Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Blog Tour: Burn by Paula Weston

Blog tour organized by Tundra Books
See the full schedule HERE

Burn is the final installment in the Rephaim series that began with Shadows. It's been a rush of a journey, and I still cannot believe it's over! 

Check out my thoughts on the first three books in the series, ShadowsHaze & Shimmer.

NOTE: If you have not started this series yet, this review contains spoilers for the previous installments (including the book description). I recommend you start with my thoughts on Shadows. 
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Burn
by Paula Weston
Read: June 24 - 26, 2016
Published: June 24, 2015 by Text Publishing
Source: Paperback purchase 
Category: Angels, Demons, YA/NA
Series: Rephaim 4/4
Suddenly, Gaby remembers everything.
For a year she believe she was a backpacker chilling out in Pandanus Beach. Working at the library. Getting over the accident that killed her twin brother.

Then Rafa came to find her and Gaby discovered her true identity as Gabe: one of the Rephaim. Over a hundred years old. Half angel, half human, all demon-smiting badass and hopelessly attracted to the infuriating Rafa.

Now she knows who faked her memories, and how—and why it's all hurtling towards a massive showdown between the forces of heaven and hell.

More importantly, she remembers why she's spent the last ten years wanting to seriously damage Rafa.
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Aaaaahhhhh. Let's take a moment and admire all four of the Rephaim series books together and the long journey we've taken to get to the last installment. I can't believe we're at the finale already. I've been desperate for this time to come, and also dreading it, because it means everything is over now *sobs*. But, really, look how gorgeous those covers are. You definitely want all four of books for their covers alone, and thankfully, the story found within these pages is completely addicting too. 


My favorite aspect of this series has always been the characters and their relationships with each other, and that stands through the final installment as well. I've fallen in love with Gaby, Jude, Rafa and everyone else, and I've become completely invested in their lives. Especially Gaby's search to discover who she is and where she fits in her world. I've been consumed right along with Gaby as she's sought to reconcile her past self as Gabe with present self, and it is in Burn that answers finally come to her and to us. Who was she before? Why did she leave the Sanctuary 11 years ago? And what happened a year ago with Jude that led to her memory loss and disappearance? It's all in here, and answered in a clear and satisfying way, including a fair bit of flashback. Some of the past moments were difficult to relive, and I ached right along with Gaby as I relived them with her. But it was such a relief to finally know everything, and very rewarding to see how far the characters have grown and changed since then. 


But it is not just the past that Gaby and friends have to contend with in this installment. A demon war is coming to the shores of Gaby's idyllic beach town. And the Rephaim are still trying to locate the Fallen. This story is intense in places, balancing out the emotional, relational aspects with danger and high energy battle scenes, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next and how it all would go down in the end.  

Burn wraps up the series well, in a way that is satisfying but also leaves room for more stories. Although I want to give these characters some peace for a while, I'd love to see them again one day. And if not, I can imagine the adventures they'll have ahead. The entire Rephaim series comes highly recommended from me. I dare you not to become addicted from the very beginning of Shadows to the end of Burn.
Love Triangle Factor: None in the series (But these two have a messy past that is finally explained in this book).
Cliffhanger Scale: Series end
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About Paula Weston
I'm the author of the Rephaim series.

I'm also an avid reader and blogger, a huge fan of Australian literature and fantasy/paranormal stories, a closet comic reader and TV addict...and I'm borderline obsessed with the Foo Fighters.
Find the author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
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Giveaway


Giveaway 1: Finished copies of Shimmer and Burn by Paula Weston


Giveaway 2: A finished Copy of Burn by Paula Weston


Policies:
Giveaway is for US & Canada residents only (Sorry, other international readers!)
You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

BLOG TOUR: Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema
Would You Rather Character Interview

Tour organized by Fierce Reads
Go HERE for the full schedule 

I had such a great time reading Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema!
This book was hilarious and over the top, and I couldn't stop reading it. I especially loved Lou's voice. (See my full thoughts HERE)

Today, I'm excited to have a visit from Louise Brown and her Aquarium Boys 

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Welcome, Lou, Gabe, Roman and Pete! I hope you're as excited as I am to be playing a round of Would You Rather. Feel free to elaborate – even the guys (I know that’s hard for you)!

1) Would you rather never play OR play but always lose?

Lou – Never – losing is so hard, it’s like lemons on a paper cut.
Gabe – I don’t mind, I’m used to there being things I can’t do, I’m cool with it.
Roman – Never play, I don’t want to look stupid.
Pete – Never play, I don’t want to mess up my hair for nothing.

2) Would you rather have a rewind button OR a pause button in your life?

Lou – Rewind, to swim faster at the time trials!
Gabe – Pause the times when I’m well, because I’m ill so often.
Roman – Rewind to before I made a prat out of myself in front of thousands of people.
Pete – Same as Roman.

3) Would you rather give out bad advice OR receive bad advice?

Lou – I’m always on the receiving end of bad advice from my dad, I’m experienced at smiling and nodding an zoning him out.
Gabe – Receive! I'd feel awful if I gave bad advice and ruined someone’s life!
Roman – I don’t need anyone’s advice, I’d give it.
Pete – People who need advice are well whiny. BORING.

4) Would you rather always have to say everything on your mind OR never speak again?

Lou – I always DO say everything on my mind. I’m used to the awkwardness now.
Gabe – Never speak again, I suppose, if I can write instead?
Roman – I'd go with never speak again, and be the strong silent type.
Pete – I shouldn’t say exactly what I’m thinking. It’s 90% boobs.

5) Would you rather live in a house made entirely of glass you couldn’t cover OR a house that had no windows at all? (This sounds a lot like a metaphor for performance pools…)

Lou – Yes! A house of glass! Those performance pools are beautiful, even if I humiliate myself in them.
Gabe – If it’s made entirely of glass won’t everyone see me go to the toilet?
Roman – Same question as Gabe.
Pete – Same question as Gabe. I think the three of us will go for the windowless house thanks, and Lou can show everyone her bum if she wants to.

Thanks for stopping by guys! And good luck in your future endeavors. You all certainly entertained me.

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About the Book: 


Goldfish
by Nat Luurtsema
Published: June 7, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends


Book Description: Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive… 

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.

… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.

Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat. 

Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.

Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound
See my thoughts on Goldfish HERE
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About the Author: 


Nat Luurtsema is a BAFTA-nominated screenwriter, a BAFTA Rocliffe alumni, stand-up comic, author, actor and a third of sketch group Jigsaw.

She has just finished directing WYRDOES, a comedy feminist ‘Macbeth’, with backing from Film London, Film4 and the British Arts Council. It will be a part of the Shakespeare Lives worldwide tour, which will play to an audience of 500 million.

Nat plays Tallulah Bankhead in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, directed by Stephen Frears.

Nat is developing two feature films and adapting the novel Spilt Milk Black Coffee by Helen Cross, for Mighty Atom Entertainment.

Nat’s latest book is a Young Adult novel – GIRL OUT OF WATER – to be published June 2016 in the UK, Germany, France and Italy. It will simultaneously publish as GOLDFISH in USA.


Find the Author: Twitter | Website | Goodreads

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Goodreads




Policies:
Giveaway is for US residents only (Sorry, international readers!)
You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE

Win a finished copy of Goldfish





Monday, June 13, 2016

Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema

Goldfish 
by Nat Luurtsema 
Read: May 11 - 13, 2016
Published: June 7, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Source: Galley from publisher (Thank You, Macmillan!)
Category: YA, contemporary, swimming, talent competitions 

Book Description: Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive… 

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.


… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.


Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat. 


Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.
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Set-up
When the Olympic swimming time-trials don't go as planed for Louise Brown - she fails spectacularly by coming in dead last - Lou's world is completely upended. Her best (and let's face it, only,) friend Hannah won her trial and is at the Olympic training camp, while Lou is back in school without any of the things that have defined her life until now. Lou is trying to stay positive, but she is now a swimming outcast, and navigating her family or the high school social scene has never come easy to her. Things get better, or at least more interesting for Lou when she somehow becomes the coach of a synchronized swimming team of three popular boys at school. With no prior knowledge of the sport, and even less of boy interactions, Lou is more than a little out of her depth, but she's determined to do her best anyway. She just hopes not too many people are watching if she fails. 

This book was hilarious. I had the best time reading Goldfish, and one of the reasons for that was Lou's voice. It was a lot of fun to be inside of her head. Lou is self deprecating and the queen of embarrassing moments, but in an honest and amusing way. I was cheering her on from the beginning. I enjoyed watching her come out of her shell and put her full self into her new role as synchronized swimming coach, despite her lack of experience and failures along the way. I was cheering Lou on through all of this, and loved seeing how much she'd grown and changed by the end of the story. 


This book was far fetched and over the top. But still, I loved it. I had a lot of questions about how Lou's failed Olympic time trials played out. Why did she only try out in the individual medley if she was such a strong breast stroke swimmer? How the heck did she come in last and have no clue she'd swam poorly: she should have had a better idea of how she'd do if she'd been swimming against the other racers at meets? Why did her coach and the rest of the team treat her like a social pariah when she was clearly still a good swimmer: I mean none of the other team members besides Hannah even tried out for the Olympics? There's also all sorts of crazy things that happen later - the aquarium part is fun but insane - as are both of the tryouts. But you know what, I think the ridiculousness of this book is one of the elements that made it more awesome, especially with Lou navigating the whole experience for us.


Lou and Gabe are not your typical YA romantic pairing, and I love it all the more because of that. Gabe is one of the guys on Lou's synchronized swimming team, and he and Lou have a sweet, slow romance in this story. While Lou describes herself as a giant, 5'10" and growing, Gabe is much shorter than her. I'm all about the shorter guys, though we don't see a lot of that in books. Also, while Lou is in great physical condition from being a top swimming athlete, Gabe suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and is out of school a lot because of that. Poor guy. I'm a sucker for romantic pairings that seem odd at first but are really perfect, and these two were adorable. The romance is not the central element, but it definitely made me love this story more. I also enjoyed Lou's interactions with the other boys on the team too. But there's no triangle here. 


I didn't expect Lou and Hannah's friendship to remain intact. For some reason I thought that Lou and Hannah's relationship would fizzle because Hannah made the Olympic trials, and that Hannah and Lou would grow apart. And while they are separated for most of the book and definitely have their ups and downs,  I love the way they continue to rely on each other and that Hannah always considers Lou her best friend no matter where she is, and the way that Lou understands Hannah better than anyone. This was an unexpected part of the book, and I liked it a lot. Lou also doesn't feel like she fits in with her family, but they, like Hannah, are always there when she needs them. 


Tl;tr: This book was hilarious. Far fetched and over the top in places but I was laughing out loud and couldn't stop reading so that's a definite win for me. I loved Lou's voice and the whole story was entertaining. Plus those odd romantic pairings always get me and Lou + Gabe were adorable. 


Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone

Don't miss my Blog Tour post for Goldfish: I play Would You Rather? 
with Lou and the boys + you can enter to WIN the book! 


Go HERE for the post


Friday, June 10, 2016

738 Days by Stacey Kade

738 Days
by Stacey Kade
Read: May 29 - June 3, 2016
Published: June 7, 2016 by Forge Books
Source: Galley from publisher (Thank You, Tor/Forge!)
Category: New Adult, Contemporary, kidnapping, celebrities

Book Description: At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

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738 Days features three elements that usually turn me off from a book right away. 1) I avoid  kidnapping/sexual violence stories (I don't ever plan to read or see Room for instance). And this book is about a girl who was kidnapped when she was 15 and kept for over two years. Thankfully, only the prologue takes place during that time and the memories of Amanda's past that appear throughout the book are written with care. I'm glad I invested in this story despite my fears of this plot element. 

2) I typically avoid New Adult books like the plague and 3) Chase is in a "relationship" with his publicist when the book begins (ahem), and I've started to stay away from all stories with characters in current relationships. I'm very glad I read this anyway. I liked Amanda and Chase's voices from the beginning, and I find that connection with the main characters is one of the most important elements in my enjoyment of a story. Except for one thing (double ahem), Chase and Amanda communicate well, there isn't a lot of drama, and I had the best time seeing their growth and watching their relationship develop. The publicist thankfully disappears quickly - although she is the catalyst for much of the drama - and there are no real feelings involved there, so I was able to get past this part with minimal discomfort. 

Bottom line, despite my fears, this book was very much worth the investment! 

I am, however, a sucker for celebrity stories, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to pick this book up. Being a "known" person definitely adds a layer to any relationship and that certainly happens with Amanda and Chase - both good and bad, but I'm always fascinated by how a couple navigates the pressures of a public life. Being able to read the story from both of Amanda and Chase's POVs helped a lot in understanding both of their viewpoints better, especially as they navigate away from their pasts and into a new relationship. 

Both Chase and Amanda are characters with messy, broken histories that have damaged them, although their pasts are vastly different: Chase is a recovering alcoholic who has all but destroyed his career from his poor choices, while Amanda is still trying (and mostly failing) to get her life back together two years after she was rescued from her kidnapper. At first these two seem to have nothing in common, except the fact that there was a poster of Chase on the wall of the room where Amanda was kept. But their pasts actually allow them to understand each other better. Individually Chase and Amanda grow and change a lot in this story, but it is through their connection and knowing each other that it happens. I loved being able to see real individual change from each of them, but also watch their romance develop along with that. I believed their connection with each other, and I always need that to happen to feel invested in a relationship. 

738 Days is also pretty steamy, and the swoon is always fun to read. But what I appreciate most was how those scenes were written realistically and with care, showing an important aspect of Amanda's growth. I loved watching her become more more confident in herself and her own body, and less paralyzed by her past. Seeing Amanda recognise her own power was so rewarding, and Chase's patience and compassion through those scenes was exactly what she needed - and made both of us fall harder for him! These two melted my bones. 

Amanda and Chase face obstacles to their romance, both from the inside and from the outside, including some very scary situations. Their road to healing and each other is not easy, but that makes it all the sweeter to find. You definitely don't want to miss meeting these two and reading their story first hand. I hope Stacey Kade writes more New Adult in the future!

Love Triangle Factor: None: Chase does have a "relationship" with his publicist at the very beginning of this book. It's more mutually beneficial than any sort of feelings based, and disappears quickly. 

Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone



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