Book Spotlight + Giveaway: How You Ruined My Life by Jeff Strand

Hi Everyone! Today’s another special day because another Sourcebook Fire title is having its spotlight here on my blog and it’s How You Ruined My Life by Jeff Strand. Get to know more about this fab book, read the special excerpt and join the giveaway!

Full details are below so just keep scrolling down. 😉

Title: How You Ruined My Life

Author: Jeff Strand

Published: 03 April 2018 | Sourcebooks Fire

Synopsis:

A new hilarious novel from the author of The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and Stranger Things Have Happened.

Rod’s life doesn’t suck. If you ask him, it’s pretty awesome. He may not be popular, but he and his best friends play in a band that has a standing gig. Yeah, it’s Monday night and they don’t get paid, but they can turn the volume up as loud as they want. And Rod’s girlfriend is hot, smart, and believes in their band—believes in Rod. Aside from a winning lottery ticket, what more could he ask for?

Answer: A different cousin. When Rod’s scheming, two-faced cousin Blake moves in for the semester, Rod tries to keep calm. Blake seems to have everyone else fooled withgood manners and suave smile, except Rod knows better. Blake is taking over his room, taking over his band, taking over his life! But Rod’s not about to give up without a fight. Game on. May the best prankster win…

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | !NDIGO | INDIEBOUND

PRAISES FOR “HOW YOU RUINED MY LIFE”

“Witty dialogue, ridiculous yet believable situations, and just the right note of self-deprecating introspection make this a perfect book for reluctant readers as well as those who are just not in the mood for angsty YA novels.”–School Library Journal

“Readers will howl with laughter, cringing as the author twists the screws at perfectly placed intervals…A well-paced comedy”— Kirkus

“Strand has a keen ear for dialogue and character interaction.” –Publishers Weekly

SPECIAL EXCERPT

Thanks for coming out tonight! Are you ready to rock?”

A couple of people in the audience indicate that yes, they are indeed ready to begin the process of rocking. A few others don’t look up from their cell phones, but I’m confident that they’ll discover their readiness to rock as soon as we start playing. The rest of the eleven or so people in the club haven’t bothered to walk over to the dance floor. Presumably, they’re waiting for the headline act before committing to whether or not they’re mentally and physically prepared to rock.

“We’re Fanged Grapefruit,” I say into the microphone. “This first song is an original called, ‘You Can’t Train a Goldfish to Catch Popcorn in Its Mouth, So Don’t Even Try.’ One, two, three, go!

I can’t remember which of us came up with the name Fanged Grapefruit. I think it was Clarissa, our drummer. I consider myself the creative driving force of the band, but if you see Clarissa, you’ll understand why she doesn’t lose many arguments. She’s at least six foot three (though I’ve never measured her), and you wouldn’t want to arm wrestle her unless you were willing to lose an arm. When she really gets going, her drumsticks become a blur. And when she’s done with a set, the sticks look like they’ve been gnawed on by beavers.

Mel, short for Melvin, is lead guitar and background vocals. I’m lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Ironically, Mel is a worse guitar player and a better singer than me. Not everything we do in Fanged Grapefruit makes sense.

Mel doesn’t look like he should be in a punk rock band. He looks like he should be president of the Chess Club. Which he is, but I assure you, the guy plays chess with attitude. He also gets straight A’s and is likely to be our class valedictorian, and if so, I hope he’ll pause his inspiring commencement speech for a wicked guitar solo.

I’m Rod, short for Rodney. Nice to meet you. I’m pretty much average, I guess.

Other band names we’d brainstormed included Untidy Reptiles, Autocorrected Text Fail, Rod & the Whacknuts, Carnivorous Vegans, Impolite Music for Unruly People, The RMC Experiment, Say Goodbye to Your Ears, Pawn Takes Rook, Crunchy Noise, Crispy Noise, Chicken Fried Noise, (The Parentheticals), Apes with Monkey Faces, Hairnets Gloriously Aflame, Dog Eat Dog Eat Munchkin, The Self-Diagnosing Hypochondriacs, Sequel II, and Sushi Gun.

We play at this club, the Lane, every Monday, which is the only day you can get in if you’re under eighteen. We go onstage around eight, and we’re home by nine fifteen, so all our parents are cool with us being out on a school night. It also helps that they’ve never actually been inside the Lane, which is a bubbling pit of health code violations. If you have to go to the bathroom, hold it. Trust me.

I’m sure we’d have a much bigger audience if we could play on a Friday or Saturday night, but Clarissa, Mel, and I are only sixteen, so we’ve got a couple of years to go. (Sorry if it was insulting that I did the math for you.) We hope that by the time we’re old enough to play there on a weekend, we’ll have upgraded to venues where your feet don’t stick to the floor as often.

Anyway, we begin to rock out on our guitars and drums, and select members of the audience begin to move to the music. Well, okay, only two of them. And one is my girlfriend, Audrey. You might say that she doesn’t count, but we got together because I was in a band, so I think shedoes count, thank you very much.

Audrey runs our merch table. We never sell anything, though she gives away free stickers to people who look like they might be band managers. She’s as tiny as Clarissa is non-tiny. You won’t believe me if I say she’s the most gorgeous girl at our school, so all I’ll say is that if you look at her and look at me, you’d say, “Wow, how did that happen? He must be in a band.”

By the end of our set, three people in the audience are bopping their heads to the music. That’s a fifty percent increase from when we started. Fanged Grapefruit rules!

* * *

After dropping off Clarissa, Mel, and then Audrey (because I always pick her up first and drop her off last, even though she lives the furthest away), I go home, take a shower, and start packing my lunch for the next day.

“How was your gig?” Mom asks, walking into the kitchen.

“Great! Every show gets a little better.”

“I was going to do that for you,” she says, pointing to the sandwich I’m making.

“I know.” Mom works two jobs, both of which suck, so I’m always happy to make my own lunch. Plus I’m very specific about the spread of my peanut butter. It should be as close to the edge of the bread as possible without spilling over, and the thickness should be consistent. Generally, I’m a pretty casual guy, but not when it comes to peanut butter application. We all have our quirks.

“I’ve got news,” she says.

“Dad got out of prison?”

Dad isn’t really in prison. He left us two years ago. We joke about him being in prison as a coping mechanism.

“No.”

“I’m finally going to get a baby sister?”

“Ha. You wish.”

“You got a raise?”

Mom shakes her head. “I did get a five-dollar tip on an eighteen-dollar meal though. That was nice.”

“Wild panthers have run amok in our neighborhood, gobbling up people left and right?”

“Maybe you should stop guessing.”

“Maybe I should. So is this good news or bad news?” I ask.

“Well…”

I set down the butter knife. “That doesn’t sound like a good ‘well…’”

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it bad news,” Mom says. “It’s definitely not the worst news ever. Nobody died or anything.”

“Tell me.”

“You know your aunt Mary and uncle Clark?”

“Of course.” I don’t think I’ve seen Uncle Clark since I was six. We live in Florida, and they live in California. He and Dad never got along, so every couple of years, Aunt Mary would visit us by herself. With Dad out of the picture, I assumed we’d see more of our extended family, but it never really happened.

“Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark are going on a cruise.”

“That’s cool.” I consider that for a moment and then get very excited. “Are they taking us with them?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

“It’s one of those around-the-world cruises. Three whole months. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

Did I mention that Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark are rich? You probably picked up on that when Mom said they were going on a three-month-long world cruise.

“Is Blake going with them?” I ask.

“No. He’s not.”

Suddenly, I have an idea where this conversation is headed. It doesn’t make me happy. “Maybe you should spell this out for me,” I say.

“Your cousin Blake is going to live with us for three months. Isn’t that exciting?”

I stare at her for a few hours.

(Possibly, I’m exaggerating.)

“Starting when?” I ask.

“Next week.”

“You mean before the school year ends?”

“Yes. He’s going to transfer to your school.”

“That’s messed up!”

Mom shrugs. “They got a good deal on the cruise.”

“Where’s he going to stay? We don’t have a guest bedroom.”

“Well, I thought…you know…”

“He can’t share my room!” If I wasn’t almost an adult, I would have stomped my foot.

“Honey, it’s only for three months.”

“That’s a quarter of a year! I thought we were broke,” I say. “How are we going to pay for all that extra food?”

“We’re not that broke, and obviously, your aunt and uncle will help pay for groceries.”

“Isn’t he a spoiled brat?”

“You haven’t seen him in ten years,” Mom says.

“Well, ten years ago he was a spoiled brat.”

“I’m sure he’s fine now.”

“Doesn’t he have any friends he can stay with in California?”

My mom sighs. “Rodney, he’s family. Family is always welcome in our home.”

I hope I’m not coming off as whiny and selfish. If a hurricane tore the roof off their house and they lost all of their worldly possessions, sure, I’d happily donate half of my room to Cousin Blake while they rebuilt their lives. But asking me to give up my privacy so Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark can go on a luxury cruise seems kind of unreasonable.

However, I’m pretty sure this is a done deal, and my mom has enough stress in her life without me continuing to protest.

“All right,” I say.

“Thank you.” Mom gives me a hug. “I think you’ll enjoy having him here.”

Who knows? Maybe I will. Maybe my cousin is a really cool guy. Maybe he has good taste in music. And maybe he’s witty and entertaining. And maybe he’ll be willing to help with emergency cleanup if we’re having a wild party and Mom calls suddenly to say she’s on her way home early.

We might end up being the best friends that any two cousins could ever be. We’ll giggle and frolic and be inseparable.

But probably not.

I can’t believe I have to share my room.

I return to making my lunch. I’ll try to be optimistic and pretend that these will be the best three months of my life. How bad could it be?

Get a chance to win 1 of 2 copies of “How You Ruined My Life”. (US/CAN only)

Jeff Strand has written more than twenty books and is a four-time nominee of the Bram Stoker Award. Three of his young adult novels were Junior Library Guild picks. Publishers Weekly called his work “wickedly funny.” He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more at JeffStrand.com.

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Book Spotlight & ARC Review + Giveaway: Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy

Title: Now a Major Motion Picture

Author: Cori McCarthy

Published: 03 April 2018 | Sourcebooks Fire

Synopsis:

Their fantasy is her reality in this bright and uplifting contemporary coming-of-age novel by the acclaimed author of Breaking Sky and You Were Here.

Iris Thorne wants to blaze her own path. That’s easier said than done when you’re the granddaughter of M. E. Thorne, famous author of the Elementia series, hailed as the feminist response to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. And with a major motion picture adaptation of her grandmother’s books in the works, Iris can say goodbye to her dream of making her own way in the music industry.

So when Iris and her brother get invited to the film set in Ireland, she’s pretty sure the trip will be a nightmare. Except Iris can’t deny the rugged beauty of the Irish countryside. And brushing shoulders with the hot, young cast isn’t awful, especially the infuriatingly charming lead, Eamon O’Brien. Iris even finds the impassioned female director inspiring. But when the filming falls into jeopardy, everything Iris thought she knew about Elementia—and herself—is in question. Will making a film for the big screen help Iris to see the big picture?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | !NDIGO | INDIEBOUND

*ARC Kindly provided by Sourcebooks Fire for review*

Admittedly, at first, this book wasn’t even on my radar but thank you to my generous friends from Sourcebooks Fire for offering this book for review. I’m immediately hooked! Now a Major Motion Picture is such an underrated gem that deserved all great hype

Iris is the granddaughter of the famous M.E Thorne who wrote the famous Elementia trilogy; but Iris has spent her life trying to escape her grandmother’s legacy. Now, she’s forced to accompany her younger brother, Ryder to Ireland to sit on the sidelines of the filming of Elementia.

From the beginning, we see how openly hostile Iris is towards anything related into the fantasy world especially of Elementia unlike her brother who’s a die hard fan of the series and was too excited to witness the filming of this movie. However, over the course of the story, I saw Iris’ attitude shifting as she started to get to know the casts and film crew. I really love watching her change from this pessimist, closed-off and jaded Iris into someone that is more open and happier.

The other characters makes the story stronger. There’s Eamon who’s intriguing, fun, nerdy and cute. There’s the daring actress Shoshana, heartthrob Julian and Cate – the director who for me is a great depiction of a strong independent woman. She’s strong willed and determined; she believed that despite the sexist challenges she encountered in the film industry (being a woman director) she did not back down and instead teach others that it is important to speak out and that women should help lift each other up.

Of course, its not all bright sky and green pastures as they are filming. The team encountered several challenges along the way. Just when you thought everything’s okay the next crisis arises. But the thing there is that the crew and cast created a family and they together helped each other to resolve whatever crisis that may be.

The story also touched about mental illness. I appreciate how open the characters are about this.

There are only 2 things that kept me away from giving this book a complete five-stars rating. First, I’m lost at the Elementia World. I do read fantasy stories, but it feels like Elementia is not just it for me. I wanted to delve deeper into that world and see if that would somehow change my mind about it. Second, I’m a bit sad and even disappointed how Iris’ issues with her parents ended. Not to spoil you guys, but there seems to be no closure there. Iris and Ryder’s parents are negligent from the very start; Yes, they took their children to therapy and such but closing them off and prioritizing other things more than them will not be helpful. I wished that their parents at least give them a talk and take a step and amend the mistakes they have made.

Overall, despite my last two points on the last paragraph, it was a good read for me. The premise is catchy, fun and a quick read.

PS. This book makes me want to visit Ireland ASAP, so I can see the stunning landscapes and maybe find my own Irish guy.

PRAISES FOR “NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE”

“A war cry and a love letter all at once.”–Kirkus

“This is simultaneously a whimsical teen romance and an emotionally compelling story about family, creativity, and courage.”—School Library Journal

“Joyful and authentic. With a vivid cast of unique characters, the story is engrossing, right down to the sometimes wryly self-referential, on-point chapter titles.” –Booklist

SPECIAL EXCERPT

I DON’T WANT TO ALARM ANYONE, BUT THERE’S AN ELF AT BAGGAGE CLAIM

The guy was probably a painter. Possibly a drummer.

College age and wearing all black, he’d been the unique focus of my thousand-hour red-eye. My inflight boyfriend. It was a torrid, imaginary romance. We’d gone on at least a dozen dates and told adorable anecdotes to our future children about how their parents met a few miles in the air.

Now we were no longer separated by two Aer Lingus seats. We were shoulder to shoulder, dazedly watching the baggage belt spin. Just say hi. Ask him something.

I hugged the neck of my guitar case. “Do you know the time?”

He checked a large, silver watch. “Half twelve.”

“What?” I blurted. The bags began to emerge, and I was suddenly under new pressure to break the ice before we parted ways. After all, an entire transatlantic daydream depended on it. “Is that six? Eleven thirty? I’m so jet-lagged it could be either.”

“Twelve thirty.” His Irish accent made his words feel like lyrics to a decent song.

“Yeah, that doesn’t make sense. Half of twelve is six.” I smiled.

“Americans,” he muttered with a snicker.

And he continued snickering as he reached for a suitcase, leaving me with the unparalleled awkwardness of being embarrassed by and disappointed in a complete stranger. I’d mentally dumped him four exotic ways—my favorite involving a baseball stadium video screen—by the time my little brother came running back from the bathroom.

“Iris!” Ryder yelled. “I peed for like two whole minutes. I should’ve timed it!”

The baggage claim crowd parted for him—people tend to do that when someone’s yelling about their urine. Now I really felt like a gross American. Thanks, Ireland. We’re off to a great start.

“Eleven days,” I murmured. “Only eleven days.”

Ryder showed no sign of jet lag. He wrestled a foam fantasy axe out of his backpack, spilling weapons everywhere. He then engaged imaginary opponents in fierce battle while the people from our flight continued to back away. My ex-in-flight boyfriend even gave him a dirty look—before giving me a dirtier look.

“I’m not his mom, you know,” I said as I collected Ryder’s weapons off the floor.

A well-meaning Irish granny stepped up. “Is this your first time in Ireland?” she asked Ryder, placing a steadying hand on his shoulder. My brother nodded and squirmed. I checked my desire to tell her that, in America, we don’t touch kids we don’t know, but I didn’t want to call more attention to our swiftly amassing cultural differences. “Are you going to see the Giant’s Causeway? Or the Cliffs of Moher?”

“No,” Ryder said, breaking free from her hold. “We get to meet famous people and help out on set and probably even get bit roles.”

“No bit roles, Ry. You know that,” I said.

McGranny looked to me for an explanation. I zipped up Ryder’s backpack and said it fast. “He means the adaptation for Elementia. They’re filming here for the next two weeks. We’ve been invited to…” What were we supposed to do? “Watch, I guess.”

“Our grandma wrote that book!” Ryder said so loud we now had an even larger audience. Everyone who’d been groggily waiting to claim their luggage had tuned in.

“Excuse me?” My ex-love was back in the picture, not snickering this time. “Did you say your grandmother was the author M. E. Thorne?” The spark in his eyes seemed desperate to rekindle our imaginary flame.

Get out of your own head, Iris.

“Yeah,” I managed.

“Have I got something to show you.” He started to take off his shirt.

“Oh, for the love of…” I whispered, staring down at my red Chucks.

“Look!” Ryder proclaimed. “Iris, look! He’s got the map of Elementia on his ribs!”

I had to peek. It was an awfully big map. Alas, my curiosity was rewarded by a rich paleness smattered in black chest hair.

He put his shirt back down and smiled, but I kept hearing the way he’d grumbled Americans. “So are you excited about the film adaptation?” he asked. “Are you having a hand in its development? How do you feel about them changing the ages of the characters?”

I braided my hair back and said nothing, reminded once again of my life’s golden rule. People usually treated me one of two ways. One: like I was M. E. Thorne’s granddaughter, gifted with an otherworldly glow. Two: no one. I’d give anything for a third option.

“This is all you talk about, isn’t it?” he continued. “You’ve probably been reading your grandma’s books since you were a kid. I discovered them a few years back. Then again, I bet you can’t say anything because of the movies. Top-secret insider information, right?”

I chewed on my response. The gristle of this fantasy talk would not go down. Everyone assumed I’d be over the moon about the adaptation, but it meant the story’s fandom would triple. Quadruple. Soon everyone would revise their interest in me, just like this guy.

“Ryder, see if that’s our bag,” I said, moving us to the other side of the carousel. When I had my back to everyone from our flight, I squeezed my eyes, a little scream coming up from deep inside.

“You okay, Iris?” Ryder put a hand on my shoulder. I opened my eyes. Not his hand—it was his foam dwarf axe. At least his little-kid expression was earnest.

“I’m fine.” I rested my forehead on the top of my guitar case. I knew better than to check out when I was on Ryder duty, but I couldn’t help it. One moment later, my brother was lunging for his luggage, and the next, he was on the carousel, disappearing through the plastic hanging strips and into the bowels of Shannon Airport. “Hey!” I yelled. “Ryder!” Fear slapped me awake, and I almost crawled through the plastic strips after him. “Hey!”

“Need some help, then?”

I turned toward a new Irish voice and almost fell over. “Oh no.”

The boy had elf ears. Honest to God, pointy and flexed into his hairline elf ears.

“Oh no?” he returned, his eyebrows sky-high.

“What’re you… What are you?”

“I’m an elf,” he said as casually as if he were telling me he was an art major. “I’m here to give you a lift.” He held up a printed sign that read Thorne.

“Put that down. These people are already too curious.” I grabbed the paper and balled it. “And if you’re here to help, solve that equation.” I pointed to the baggage exit. “One brother went in. No brothers are coming back out. He’s probably on the runway by now.”

“Ye of little faith,” Elf Ears said, crossing his arms. “He’ll pop back through in a moment.” He leaned over conspiratorially. “It’s a circle, you know.”

I couldn’t believe that a stranger with artificial ears was “ye of little faith”-ing me. “What if security catches him? In the United States, the TSA confiscates firstborns for this kind of thing.”

On cue, Ryder came back through the plastic strips, sitting on my duffel and wearing my sunglasses he’d pillaged from the outer pocket. He knew he was in trouble, and yet he grinned. Then he saw the guy beside me, and his mouth dropped open. Ryder jumped down and ran over, leaving me to fetch both of our bags from the carousel.

By the time I’d returned, Ryder’s face was a full moon of excitement. “Iris. This is Nolan. Nolan.”

Nolan held out his hand as though we hadn’t previously met, i.e., argued. “It’s Eamon. Eamon O’Brien.”

I dropped Ryder’s bag to shake Eamon’s hand. “What a name. Did you spring from the roots of Ireland itself?”

I had to hand it to him—he didn’t flinch.

“And you’re Iris Thorne. Nothing to slag there, right?”

Ryder pulled on my shirt, revealing way too much of my bra, while hissing, “It’s Nolan.”

I grabbed his hand and yanked up my neckline. “Stop it or I’ll snap your dwarf axe over my knee.” I plucked my sunglasses off Ryder’s face and put them on in time to catch quite possibly the dirtiest look an elf has ever given a human. “Oh, come on. I don’t really break his toys. And how come there are three of us, but I’m carrying all the bags?”

“It’s not a toy,” Ryder snipped. “It’s a costume replica.”

Eamon continued to glare, proving his eyes weren’t blue but a crystal color that felt digitally enhanced. No wonder he’d been cast as the famous elf in Grandma Mae’s books. Nolan—Eamon—whatever his name was threw the strap of my huge duffel over his shoulder and tried to take my guitar.

“Don’t even think about it,” Ryder said for me. “She’s married to that thing.”

“Is that legal in America these days? Do you share health care?”

I stuck out my tongue, and Eamon grinned wildly, which encouraged me to put my tongue away and wonder how he’d reduced me to Ryder’s maturity level in a matter of minutes.

We passed under the green banner of Nothing to Declare, and I tried some light conversation. “So, if you’re one of the actors, why are you doing airport pickups?”

“I volunteered. I’m a huge fan.”

Good Lord.

“Hey, I read about you,” Ryder said. “This is your very first movie!”

I couldn’t help myself. “Then how’d you get the role?”

“That’s a fine story. I love Elementia. It’s in my blood. I first read it with my mam when I was, oh, about this high.” He held his hand to Ryder’s head, making my brother beam. “When they announced the movie and open casting, Mam and I decided to dream big. We made an audition video in a wooded bit on Saint Stephen’s Green.”

“Elijah Wood did that to become Frodo,” Ryder said.

“Right, right.” He knocked Ryder’s shoulder, best friends already. “I thought, if it worked for Elijah, why can’t it work with me?”

“Because Elijah Wood had an established film career before he did that,” I muttered.

“What was that?” Eamon asked.

“Nothing.” I knew where this story was going. Without a doubt, it would conclude with “then I met the grandchildren of M. E. Thorne and it was the most magical thing to ever happen to me.”

Eamon continued. “Lo and behold, I’m cast as Nolan. And today I’m getting fit for my ears when Cate Collins, wonder director, needs someone to pick up M. E. Thorne’s grandchildren. I volunteered, quick as light.” Eamon shifted the bag on his shoulder and glanced at me. “This is when I meet a tiny, axe-wielding hero and his mountain troll of a guardian.”

My guitar case slipped out of my hand, banging hollowly on the ground. “What the…”

Ryder’s smile was wider than both of the hands he used to cover it.

“Pardon that.” Eamon winked at me—the sassiest thing I’d ever seen a guy manage. “I’m prone to descriptive exaggeration, me springing outta the roots of Ireland and all.”

I blushed, an odd mixture of offended and ashamed.

“Iris Thorne!” an unfamiliar voice yelled from behind.

I turned, my pulse turning into a drum. Just like there were two ways people treated me, there were two kinds of Elementia fans: the ones who loved the trilogy—and the ones who’d reconstructed their lives for it. The latter group called themselves Thornians. They wrote letters to my family. They knew my birthday.

And one of them tried to abduct Ryder when he was six.

I was sort of relieved to see it was my ex-in-flight boyfriend, the newly redubbed Mr. Nerdy Torso Tattoo, jogging over. “How do you know my name?” I asked, my voice breaking a little as I put out an arm to keep him from getting too close to Ryder.

“Your brother was yelling it. I didn’t even know M. E. Thorne had young grandkids.”

I relaxed slightly. “I’m not that young.”

“I’m crossing my fingers you’re eighteen.” The guy leaned close with flirtatious wickedness, reminding me of what had drawn my attention to him during the flight. Lanky gorgeousness. The glasses. Blue eyes. Dark, tight swirls of hair. He rested a long-fingered hand on the top of my guitar case. Definitely musician’s fingers. Also, it was suddenly quite obvious that I’d been wrong; he was well beyond college age.

Earth to Iris. Walk away, Iris.

“I’m…seventeen.” I stepped back, oddly relieved to bump into Eamon. “Have to go.”

The guy pulled out his wallet and handed me a business card. “Shoot me a message around your birthday. I’ll take you out, and we can talk about the movie, or the books, if you prefer.”

Neither, thank you. “I live in LA.”

“I’ll make the trip.” He smiled at the person he thought was me. He walked away. And I hated M. E. Thorne more than usual, which, to be honest, was already a lot.

We walked toward the parking lot, and I kept my head down.

“You work fast, Lady Iris,” Eamon said, low enough that Ryder couldn’t hear.

“No way,” I muttered back. “That guy has the hots for my dead grandma.” He glanced at me, concerned. “I’m fine,” I added, hoping I looked annoyed—bold and unflappable—but from the way his expression fell, I think maybe my sad was showing.

Get a chance to win 1 of 2 copies of “Now a Major Motion Picture”. (US/CAN only)

CORI MCCARTHY studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. From a military family, Cori was born on Guam and lived a little bit of everywhere before she landed in Michigan. Learn more about her books at CoriMcCarthy.com.

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ARC Review: Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Title: Love Songs & Other Lies

Author: Jessica Pennington

Published: 24 April 2018 | Tor Teen

Synopsis:

It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.

Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.

*ARC Kindly provided by TOR Teen and Jessica Pennington thru Netgalley for review*

Summer romances like this book never really gets old for me. Add in the music and second-chance at love into the mix – this will be surely be a hit to me.

Interning for three months with future rock stars seems like an epic summer plan for Vee. Until she learns that she’ll also be sharing the tour bus with Cameron – her first love and first heartbreak.

“I know you think you’ll have time for everything later. And you will. But I want you to do things now. I want you to put yourself out there.”

Vee is the type of character that is very easy to read and very easy to like. Generous, easy to talk and genuine. But one thing people don’t know is that she’s a bit of a scaredy-cat especially when it comes to people listening to her music. Until she met Cameron.

“Life’s a lot less complicated out on the water, away from everything.”

Cameron moved to Riverton because of three things – his Gram, Lake Michigan and Anonymity. For the 2 months since he arrived at Riverton, he kept to himself. He did come of as a mystery for me. Until he met Vee.

Told in the alternating point of views (Vee and Cam) and chapters (Then and Now) – I read a story about young love, how it was broken because of secrets and omitted lies and how the world seems to fix it on its own little way. With this alternating point of views, we get to know the side of the story from both of our main characters. Reading in flashbacks also gave us an idea how our characters have changed after what happened to them over a year ago – because a lot can do happen in that short span of time.

Vee and Cam are like two sides of a coin – very much different from one another but joined into one with their love for music. Despite their own personal and familial issues, they become each other’s escape. Each other’s fresh start.

Though the reality TV concept was not given enough emphasis on the story for me, I appreciate the concept and musicality of the story. I love the lyrics that were written and makes me want to hear it with music.

The pacing was also great; It didn’t drag, and it was not too fast as well. I loved how synchronized the “Then” and “Now” were written making the story easier to read and understand.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that there’s so much feels on this story. It was intriguing, intense, sweet, heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. Overall, it was a fun memorable read for me. I’m looking forward to read more from Jessica Pennington and I’m really really hoping to get Logan and Anders stories too! 😉

“Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you just do. It hits you like a wave, knocks you underwater, and when you surface, all you want is this one thing. Its like gasping for air. All I can think about right now is how much I want Vee.”

 

Anticipated Releases: April 2018

Hello friends! How are you? I’m doing great as of the moment and doing my best to keep up with my TBR, posts to drafts and other book-related stuff. 😆

Since February started, I’ve been in this constant state of excitement and uneasiness. Excitement because I’ll be travelling to New Zealand for 2 weeks (I went there earlier this month) and uneasiness because I’ll be leaving a LOT of work at the office. Add in the fact that I do wanted to update my blog and catch-up on my TBR. And while fretting over adulting stuffs, I fell into a slump – reading and blogging; thus, I’ve been sort of offline throughout my Blog, Goodreads and even Twitter. February to March has been a whirlwind of adventure and adulting but surely a memorable one for me.

Sorry for that long blabber but anyway, this post will be sort of like my comeback one, I guess. I’m excited because several books I’ve been looking forward to will be released this April. I’m also so excited to get back into reading “properly” again and sharing my thoughts about them as well.

So, without further ado, here are my anticipated reads for April 2018.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Release Date: 03 April 2018

This book got me with the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues & Capulets and also the best-friends turn to best-enemies trope. I’m interested to know what really transpired during Zorie and Lennon’s homecoming dance that turned them into each other’s best-enemies. And though their camping trip have gone south, finding themselves stranded in the wilderness alone and together, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?


Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington
Release Date: 04 April 2018

A summer romance never really gets old for me. Add in the fact that there’s music and second-chance at love thing that is involved – I’m totally sold!

Interning for three months with future rock stars seems like an epic summer plan for Vee. Until she learns that she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. With that, there are more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for the both of them.


Rebel Heir (The Rush Series #1) by Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward
Release Date: 09 April 2018

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a story by the best romance duo Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward and I’m literally a trash for the romance novels these two have written. Rebel Heir is set in the beautiful coastal town of Hamptons. Nothing has been expected. Especially the two main characters who are seemingly opposites from the outside, would grow so close. She wasn’t supposed to fall for the rebel heir, especially when He made it clear he didn’t want to cross the line with me. As the temperature turned cooler, the nights became hotter. My summer became a lot more interesting—and complicated.


Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody
Release Date: 10 April 2018

Aces of Spades will introduce to us the intriguing and unique world of the “City of Sin”. Now, when I first read of that catch phrase I immediately thought of Las Vegas. But no, this City of Sin is so much more complicated and scarier. Enne – the lead character – will lead us through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna in search for her missing mother.


Relative Strangers by Paula Garner
Release Date: 10 April 2018

Who would’ve thought that Jule’s simple quest to find a baby picture for the senior yearbook would lead to an earth-shattering discovery? Now, she knows that the first two years of her life was spent in foster care. Jules then set out to learn the truth about her past.


Winter Glass (Spindle Fire #2) by Lexa Hillyer
Release Date: 10 April 2018

Spindle Fire is one of my favorite reads from 2017 that’s why Winter Glass is one of my most awaited sequel for this year. After the whirlwind that Isabella and Aurora have been through on the first book, they will grapple more with their understanding of love and loyalty as they face a threat even greater than that of the evil queen—the threat of losing each other forever.


Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey
Release Date: 17 April 2018

That cover is so pretty! Very Victorian-ish and just so appealing that I immediately added it up on my TBR without even reading the blurb. 😆 But when I finally got the chance to read what this book is about, I was hooked! I loved the historical setting and the forbidden love vibe.

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Until he comes to visit her with his younger brother in tow. Her interest is piqued; however, it is for the wrong brother. Intriguing and exciting, right?


Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: 24 April 2018

There’s no one in the Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda that I didn’t love. I’m so so so excited that we did get a companion novel with Leah being the lead in the story. Okay, I want to get this out first, I love the cover! I love plus-sized Leah and I love how this book’s story doesn’t seem to focus on her size.

Just like Simon, Leah is bisexual, but she doesn’t have the courage to tell her friends about it yet. And with dramas running amok her group of friends and their senior year; it’s getting harder for Leah to strike the right note.


Savor You (Fusion #5) by Kristen Proby
Release Date: 24 April 2018

We are finally getting Mia’s story! The workaholic chef of the Seduction group. She’s willing to and have sacrificed a lot to run their business’ kitchen well. Until her past walks back form of Camden Sawyer – a celebrity chef now – he not only helps her loosen her hold in the kitchen but also loosens the tight bond of her heart against him.

As Mia and Camden face off, neither realizes how high the stakes are as their reputations are put on the line and their hearts are put to the ultimate test.


Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
Release Date: 24 April 2018

A summer will not be complete without getting your dose of ice cream. But summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery. Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When the store owner passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind.


You, what are your anticipated books this April? Feel free to share them with me on the comment page below. 💜

Blog Tour: Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich

Title: Crimson Ash

Author: Haley Sulich

Published: 10 May 2018 | Write Plan

Synopsis:

You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.

Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.

After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year-old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé.

Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.

As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.

EXCERPT

A soon-to-be City of Graven resident appears in the middle of the room and frantically whips her head around in the dark. It’s common for people to panic. They aren’t gifted with night-vision eyes like us because they weren’t created in a laboratory. In case any of them decide to attack a soldier, we have the advantage of sight.

Once all the future civilians pack into the room with the soldiers, the Commander enters the coordinates for the City of Graven into a keypad. The moment she finishes, an electric current begins to charge the air. Sweat drips into the scrape on my cheek where a bullet grazed my face.

Not a muscle of mine twitches.

Seconds pass before the familiar flash of light and feeling of nothingness wraps around my body while we travel. Then I land on the flat roof of a building.

The new City of Graven residents turn in a circle. Their hands tremble and mouths gape open with an emotion I fail to understand. Mountains—invisible to their mundane vision in the dark—cut jagged lines into the horizon. Skyscrapers rise higher than the one we stand on. The glo-wood trees below lie evenly spaced where streets once were, and they bathe every glass structure in a pale luminescence.

This is the last city on Earth that gleams at night. Everything else died when the Devil’s Dream wiped out most of the human race. Nobody could locate the origin of the virus because it spread too quickly, taking down the strongest and even remotest civilizations. That’s why soldiers search the Earth for survivors. But this fragile society can’t function if people refuse to participate, which is why we give the Choice.

As we wait silently, the clanging of metal emanates from the nearby stairwell. A man in his late thirties appears from below. Mordecai Graven greets his new citizens while soldiers descend the stairs to the individual Alters lining the walls.

I follow the group and step in front of an Alter. Type the code to my cell.

578029

Pushing my palm against the Alter, I feel the faint current racing through my fingers toward my chest. A flash of light. Floating.

Then I arrive in my ten-by-ten foot room. Three concrete walls and a thick sheet of glass surround me. My night vision stains everything blue.

Soldiers live in the dark.

I shed my black gear and dump it into the laundry chute before grabbing a pair of fresh clothes from the concrete shelf. Without my armoured gloves covering my hands, my heavily scarred fingers are a stark contrast to the dark clothing.

Entering the bathroom, I clean my dagger before placing my hands in the dink. Only one temperature of water ever sputters from the faucet. Boiling liquid flows over my fingers as I rinse away the dried blood. My skin blisters and turns raw.

Soldiers don’t feel pain.

Translucent liquid from the automatic curative cream dispenser on the wall begins to repair the damaged nerve cells of my hands and the wound from the bullet graze. The skin scars over, speeding up a process that should take weeks. I touch my hand to the unbroken skin on my cheek.

It’s no longer a bleeding gash.

After taking a quick shower in thirty-three-degree water—just above the freezing point to make us immune to temperature differences—I dress and lie on my bare mattress, staring at the labyrinth of cracks on the ceiling.

 

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

 

05 March (Monday)

06 March (Tuesday)

07 March (Wednesday)

08 March (Thursday)

09 March (Friday)

10 March (Saturday)

Release Day Blitz + Giveaway: Until Harmony (Until Her #4) by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Title : Until Harmony (Until Her #4)

Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Harmony Mayson isn’t the kind of girl to take unnecessary risk, but after meeting Harlen MacCabe, she starts to wonder if maybe she should be. The more time she spends with the wild and free biker, the more she starts to crave the freedom he gives her… And even more, she starts to crave him. Harlen lives his life on his own terms. After losing both his parents at an early age to a robbery gone bad, he knows how precious life is, and he’s determined to get as much out of it as he can.

When he runs into the beautiful Harmony and finds out she’s moving to town, he knows it’s time to take his shot. She thinks he only wants to be friends, but she couldn’t be more wrong. What Harmony and Harlen don’t know is that their time might be cut short. Revenge is in the air, and someone won’t stop until a debt is settled.

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
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AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
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AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
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Aurora Rose
Reynolds is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose wildly popular series include Until, Until Him, Until Her, Underground Kings and Shooting Stars.Her writing career started in an attempt to get the outrageously alpha men who resided in
her head to leave her alone and has blossomed into an opportunity to share her
stories with readers all over the world.

Get a chance to win $25 Amazon e-gift card + a signed paperback of Until Harmony (2 winners)

ARC Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Author: Lianne Oelke

Published: 09 January 2018 | Clarion Books

Date Read: 23 January 2018

Synopsis:

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

*ARC Kindly provided by Clarion Books thru Edelweiss for review*

I’ve read a couple of books that has a plot that depicts a reality show. Just when I thought I’ll be getting something similar to those books, I get a book that surpass the typical reality-show plot and instead gave us an original writing and premise and a memorable lead character.

“Maybe it’s time to have an adventure on my own. To be good at something on my own.”

The story follows Jane Sinner. A girl expelled from high school for unknown reasons. Now, as she tries to earn her high school diploma by enrolling at the local community college, she learns about a Big Brother type of reality show run by a student.

The House of Orange is one of the unique aspects of the book. I love how this idea came up just from a simple class project. The show was really a lot like Big Brother – there are challenges, immunities and evictions.

Jane came off broody, cynical and sarcastic. She’s the type of character who has a tough and strong facade but deep down inside was a softie at heart. At first, Jane joined the reality show because she enjoyed that anonymity. But as the day goes and tasks were given, HOO pushed Jane out of her comfort zone and helped her find the place for herself that she was looking for. For most part of the book, I was wondering what really happened to Jane. We were only given snippets of her past and her narration gave away that there was an entirely different Jane from that past as to who she is at the present.

“I hate running, and I’ve run each day since starting the show to prove that I am stronger than my apathy. That I am stronger than the girl who gave up on life.”

As the story progress, her story was also revealed. I felt for her. I related to her. She’s dealing with a lot of things all the same time and personally sometimes, that makes me want to explode. Jane is dealing with getting kicked-out from her previous school, not having the same beliefs as her parents have and depression. I really appreciate how the story conveys that people experience depression in different ways and reasons.

As the book was written in a journal type, each chapter seems to be a quick read. The way it was written was unique and enjoyable as well. Though there are slow moments in the story, it was eventually replaced by a lot more enjoyable parts.

This has been a topic on twitter a few weeks ago and I agree that there isn’t a lot of YA novels with main characters at college. Nice Try, Jane Sinner is one of those rare YA Books that has a main character that is in a college setting. Personally, I think I would enjoy reading YA Books set in college when I was back in college. Also, this is one of those rare books that I read that is set in Canada! I visited Alberta two years ago and up until now, I get sepanx over it. I missed Banff and Lake Louise with it snow capped mountains and turquoise water!

As mentioned, although the story has its slow parts I enjoyed reading most it. I love the unique plot, writing and the characters.