Blog Tour: This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston | Review & Giveaway

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Hi, everyone! Today I’m really, really excited to be part of the THIS IS OUR STORY blog tour! I’ve been looking forward to this forever it seems like. My excitement doubled when the absolutely gorgeous cover was revealed, and then I read it. You’ll hear more about that below. But first, let me tell you a little about the book and the author. Plus, stick around to the end for a giveaway!

ABOUT THE BOOK

this-is-our-storyNo one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

MY REVIEW

I really, really liked this book, you guys. This was the first time in a while that I read a book in two days. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time for that, but this book would not let me put it down to do anything else. It grabbed me from the very beginning. The plot is so twisty and every time I thought I had figured it out, something else happened that kept me guessing.

I loved how we got short chapters from an anonymous POV (one of the boys). It was strange and creepy and definitely made my skin crawl a time or ten. And I really liked being in Kate’s head the rest of the time. She’s so smart and hardworking and she just wants to bring the truth – whatever it may be – to light. She wants justice done.

Add on top of all of this some swoony boys, awesome bffs, super interesting secondary characters, and one of the coolest title treatments I’ve ever seen (look closely at the colors of the letters) and you’ve got an incredible book.

Perfect for fans of mystery, prep school boys, kickbutt MCs, and fall (this one was a great one to read this time of year).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ashley-elstonAshley Elston lives is North Louisiana with her husband and three sons. She worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years until she decided to pursue writing full time. Ashley is also a certified landscape horticulturist and loves digging in the dirt. Her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, was published by Disney Hyperion in 2013 and the sequel, THE RULES FOR BREAKING, in 2014. Her latest novel, THIS IS OUR STORY, will be published on November 15, 2016.

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GIVEAWAY

3 Finished Copies of THIS IS OUR STORY (US Only)

ENTER HERE 

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Soon on Sunday: Crooked Kingdom

Soon on Sunday

This weekly post will feature some books that will be released on the Tuesday of the following week that I’ve either read, pre-ordered, ordered for the library, or will be reading asap. This feature is about books that I KNOW I will read or have already read and I’m excited to share with you. The post might have a mini review included or a link to my review (if I’ve already written one – either on my blog or on Goodreads).

crooked-kingdomCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Release date: September 27, 2016

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

YOU GUYS I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS BOOK OMG. Plus, I get to see Leigh Bardugo on release day in Naperville and YAAASSSSS. I’m ready to continue shipping my OTP and to go on another adventure with the Dregs.

Find it on Goodreads.

Any Bardugo fans out there?

ARC Review: Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

kids-of-appetiteAuthor: David Arnold

Genre: Young adult, contemporary

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 20, 2016

352 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

If anyone was silly enough to be worried that David Arnold’s second book wouldn’t live up to his wonderful debut, MOSQUITOLAND, they should rest assured that it does. KIDS OF APPETITE is brilliant, incredible, emotional, sensitive, not what I was expecting and better than I could hope for. David has a sensitivity in his writing that I haven’t seen anywhere else and his characters have an intensity and passion for life that you can really feel in his writing and that will light your soul on fire. I only hope that I can be half as brave, half as great as his characters; I only hope that I can be a Super Racehorse too. David’s books make me hungry for more of his words, and I will keep eating them up as long as he keeps writing (i.e. hopefully forever and ever, amen).

A couple of people have asked me if I liked KIDS OF APPETITE better than MOSQUITOLAND, and I honestly don’t have an answer. It’s hard to choose between two of your favorite books. But I will say that I related to Vic more than I did Mim. You guys know how much I loved Mim, but the things that Vic goes through because of his Moebius Syndrome – which I am NOT at all saying is exactly the same as my having alopecia – felt so close to home for me. The way people react to him, the horrible things people say to him, the way he sometimes feels about himself, those were things I felt deep down in my bones and soul. And, yes, I cried (like A LOT) at certain points – particularly a scene at the Rockefeller Center, which I won’t talk about but which you should experience.

The bottom line: This is a Super Racehorse of a book, and I read the whole thing in one day. But, like MOSQUITOLAND, it’ll be one I read over and over.

Interview with Tara Sim, author of TIMEKEEPER

Hey guys! I’m super excited to be hosting the love Tara Sim, author of upcoming debut TIMEKEEPER, for an interview! Let me tell you a bit about the book first, and then we can get down to business.

TimekeeperTitle: Timekeeper // Author: Tara Sim
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Expected publication date: November 1, 2016

Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.

INTERVIEW

Hi Tara! Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview! I know a lot of people are looking forward to reading TIMEKEEPER, so let’s learn a little more about the book and you.

Describe yourself in 6 words.

Tall, biracial, grumpy, bangs, tea, Gryffindor.

Describe TIMEKEEPER in 6 words.

Clocks, magic, boys, time, explosions, myth.

Tell us something interesting that we won’t find out in the book about your MCs.

Danny’s birthday is March 23. I like figuring out character birthdays via Zodiac signs, so being an Aries but close to the cusp with Pisces felt right for Danny.

And I don’t explicitly say so on the page because they didn’t have the terminology back then, but Colton is pansexual.

Book one is set in London and I saw in another interview you did that book two is set in India. If you could travel anywhere in the world to draw on for inspiration, where would you go and why?

Well, I would love to go back to India! It’s such a huge country, and I’d love to see even more of it. I would also like to go to Prague, for secret book 3 reasons. Other countries I’m dying to visit: Japan, New Zealand, Greece, France (again; I only had two days there), Austria, Italy—everywhere, really.

What’s been the best part of your journey to becoming an author so far?

Befriending the awesome people of the YA book community. I’ve made so many close friends here that now I can’t imagine my life without them. Also, the book bloggers, booksellers, librarians, etc. I’ve met online and in person are so kind and thoughtful and full of life. I love working with them!

I ask this of everyone – what’s your favorite book? I know this is a tough one, so you can talk about what you’re reading right now if that’s easier!

Gah, this is hard. If I had to pick my favorite book based on what shaped me/my life the most, it’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I grew up with fantasy (my other favorites: Harry Potter and everything by Tamora Pierce), but when I read LotR in the seventh grade it possessed me. It was seductive—it told me that I could make up huge worlds too, that I could control a group of characters and put them in danger and get them out of danger again. It was the thing that propelled me to be a writer.

Other than your own, who is your favorite fictional character?

Oh jeez, so many. Frodo, Aragorn, and Pippin from The Lord of the Rings; Sirius Black from Harry Potter; Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender; pretty much everyone in the Raven Cycle books; Nikolai Lantsov from the Grisha Trilogy; every single person in Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean; etc. etc. etc.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about you or your book?

My first attempt at writing this book was so ridiculously far from where it’s come. There have been endless revisions, rewrites, and rearranging to get the book to what it is now. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. To the aspiring authors out there: if you feel passionate about a project, keep working hard and don’t give up!

ABOUT TARA

Tara SimTara Sim is a YA author found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not writing about magic, clocks, and boys, she drinks tea, wrangles cats, and sings opera.

Tara grew up in California, but braved the elements of Virginia to study English/Creative Writing at Hollins University.

Half-Indian and full geek, she eats too many samosas and awkwardly dances to Bhangra music.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | Instagram

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

 Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year

I’m only going to list books I haven’t read yet (so you won’t see Kids of Appetite – which you know I loved with everything I have, Gemina – which I LOVED, The Sun Is Also a Star – which I also LOVED, etc.) These are ten of the books from the second half of 2016 that I can’t wait to read.

Gemini by Sonja Mukherjee (July 26)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (July 31)
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (August 9)

A Child of Books by Sam Winston, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (September 6)
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (September 6)
And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich (September 6)

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu (September 20)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (September 27)
Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh (October 4)
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (November 8)

What books are you looking forward to?

Book Review: Gena/Finn by Hannah Moscowitz and Kat Helgeson

Gena-FinnAuthor: Hannah Moscowitz, Kat Helgeson

Genre: Young adult, contemporary

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Publication Date: May 17, 2016

287 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I’m just not sure what to make of this book. I have really mixed feelings. It was a quick read, so that was good.

I was so invested in this book. For the first half or so. Then there’s a major event, and I felt the transition from the first half to the second was really awkward and not well done in my opinion. I wanted to stay invested because I really liked these nerdy, adorable, smart characters in the beginning. The book went from being really cute to being REALLY serious and dark practically out of nowhere. I think the dark stuff was important too, but the transition was so hard and quick that it could’ve given you whiplash.

I also think that the book was marketed as something that it definitely wasn’t. In my opinion, they made it seem like it would be this epic, adorable LGBTQIAP+ book and while it does hint at that a little bit, the overall story is very heteronormative, especially in the end. SPOILER: The authors had a real opportunity here with how they set up these characters to work with their sexuality, but nothing happens with it. It ended up just being really confusing and weird.

You guys know how much I love books that are made of alternative storytelling methods, and this one has it all – blog posts, texts, emails, fan fiction, and there’s not a single page that has a normal page of text. I loved that format. I also loved the fandom stuff and the fact that they become friends online and then friends IRL.

The bottom line: A cute, fluffy read in the beginning all about fandom and online friends that turns into a dark, serious read very quickly. I liked it overall, but there were some disappointing factors.

Rating: 5 – take it or leave it

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Chronicle Books for letting me read this!

ARC Review: The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

The Great American WhateverAuthor: Tim Federle

Genre: Young adult, contemporary, LGBTQIA+

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 29, 2016

278 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I was initially drawn to this one by the cover and title. I mean, look at it. It’s great! Plus, while I haven’t read the whole thing yet, I’ve heard great things about Federle’s Nate books. I’m glad I checked it out, because while I had some reservations with the story and characters, I enjoyed this book overall.

First of all, it’s hilarious. I think the only way I can really show you this is by just giving you a quote.

If I took out my broken AC and cracked the window, I’d have to confront the reality that I might hear, like, birds, or worse: the merry squeals of neighborhood children. And who has the stomach for that kind of unannounced joy at this hour?

The writing, the symbolism, the movie references were all top notch. In my opinion, the thing that fell flat was the plot. There honestly wasn’t much there. I thought it fell flat. And I also wished I could reach in and just shake Quinn a bit. I wanted to connect with him a bit more than I did. Which isn’t to say I didn’t connect with him at all; it was just difficult sometimes to understand him and connect with his feelings. And you guys know how much I despise insta-love, and there’s a bit of that here.

The bottom line: Funny, smart, and sarcastic. I liked that part of the book a lot. It was a bit hard to connect with the book at times and I wasn’t overly fond of the insta-love, but the book is a quick, fun read, so I definitely enjoyed that!

Rating: 7 – Pretty good

New Feature: Sunday Soons

Hey, guys! So you know me – you know I love posting Waiting on Wednesday posts which features books that I’m excited to read. But I’ve found that maybe half the time, I don’t actually read the books I’ve posted about. I’ve decided to start doing a post that I’m tentatively calling “Sunday Soon”, which will feature books that will be released on the Tuesday of the following week and that I’ve either read, pre-ordered, ordered for the library, or will be reading asap. I want this feature to be about books that I KNOW I will read or have already read and I’m excited to share with you. The post might have a mini review included or a link to my review (if I’ve already written one – either on my blog or on Goodreads). I hope this description makes sense, and I hope you’ll get excited to see which books I’ll feature! 🙂 Let me know in the comments if you like the idea for this post.

Sunday Soons

Since Pride Month is coming up, and I’ve started putting together my display at the library (you can see which books I’ve already picked on my Twitter HERE; there will be more books added), I thought I’d share a few of the LGBTQIAP+ books I’ve recently ordered for my library. These books will be added to the Pride Month display as they come in. All three of these books come out this week – May 31.

Frannie and TruFRANNIE AND TRU by Karen Hattrup // HarperTeen

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

I featured this book previously for a Waiting on Wednesday post.

THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson // Farrar, Straus, & Giroux The Art of Being Normal

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl.

As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.

I’ve heard some good things about this book. Plus, I don’t think there are enough books about transgender teens, and not only am I excited to read this book, I’m excited to put it on my library shelf for my teens to read.

The Inside of OutTHE INSIDE OF OUT by Jean Marie Thorne // Dial Books

Meg Cabot meets Glee in this breezy, hilarious, deceptively smart YA about privilege, pretense, and realizing that every story needs a hero. Sometimes it’s just not you.

When her best friend Hannah comes out the day before junior year, Daisy is so ready to let her ally flag fly that even a second, way more blindsiding confession can’t derail her smiling determination to fight for gay rights. 

Before you can spell LGBTQIA, Daisy’s leading the charge to end their school’s antiquated ban on same-sex dates at dances—starting with homecoming. And if people assume Daisy herself is gay? Meh, so what. It’s all for the cause. 

What Daisy doesn’t expect is for “the cause” to blow up—starting with Adam, the cute college journalist whose interview with Daisy for his university paper goes viral, catching fire in the national media. #Holy #cats. 

With the story spinning out of control, protesters gathering, Hannah left in the dust of Daisy’s good intentions, and Daisy’s mad attraction to Adam feeling like an inconvenient truth, Daisy finds herself caught between her bold plans, her bad decisions, and her big fat mouth.

I’m pretty sure I heard of this one because of Dahlia Adler, and when Dahlia raves about a book, I make it a point to not only read it but also order it for my library.

So what do you think? Do you guys like this idea? Would you read these posts?

Book Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a BearAuthor: E.K. Johnston

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 15, 2016

248 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I won’t lie – I was first attracted to this book by its title. “Exit, pursued by a bear” is my favorite stage direction EVER, and I was so excited about a book with that title. And then I read it, and WOAH.

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR is so important. The best part of this book, in my opinion, is that it shows a different way to react to, cope with, and live after a sexual assault. There are a lot of different ways to deal with something like this, and it’s good that we’ve got a book here that shows something other than the girl who is completely consumed by what has happened to her. Those stories are definitely important too, but we need books about ALL the ways to react to this situation.

I LOVE best friend stories, and the best friend in this book – Polly – is the best of the best friends. She’s so supportive but also honest, sometimes brutally so (this was one of the instances where I wasn’t quite so fond of the book).

Hermione Winters (I love the allusions to the play that the title comes from – Hermione is a main character in The Winter’s Tale, hence Hermione Winters – but Johnston also updated it and mentioned her dad’s love of HP) refuses to be a victim. She will not quit, and she doesn’t let what’s happened to her define who she will be in the future. And I really, really appreciate this.

The bottom line: A quick, significant, emotional story about an important topic, a beautiful, supportive friendship, and a fierce, strong MC. It’s worth your time.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

 

Waiting on Wednesday: Frannie and Tru by Kate Hattrup

Frannie and TruWaiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Publisher: HarperTeen

Author: Karen Hattrup

Release date: May 31, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

Why I’m excited: I think this sounds so lovely. Sad, quiet, complicated, imperfect. I’ve been hearing so many wonderful things about FRANNIE AND TRU by people I truly trust, so I’m really looking forward to reading it. It sounds like a new take on the coming of age story and definitely something I want to check out.