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Book Review: “Sway” by Kat Spears

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Title: Sway

Author: Kat Spears

Genre: Teens & YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: September 16, 2014

Pages: 320

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In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or “Sway,” as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—-term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion—-until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.


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Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sway is an excellent debut novel! I had an extremely hard time putting this one down. Kat Spears managed to take a story that’s been done before (Cyrano) and make it feel completely fresh and fun. I loved the emotional journey Jesse took. Often I don’t feel YA characters actually achieve much growth. Spears nailed it.

Nothing about this story or her characters seemed cliche because she created people who were relatable and seemingly normal (albeit flawed—but aren’t we all?). I experienced every single emotion each of these people felt—it was as if I was in their shoes. Spears gracefully addressed some pretty surprising and emotional issues as well (suicide, disabilities, etc.). I can’t put my finger on why, but the style reminded me a bit of “My So-Called Life,” without the annoying melodrama. Still plenty of juicy drama and feels, but in the BEST way possible!

A truly moving and entertaining look at the hierarchy of high school, relationships and personal influence. Great humor. Lots of heart. Highly recommend!

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Book Review: “Dark Redemption” by Angie Sandro

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Title: Dark Redemption (Dark Paradise #3)

Author: Angie Sandro

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Publisher: Forever Yours (Grand Central Publishing)

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Pages: 384

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From rising star Angie Sandro, a steamy Southern gothic romance that will appeal to fans of Beautiful Creatures … 

Deep in the Louisiana bayou, Mala LaCroix cannot escape the mysterious things she’s seen. Haunted by her otherworldly past, she only wants to hide her special abilities and care for the man she’s come to love. But the dark swamp she calls home holds more than just Mala’s secrets, for a killer is leaving behind ghosts trapped between worlds, hungry for vengeance … 

Landry knows Mala could never turn her back on those in need. It’s part of what attracts him to her. But now that he’s wrestling with his own demons-and losing-he fears that just being near the woman he loves endangers her life. And that traps him in a terrible dilemma: leave Mala alone to catch a murderer by herself or stay close-and risk entangling her in the brutal battle for his very soul.


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Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. OH EM GEE!!!! Prepare yourself for a wild ride, readers! WHAT an emotional and exciting end to a truly spectacular series. The Dark Paradise Series was honestly the first in a long time I really didn’t want to end. I’m going to be feeling the effects of a serious book hangover for quite some time now…

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Angie Sandro is one to watch. She’s going to be HUGE. Ms. Sandro skillfully tied all three books together with one great twist and turn after another. She managed to maintain the heat and the humor even though Dark Redemption was significantly darker and more intense than the last two. She really knows how keep you on the edge of your seat. She gets you right in the feels. Every. Time. Every single book in this series held its own, got better and built to one hell of a climax. Beautifully done.

Angie Sandro…

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Read my Review for Dark Paradise (Book 1) HERE —>

Read my Review for Dark Sacrifice (Book 2) HERE —>image


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Blog Tour Review: “Feuds” by Avery Hastings

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Thanks to the lovely folks at Paper Lantern Lit for inviting me to participate in Avery Hastings’ Feuds Blog Tour!

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Title:
Feuds

Author: Avery Hastings

Genre: Teens & YA, Sci-Fi, Romance

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Pages: 272

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In this breathless story of impossible love, perfection comes at a deadly cost.

For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Priors, Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or “Imps.” A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother’s legacy when she meets Cole, a mysterious boy who leaves her with more questions each time he disappears.

Davis has no idea that Cole has his own agenda, or that he’s a rising star in the FEUDS, an underground fighting ring where Priors gamble on Imps. Cole has every reason to hate Davis—her father’s campaign hinges on the total segregation of the Imps and Priors—but despite his best efforts, Cole finds himself as drawn to Davis as she is to him.

Then Narxis, a deadly virus, takes its hold—and Davis’s friends start dying. When the Priors refuse to acknowledge the epidemic, Davis has no one to turn to but Cole. Falling in love was never part of their plan, but their love may be the only thing that can save her world…in Avery Hastings’s Feuds.

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You can also purchase ‘Feuds’ via Paper Lantern Lit —>

Want more? Visit Avery Hasting on Wattpad for exclusive content!


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Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If you enjoy dystopian romance, then you’ll definitely enjoy Feuds. I thought this was going to be another typical YA/dystopia genre read, but it was much more sophisticated than that. I found the idea of genetically engineering children and what might happen to our society as a result an absolutely fascinating one to explore in this context. It was eerie how closely this has mirrored many of the civil and human rights issues we’ve experienced as a country in the past.

The relationship between Davis & Cole felt a little rushed, but it really didn’t bother me because I knew this was going to be a short read. Most importantly, the chemistry was there. Ms. Hastings was clearly going for a Romeo & Juliet type thing and she hit the nail on the head. Teenagers don’t really think about falling in love (or lust)—they tend to dive in headfirst.

Great pacing. Great story. Interesting characters. Fantastic cliffhanger! Can’t wait for the next in the series.

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imageAvery Hastings is an author and former book editor from New York City. Avery grew up in Ohio, graduated in 2006 from the University of Notre Dame and earned her MFA from the New School in 2008. When she’s not reading or writing, Avery can usually be spotted lying around in the park with her affable dog. Like her protagonists, she knows how to throw a powerful right hook and once dreamed of becoming a ballerina. In addition to New York, Avery has recently lived in Mumbai and Paris, but is happy to call Brooklyn home (for now).

Connect with the Author: Twitter / Goodreads

Author Q&A and Giveaway: “Jane Austen’s First Love” by Syrie James

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Title:
Jane Austen’s First Love

Author: Syrie James

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Release Date: August 5, 2014

Pages: 400

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INSPIRED BY ACTUAL EVENTS

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement, she meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor—a fascinating young man who is truly worthy of her affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race—and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention
 
Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

READ MY REVIEW HERE —->

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When did you discover Jane Austen?

I was a bit of a late-bloomer when it comes to Austen. I have heard stories from women who said they first became entranced by Austen when they were eleven or twelve years old, when their Austen-loving mother or aunt or grandmother introduced them to Austen’s books, which they would read or discuss together. What a lovely way to discover Austen! But it didn’t happen that way for me. My parents did, however, encourage me to read from an early age, and I started with all the classics of children’s literature.

I lived in France with my family when I was seven and eight years old, and I remember my father was worried that weren’t enough books in English for me to read. He came back from a business trip to London with a box full of children’s books for me—a veritable treasure trove of reading delight, including such favorites as The Secret Garden, Pippi Longstocking, Winnie the Pooh, and Christopher Robin. I also devoured all the Adventures of Tintin graphic novels (in French.) A few years later, back in California, I became deeply enamored of Charlotte’s Web and all the Anne of Green Gables books, and at age eleven fell in love with Jane Eyre followed by Watership Down, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. I still have all my copies of those beloved books on my shelves.

Reading and writing were my two greatest passions, so I majored in English in college—and it was there, in a British literature course when I was eighteen years old,  that I was first introduced to Jane Austen. I have no memory of that class now, but we must have read Pride and Prejudice and Emma, and I must have loved them, because out of all the books I had to purchase in college, those are among the few novels that I kept all these years.

Fast forward about two decades to 1995-96, when a tidal wave of Jane Austen movies came out in quick succession: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY starring and adapted by Emma Thompson, the A&E mini-series PRIDE AND PREJUDICE starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, PERSUASION starring Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds, and the Gwyneth Paltrow version of EMMA. It was a quadruple-whammy of Austen awesomeness—and I fell madly in love. I wanted to live in an Austen movie! I could hardly wait to read—or re-read—the novels. I devoured all her books and her juvenilia. When I ran out of Austen works to read, I read her biographies and her letters, fascinated to learn everything I could about the brilliant woman who wove such unforgettable stories.

LIGHTNING ROUND!

Favorite literary heroine?

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Favorite song at the moment?

It’s impossible to choose one favorite! But I’m an old-fashioned girl. I love pop songs from the 50s -70s, I adore all classical music, and I’m so fond of the lyrical ballad “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” that I made it the theme song for my novel Nocturne.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished England’s Mistress: The infamous life of Emma Hamilton by Kate Williams, and Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay—both wonderful books.

Favorite Jane Austen couple?

A tie between Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy, and Anne Elliot & Captain Wentworth.

Where would you like to visit in the future that you haven’t already? 

I am fortunate, because I lived in France for two years when I was a child and had visited 26 countries by the time I was seven years old. Since then I have traveled a great deal and I have seen so much of the USA and the world! Here are a few of the places that are still on my Bucket List: China, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Yellowstone National Park… and I’d love to sail the rivers of Europe with my husband… and I’d like to go back to England, Italy, and France to revisit all my favorite places!

If you had to take 3 things to a desert island, what would they be? 

  1. Plenty of food and water
  2. My husband, Bill
  3. A cell phone that never runs out of power and has world-wide signal coverage, so that we can call for help and be rescued!

If you won the lottery, how would you spend your money?

I would create a non-profit foundation to fund medical research to find a cure for cancer, ALS, and other horrific diseases; promote literacy and independent reading; and study other ways in which I could use the money to help the less fortunate.

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook.

Coke or Pepsi?

Not a fan of soft drinks. I prefer water and fruit juice.


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imageSyrie James, hailed by Los Angeles Magazine as the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings, is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including THE MISSING MANUSCRIPT OF JANE AUSTEN, THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN, THE SECRET DIARIES OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE, NOCTURNE, DRACULA MY LOVE, FORBIDDEN, and The Harrison Duet: SONGBIRD and PROPOSITIONS. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages.

In addition to her work as a novelist, Syrie is a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, and a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. An admitted Anglophile, she loves romance and all things 19th century. Syrie welcomes visitors and messages at www.syriejames.com, and invites you follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.

Connect with the Author: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads


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