Monday, January 28, 2013

I think it's safe to say....

I'm pretty much finished with the book blogging. As much as I love to read, blogging feels like a job and it's just not fun anymore. One of the biggest reasons? This little guy. We tried for so long to have a baby and now that he's here everything revolves around him. And I love every second of it. So, thanks for being a part of this blog the last couple years. It kept me sane during the hardest time of my life. <3

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived
Victoria Schwab
Publish Date January 22, 2013
Hyperion
ARC from Around the World Tours
Reviewed by Michelle

 Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous—it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.
-Goodreads

From the first second I heard there were ARC's of Victoria Schwab's newest book, The Archived, floating around I was constantly looking for ways to get my hands on a copy. The Near Witch was one of my favorite books in 2011 (I read it early) and I loved it so much that I knew I had to get my hands on anything Schwab ever writes. I was ECSTATIC when The Archived arrived in my mailbox from a blog tour site. ECSTATIC. And it did not disappoint. Oh no, my friends, I dare say that The Archived is better than The Near Witch - and that's saying something. I loved everything about it - every little thing. I was so sad when it ended and even sadder to think that I have to wait that. much. longer. for the second one. This is one book that I'm SO happy will be a series because I need more of Mac, the Histories, and the Archive.

It's been a while since I've written a review and this one might be all over the place because I have so many feelings! But.. they are good feelings so here goes..

Let's start with the characters. I absolutely adore Mackenzie. She is tough and can kick some butt - she became a Keeper at 12 when 16 is the age limit! Girl has got to know how to fight, how to use her words to persuade the Histories, and be smart when it comes to keeping the real world and the Archive world separate. And there's even more to her. Her love for Da and her grief over her brother and her relationship with her parents.. You just want to hug her and let her know that eventually things will be easier. But then she would hate that. Schwab could not have written Mac more perfectly and I can not wait to see where her story goes. I love the flashbacks with Mac and Da. Da is one of my favorite characters in the book and he's not even really there - he's just in Mac's memories but he is so smart and full of wisdom and I just wish he could've stayed around more. There is also a couple boys in The Archived that are worth your time and consideration - Wesley and Owen. I know what you're thinking - Oh no, another love triangle. But stop right now.. It's really not. Mac's relationship with the two boys are complex and so much more than "another love triangle." I loved the way Schwab had that aspect of the book play out. 

Schwab's world building in The Archived is top notch. There is so much put into the different aspects of the Archive and the world surrounding it - the Narrows, the Outers, the Librarians, the Keepers, the Crew, the keys. And so many rules that go along with each aspect. It truly takes the reader to a whole new world and sucks you into it. I just really loved everything about it. 

The mystery that Mac is trying to solve about the Archive and her new home (the Coronado) is so interesting and really had me guessing until the very end. I could not figure out who was on what side and which way it would all go. And I loved it. Schwab gives clues throughout the book of who it might be but then she will add something else that has you second guessing that clue. 

Everything about this book is perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better story, better characters, better mystery, better anything. The Archived is (so far) my favorite book of 2012. Love love love. <3

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

EVER Blog Tour (Interview and Giveaway)


Hello fair Hooked to Bookers! Hookers?  Nope.  That's not right.  Moving on.



Today we are THRILLED to be part of the blog tour for EVER, by Jessa Russo, a paranormal romance featuring a hot ghost and a hot....boy next door? That sounds right.  Don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that not everything is as it seems and maybe you shouldn't trust the smooth-talking, sexy blonde who suddenly moves in.  (I mean, it's fine if you want to.  It's just that I had FEELINGS about Toby.)


Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.

Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love.

Some girls lose their minds.

Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.


Jessa has not only graciously agreed to answer some tough questions for us, but she is also giving away TWO!! e-copies of EVER to lucky readers.  Because I prefer to do things in the most simple way possible, we will pick two winners randomly from everyone who comments on this post.  All you have to do is tell us the title of your favorite ghost story (book, movie, legend) and leave your email address so we can contact you.  Due to Frankenstorm looming outside and the possibility of the East Coast losing all power, we'll leave the contest open until the end of next week (Sunday, November 10).  But we here at Hooked to Books hope everyone stays safe and your lights remain on and that you have plenty of cookies and various baked goods to get you through the storm!




An unashamed super fan of all things paranormal romance, Jessa Russo reads, writes and breathes paranormal YA, rarely straying from her comfort zone. When not writing or reading, Jessa enjoys making memories with her awesome family and amazingly supportive friends, while secretly planning her next trip to New Orleans. She’s won a few flash fiction contests and had a short story published, but feels her greatest accomplishment is raising the coolest kid ever – a little girl with a Tim Burton obsession and a desire to save every animal she sees.

Jessa will always call Southern California home, where she lives with her husband Jon, their daughter Faith, Bronco the Great Dane and Lola the Chihuahua.

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH JESSA RUSSO:

1. What was the starting point of this book? Was it one line that made it into the final book, or the characters?
It was definitely the characters. Ever had been in my head for a while, but when her story started to develop, she was in a house full of ghosts, unbeknownst to her, and then one day, BAM! She could see all of them. (Long story.) Anyway, Frankie had been in love with her forever, so the story is somewhat similar in that sense, but he was a ghost from the 1950's, not someone she'd grown up with. And, since he'd always been able to see her, but she'd been unaware of him, it made for an even trickier unrequited love between the two of them. As you probably know, the story has changed significantly. But, since I'm feeling generous, and slightly masochistic, I will include the original prologue for you. O.O

Its bad, really bad ... so please, keep your laughter to a minimum. :-) 

PROLOGUE
June, Almost Three Years Ago
They were in the kitchen, the old woman at the table, and the young man at the counter, leaning casually and watching the girl and her friend talk about the latest gossip in their lives.  Her friend was painting her nails again, and for once he wished he could smell the strong odor of the chemicals in the polish.  Anything to help him feel he was a part of their world.   
He desperately wished he could be.  A part of her world in particular. 
He’d been watching the girl for as long as he could remember. 
He loved her.  Not just a young, silly love.  But a real, intense, can’t-be-without-her love. 
He’d watched her grow up, watched her learn and play as a child, then argue and assert her independence as a young woman. 
He knew everything about her, except for her innermost secrets.  He hoped maybe one day she’d tell him those secrets. 
But she didn’t know he was there.  Didn’t know he existed in the same world as she did.  Didn’t know he shared her home.
And what would he say to her if she did know? 
He grabbed another cigarette from his pack of seventeen.  Always seventeen cigarettes – that never changed.  He didn’t light it; instead he just went through the motions.  That was what his life consisted of now – going through the motions.
When she looked up at him, he could swear that for the first time, she actually saw him there. He cocked his head, wondering what she could be thinking about that had her staring towards him so directly.  When he leaned forward away from the counter, she jumped up, eyes open wide in shock. 
At that exact moment, her friend noticed the old woman sitting at the table next to her and shrieked as she jumped up to join the girl in the corner of the kitchen, sending her chair crashing to the floor.  The girl’s parents, obviously responding to the commotion in the kitchen, came running into the room.   The four of them quickly ended up huddled together tightly in the corner. 
The old woman spoke first, “Oh dear,” she said, in a soothing tone. “Let’s just all relax.”  She waved her hands in a calming motion, but the family’s eyes widened even more with the shock of hearing her voice.  Clearly, they could not just see the woman, but could hear her as well. 
Emotions flooded him, most significantly relief and excitement.  He didn’t know what was going on, or how they could suddenly see and hear them, but he wasn’t about to question it or waste any more time. 
He’d been wishing for this moment for as long as he could remember. 
With a shrug, he walked over to the girl and smiled, no longer wondering what he might say to her if he ever had the chance. 
“Hey Doll, I’m Frankie.” 

2. What's Plan B (singer, astronaut, zookeeper) if for some reason you were unable to write?
Plan B? Um ... well ... um ... there isn't one? I've been a stay-at-home mom for the past nine years, so I"d still be doing that. Well, technically, I'm still doing that now, so ... I also used to have a small home-based painting business (children's room decor: wall letters, canvas art, growth charts, etc) so I could probably start that up again. But honestly, I'm hoping to just be able to continue writing all the stories - I have quite a few in this head of mine - and reading submissions for Curiosity Quills. If both of these "jobs" do well, I can continue to stay home with my daughter and do the carpool thing. lol 

3. Top three books you would recommend to everyone?
Wow. That's tough. Not everyone likes what I like, you know? So let's say, hypothetically, that I'm recommending books to one of my female friends who happened to LOVE Twilight and has a thing for collecting fictional boyfriends half their age ... I'd say UNRAVELING by Liz Norris (because it was one of my favorites from 2012), The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, because I adore everything she writes (and I LOVED all of the VAMPIRE ACADEMY *Team Dimitri*), and The Hunger Games Trilogy. Honestly, I'd recommend THG to anyone, really - not just Twilight-moms. lol! THG was such a breath of fresh air, in my opinion. So different, and unlike anything I'd ever read before. I also have to add a fourth book, and its something I recently acquired, so I can't tell you anything about it. Let's just say that it is a historical romance that blew my socks right off. I can't wait to recommend it to everyone. EVERYONE. 

4. If you were to return as a ghost and had free reign to go wherever or do whatever, what's the first thing you would do?
You know, I've been sitting on this question for two days. This one and the next one, actually. Both have me totally stumped. I want to have some profound answer, but all I can think about is how sad I would be if I died right now. I can't imagine leaving my daughter, with all the life she still has in front of her - life she needs a mom's help with. And my husband ... he's strong and stubborn and not at all helpless, but I can't imagine leaving him either. What would they do without me, you know? Hmmm ... maybe I'd haunt them, just to make sure he's making sure she brushes her hair and eats a full meal when she's supposed to! 

5. On the other hand, let's say somehow the spirit of someone attached itself to you for the rest of your life. Who would you hope it would be?
This one didn't stump me as much as the last one, though it did make me pause. My only thought is my dad. I try to come up with some other profound answer but keep coming back to him. I'd want my dad around, no question. He missed the birth of my daughter, my marriage, my book being published, all of my adulthood so far ... all these things he should have been around for. Lately, with the book deal and all that is involved with that, I've wanted to call him. Which is so strange when you think about it - he died when I was sixteen, so I never really had a life-altering situation (good or bad) to call him about, you know? I was a teenager. I talked to him (or rolled my eyes at him, etc) when he came home from work, or occasionally when we passed by each other on the weekends, but I never got the chance to have the sort of relationship with him where I picked up the phone and called him to talk about my day. So to have the urge to call him now is strange. But man I wish I could. 



Thanks so much, Jessa!  The prologue is so different, but also way interesting!  And I wish your dad were here to be with you through this as well.

If you're looking for Jessa (and you totally should be), she can be found pretty much everywhere:


I read EVER and was immediately hooked by Ever and her...shall we say, complicated...love life.  I adored the fact that the ghost of her best friend and long-time love interest was just hanging out in her house, a huge secret kept from all and that her parents and best friend were totally on board with it, like he were a ghostly brother.  Such an amazing concept for a love story (or any story, really).  There were moments I definitely didn't anticipate and twists I never imagined, which made me happy to keep turning the page.  Ever is a totally relatable character and she has the kind of kick-ass best friend we should all want on our sides and I'm so psyched to see how they all band together in the next book.

Don't forget to leave a comment about your favorite ghost story for a chance to win an e-copy of EVER!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Tour: Amarok and Giveaway!

Amarok
Angela J. Townsend
Publish Date: November 20, 2012
Spencer Hill Press
Advanced Reading Copy
Reviewed by Rachael


Emma's life has been hell since she moved from sunny California to a remote Alaskan town. Abandoned by her father and living with the guilt of causing her mother's death, she makes a desperate dash for freedom from her abusive stepfather. But when her car skids off the icy road, her planned escape leads to further captivity in a world beyond her imagining. 

Dragged across the tundra by an evil mountain man and his enormous black wolf, she learns that love can be found in the most unexpected places. Amarok, as she's nicknamed the wolf, is a young man from the gold-rush era enslaved by an ancient shaman. Emma's gentle touch and kind heart win his love and devotion. When a vicious madman--trapped in bear form by the same Shaman--attacks the travelers and injures Amarok, Emma must find the strength to face her fears and free the wolf she's come to love. But that means she must face down the evil shaman, a Siberian mammoth hunter from the ice age, and he has no intention of giving up his power to her. -Goodreads


When the blog tour for this book was announced I knew I had to get my hands on this one. Other than our basement home theater, Alaska is pretty much my favorite place on the planet. I fell in love with it in 1996 on vacation with my parents and it's where we honeymooned in August 2005. I had zero expectations going into the book other than loving the setting. I'm not normally the paranormal reader of the Hooked to Books crew, so I was slightly skeptical, but found the book really enjoyable.

Emma's life breaks your heart from the moment you meet her and you immediately are her #1 cheerleader. The fast pace of the opening events captures your interest immediately which is huge for me as in general I'm not a fast reader, so you have to grab me right away. The alternating narrators of the book (every other chapter is narrated by Emma or Amarok) kept things really interesting and is a writing style I generally tend to enjoy. Mixing ancient folklore with contemporary storytelling Angela Townsend creates a blended world that you immediately feel a part of without having to spend an excessive amount of time on background information (personal pet peeve). If you're looking for a quick, engaging read and want to break out of the dystopisn overload we've had lately, I'd definitely recommend this book!

The folks at Spencer Hill Press are offering a prize package to ONE winner throughout the tour that includes a copy of Amarok, a $25 Amazon gift card and a wolf charm necklace. You can enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In My Mailbox (#61) / Stacking the Shelves (#1)

In My Mailbox is Hosted by The Story Siren.
 Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.
I haven't done a IMM in forever but this week calls for one.
I got a amazing package from Penguin and I was definitely doing a happy dance in my kitchen when I opened it.
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis (dies!)
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
Natural Born Angel by Scott Speer
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (dies!)
Prodigy by Marie Lu
Rise by Andrea Cremer

I am SO EXCITED for all these books!

I also bought a book this week:

The Raven Boys (signed and doodled!) by Maggie Stiefvater

And since I'm here and SUPER excited about them... I got some of maternity pictures back this week. 
So, I wanted to share a few of my favorites. :)


 
Only 3 more weeks before Baby Boy gets here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest Post: Keeper of the Lost Cities Author Shannon Messenger

Today, I have Shannon Messenger on the blog thanks to Mundie Moms and their awesome blog tours! Shannon is here discussing three things that every author needs to know.
Make sure to visit the tour page over at Mundie Mom's blog for a special offer and information about the different giveaways for this tour! (One of which you can enter below!)

Thanks for stopping by, Shannon!

*****
 3 Things Every Author Needs

First of all, thank you so much for letting me take over your blog for the day! I promise not to mess things up around here. Too much... :)

Today I've been asked to share three things every author needs. Now, if this were my blog I would probably ramble with lots of parenthetical interruptions and exclamation marks as I tried to cover that topic. But since I'm visiting this lovely blog and TRYING not to spoil it, I'm going to be organized and color coded and FANCY!

(feel free to Oooh and Ahhh!)

Number One: Self Discipline

I know, I know, way to start with a downer... But the thing is, not everything about this job is fun. Plus, once you have deadlines the whole concept of "being in the mood to write" kinda gets trumped by THE DRAFT IS DUE. So the sooner you learn how to write on a schedule, the better. In fact, the sooner you get good at time management the better, because there is a crazy amount of workload that falls on an author's shoulders between writing, revising, marketing, publicity, and yanno... eating and sleeping occasionally. So yes--self discipline is essential!

Number Two: Confidence

Rejection is inevitable in this business--and I know, there I go being a downer again. But it's true! Every writer--even those flukey I-had-50-agents-fighting-over-me people have SOME rejections. And don't even get me started on reviews. So if you don't have confidence to believe that you are good enough and keep going, you are going to have a very hard time in this business. You have to believe in yourself--at least a *little*--if you want other people to believe in you. HOWEVER, there is such a thing as too much confidence, which is why you also need...

Number 3: Humility

Yes, I realize this seems to be a direct contradiction of point number two. But you need both. You need enough confidence to believe in yourself. But you also need enough humility to be able to listen to any critical feedback and learn from it. I have yet to meet a writer who doesn't need some sort of editorial guidance. Of course sometimes you will be right and you will need to stick to your gut. But honestly? Those times are fairly rare. More often than not if someone is commenting on something, it needs work. Maybe their suggestion isn't perfect, but that doesn't mean you won't have to push yourself to come up with another fix.

Really, what all of this is pointing to is that being an author is a job. A crazy awesome job. But still a job. And the best thing you can do for yourself is to start treating it like one. The earlier the better.

Wow--I made it through a blog post with only one parenthetical interruption. That might be a record! So I am going to duck away now before I ruin it.

Thank you so much for letting me stop by! I now happily turn your blog back over to you. *waves* *air kisses*

****
About the book:

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit in. She's not comfortable with her family and keeping a secret—she's a telepath. But then she meets Fitz, who tells her the reason she has never felt at home is that, well, she isn't. But Sophie still has secrets, and they're buried deep in her memory for good reason: the answers are in high-demand. The truth could mean life or death, and time is running out.

Published by: Simon & Schuster
To Be Released on: October 2nd, 2012
Purchase from:


About the Author:

SHANNON MESSENGER graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She also regularly eats cupcakes for breakfast, sleeps with a bright blue stuffed elephant named Ella, and occasionally gets caught talking to imaginary people. So it was only natural for her to write stories for children. Keeper of the Lost Cities is her first middle grade novel. Let the Sky Fall, a young adult novel, will follow in Spring 2013. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats.

Follow Shannon: Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook | GoodReads | Pinterest






Now for the giveaway!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review with Giveaway: Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)Pushing the Limits
by  

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.
-Goodreads

First off, I have to say that I loved this book. The story was really well written and kept me engaged and guessing, which normally I can see the ending coming from a mile away!
The story follows both Echo and Noah's points of view. It's interesting the way she accomplishes this. She alternates the narrator by chapters. So one chapter you are in Echo's head and the next is Noah's. This could have been distracting if not written well but I feel like it enhanced the story! I loved knowing what both were thinking and feeling!

Echo has secrets. She has scars. She's pretty messed up. The thing that intrigued me so much is that ECHO didn't even know what had happened to her. She knew that it involved her mom but the memories were so bad, her brain blocked it out. We found out what happened with her throughout the story as bits and pieces came back to her through therapy.

Noah, I loved. He was the ultimate bad boy. But he used that as a defense mechanism. Both of his parents had died in a house fire. Him and his 2 brothers were put into foster care. The worst part being that they split them up because his brothers were so much younger. You follow his journey as he figures out who he is, how he develops such an unlikely and beautiful relationship with Echo, and how he figures out, at 17 years old, how to put his family back together again.

This is definitely a book that I would say that needs to be in your "read IMMEDIATELY" pile. I couldn't stop thinking about the story for about a week after I finished and that, for me, is the mark of a great book!


 
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