Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry


"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

"An edgy romance that pulls you in and never lets go. I was hooked!"-Gena Showalter,  New York Times bestselling author of the Intertwined series

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.  Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.


Publication date: July 31st 2012 by Harlequin Teen (first published June 1st 2012)

The Elliott Review:

This edgy, contemporary tale was an absolute work of art. I couldn't stop reading. I love that it deals with really dark subject matter in a realistic way. None of the grit of the characters' lives is minimized, yet there is also a sense of light at the end of the tunnel, of healing. I thought that the voices of both Echo and Noah were totally authentic. I especially appreciated Noah's sardonic wit and penchant for cursing. Not that cursing always makes for good voice, but in Noah's case I felt that it just fit.

I enjoyed Echo's and Noah's complicated romance in all of its phases. Yes, one can surmise that they will get together since the book is about both of them, but within that framework, nothing is a given. Two complete unlike people, they come to know each other and work together to discover more about their case files. As they learn more about what they have in common, the sparks begin to fly. All I can say is that Noah is hot, and his attraction to her fuels his desire to become a better person, something that usually doesn't happen in real life.

I love how each character is developed as well. Though both Noah and Echo grow tremendously throughout the story, nothing happens magically over night. Each victory is hard won with plenty of defeats behind it. The supporting characters aren't cardboard, either. They each bring their own issues to the table and go through a measure of development as well. It seems that every character in this book grows and changes and learns a lesson. And when I say "learns a lesson," I'm not talking about something preachy or moralistic. Everything is organic in the story. That is a balance that I think is so hard for a lot of authors to achieve - a positive ending with lessons learned that doesn't feel like an after school special. This one definitely doesn't.

I'm going to miss this edgy tale as well as Noah's character. I was really happy to see that there will be a companion novel about one of the supporting characters as well!!!

Source: Thanks to Harlequin Teen for making this title available at Netgalley.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sign Ups: Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop (August 17th to 22nd)

Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & The Elliott Review

August 17th to 22nd

What is a giveaway hop?
  • Simple - Each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another.
  • For followers this means lots of chances to win free books.
  • For blogs hosting a giveaway it means lots of new visitors.
  • It's a win-win!

Each participating blog will host their own giveaway. There is no requirement on the minimum or maximum value of your giveaway. It's up to you to decide. You can give away books, swags, amazon gift cards, or anything else you can think of that has to do with books. Your giveaway can be as simple or as elaborate as you want.

  • All participating blogs will be linked up through a Giveaway linky. 
  • Please keep the process to enter your giveaway as simple as possible.
  • Please no long lists of dozens of different things followers can do to gain extra entries.

As you prepare your giveaway post please remember the following:

1. The Last Days of Freedom Hop Images needs to be part of your post.

2. Include the linky list with all the participating blogs.

3. Giveaway must be book related!

4. Keep the way to enter your giveaway as simple as possible. 1 Mandatory entry, all others must be optional. If you have a long list of ways for people to enter you will be deleted from the linky.

5. This must be a giveaway specifically for this hop and must run only the 6 days this hop is scheduled.

6. Keep your giveaway easy to find for the entire 7 days this hop is open. If you post often and your post does not stay near the top of your main blog page then please post a link to your giveaway at the top of your blog or sidebar.

7. Both your blog and your giveaway must be Family Friendly.

Please mark your calendars.
It is a busy time of year. A reminder email will be sent out a few days before the hops starts.

Questions can be emailed to: toobusyreading at gmail dot com OR jlelliott08 AT gmail dot com

To Sign Up To Host A Giveaway Click on the Blue Link at the bottom of the linky that Says "Click here to enter" and fill out the form with the following information:

  • Your Blog Name followed by where you will ship to in parentheses
  • Link to your Blog or Website
  • Email Address to send you a reminder email

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2nd Blogoversary Giveaway Winners!!!

Thanks so much to all those who entered my 2nd Blogoversary Giveaway! The response was overwhelming and very much appreciated. You guys rock.

So, the winners are:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners have been contacted and have 48 hours to let me know which book they would like.

Thanks again! Stay tuned for more giveaways coming soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Before You Go by James Preller


The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark, and no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool seven years ago when Jude was supposed to be watching her.

Now, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then, life spins out of control. Again.

Acclaimed author James Preller explores life, death, love, faith, and resilience in his first young adult novel that will grip readers from the book’s dramatic first few pages to its emotional end.


Publication date: July 17th 2012 by Feiwel & Friends 

The Elliott Review:

This book is short but packed full of meaning and skillful characterization. Jude's character is developed in a subtle but beautiful way. Although Jude and his family still suffer deeply due to his sister's death, Jude deals with it in his own quiet way. He doesn't talk about that day, but his friend Corey understands him and the two of them start a wonderful, chill summer together just hanging out with the guys and meeting new people.

I loved seeing Jude open up to Becka and in turn learning a lot about life from her. Everything about their interactions is realistic for teens in summertime. But then another unthinkable accident happens that shakes them to their core and they both deal with it in their own way.

This book, to me, was just simple and beautiful, dealing with deep life issues without veering into a cautionary tale sort of story like so many of these types of books do. It stays real and true in its presentation of the characters.

Young Adult Notes:

Death of a young child, teen drinking, mild sexual implications, some language.

Source: Thanks to Ksenia at Feiwel & Friends for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: The Forsaken (The Forsaken 1) by Lisa M. Stasse


A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy.

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.


Publication date: July 10th 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers 

The Elliott Review:

This book is fast-paced and exciting, with with many different dystopian elements that fans of the genre will be really excited about!

After being forsaken to live on the dangerous exile island, The Wheel, Alenna falls head over heels in love with Liam, who is definitely a find even though things are complicated between them due to her friendship with his ex, Gadya. Alenna has to learn how to fight so that she can stay alive, and she changes from who she once was.

Amidst the conflict with the followers of The Monk, the other kids on the island are trying to find a way off. The suspense of what is actually going on on the island kept me reading with interest. The mystery behind everything is intriguing, and I was kind of shocked/horrified when I finally found out some key secrets. The end of the book was definitely surprising, and I'm curious to see how things play out when things continue.

Source: Thanks to Lisa for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Guest Post: The World of THE FORSAKEN (Lisa M. Stasse)

So I was all set to write a really intricate guest blog post about worldbuilding and my debut dystopian YA novel The Forsaken. Then I started writing the post, and realized that if I finished it, I would probably end up accidentally giving away some huge spoilers about the world of The Forsaken! My novel has some pretty big surprises (part of it is set on a mysterious prison island called "the wheel")—and hopefully a lot of the fun of reading the book is encountering all the twists and turns along the way as the characters try to escape from the island.

So I've decided to keep this piece totally spoiler free and focus on themes and ideas, which are of course related to worldbuilding. With The Forsaken, I was trying to figure out what the globe might look like thirty years from now if things went really wrong (and I mean, REALLY wrong!) with society. In The Forsaken, against the wishes of the people, The United States, Canada and Mexico have become one giant monolithic nation after an economic and government collapse. I wanted The Forsaken to feel gritty and real. Like it could actually happen to us thirty years from now. That's one of the things I love about my favorite dystopians, from 1984 to The Hunger Games. There is something terrifyingly possible about them.

In The Forsaken, I also wanted to explore some dystopian themes that are already lapping at the edges of our society—government controlled drugs, the silencing of different voices, the possible collapse of the economy, and the cruel treatment of people who don't fit in. So from all of this came the basic concept of The Forsaken: That a "good girl" named Alenna Shawcross inexplicably fails a mandatory government personality test that claims she has subconscious rebellious tendencies and a high capacity for violence. Her punishment is that she gets banished to a prison island where the government sends any kids who fail the test. Alenna has to forge alliances among the wild tribes controlling the island, learn to fight back, and also try to outwit the government machines that control the island. Along the way, she falls in love, but also learns some disturbing truths about her society, as well as her own identity. There's definitely romance in there, but in a realistic way. How Alenna ends the book is very different from how she starts it. In fact, I'm hoping that the end of The Forsaken really surprises people! Write to me and let me know your thoughts.

Lisa M. Stasse is the author of The Forsaken trilogy. Book 1 is available July 10 from Simon & Schuster.
Follow Lisa:


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My 2nd Blogoversary #Giveaway!!!

Today my blog is officially two years old! I have loved every second of being able to have the best hobby in the whole world! Through years of teaching and being a librarian without a library and a writer who need to just write already, I've been able to channel my passions in what I feel like is a productive way. I've read some wonderful books and met some wonderful bloggers and authors both online and in person. Thanks to everyone who has made these two years of blogging amazing!!!

To say thanks, I'm offering the chance to win to win one of two books from The Book Depository (up to $10).

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget below...

Thanks again, and good luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Easy by Tammara Webber


When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, stalked by her ex’s frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Her econ professor gives her an email address for Landon, the class tutor, who shows her that she’s still the same intelligent girl she’s always been. As Jacqueline becomes interested in more from her tutor than a better grade, his teasing responses make the feeling seem mutual. There’s just one problem—their only interactions are through email.

Meanwhile, a guy in her econ class proves his worth the first night she meets him. Nothing like her popular ex or her brainy tutor, Lucas sits on the back row, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. At a downtown club, he disappears after several dances that leave her on fire. When he asks if he can sketch her, alone in her room, she agrees—hoping for more.

Then Jacqueline discovers a withheld connection between her supportive tutor and her seductive classmate, her ex comes back into the picture, and her stalker escalates his attention by spreading rumors that they’ve hooked up. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.


eBook, Published May 25th 2012

The Elliott Review:

This book was a completely addictive read! I had my reservations about it at first because I typically don't read a lot of self-published books since I am a grammar and structure nerd, but my sister told me I basically had to read this book or die because it was just that good. I'm glad I listened because it is completely professionally written and edited, and it most cruelly sucked me in right from the start. I love that this is more of a new (rather than young) adult title because it leaves some room for extremely steamy romance in the midst of the other qualities.

The first scene really grabbed my attention, and then the romance between Jacqueline and Lucas begins in a totally organic, realistic, and YUMMY way. Lucas is a tortured soul par excellence with his shaggy hair, tattoos, soulful eyes, barely-there smile, and semi-dangerous bad-boy mystique. As the reader gets to know him, it becomes obvious that he has many layers, all of which serve to make this book 100% delicious.

This is a book that I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone who likes spicy romance AND angsty characters. Both of these things just hook into you and make you die.

Source: Purchased for $3.99 for my NOOK (also available for Kindle)