Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

Being Henry David
by Cal Armistead
Published: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Available: Amazon

Seventeen-year-old "Hank" has found himself at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything --who he is, where he came from, why he's running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David-or "Hank" and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of--Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Cal Armistead's remarkable debut novel is about a teen in search of himself. Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past. The only way Hank can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories. He must come to terms with the tragedy of his past, to stop running, and to find his way home.

I have to admit, I was expecting something more along the lines of an adventure story when I started reading. Not that there wasn't adventure, because there was, but I suppose I thought Being Henry David  would be a bit fluffier. 

Being Henry David is a coming-of-age, adventure story written for boys. Even though it could appeal to girls, Armistead clearly didn't write a 'girly' boy (by that I mean another Edward or Jacob or any other male character in a book for girls). Armistead has created a character boys will understand. Hank thinks and acts like a typical guy. He's not obsessively in love with a girl, or waxing poetic at the sight of his love interest. That fact alone had me liking this book.

There is a nice mix of adventure and literary fiction. Even if you're not familiar with Henry David Thoreau there is enough information about his life and work scattered throughout the novel that it is easy to see why Hank has connected with this long dead author.

Being Henry David would be a great book for mid- to upper teens, particularly boys. There is some violence and drug use (or at least the reference to drug use), but nothing gratuitous.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Hooked by Liz Fichera

Hooked (Hooked, #1)
by Liz Fichera
Published: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Available: Amazon

When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile...


By the time I got around to reading Hooked, I had pretty much no idea what the book was about apart from the fact that I'd obviously been interested by the blurb. By the end of the first chapter I was glad I had started reading Hooked.

I loved was that this was a book about a high school golf team. I can't remember a single other book that even mentions a high school golf team. And I can understand that. Golf is not the most exciting sport, and there are probably a limited number of schools in the country that actually have teams. But Fichera manages to give the read just enough tidbits about the game to make it interesting without feeling like you had to understand the game to enjoy the book.

The main character, Fred, is a girl on an all boys golf team. The resentment of the boys for this girl is done in a way that is not shoved in the readers face, yet we still get a sense of how hard it is on Fred to be taken seriously by them and how while she wants their acceptance she's not going to sacrifice her dreams just to make them happy. There was also the fact that Fred is Native American. While some of the problems she faces on the team would have been the same as any other girl, she also faces racism.  How Fred deals with it is what made me respect her character even more. She doesn't wallow in self pity. She doesn't blame others for what happens to her. She doesn't completely write off all of the white people around her due to the actions of a few individuals. She also doesn't stoop to their level. She stands up for herself and refuses to let herself be ashamed of her heritage.

I absolutely loved the romance between Fred and Ryan. Ryan is definitely not set up as a perfect guy. He's snobby, rude, and has an air of self-entitlement. Yet, he also has a conscience and struggles to deal with the racist actions of people he considers friends. There is no insta-love and both Fred and Ryan make choices that are believable for teens in their situations.

Fichera has a sequel coming out in 2014 and I am very curious as to how she is going to move the story forward. I really hope that she focuses on two of the other characters, but regardless I will definitely be reading it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Songbird is *FREE* for 2 Days only!!

Did you miss out on downloading your free copy of Songbird earlier this year? Well, here is your last chance to get Songbird FREE for Amazon Kindle!! This special offer is only being offered February 19th and 20th, so if you haven't already read Songbird now is your chance!

Check out the synopsis below!

There are defining moments in life when everything changes. For Dani Mays, it was the day she witnessed her father kill her brother. Now seventeen, she still hasn't put it behind her.

After Jace's death, she bounced between her alcoholic mother and foster homes until she found a permanent place. And a reason to want to stay: Reece Tyler. He's her best friend, yet Dani wants more from him.

Faced with losing Reece, Dani struggles to define his place in her life and escape the influence the memories of her brother's death have over her choices. Even as she weaves the pieces of her heart back together, the past becomes more than a memory when a former foster brother reappears and Dani begins receiving threatening calls.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett

Rapunzel Untangled
by Cindy C. Bennett
Published: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Available: Amazon

Rapunzel is not your average teenager.

For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel Mansion. And for another, her hair is 15 feet long. Not to mention that she’s also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction. But then she meets a boy named Fane, who changes all she has ever known, and she decides to risk everything familiar to find out who she really is.

Filled with romance, adventure, and mystery, Rapunzel Untangled is one story you won’t want to put down. Discover the true meaning of love and friendship in this modern twist to the classic fairytale.

I have to admit that I love fairy tales and while I was never a Rapunzel kind of girl growing up, I absolutely love the Disney movie Tangled. It made me suddenly wish I had twenty feet of hair to brush and brush and brush and brush some more while wondering when will my life begin. And yes, I did just sing that out loud while ignoring the baffled look my husband gave me. Anyways, I suppose that was my way of explaining just why I immediately jumped at the chance to read Rapunzel Untangled, not to mention the cover is gorgeous!

I figured out pretty quickly that this was going to be a fairly faithful, though modernized, retelling of the age old story. The initial contact between Rapunzel and Fane is fairly contrived and I struggled to believe it. I mean why would a hot, super popular guy suddenly want to hook up with a girl he's not even sure is a girl? Once the two finally meet face to face, I loved their interactions. I thought Fane came across as very sweet and funny, while Rapunzel lost a bit of her over the top naivety.

For me, this was a 5 star read all the way up until the end. This is where I felt like the story just fell apart within a few short pages. Suddenly there was magic and it was very vague and then the story as wrapped up. I felt cheated out of a realistic ending that I had been led by the rest of the story to believe I was going to get. However, I do still think this is a retelling that any fairy tale fan would fall in love with.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: Secret of Betrayal by DelSheree Gladden

Secret of Betrayal (The Destroyer Trilogy, #2)
by DelSheree Gladden
Published: December 21, 2012

Available: Amazon

When faced with the choice between saving Milo’s life and embracing her destiny, Libby Sparks knew there was only one answer.

Become the Destroyer.

Libby is about to learn that accepting her fate is only the first step in figuring out what being the Destroyer truly means. Libby must reign in and develop her talents while planning to rescue her captive army of Ciphers from the hands of Guardians.

Rescuing the Ciphers is already dangerous enough, but everything becomes even more precarious when Cipher hunter, Braden, pushes his way into Libby’s life. The strange connection they share frightens Libby, but it also pushes her to trust him despite her better judgment. When Libby’s feelings of trust begin to morph into something more, her relationship with Milo isn’t the only thing tested. If she is wrong about Braden’s motives, everyone involved in the Cipher rescue may pay the ultimate price for her mistake.

Secret of Betrayal is the sequel to Book 1 of The Destroyer Trilogy and Gladden jumps right back in to Libby's story. I love that Libby hasn't changed much. Even though she's accepting her fate as the Destroyer, she's still independent, strong, and speaks her mind without being overly aggressive or annoying. She's a character that it is easy to root for.

While Inquest dealt mainly with Libby coming to terms with what being the Destroyer means to the rest of the world, Secret of Betrayal delves into the hidden role she plays and the mystery of why the Guardians fear her so much. Libby's trust in everyone is questioned as their motives are as secret as what she is supposed to do with her gifts. Gladden does an awesome job of building an in-depth plot without making it so overly stuffed that it feels as if your lost in details.

Secret brings in Braden, who was introduced at the end of Inquest. I have to admit I am really torn over his character's presence and the role he plays. He definitely is the third point in the a love triangle with Libby and Milo, and I can see the attraction. But I love Libby and Milo. Milo in the first book is the only one who stands by Libby. But in book 2 he seems like a completely different character, so much that I wanted to reach into the pages and strangle him. It makes me very curious how Gladden is going to resolve this triangle in a way that not only makes sense, but also keeps the readers satisfied.

Overall, this is an amazing continuation of The Destroyer Trilogy, and I can't wait to read the final book!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cover Reveal: Forty Days by Stephanie Parent

Forty Days
(Neima’s Ark, Book One)
By Stephanie Parent
Release Date: 02/12/13
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber

The entire village knows Neima’s grandfather is a madman. For years the old man has prophesied that a great flood is coming, a flood disastrous enough to blot out the entire earth.  He’s even built an enormous ark that he claims will allow his family to survive the deluge.  But no one believes the ravings of a lunatic…

…until the rain starts.  And doesn’t stop. 

Soon sixteen-year-old Neima finds her entire world transformed, her life and those of the people she loves in peril. Trapped on the ark with her grandfather Noah, the rest of her family, and a noisy, filthy, and hungry assortment of wild animals, will Neima find a way to survive?

With lions, tigers, and bears oh my, elephants and flamingos too, along with rivalries and betrayals, a mysterious stowaway, and perhaps even an unexpected romance, Forty Days is not your grandfather’s Noah’s Ark story.

Forty Days is approximately 45000 words, the length of a shorter novel, and is the first installment in a two-part epic story.  It does contain a cliffhanger ending. Readers looking for a traditional, religiously oriented version of the Noah’s Ark story should be warned that Forty Days may not appeal to them.  The novel will, however, appeal to lovers of apocalyptic fiction, historical fiction, and romance, as well as anyone who’s ever dreamed of having a baby elephant as a pet.

About the Author:
Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.

Author Links: