirsty Moseley, an autographed Arc of Wait For You by Jennifer Armentrout as J.Lynn and autographed copies of Camp Boyfriend and Camp Kiss along with 'I <3 a="" boyfriend="" camp="" tattoos="" temporary="">' t-shirt, a Camp Boyfriend bookmark and friendship bracelets- puppy not included :)

Enter Here:

Camp Boyfriend Links

 About the Authors

J.K. Rock
Joanne and Karen Rock- writing sisters-in-law- formed a partnership to pen YA novels as J.K. Rock. Their debut book, Camp Boyfriend, is available July 2, 2013 from Spencer Hill Contemporary.
Prior to joining creative forces, Joanne Rock began her career as an author of adult romance for various Harlequin series. Published in twenty languages and twenty-seven countries, Joanne writes both contemporary romance and medieval historicals in addition to the occasional romantic suspense. She is a three-time RITA nominee and Bookseller’s Best finalist.
Karen Rock sold her first adult romance to Harlequin’s new Heartwarming line. The Forever Wish (September 2013) is an uplifting tale of love against the odds during the hero’s battle with cancer. In addition to writing, Karen is an eighth grade English teacher who has written and published screenplays for production by school theater departments. She is a regular blogger at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s popular “Cynsations” blog.
Together, Joanne and Karen write Young Adult stories that don’t back down from real issues. Whether their characters are falling in love at summer camp or facing the consequences of tough life choices, the authors enjoy helping them navigate those challenges.  Their “Camp Boyfriend” books are romantic dramas with a strong emphasis on teen friendships and self discovery. Fun, warm-hearted and emotional, the series includes Camp Boyfriend (July 2013), Camp Payback (April 2014) and Camp Forget-Me-Not (August 2014).


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