Openly Straight/Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg
Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books
Openly Straight: Amazon
Honestly Ben: Amazon
Reviewed by: Alex
What to Expect: A duology about do-overs, labels, love, and seriously messing up. In that order. Featuring a once-and-future gay boy, an introverted jock-philosopher. In supporting roles, their friends, who range from tone-deaf cis-hets to a to one of the most endearing enbies I’ve met on the page. Read More
Like many of you, I’m an admitted LJ Smith fan. My formative years were spent reading ragged and dog-eared copies of the books, The Secret Circle, Vampire Diaries, and The Forbidden Game. I always assumed I was from some long lost branch of some long lost witch family straight out of the Night World. BTW I’m not.
Well, recently it was discovered that I never read LJ Smith’s first two books, Night of the Solstice and Sword of Valor. The ever quick witted Rebecca from Crunchings and Munchings review blog was fast to tweet, “@iloveyafiction never read them either! I’m totes thinking 1 of these for book club. You in?” Yes, friends, I am so in.
Publisher: Bandit Publishing (November 28, 2012)
Reviewed by: Ellen
Plot: Picking up exactly where the first book left off, Keatyn is still at her posh boarding school far away from her family and friends in order to protect them, and herself, from creepy stalker Vincent. At school Keatyn’s days are filled with hot guys, fashion choices that make me beyond jealous, furnishing the fabulous loft she’s purchased and, oh did I mention the hot guys? I believe there’s a little school work thrown in there too but honestly, who can remember when there’s Dawson and Aiden and Riley (oh my!) to focus on?
Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 22, 2012)
Format: Kindle Edition
Okay, I’m gonna make a confession here and there really is no easy way to say this so I’m just going to be blunt: I just ate an entire box full of chocolate covered cookies and a red velvet cupcake. Make of that what you will (though personally I’m using this book as a motivational tool to get my cookie belly to the gym. The thought of Tegan sitting there ready to whip me into shape makes me want to keep on eating just to give him more to work on. Rawr).
Publisher: Bandit Publishing (August 20, 2012)
Format: Kindle edition
Plot: Sixteen year old Keatyn lives a charmed life in Hollywood. She’s the daughter of America’s sweetheart, the beautiful actress Abby Johnston and she is young, gorgeous, and rich in her own right. From the outside, Keatyn seemingly has it all. Only problem is the script that she wants her life to follow isn’t living up to the actuality: the intricacies of high school baffle her, the boy she wants to fall in love with her only sees her as a friend, a close male friend decides to spring his love on her, and her own boyfriend won’t touch her no matter how beautiful she is or how much she throws herself at him. To top it off, a stalker begins harassing her mom and eventually sets his sights on her, leaving increasingly aggressive letters in places that only a family member or close friend could get to.
Get ready to pinch yourselves because in my hot little hands is a signed Advanced Readers Copy of Origin by Jessica Khoury! Yes, one of the most anticipated releases of the Fall! I can’t wait to hunker down and begin reading it, especially after all the hype about–Wait, you didn’t think it was for you, did you? Because I mean, we got this after waiting in a hellaciously long line at Book Expo 2012 during which we endured death stares, dehydration, and moody expo goers until it was finally our turn to speak with the author so I mean, we couldn’t possibly part with it. Not even if you begged and pleaded…
BTW, I’m kidding! This book is totally for you! One lucky winner is in for a treat when he/she walks away with a signed ARC of Origin by Jessica Khoury.
Important details! This is a paperback ARC of Origin. By entering our contest you accept that you cannot sell it or earn money off of it in any way. You can pretty much only read it and enjoy it like you know you want to. You must be 18 years of age or have parental consent to enter (I will check!). I will only ship within the continental USA (unless of course you still want to enter and pay for shipping because running a blog is expensive, people!)
Here’s how you can win. There are a lot of ways so you must leave a comment telling us how you are entering otherwise it will not count. I am also very sorry if these ways to enter look familiar; I tried:
1. Follow us on Twitter (@iloveyafiction)
2. Follow us on Facebook
3. Sign up for our emails (iloveyafiction.com and go the right side bar)
4. Follow us on Goodreads.
The Not-So Traditional
5. Tell us why you would want to live forever and who you would want to stick around with you.
Contest will run from July 18th – August 1st, 2012 (EST). Winner will be announced August 2nd. I useText Mechanic’s Random Contest Picker to select a winner (and it’s a very tedious process so nobody bother me early morning on August 2nd! Mainly because I will have just arrived home from Paris and will want to sleep in. Believe me.)
If you’re like us (and since you’re here reading, I think you more than likely are), you like to troll twitter and facebook for a glimpse of the next big thing. “Next big thing of what”, you might be wondering; well, we don’t have a pre-determined subject really. We just like to troll around for whatever strikes our fancy and figure out what the most hyped about thing within that genre is. Then we learn all about it, absorbing that information to use later at parties and what not. You know, to look cool. It’s an art form really.
So a few days ago I noticed that A LOT of book bloggers were talking about some new author. Nothing new there. New authors crop up all the time. But then, the buzz about her got bigger and bigger until all the 5+ star reviews of her book made me take interest. “Ah-ha!” I thought, here’s the most hyped about thing in YA fiction these days. “Yes! I am on the ball. Watch out party at the Powers’ house. You are in for a treat.” But then of course, I realized something: I had heard of this author before AND was even planning on interviewing her. That’s right, Frankie Rose, the sweet author who contacted me a month or so ago about her debut novel, Sovereign Hope, was the next big thing! And I was in on it!
Frankie was so delightful, just so open and candid in the Q&A we did with her that I can honestly say that if the book lives up to its creator then we have a force to be reckoned with on our hands.
Here’s the most recent blurb about the book:
Farley Hope was seventeen when her mother disappeared. In the last six months not much has changed, except that her eighteenth birthday came and went and still no sign of Moira. Her life is just as complicated as it always was: since her father died in a car crash before she was even born, she’s officially parentless, and to top it all off she’s still suffering from the hallucinations. Mind-splitting, vivid hallucinations- the kind prone to induce night terrors and leave you whimpering under your covers like a baby.
J: Ooh, cool synopsis! So Frankie, what inspired you to write this debut novel? What was the process you went through to get it published? What advice would you have for other aspiring debut writers? Any tricks of the trade you’ve learned the hard way?
F: Gosh, this is a big question! I guess what truly inspired me to write Sovereign Hope was the desire to do something different. There were so many books that I’d read and loved, but followed the same kind of pattern, and with the same kinds of protagonists and bad guys.
With the publishing, I was offered a traditional publishing contract with a small press publishing company but I decided that I wanted the freedom to publish Sovereign Hope when I was ready, not when they were. And I wanted to keep control of the project as I saw it, so that the end product would be entirely mine. My title, the cover that I wanted… that was really important to me. So, in order to do that I learned everything I needed to so I could self-publish, which was a big task, but it was remarkably rewarding. I’ve loved the route I’ve taken to get Sovereign Hope out into the world!
As for tricks of the trade, the one thing I would suggest to anyone wanting to self publish would be to get the advice of many instead of the few, and definitely not the advice of your friends! People naturally want to please other people, and that often leads to them saying lovely things which are all well and good, when sometimes an author needs to hear the painful truth!
J: Could you describe your writing process for us?
F: Initially, I like to mull over an idea for a couple of days and let it really take shape in my mind. Once I’ve thought about the topic of the book, the events and the characters, I’ll start putting it down on paper. Really rounding out who the main characters of the book are going to be. From there I’ll start thinking about the events of the story and the order in which they will occur and how they affect each other. The last stage is really plotting out each individual chapter with the specifics. The specifics are really important… If you don’t plot the chapters and stick to the outlines of what you need to accomplish for each stage, then you’re likely going to get sidetracked or veer off path.
J: Why should we read your book? What sets it apart from all the rest?
F:When I wrote Sovereign Hope, I wanted to create a world completely different to other YA paranormal books. I wanted to build something that would be memorable because there was nothing else like it out there. I’ve been told by many of my readers that I accomplished this, and I can only hope I have! Another important part of Sovereign Hope, for me, is the characters. I wanted Farley to be strong and independent, and to have an attitude all of her own. And with Daniel, I wanted him to possess many qualities, not just be super hot and ready to protect Farley at the drop of a hat. Don’t get me wrong, he is super hot and fiercely protective, but he has his own story and insecurities.
J: Has your family been supportive of you as you try to make your way as an author?
F: They really have. All of them have been lovely about it. I live just about as far away as I could possibly get from my family, so it’s really great to connect with them on facebook and things like that. My husband’s side of the family are really wonderful, too. I love them to bits, and they have been fantastically supportive of me and of Sovereign Hope.
J: What would you consider to be your personal mantra?
F: Don’t Give Up!!! Has to be… There were a hundred points along the road to where I am right now that I could have just stopped and said, “this is way too hard.” I really did have to pick myself up and really push myself to continue. It was hard because I had faith in what I was going- I think the sheer volume of information that you need to learn when doing everything for yourself can be a little daunting at times. But, truly, once you understand what needs to be done, it’s just a matter of organising yourself. So Don’t Give Up!!
J: What author and which fictional character would make you squeal like a fangirl if he/she sat down next to you at a restaurant?
F: Huh… I would go nuts if Neil Gaiman sat down next to me in a restaurant! He’s an amazing author, and I have a lot of respect for his work. The worlds he creates are phenomenally enjoyable. As for a character… I think at the moment it would have to be Cassel Sharpe. The way Holly Black wrote him in her Curse Workers series was so good. I loved that everything was from a guy’s perspective.
J: What are three things you cannot live without and why?
F: 1. I literally could not live without my phone. I must reply to at least thirty emails with it every day, especially when I actually manage to get five minutes away from my desk.
2. I would be lost without my husband. I’m sure he’d object to being called a ‘thing’, but I’m gonna have to stretch the boundaries of the word in order to include him! He takes care of things when I’m too busy to accomplish ridiculously easy things that would take all of two minutes.
3. Lastly, I would be lost without the internet. If I didn’t have the internet, researching for my work would be much, much harder, but also I would find it difficult to connect with my family and friends, who have been immensely supportive during the process of me writing and publishing this book.
J: Who has influenced you the most in your life?
F: Hard question. I would have to say it’s a collective group of people. My friends have been really influential in that they’ve encouraged and pushed me, and helped pick me up when I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by everything. The same goes for my husband and my family, of course.
J: Last but not least, the burning question I always must know: window or aisle and why?
F: I’m gonna say aisle. I hate being trapped and not being able to get up so I can move around. Also, I always remember that scene from Fight Club where Brad Pitt debates whether to give Ed Norton ‘the ass or the crotch’,- I don’t like having the ask myself the same question whenever I’m trying to shimmy past strangers in order to get to the bathroom! I’m pretty tall, too, so being able to stick your legs out is always nice.
Haha. There you have it! Girlfriend loves Neil Gaiman (so do I!) and she knows how to insert a good ass or crotch into her interview. Good times.
Be sure to check out Frankie Rose’s book, Sovereign Hope today to see what all this hoopla is about. If you’re still on the fence, even after those fun responses, our own review will be out shortly to help tip the balance in her favor.
Slammed by Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Self published
Format: Kindle Edition
Remember that crazy friend of mine that somehow reads a book a day? Well, she did it again, she recommended another amazing book. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the cover because it was pretty basic, but I learned my lesson about judging books from their covers after my last mistake. Well, sort of!
Plot: After dealing with the loss of her father, Layken, her mother, and brother need to move from Texas to Michigan. Layken, or Lake as most people call her, just turned 18 and is miserable about the fact that she has to move to a completely new place for her senior year. Her luck seems to be changing when she meets Will, her 21 year old neighbor, who just happens to be
hot! They have an immediate connection and hit it off right away. But, of course, they soon find out there is something in the way of them being together. After another surprising blow to her family, Lake can’t help but seek comfort in Will and he cannot stay away from her.
Review: I cannot believe how amazing this book was! Seriously, if every book was this great, I would never sleep! And I need sleep people, I have a 3 year old! I couldn’t even think about anything else until I finished this book AND the second (Point of Retreat), totally ignoring the fact that I had a 3 year old’s birthday party to plan, yikes! The twists and turns just kept coming and made it impossible to put down.
Ms. Hoover wrote an emotionally captivating book. I don’t know how she could make me feel so many damn emotions, but she did! I actually want to meet all these people she wrote about (yes, I know they are fictional characters, don’t judge me!). Not only the main characters Lake and Will, but also Lake’s mother, both little brothers, and Lake’s friend Eddie (yes, she’s a girl). Ok, as I’m typing this, I’m noticing that there are no normal names besides Will. Well, aside from their names, they are exactly what Lake needs to get through everything. I really want to spill the beans here, but you would hate me for that, wouldn’t you? Just read it and let’s talk!
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 10. Lake goes through so much within a year’s time. She is strong through most of it and at times acts like her 18 year old self, sometimes a bit immature, but that seems reasonable considering how fast she has to grow up. The best thing about Lake is how much she cares for her family and friends.
How much did I like the love interest: 10 Will, mmmmmm, Will… Sorry hubby, Will is amazing! Will is another gorgeous man that I had to read about (and dream about). Yes, yes he’s only 21, but (sigh) I can’t help myself. Ok, enough about how I feel about him. Will has also had to endure his share of grief. His parents died when he was 19, now he is raising his brother. Will found a way to express his emotions, which is through beautiful slam poetry. Here is just one example:
One million, fifty one thousand and two hundred minutes
That’s approximately how many minutes I’ve loved you,
It’s how many minutes I’ve thought about you,
How many minutes I’ve worried about you,
How many times I’ve thanked God for you,
How many minutes I’ve thanked every deity in the Universe for you.
Fifty one thousand
How believable is the plot: 10. Very believable! People are faced with hardships everyday and everyone deals with them differently. This is a great example of how many emotions one goes through when facing any kind of challenge in life.
How much did I like the writing style / editing / etc: 10. I just love it when authors use a unique writing style. Song lyrics? Yep! Captivating story? Yep! Slam poetry? Yep! Did we just become best friends? Yep! Sorry, that last line is from Step Brothers, but I kind of did become best friends with this book!
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. I’m telling you I could not stop reading this book! I literally finished the last page and went right to the first page of Point of Retreat, no breaks, nothing! It was that good!
Final Score: 10/10
I’ve tweeted about it, I’ve told my friends on Facebook, I’ve told my family to read it. I’ve yelled from the top of the mountain, “I love my best friend Evan!” Sorry, that’s from Superbad, but if I had a mountain near me, I would climb it and yell, “I love Slammed by Colleen Hoover and everyone should buy it and read it NOW!” And the best part about this book? It’s only $2.99 on the Kindle! Yippee!!
Publisher: Eminent Books 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
So, after I wrote my last review, my husband read it and said I wimped out when it came to scoring it honestly. I disagree (and of course I’m right as always), but I decided that I would really be tough on the next book I reviewed. When I started reading Captivated, it became obvious that I picked the right time to start being more critical. Sorry Ms. Apodaca, but it’s about to get ugly.
Plot: When best friends Mindy and Dean were thirteen, they found Dean’s parents murdered in their home. That night, Dean changed forever. Four years later, they are starting their senior year in high school. Dean still isolates himself from everyone, including Mindy. But, when a mysterious new student, Shane, starts attending their school, everything changes.
From the moment they meet, Shane takes an intense interest in Mindy and at the same time, Dean seems to be watching Mindy’s every move. Mindy’s friend, Markus, witnesses Dean doing something terrible and decides to investigate further. What Markus finds out is too scary to share with anyone.
Review: The first mistake I made with this book is that I judged it by its cover (I think there’s a saying about something like that). I’m addicted to teenage supernatural love stories, so I assumed (I think there’s a saying about that too…) that I would like this book. So, so, so, seriously wrong. I was never captivated by the story, until I was about 85% into it, and then I would say it was barely interesting.
Let me start with the fact that it was so incredibly predictable! Here are some examples, without giving too much away in case someone really wants to read this book, in spite of this review. First, just look at the cover, which is totally neat, but I’m pretty sure everyone can guess what might happen to Mindy. Next, the way they explain Shane’s looks; he was the palest person Mindy had ever seen, he had long silver hair, and his “rows” of teeth were bright white (how many rows of teeth did he have?!). Hmmm, what could he be?! It’s so obvious.
There were so many parts of the story that did not make sense. At the beginning, it’s explained that Dean and Mindy were hanging out close to his house when his parents were killed. Then, towards the end of the story, Dean is reflecting back on the day his parents were killed, and this time they were eating tacos at home and he went to the back yard to get more lemons for his mom. Huh?! I’m confused… (and do people need lemons for tacos?).
The worst part was the incorrect use of words. “One small deer wondered off closer to us, not caring that we were sitting there.” Again, huh? Did they wander closer to you? Or maybe they are really intelligent deer and they were wondering why you were there? And again, “Some strands wondered on her sun kissed face.”. I’m still confused. Bad editing or bad writing? Either way, bad book.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did
I like the heroine: 2. Mindy/ Lina/ Red, whatever the hell her name is, was just annoying. She says she never lies to her best friends or her mom, but that’s pretty much all she does throughout the entire book. She basically drools at the sight of any boy, and I understand she’s a teenage girl with hormones, but geez! Get a grip chick! But what’s awesome about her is that she has super long red hair and she can decide whether or not to be compelled by Shane. You’re confused now right? Now you know how I felt. The. Whole. Time. I. Was. Reading. This!
How much did I like the love interest: 3. Well, there were kind of three. 1) Ayden was the boy that Mindy was kind of dating. His character wasn’t very developed, except just before and after he tried to rape her (which didn’t really seem like a big deal to Mindy, she was more excited to find out who saved her by talking to Ayden to see if he remembered seeing her hero’s face. Dumb). 2) Dean was mysterious, sounds very hot, and protects Mindy. He’s always staring at Mindy, and when he finally does talk to her, he’s even flirtatious. Then, after dating for maybe 3 love-filled days, he ends it with no explanation (seriously, I still don’t understand why). 3) Shane is a… Oops! Sorry I don’t want to ruin it. His purpose in the story is pointless until the end, then it’s still weird.
How believable is the plot: 5. Well, since we all know supernatural creatures are real, it’s totally believable. There is one neat idea concerning what Dean really is, but, once again, the story falls short and is (say it with me) confusing! There was a lot of lost potential with the storyline.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 1. The writing style was boring, almost like she was trying too hard to make the reader interested in the story. From the beginning, the story was told in Mindy’s voice, then in chapter 26, three chapters from the end, it switches to Dean’s voice. How random. But, the huge problem here was the editing, or should I say lack thereof. Aside from what I mentioned before, the author uses the word eased instead of teased, (am I being too picky now? Nah). On another occasion, the author writes, “On contact with the ground, he did what looked like a roll a professional would do…. He looked like an old man tripping and struggling to get up”. Ok, hmmm, did it look professional or like an old man? I think I understand what she’s trying to say here, but it’s really confusing.
How much did I want to keep reading: 1. I really didn’t want to, but I’ve always had this problem that no matter how horrible a book or movie is, I have to finish it! It must be so I can complain to everyone I know about how awful it was, since I know they all want my opinion (Obvi!).
Final Score: 2/10. Throughout this book it was apparent that the author was more concerned with setting up the story for a sequel than telling it in a complete and satisfying way. There were truly some interesting ideas throughout. Unfortunately, none of them ever lived up to their potential. The end of the story was the icing on the proverbial (bad) cake and summed up only one thing succinctly… How bad this book really was.
It’s Judith! I just have to point out that something about the Captivated cover seems very, very familiar here: a half-faced wide-eyed goth girl with far too much make up. Hhmm, now this reminds me of something…what could it be? What on earth could it be?! Oh that’s right!