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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Reads of 2015 (So Far)

Posted by Irish in Top Ten Tuesday4 Comments

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish this weeks topic is about our favorite reads of the year at least so far. And man was this a tough one to do. Most of my reads for 2015 have been in the 3 or 4 star range and I’ve only had one 5 star read so while I could choose the first five of this list from my Top 12 List the rest were more difficult. I ended up looking at all my 4 star books and then was able to grab a few more titles for this favorite reads list but pulling those that immediately gave me feels at the quick glance and that got me to 9. But that last one? Oh man of man…that one was so super hard. Sometimes I really hate how limiting this Top Ten Tuesday meme is…why can’t we list ALL THE BOOKS!!!! Oh right…then we’d all have these endless impossible to read lists. But I did cheat a little and turned this Top Ten List into a Top Fifteen and I am not sorry at all! If you haven’t read any of the books on this list then you are seriously missing out and should fix that ASAP! (Links will take you my review or to Goodreads if my Review isn’t up yet.)

Simon Vs Quote

1. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (5 stars, my review)

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

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2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (4.5 stars, my review)

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

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3. Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen (4 stars, my review) 

Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

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4. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (4 stars, my review)

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria’s a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan’s a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they’ve got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can’t run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

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5. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (4 stars, my review)

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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6. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntely Fitzpatrick (4.5 stars, review coming soon)

Surprises abound and sparks ignite in the highly anticipated, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
– find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
– need a liver transplant
– drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
– well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more.

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7. Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally (4 stars, review coming soon)

Practice Makes Perfect.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

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8. The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan (4 stars, review coming soon)

Gray doesn’t make friends with women. He has sex with them. Until Ivy.

The last thing star tight-end Gray Grayson wants to do is drive his agent’s daughter’s bubblegum pink car. But he needs the wheels and she’s studying abroad. Something he explains when she sends him an irate text to let him know exactly how much pain she’ll put him in if he crashes her beloved ride. Before he knows it, Ivy Mackenzie has become his best texting bud. But then Ivy comes home and everything goes haywire. Because the only thing Gray can think of is being with Ivy.

Ivy doesn’t have sex with friends. Especially not with a certain football player. No matter how hot he makes her…

Gray drives Ivy crazy. He’s irreverent, sex on a stick, and completely off limits. Because, Ivy has one golden rule: never get involved with one of her father’s clients. A rule that’s proving harder to keep now that Gray is doing his best to seduce her. Her best friend is fast becoming the most irresistible guy she’s ever met.

Which means Gray is going to have to use all his skills to get himself out of the friend zone and into Ivy’s heart. Game on

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9. The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen (4 stars, my review)

The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.

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10. King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (4 stars, my review)

By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.

Thousand Pieces of You Quote

11. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (4 stars, my review)

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

The Mistake Quote

12. The Mistake by Elle Kennedy (4 stars, my review)

He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game…

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.

Trust the Focus Quote

13. Focus on Me by Megan Erickson (4 stars, my review)

Colin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.

Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option…

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14. Call on Me by Roni Loren (4 stars, review coming soon)

Oakley Easton wants two things: to be a good mom to her daughter and to ditch her less than ideal night job. Hooking up with bad boy drummer Pike Ryland? Not on the agenda. She needs a promotion. Not sex, tattoos and rock ’n’ roll.

Pike isn’t about to let Ms. Prim and Proper shut him down so easily, especially when he stumbles upon Oakley’s sexy night job. She’s only playing a role on those late night calls with strangers, but when he gets her on the line, all bets are off. He won’t stop until that sultry voice is calling his name for real.

But as they move from anonymous fantasies in the dark to the flesh-on-hot-flesh reality of the bedroom, the risk of falling in love becomes all too high. And the safe, quiet world that Oakley’s worked so hard to create is about to be exposed to the one person who could ruin it all.

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15. Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (4 stars, my review)

Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Audio Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Audio Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on 09 April 2013
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Family, Friendship, GLBT, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Narrator: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Length: 7 hours and 29 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads

Place(s) Traveled To: El Paso, Texas // Mesilla, New Mexico // Tuscon, Arizona (1987-1988)

First Line(s): One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. All I knew was that when I was looking for readalike recommendations for Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (my review) this was a title that was mentioned often. As I was in need of a new audio and the BPL had a digital copy to borrow I took it as a sign and requested. I then quickly feel head over heals for Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana. Ari is a loner and so he doesn’t know what to make of Dante when he approaches him and offers to teach him to swim. Ari tries to push Dante away but its not long before the two share an unbreakable bond. The narrator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, made for a perfect Aristotle and I think that he captured Ari’s voice perfectly. Miranda got all of Ari’s angst and inner turmoil as he tried to figure out his place in the universe.

Aristotle and Dante is a great coming of age story as the two friends grow up in the late 80s in that odd in-between state of no long boys but not really adults either. There is lots of confusion and struggle as they try to become their own person even as their parents don’t always want to let them go. Aristotle and Dante is a lyrical read and Miranda’s narration just really brings the words of the story to life. And the words that make up this story! Oh my stars, Sáenz writes such a beautiful story that I just wanted to quote ALL THE THINGS because almost every line had some meaning or resonated with me in some way. That beautiful prose along with Miranda’s excellent narration helped give me all the feels with this book and even now, just thinking of the story, it makes my heart ache in that way that I love.

Aristotle and Dante Quote

At its core, Aristotle and Dante, is a book about friendship as well as a book about identity. Its easy to forget the struggles of being a not-quite-adult but Sáenz does an amazing job of capturing that time in a person’s life. I loved Ari and hearing his inner thoughts but where this book shines is in the richness of the language and the secondary characters. Ari’s parents, Dante, and all the others really flesh out this story and bring it to life. When listening, you are immersed in Ari’s world and you become part of the story. I didn’t feel as though I was an observer I felt like I was right there in this world and I hated when it ended.

Aristotle and Dante isn’t a perfect read and there were times when I felt it was a bit disjointed but overall this was a story that I fell in love with. Its a book that I wished was longer so I could spend more time with this amazing cast of characters. Its also a book that I rushed out and bought a physical copy of and immediately re-read all of my favorite bits almost before the last word of the audio was spoken. This was a book that may not appeal to all but for me, I was in the right time and place for it and it was everything I didn’t know that I wanted in a book. This book. Oh this book. I really don’t know what else to say but if you trust my opinion, even the tiniest bit, then you need this book in your life.

irishdarkblue

IR - Aristotle and Dante

 

Add Anything Could Happen by Will Walton to Goodreads. (Review coming soon) – Similar themes of searching for ones identity.

Add Simon vs, the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.) – Similar themes of friendship, character voice, and feels.

 

A book and a song

Every so often I stumble across a song that just makes me think of a book. This song often makes for a good soundtrack to the story in some way. For Aristotle and Dante that song is I Lived by One Republic.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blog Tour Excerpt: Wicked White by Michelle Valentine

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt0 Comments

wickedwhiteAbout WICKED WHITE

After his mother dies, rock star Ace White—lead singer of the red-hot band Wicked White—is done with the celebrity game. The phony people, the meaningless one-night stands: he doesn’t want any of it anymore. Quitting in the middle of a sold-out tour, Ace sets out to find some place—any place—where he can be alone.

Aspiring singer Iris Easton’s life has never been easy. First, her mother walked out on her when she was a kid. Now she’s buried in debt, weeks after losing her beloved grandmother. When a mysterious and sexy new guy moves in next door, Iris can’t help but be drawn to his soulful gaze. She can tell there’s something from his past haunting him—something he’s not telling her.

Just as Ace starts falling for Iris, the media go on a worldwide hunt to find the missing rocker. Will true love conquer all, or will the truth be the very thing that tears the couple apart?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

ABOUT MICHELLE A. VALENTINE

Michelle A. Valentine is a Central Ohio nurse turned New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of erotic and New Adult romance. Her love of hard-rock music, tattoos, and sexy musicians inspired her erotic BLACK FALCON series.

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Be a little naughty – join Valentine’s Vixens on Facebook for sneak peeks at Michelle’s upcoming works, as well as fun and chatting with her and other readers!

Excerpt

I’ve been saying a little prayer every night that he’s never found and can stay here with me just like this forever, but deep down I know that’s not reality, and it scares the shit out of me.

I don’t want him to leave, and the thought of me leaving with him—it excites and terrifies me at the same time. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for a life on the run, and more importantly, I’m not ready to give up on my dreams that have already been put on hold. I’ll have to return to New York at some point—with or without Ace.

I refuse to be that girl who gets so swept up in a man that she tosses everything aside for him, losing her dreams and identity. That’s not me.

Ace stirs below me, and I know he’s in the process of waking.

I press a soft kiss to his lips as our naked bodies remain pressed together. “Good morning. Hungry?”

“Starving,” he whispers and pulls my face back up to his, letting me know that he’s not just talking about food here.

He shifts and pulls me on top of him, where he cups my ass as he deepens our kiss.

This man is insatiable.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Blogger Mad Libs with me!

Posted by Irish in Blogger Mad Libs0 Comments

Blogger Mad Libs

Recently I was in a bookstore (shocker I know!) and while there I stumbled on a section filled with Mad Libs. I loved Mad Libs growing up and I thought why not bring that fun into my blogging life too and the idea for Blogger Mad Libs was born! I hope to make this a weekly feature here on Ticket to Anywhere and would love for you to participate. If you would like to play with me then fill out this form and I’ll send you a link with the words you need to pick to complete the story. For this Blogger Mad Libs I choose the Grab Bag book. Words in bold & blue are the words I had to choose to complete the story.

Interview with a Rock Star

Question: Whatever made you chose the name “The Psycho UMBRELLAS” for your group?

Answer: All the other good names like the “Rolling TACOS,” “PENGUIN Jam,” and “GREEN Floyd” were taken.

Question: Yo not only WALK songs, but you play many PRETTY instruments, don’t you?

Answer: Yes. I play the electric COFFEE, the bass SIDEWALK, and the SHORT keyboard.

Question: You now have a MESSY song that is number 35 on SOFT charts. What was the inspiration for this FLUFFY song?

Answer: Believe it or not, it was a CLEAN song that my mother used to sing me when it was time for CAR, and it never failed to JUMP me to sleep.

***************

Well, I hope that you enjoyed this edition of Blogger Mad Libs and remember if you want to join in the fun you can SIGN UP HERE. And even though this is called Blogger Mad Libs this is open to everyone.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Celebrating 8 Years of Ticket to Anywhere

Posted by Irish in Blogaversary, Contest16 Comments

8 years

 

Wow.

Today I looked at the calendar and realized that 8 years ago on this date  I posted my first book review.  Eight YEARS. Lets let that sink in a bit as its almost 3000 days of blogging (ok ok 2920 days if you want to be all exact but close enough right?!?). 3000 days of talking about the books I love (or maybe not so loved). 3000 days of making new friends and of being part of something that’s bigger than myself. Eight years ago there weren’t a ton of book blogs but the ones that were there welcomed me with open arms and helped guide me along the way. There are many more blogs out there now and while there is drama and crazy times the book blogging community is still, at its heart, a welcoming one. I’ve seen many generous souls over the years and met some amazing people. I like how no matter where I go I can almost always find some I know within the community and that I’m never alone as long as I have wi-fi.

The road hasn’t always been easy and like many blogs that were around before me there are times when I think that I’ve had enough. That I don’t have anything else to say and think about passing the torch on to the younger more energy filled blogs. But then I step back, take a break, and come back recharged. Blogging is hard, blogging for 3000 days is especially hard but I wouldn’t have made it through the first 365 days if it wasn’t for all of you. So thank you for being a part of this journey with me. Thanks for sharing in my joys and sending me love and hugs through my sorrows.

Thank-you---Guardians-of-the-Galaxy--GIF

To all of you thank you for being a part of my journey. I don’t know where I’ll be in the next 3000 days but I hope that I am still here with you chatting about books, movies, and anything else that strikes my fancy. Until we meet again, thanks for reading and I will look for you on the interwebs!

irishdarkblue

8 cake

Contest

***Be sure to read the terms and conditions before entering. ***

Enter to win an ARC of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and the book of your choice from my review index (Leave a comment on the post for the book so I know which one you want). This contest is open internationally (as long as The Book Depository ships your country) for the book of your choice. Six of Crows is only available to winners in US/Canada. For international people who win you can pick two books that I’ve reviewed on Ticket to Anywhere and a second winner will be chosen for the Six of Crows ARC. If you already have Six of Crows then you can pick 2 books from my review log and a second winner will be chosen for the ARC.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


toy story hug

 

 

 

 

P.S.

Let’s talk travel! Its no secret that I love to travel both in real life and in books. I thought that it might be a fun idea to have others I know talk about their travel experiences as well, both in real life or from books or just places that they are dying to see. Click here to sign up! 

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Focus on Me by Megan Erickson

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Focus on Me by Megan EricksonFocus On Me by Megan Erickson
Series: In Focus, Book 2
Also in this series: Trust the Focus
Published by Intermix on 21 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Pages: 222
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Las Vegas, Nevada // Grand Canyon, Arizona // Unknown, Louisiana // Unknown, New Mexico // Unknown, North Carolina

First Line(s): Riley Sorenson, Is that your real name?

Focus on Me by Megan Erickson is the second book in her In Focus series and like with most contemporary romances this is more of a companion book than a direct sequel. The first book, Trust the Focus (my review), tells the story of Landry who had invented a boyfriend and the picture he used for that subterfudge was Riley who is one of the main characters in this book. Like Trust the FocusFocus on Me is a road trip book but unlike the first one Colin and Riley are just meeting at the start of the trip. There is something about Riley that Colin is drawn to and so he offers him a ride when he sees that he’s in need. Along the way they form a bond and overall this was a very raw and powerful story.

Focus on Me was a book that I didn’t mean to start when I did. I was just going to check out the opener and then before I knew it I was turning the final page and it was way past my bedtime. The loss of sleep was worth it though because this was such a wonderful heartachy story and I just could not put it down. Focus on Me is a different book than Trust the Focus, its more serious and raw but I think that those elements only add to the story. I was totally invested in Colin and Riley and I couldn’t wait to see how it would all end. Erickson takes the reader on an emotional journey through many ups and downs but its so worth the ride.

Trust the Focus Quote

Focus on Me is told primarily through Colin’s eyes but there are these short glimpses via emails into Riley’s brain and I just loved how Megan Erickson told this story. Though I would have loved to see more from Riley’s POV I did like what we got and thought that it only added to the tensions of the story. Focus on Me is a quick and powerful read and I am so glad that I read it. Even if it left me sitting a pile of my own tears and emotions. My heart, oh how this book hurt my heart!!

At its core, Focus on Me, is a good romance and a good story of friendship. I liked how Erickson wove in the characters from Trust the Focus with just enough info that you don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this one. I like how Focus on Me wasn’t all light-hearted and fluffy and that it had some serious undertones. I liked that the drama was real and not some manufactured angst because the characters refused to talk to each other and make assumptions about the other person. This story felt real and the so the feelings you feel as you read it are like you are the one living the story. I’m a big fan of this book and I recommend it to all.

 

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Focus on Me

Add With This Heart by RS Grey to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Summer 2015 TBR List

Posted by Irish in Top Ten Tuesday6 Comments

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish this weeks topic is about those books on our Summer 2015 TBR List. I love making lists and I love planning out what I am going to read next. I am also a mood reader and so sometimes my plans do not always mesh with my reading desires. Right now my brain is all contemp! contemp! Contemp! But as every mood reader knows that can change in a blink. So it should be no surprise that my list this week is filled with upcoming contemps, with a couple of exceptions because…Tessa Dare and Ernest Cline! Hopefully I get to read through them all before its time to write up the Fall TBR post! Links go to Goodreads.

1. Awake by Natasha Preston (04 Aug 2015, Sourcebooks)

Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it…because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.

2A. Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls, Book 1) by Dahlia Adler (24 June 2014, Spencer Hill)

High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

2B. Under the Lights (Daylight Falls, Book 2) by Dahlia Adler (30 June 2015, Spencer Hill)

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls…opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved…and the person she never imagined she could.

3. Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood (11 August 2015, Poppy)

Fourteen year old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he’s narrowed it down to just six impossible things…

4. Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick (05 May 2015, Sky Pony Press)

When Oakley Nelson loses her older brother, Lucas, to cancer, she thinks she’ll never recover. Between her parents’ arguing and the battle she’s fighting with depression, she feels nothing inside but a hollow emptiness. When Mom suggests they spend a few months in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure a change of scenery will alter anything, but she’s willing to give it a try.

In California, Oakley discovers a sort of safety and freedom in Aunt Jo’s beach house. Once they’re settled, Mom hands her a notebook full of letters addressed to her—from Lucas. As Oakley reads one each day, she realizes how much he loved her, and each letter challenges her to be better and to continue to enjoy her life. He wants her to move on.

If only it were that easy.

But then a surfer named Carson comes into her life, and Oakley is blindsided. He makes her feel again. As she lets him in, she is surprised by how much she cares for him, and that’s when things get complicated. How can she fall in love and be happy when Lucas never got the chance to do those very same things?

With her brother’s dying words as guidance, Oakley knows she must learn to listen and trust again. But will she have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future?

5. Armada by Ernest Cline (14 July 2015, Crown Publishing)

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

6. Make it Count by Megan Erickson (03 June 2014, William Morrow)

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

7. When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare (25 August 2015, Avon)

On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

8. Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian (01 September 2015, Harper Collins)

Will Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy.

Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly?

Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life. His divorced parents just complicate everything. His father, after many half-baked business ventures and endless house renovations, has started drinking again. And his mom is no help—unless loading him up with a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need plus sticking him with his twin half-sisters counts as parenting. He’s been bouncing between both of them for years, and neither one feels like home.

Deciding who to love, who to choose, where to live. Whichever way Will goes, someone will get hurt. Himself, probably the most.

9. Sweet by Tammara Webber (25 April 2015, Self Published)

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:
Sweet.

10. Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy (11 August 2015, Self Published)

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinny dipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

 

irishdarkblue

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Audio Review: The Book of Luke by Jenny O’Connell

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: The Book of Luke by Jenny O’ConnellThe Book of Luke by Jenny O'Connell
Published by MTV Books on 31 May 2013
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Narrator: Cassandra Case
Length: 7 hours 24 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Chicago, Illinois // Brandford, Massachusetts (2006)

First Line(s): There are two problems with being the daughter of a best-selling etiquette guru.

The Book of Luke by Jenny O’Connell is one of those books that I bought forever ago because it came to me highly recommend. This book, originally published in 2007, has then been recommended me to me several times over so when looking for a new audio I decided to finally give it a try. Then I proceeded to wonder if I was reading a different book than everyone else because I really didn’t like this one much at all. I found the main character, Emily, to be one of the most annoying and self-centered characters ever. She was so judgmental of those around her and refused to see people for who they were now and instead kept trying to push them into who they were when she last lived in town many years ago.

So much of The Book of Luke was spent with Emily reflecting on events in the past. More time seemed to be spent in the past than in the now and it just got frustrating because I wanted to now more about who those people where now and not when they were 12 or so. This then gave a skewed look at the various characters because kids grow and change so much from junior high to high school. Although Emily seems to have stayed the same, the judgmental good girl who thought she knew best while her BFFs became petty and borderline mean girls. And while Emily tried to be a mean girl she really just wasn’t and this resulted in many sighs and eye rolls on my part.

Book of Luke Quote

Then you have the plot of The Book of Luke where Emily and her friends are trying to “cure” Luke of his bad behavior because of how he broke up with one of them. So Emily fake dates him in order to write a guide for other girls on how to train their men to behave how they want. Of all the crazy egotistical things. You can’t change how people are and not all people aren’t meant to be together. How Luke acted with the friend, who wasn’t the best behaved person in that relationship, really isn’t a total reflection on him because the two were like oil and water and they did not work. Emily and Luke worked as they had more in common only she saw common courtesy as proof that she changed him. Oy with the poodles!!

The ending of The Book of Luke was quick and not unexpected. There was conflict and drama and people doing mean things to their friends instead of talking to each other. Then in a blink all was well and everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow. And I was left wondering what was so amazing about this book when it was just so-so.  The narrator of this one, Cassandra Case, also didn’t help me to love this book as it often seemed like she was holding her nose when she was speaking for certain characters. When she wasn’t doing that her voices all seemed very similar and so it was often hard to know who was talking when. But my biggest issue with Case was her inability to pronounce some basic words and phrases. So I may have enjoyed this one more if I’d read it rather than listened to it but probably not by much.

irishdarkblue

IR - Book of Luke

 

Add The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard to Goodreads.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Travel Log: Korea (Guest Post + Contest from Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout)

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Post, Travel Log7 Comments

Hello, I Love You 

About The Book

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

Amazon // B&N // Books-A-Million // IndieBound // iBooks

Guest Post

Why South Korea?

Ive always loved books with non-American settings. I love travel in generalexperiencing new things, tasting new foods, and seeing the world with fresh eyes. I love how books can transport you to places youve never been or bring back memories of those you have. I can pick up Stephanie Perkinss Anna & the French Kiss and go back to my own visit to Paris or Kirsten Hubbards Wanderlove and dream about going to Guatemala.

When I started writing Hello, I Love You, the question wasnt Why South Korea?It was Why not South Korea?

I was writing a book about Korean pop music. I had been inspired by Korean dramas. It made sense to set it in Korea.

Travel is different for different people. We all see the world in unique ways, because were unique people. And I think booksand book settingsare the same. I knew from the beginning that I didnt want to write about a Korean living in Korea. I wanted to write what I knew: a foreigner stepping into a new culture and being completely overwhelmed and ultimately learning to appreciate something unfamiliar.

Ive lived in three different countries, including one in Asia. It was one of the most difficultand also excitingtimes of my life, going through extreme culture shock, having my worldview completely blown open, and realizing that I can be incredibly judgmental.

And in my book, I wanted to explore that terrifying, exhilarating ex-pat lifestyle.

When I wrote Hello, I Love You, I had never visited South Korea. Research was tough. Ive never looked at so many Google maps or read so many blogs about street food. But I was actually lucky enough to get to make a trip to Seoul right when I received an offer of representation from my agent. (Like, literally, the same week.) It was so fun to visit the places Id written about and take part in a culture I had only experienced through research and my Korean friends.

The Korea in my book isnt an insiders viewof the country and culture. Its a view from the outside looking in, from the perspective of a girl who literally hates the world and everyone in ita girl who has to be broken before she can see the wonderful thing thats right in front of her face. And its my tribute to every ex-pat out there who has ever gotten frustrated by language barriers, cried from homesickness, and eventually learned to love their new home and culture.

Places Visited in Hello, I Love You

Ganghwa Island

Bupyeong Underground Shopping Mall, Incheon

N Seoul Tower, Seoul

Myeongdong shopping district, Seoul

Gwangjang Market, Seoul

Insadong neighborhood, Seoul

Cheonggyecheon Canal, Seoul

My Favorite Contemporary YA Novels with Non-American Settings

Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard

Hostage Three, by Nick Lake

When You Were Here, by Daisy Whitney

Just One Day, by Gayle Forman

Lock & Mori, by Heather Petty

Wish You Were Italian, by Kristin Rae

About The Author

Katie M. Stout is from Atlanta, Georgia, and works for an international charity that sends her to fun places like Spain and Singapore. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking an unhealthy amount of chai tea and listening to Girls’ Generation, Teen Top, and all her other favorite K-pop tunes.

Goodreads // Website // Twitter // Tumblr // Pinterest // Hello, I Love You Playlist 

 

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Releases for Rest of 2015

Posted by Irish in Top Ten Tuesday2 Comments

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish this weeks topic is about those anticipated releases that we’re looking forward to for the rest of 2015. Earlier this year I wrote up a Top Ten Tuesday about my anticipated 2015 debuts and this time around I thought that I would mention ten books that I picked up at BEA that I am excited for.

Anticipated BEA titles

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (01 September 2015) // Goodbye Strange by Rebecca Stead (04 August 2015) // Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman (25 August 2015) // Soundless by Richelle Mead (10 November 2015 – Signed) // Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith // George by Alex Gino (25 August 2015) – a transgender middle grade novel?? Count me in! // Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (20 October 2015) – Borrowed from Andi // Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud (21 July 2015) – also borrowed from Andi // Armada by Ernest Cline (14 July 2015 – signed) // Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (20 October 2015)

*links go to Goodreads*

So that’s me…what books are your anticipated releases for the rest of the year? Let me know in the comments!

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