Wednesday, June 24, 2015

GIVEAWAY - Moonkind: Survivors of Ebola, by Bruce Merchant, M.D. {ends 7/1}

Moonkind: Survivors of Ebola is currently available on Amazon, and you can win yourself a paperback copy here at my blog!

Official synopsis:
In another Century and a half, the world, as we know it, will be greatly changed. This book foresees changes that most of us could scarcely dream of. It imagines a world where current international tensions have mostly dissolved, where continental solidarity has supplanted most national boundaries, and where global warming has actually abated. It is a time when space exploration is of prime importance and when robotically operated stations exist on our own Moon and on Mars and Venus..

But several traditional earthly problems have not been resolved. One of these is the periodic emergence of infectious diseases that (by means of insidious mutations) have evaded all modern efforts to prevent or control them. Enter Q-strain, an astoundingly pernicious mutation of Ebola virus which, over the period of a few years, totally wipes out all humans on the Earth. There is time, however, in the interim, to transport the very earliest stage (blastocysts) of the clones from many very accomplished humans to the robotic station on the Moon. (These clones had been acquired years before the epidemic and stored in suspended animation in liquid nitrogen).

Roughly a century later, when the “all clear” for absence of the Ebola Q-strain mutant on the Earth has been biologically verified, these “celebrity clones” are given birth on the Moon and raised to adulthood by robotic guides and caretakers. The story then centers on the development of fourteen spirited “celebrity clones” who must find ways to realistically coexist, and then to ultimately return a human presence to our now Ebola-free blue planet. This sounds like quite a challenge, and in fact, that’s just what it is.

I haven't yet read the book, but I love a good dystopian/sci-fi novel, and this sounds great.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Quick Pick: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, by Jennifer E. Smith

  • Opening lines: When Aidan opens the door, Clare rises onto her tiptoes to kiss him, and for a moment, it feels like any other night.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I read and reviewed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by the same author, as well as The Geography of You and Me, and adored both.
  • And what's this book about?
  • On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

    This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of
    The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.
  • Favorite paragraph:
  • Clare blinks at him, feeling leaden straight down to her toes. However prepared she thought she'd been to break up with him tonight, she realizes now that she hadn't really expected it to happen. At least not like this. Not in the way that most couples break up: fighting and scrabbling, dredging up long-dormant arguments and lobbing them at each other like grenades. If it had to end, she'd imagined it would be poignant and inevitable: a single tear, a sorrowful hug, a brave goodbye.

    But Aiden is already in the car, the engine humming to life, and there's nothing for her to do but hurry around to the other side and get in, too, worried that he might actually leave without her. 
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes a good story or a quick YA read. Also for anyone that's ever been in that "neither here, nor there" space as Aidan and Clare are here; done with high school, and about to leave for college (two separate ones on opposite coasts; Dartmouth and UCLA).
  • Something to know: This book comes to stores on September 1, 2015. 
  • What I would have changed: Nothing. I especially loved the ending; it was perfect, and perfectly written, too. 
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to preorder.

*Disclosure: I received an e-ARC of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: HOLE: A Novel Based on a True Story, by Rim Tveras

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes, and was also compensated for the review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own and have not been influenced.

After four weeks of lock down, written outpatient instructions were included with Celia's release papers. They were lengthy and ended with a specific stipulation:

*You must never allow yourself to develop romantic feelings for a man, or in layman's terms, fall in love.
*You must avoid places and activities that lead to dating and intimacy with men.
*Your mental health is of utmost importance. Maintaining it should be your top priority. Ignoring this warning will be detrimental to your well-being with unpredictable negative consequences anticipated.

This was a different type of book than I normally pick up, but I ended up enjoying it. It's kind of a mix of sci-fi, even though it takes place from the 1960s through 2013, as well as some religion and art thrown in. We learn early on in the book what the HOLE is all about, and that sets the tone for the rest of the novel.

Official synopsis:
Luke and Celia were young, talented, and passionate about art. From their first meeting, he was obsessed with her. She was pretty, smart, and funny. And a little odd. Her abusive mother had filled her with bizarre thoughts and rage, behavior he had never experienced firsthand. Her brain was twisted, and she was unable to love. Her suicide left Luke devastated, guilt-ridden, and lost. Woven within the doomed romance, HOLE explores an inspired philosophical structure in which artistic expression merges with permissible freedom to choose our final resting time and place in the universe. HOLE is a work of modern fiction based on a true love story. From paragraph one, the author sends his readers into deeply troubled territory where madness mimics love and logic. Beyond the worst grief, HOLE commands controversial contemplation and advocates hope. Follow Luke on his restless journey to the bittersweet end.

At the beginning of the novel, we meet Celia, who is a sweet girl but definitely has some mental problems. We later flash back to Luke's childhood, and how he comes to meet Celia, and falls in love with her; Celia, however, while able to love, has some issues that make it almost "dangerous" for her to do so. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Safekeeping, by Jessamyn Hope (ends 6/17)

    Review by: Sarah Blanchette 
  • Opening lines: Adam trudged up the darkening country road with a giant centipede stuck to his back, wiggling its army of legs. He could see to the top of the hill, where the road ended with the gate to the kibbutz. A rusted wrought-iron sign arched over the entrance, stamping the yellow sky both in Hebrew and Latin letters: Sadot Hadar.
  • Reason I picked up the book: After studying Arabic for two years during undergrad, I became completely enamored by the beauty of the Middle East and the people who live there. Any book dealing with any aspect of the Middle East is always something that I am drawn towards. I have not had too much experience studying or reading fiction about Israel and felt that this book would be another way to bridge my world to theirs. Also, being a young adult like the main character, I could relate completely with his struggles to find himself amongst a life of chaos and family trauma.
  • And what's this book about?
  • The book explores the life-changing journey that a young recovering drug/alcohol addict embarks upon after the passing of his grandfather. The young man, Adam, is faced with a life time of regret and pain that he had caused his family throughout the span of his addiction. He chooses to remedy his regret by setting off to pass down his grandfather's most prized possession to the only woman his grandfather had ever loved: the family's vintage, and very valuable, brooch. This trip requires him to travel overseas from New York City to a kibbutz (socialist-style community) in Israel where he is faced with finding the woman, Dagmar, who does not want to be found, as well as discovering his strength as an individual in a community torn by war and changing customs. 
  • Favorite paragraph:
  • She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been given a gift. Not since Berlin anyway. Fourteen years? The silver bow pulled at her – the selfish pull of gifts. Maybe the gift giver had dignity. Maybe. Giving a gift was also a manipulation. (p. 193)
  • What I would have changed: I honestly would not change anything. The storylines and flashbacks were written so smoothly that I was engaged the entire time.
  • Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

About the reviewer:

Sarah Blanchette is an artist, writer, designer, and graduate of the journalism and studio art undergraduate programs at Oakland University. She lives in Metro Detroit with her two Flemish Giant bunnies, Beedo and Maizy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Quick Pick: Royal Wedding, by Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries)

  • Opening lines: I don't know what's happening to me. I lie when I tell the truth, and tell the truth when I should lie.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a HUGE Princess Diaries fan, and this book continues Mia's story, except she's now 25 instead of in high school. 
  • And what's this book about?
  • From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, comes the very first adult installment, which follows Princess Mia and her Prince Charming as they plan their fairy tale wedding--but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare.

    For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia's gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn't need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

    But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother's leaked "fake" wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia's father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone--especially herself--that she's not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?

  • Favorite paragraph:
  • I'm totally aware of the fact that it would be much, much easier for him to be with a girl who could meet him for drinks after work at T.G.I. Friday's without it first having to be swept for bombs, or go to the movies with him without having a plainclothes sharpshooter sit behind us, or simply stroll around Central Park without being followed by a phalanx of photo-hungry press.

    But I'm never going to be that girl.

    And my worst fear is that someday he's going to realize it and dump me the way my mom dumped my dad, leaving him the brokenhearted, race-car-speeding, empty shell of a man he is today.

    Honestly, what good is owning a castle if the person you love doesn't want to share it with you?
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes/has read the old Princess Diaries books, or who likes a good story. You don't need to have read them before reading this one, but it does provide a lot of backstory.
  • Something to know: Mia is now 25 in this book, so it's a little more PG-13 than the previous books in the series, which took place when she was a dorky high schooler (before becoming a princess). I'm not sure if this will be the last Mia book (I hope not!) but Cabot has also wrote a book that came out last month called From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, which focuses on a (no spoilers!) different character who enters Mia's life in this installment.
  • What I would have changed: Nothing! Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series always made me laugh when I was in high school, and this one was no different. Mia is still just as crazy as ever, and the format of the novel followed her previous ones, as well. 
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here.

{Happy book birthday to
Royal Wedding today, too! June 2nd is its release date.}

*Disclosure: I received an e-ARC of this book from Edelweiss for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Isle of the Lost, by Melissa de la Cruz {ends 6/7}

For her mother was the great Maleficent, Mistress of Darkness, the most powerful and wicked fairy in the world and the most fearsome villain in all the land.

Or at least, she had been.

Once upon a time, her mother's wrath had cursed a princess.

Once upon a time, her mother's wrath had brought a prince to his knees.

Once upon a time, her mother's wrath had put an entire kingdom to sleep.

Once upon a time, her mother had had all the forces of hell at her command.

And there was nothing Mal desired more in her heart than to grow up to be just like her.

While I was reading this novel, I didn't know that it is a prequel to Descendants, which is going to be a Disney Channel original movie starring Kristin Chenoweth as Maleficent. I'm a huge fan of Melissa de la Cruz's work, and they definitely chose the right author to write Isle of the Lost, as it was a fun read.

Official synopsis:
Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that's been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon's eye: the key to true darkness and the villains' only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it...who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent's daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon's eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen's daughter, Evie, doesn't know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she's a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal's little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he's not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon's eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil's son may not be bravest, but he's certainly clever. Carlos's inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon's eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon's eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the dragon's eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway: Mimi Malloy, At Last! by Julia MacDonnell {ends 6/3}

Review by: Rachel Gonzales

My sisters love nothing better than picking at our past like it’s the carcass of a rotisserie chicken, ooh and aahing when they find a juicy morsel, a bit of crispy skin. It’s a love that came upon them, one by one, after the Change. Maybe it’s a side effect, like night sweats and hot flashes. But to me, it’s just charred bones.

Julia MacDonnell’s novel, only her second is twenty years, examines the life of Mimi Malloy, the oldest surviving sister of an immigrant family, and explores the many different ways (good and bad) that families and memories can impact your childhood, even when you’re already well into adulthood.

Official synopsis:
Mimi Malloy was born into an Irish-Catholic brood of seven, and she has done her best to raise six daughters of her own. Now they’re grown, and Mimi cherishes the comforts of her new life: Frank Sinatra on her stereo, walks with her super, Duffy, and spare time that is finally hers to spend. Sure, her eldest worries about her memory lapses, and Mimi’s surviving sisters, who love to gossip, question her indifference to the past. As far as Mimi is concerned, she’s entitled to enjoy the present -- and that includes the occasional Manhattan.

But when she stumbles upon a long-lost pendant of her mother’s, recollections of a shocking and painful childhood begin to surface. With the help of her siblings and her daughters, Mimi must find the courage to confront her troubled history -- and discover that the stories that refuse to be forgotten are the ones she ought to treasure most.
Mimi Malloy, At Last! is an unforgettable novel, alive with hope, unexpected romance, and the magic of hard-earned insight.