Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review: The Collector (Dante Walker #1) by Victoria Scott


Published: April 2, 2013 by Entangled Teen
Genre: YA, Paranormal Fantasy
Format: ebook
Source: purchased
Goodreads Summary

He makes good girls...bad.

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.


"I am The Collector. It's not as bad as it sounds. I'm kinda like Santa Claus. We're both jolly guys with a passion for frosted cookies, the color red...and sorting souls."


I'm a little late to this gravy train, but I did enjoy it a lot. It was a step away from what we usually get in Parnormal YA.

The Good


My favorite thing about this story is the characters. I LOVE that it is told from the POV of Dante Walker, resident bad boy. We usually get the story from the girl swooning over said boy but pretending like she isn't. It was refreshing hearing his side of things first hand. I liked that Dante isn't a hero. Charlie is the hero of the story, and it's near impossible not to like her. She's got this whole Mother Teresa thing going on with her goodness, light, optimism, and generosity. Yes, she's basically the opposite of egotistical, out-for-himself demon Dante that collects souls for his Boss Man downstairs.

In addition to the two main characters, all the side characters were a pleasure as well. They also didn't fit in the cookie cutter mold of sidekick best friends. Blue ended up being my favorite out of Annabelle, Blue, and Max. There was a certain part that had me yelling, "You're my boy, Blue!"

I felt overall that this was a character driven book. Dante has a very large character growth journey just in The Collector. I'm looking forward to seeing what else is in store for his transition (or other characters for that matter) in future books.

The Bad


As far as the plot, it's an interesting concept, but there are holes. If you pick something apart because it's not logical, this one will have you scratching your head a bit. You kinda just have to go with it to enjoy it.

The Romance


In the beginning, I'm wondering to myself how it is possible that Charlie will be the ultimate love interest for Dante. He's constantly talking about how ugly she is and all the little flaws in her appearance, and I'm getting this image of a Quasimodo-like character from how much he goes on and on. Let's face it, you do have to be attracted to someone in order be in a relationship so I was thinking it was a lost cause. Then, things happen. While I don't feel Dante made up for all his actions regarding Charlie, in fact I'm not certain he deserves her, he did transition enough that it was believable.

Conclusion

The Collector was a cute story that was mainly character driven with an interesting concept. The characters, especially Dante, showed tremendous growth throughout the story. There was a good humor through his thoughts and the dialogue and it had me laughing. I thoroughly enjoyed that it was from his POV. The plot did have a few holes though, so if you are a stickler for logic, some parts may bother you a bit. Recommended.

Excerpts

Someone should have warned me about love's dark underbelly, about the rejection and despair.

Come on, get a clue. I knock again and clear my throat. The girl spins around. My eyes widen at the sight of her. This is the girl Boss Man is after? She looks like a porcelain doll...beat three times with an ugly stick. I take it all in: glasses, frizzy blond hair, a spray of pimples, and a stick figure so not attractive on a seventeen-year-old girl.

When Valery comes up for air, she giggles like a psych ward junkie. "Max," she coos, running her fingers down his cheek. "Baby," Max says, nuzzling her neck. "Not that this isn't terribly romantic and wildly coincidental," I say. "But I've got to find Charlie."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Cover Scramble [172]



Let's have some fun! I am going to post covers on here every Sunday that are scrambled up graphically, making it hard to tell what cover it is. I would like your guesses on what cover you think I've posted. I won't answer you until I'm posting the next one to let you know if you are right, allowing others to guess as well. Some will be hard, and others may be easy. Let me know in the comments if you'd like some more hints and I'll offer some more if no one guesses it correctly.


I am pulling covers off the Most Popular Page on Goodreads.







Friday, June 24, 2016

Review - Interview - and Giveaway: In a Blue Moon (Blue Moon #1) by R.A. Desilets


Published: May 20, 2016
Genre:  Fantasy | Fairy tale apocalypse | YA
Format: ebook
Source: provided for honest review
Goodreads Summary

When Effy stumbles down the rabbit hole, she discovers the wondrous fairy tale land of East Valley in chaos. Death and insanity reign after the release of the deadly blue moon curse. Teaming up with the only sane people left—Jack the giant killer, Hansel, and Cat from Cheshire—they traverse East Valley, desperately searching for an answer.

They know Effy’s the key to unraveling the curse, but everyone who remembers how to break the curse is… well, cursed. The murderous mob has Effy in their crosshairs. With Snow, Red, Rapunzel, Gretel, and Pinocchio on the group’s trail, Effy isn’t sure any of them will make it out alive.


The Good


This was such a fun read! I've grown pretty fond of retellings. This one in particular reads like a dystopian set in fairy tale land. Effy finds herself immediately thrust into action and peril after she went down the hole and ended up in a chaotic, murderous world full of villains. Every one of those lovable, sugary sweet characters we've grown up with are out for blood. Thankfully, there are a select few that Effy calls allies.

Effy is a strong female character right from the start. She's accepted the situation she finds herself in, and now she's going to do what she has to do in order to get out of it. Not quite best friends out of the gate, but more reluctant partners, Jack stands beside her throughout the story. Jack is a fantastic character to have fighting with her. He's strong, stubborn, and confident. Mix that with Effy's courage and sass and you've got quite the combination.

I loved the additional characters as well. Hansel was very charming and the girls swooned for him, but I think Cat won me over. The magic and wonder surrounding her was unique and kept my interest. I would definitely want her on my side.

The Bad


The only thing missing for me was even more information about the background of the world.

The Romance


Effy and Jack are hilarious as a pair. They didn't get along at first, but gradually grew to an appreciation and then attraction along the way. They have a mixture of bull-headed banter and understanding each other without words.

Conclusion


A fantastic read! I love how Desilets takes you on a journey where you can't possible guess all the outcomes or paths. The humor sprinkled through the entire read never failed to keep me laughing. The danger and struggle was realistic and intense while at the same time the entire story is fantastical. The characters are the best part though. They either worm their way into your heart within the first few sentences or cause you to want to squish the annoying right out of their tiny bodies (I'm talking to you Pinnochio!). Definitely recommended.



Author Interview


Thank you so much for joining us to discuss In a Blue Moon!

Thank you for having me!

In this book, we follow Effy down the rabbit hole. What sets Effy apart from Alice who was the first down the hole?


The traditional Alice character has always been portrayed as extremely curious, while Effy is more determined to get out at any cost. Effy was fine with her life, not needing more adventure. Initially, she is an unwilling heroine, but quickly grows into the role she needs to survive. Her sarcasm and sassy attitude sets her apart too, because she uses her sense of humor as an emotional survival mechanism.

Out of all the men to choose from in fairy tale lore, why Jack the Giant Killer as Effy’s partner in crime?

I’ve always imagined Jack as this witty, somewhat egotistical guy. To face down giants, you need more courage and spirit than might be realistic. The idea of having Jack as cocky and arrogant came from his ability to escape any situation he’s put in. Since Effy is a strong-willed girl, who is unwilling to believe in the fantastic, they seemed like the perfect pair for witty banter and character development for the adventure across East Valley.

There was magic sprinkled throughout the story which I was a big fan of. How did you come up with the idea for the Blue Moon curse?

The story developed as a result of my nerdy loves: idioms, apocalypse stories, and fairy tale retellings. What would bring the apocalypse to the fairy tale world? With all the retellings out there, I wanted to set In a Blue Moon apart. I decided to turn the heroes we know and love into the villains. A curse would make anything possible. The idiom “once in a blue moon” came to mind, and I built a curse off the literal blue moon. Each book and novella in the series will have color idioms for their titles, which I am hugely excited about. Jack’s in-between novella is slated for publication later this year and is called Greener on the Other Side.

Anything you’d like to add that is special to writing this one?

I make playlists for my stories on Spotify, listening to the same songs as I write. Each song is curated to create a specific mood for the main character and tone of the book. Much like Effy, the playlist has a few fun songs, but is also full of attitude. If anyone is interested in the playlist, it’s available here: https://open.spotify.com/user/radesilets/playlist/4KIIX0Bha4EYD2lNhWgLOo

Let's get a little more personal:

What quirky writing habits can you tell us about?

When I’m outlining, I think about word count. I know this sounds weird, but it determines how many scenes I need to create for each story. I put the total goal at the top of my outline and write an outline with estimated word counts for each scene. If I need more words, I think of side plots, additional character development, and other tidbits I can add to bring more flavor to the main story. I never add scenes for the sake of adding words—any additional scenes need to mean something.

When I start writing, I keep my goal in mind. It makes me focus on exactly what I’m saying. Do I need more description? Will it drag the scene down, or add more to the world? Often, I gloss over details, and having a word count goal in mind makes me focus on rounding out the description of each scene.

What do you think makes a good story?

Having an interesting main character you connect with and want to learn more about is essential. I’ve read books with incredible plots, but no real connection with the main character—those haven’t worked for me. I focus on characters first, plot second. My characters need to take me on their journey instead of me creating an adventure for them. Nothing beats a story with a strong voice. Now… you add an awesome plot and lyrical description to a book with great characters, and it becomes downright incredible.

What else are you working on?

There are two books I am working on beyond the Blue Moon titles. Conscious is the first in a YA Paranormal series. After a car accident, Madison wakes up in her best friend’s body. Since Emily had been the one driving when “Madison” died, everyone blames Emily for what happened. Madison assumes the role of her best friend, but she desperately wants someone to confide in. Conscious explores the effect social media has on our lives and the connections we make using text-based messaging, and also touches a bit on cyber bullying.

The End Diary is already available for free on Wattpad, but I’m going to edit it and publish it as an ebook later this year. It’s a YA Dark Contemporary novel. The End Diary is Megan P. Whitford’s manifesto, where she tells the truth about what happened between her and Carly. To Megan, the truth is all that matters. You can check it out here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/62134416-the-end-diary

As always, thank you for having me, Jaclyn!


About R.A. Desilets:

Rachel A. Desilets was born in southern New Hampshire. She graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She lived in southern California for a bit and then decided it was too hot.

She currently resides in the rainy side of Oregon with her husband and cats.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Cover Scramble [171]



Let's have some fun! I am going to post covers on here every Sunday that are scrambled up graphically, making it hard to tell what cover it is. I would like your guesses on what cover you think I've posted. I won't answer you until I'm posting the next one to let you know if you are right, allowing others to guess as well. Some will be hard, and others may be easy. Let me know in the comments if you'd like some more hints and I'll offer some more if no one guesses it correctly.


I am pulling covers off the Most Popular Page on Goodreads.







Thursday, June 16, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week [106]


This is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows.The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Click the links to the blogs to see how to join up &  upcoming topics.


Would you have wanted to explore the Shrieking Shack? 


Absolutely! Even though ghosts really do creep me out, I feel like being in the castle with all the ghosts already would prepare you for them. Plus, it's a huge mystery! After hearing all those stories about the place, I would definitely want to see what was what.



via GIPHY


Would you explore it?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik


Published: August 2, 2011 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Format: ebook
Source: purchased
Goodreads Summary

Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:

As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.



So things just got crazy. I just read a Contemporary. I enjoyed this one so much that I read another one after it. 

The Good


So my first foray into a Contemporary read began because I got this one for a deal on Amazon, and I read that it's loosely based on Pride & Prejudice. I really loved the little aspects that were parallel to that story that I love so much. It really was like a modern day version. This was such a fun and cute read. It seemed like I read it very quickly even though it's over 300 pages. It was just what I needed at the time.

Elise moves to a new school that is populated by the mega rich. She completely doesn't fit in. So why is she there? Her mom is the new principal. Amazing, right? She definitely didn't think so. Her dad is also a teacher there. Her family plays a large part in the story which is very refreshing. Her sister Juliana is her best friend and she is the 'gorgeous' one that everyone loves. She has two more sisters, one of which has a knack for being in trouble. Of course the other characters, especially the guys, play a key part in bringing the story to fruition. There was also a good dose of humor sprinkled throughout the banter.

Epic Fail moves along in a similar fashion to P&P. I really enjoyed reading as the story progressed through this high school girl's life and the many changes she experienced. Each and every character had flaws, and they felt realistic and varied.

The Bad


There really wasn't much bad about it. It's not an epic book. It's cute and fun and has that familiar feeling since it parallels to Pride & Prejudice.

The Romance


The romance was a big part of the story. Elise isn't an easy girl to make swoon so it was entertaining watching the dynamics between her and the guys in the story. Her sister, Juliana, on the other hand falls pretty early in the book. I enjoyed the love interests and how everything ended up working out.

Conclusion


Epic Fail was just what I needed when I was looking for an easy read that was fun, cute, but still full of substance. It is a modern day Pride & Prejudice, but not every tidbit can be guessed if you've read that one. The dialogue is fun, and the characters are varied and interesting. Recommended.



Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Cover Scramble [170]



Let's have some fun! I am going to post covers on here every Sunday that are scrambled up graphically, making it hard to tell what cover it is. I would like your guesses on what cover you think I've posted. I won't answer you until I'm posting the next one to let you know if you are right, allowing others to guess as well. Some will be hard, and others may be easy. Let me know in the comments if you'd like some more hints and I'll offer some more if no one guesses it correctly.


I am pulling covers off the Most Popular Page on Goodreads.