Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White Review

Hello, my severely neglected blog! Oh how I have missed sitting at my laptop and letting my fingers dance across a keyboard, the small satisfaction I get from hearing the all too familiar clicking. Why I took this hiatus will baffle me longer than it takes to type this post.

In celebration of my return, I am presenting to you.....A DOUBLE FEATURE! Try to contain your excitement, my dear readers! If you can read, which we both know you can if you have gotten this far, you will know I am going to be reviewing Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave, a debut novel from Jen White, but, what you may not know, is I will be hosting a giveaway for this book! What?! Oh yes, this is happening. Unfortunately, this giveaway will only be open to the US. I'm sorry all my international readers. Shipping costs are just outrageous!

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave is a refreshing middle grade about twelve year old Liberty and her eight year old sister Billie. After their mother's untimely death, the girls leave the only home they have ever known to spend the summer on the road with their previously absent father. While things originally go well, the pressure of being a full-time dad eventually gets to their father and he abandons them at a gas station in the middle of the desert. Liberty cannot be afraid. Her sister depends on her to get them home and failure is not an option. With a notebook full of animal facts, a woman dressed in purple, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, and a tattooed trucker, the girls must find their way back to San Diego and begin to reform their own familial pod.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was very fast paced and, in my opinion, a unique debut novel. While Liberty is forced to be strong for her sister, there are times in the story when she breaks and shows her true age and the weight she has on her shoulders. Even though supporting characters were not as developed as they could have been, I did like the impact each one of them had on the story.

Rating: 3.5 The story was good and fast paced, but side characters could have been better developed. I also enjoyed Jen's writing style and cannot wait to see what else she comes out with!

Giveaway: To enter to win my advanced readers copy of this book, follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/angiesepicreads and retweet the post I make about in the giveaway in the next few days. The winner will be announced in my June Wrap Up video over on my Booktube Channel!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

All This Time Tour and Giveaway!

Title: All This Time
Author: Tiffani Burnett-Velez
Publication Date: April 3 2015
Publisher: Booktrope
Book Links: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

Syrian-American, Lydia Fadoul, has spent a year waiting for her fiancé to return from war in Iraq, only to discover that he is broken by trauma and the devastating effects of PTSD.

Just when he finally agrees to seek help, he takes his own life and leaves behind a story of murder, betrayal, and mystery.

In her second, contemporary fiction novel since Budapest, Tiffani Burnett-Velez weaves a fast-paced literary tale about the rumors we believe and the prejudices we create in order to protect our hearts from the truth.  

Author Bio

4580300Tiffani Burnett-Velez has been a freelance since 1996. Her non - fiction work has appeared in magazines and newspapers in the US and Europe, including Pennsylvania Magazine, Country Discoveries, St . Anthony Messenger, Health.com, Yahoo! News, and many more online and in print publications.
Her first novel, Budapest, was featured in the New York Book Festival and the 4 2nd Annual Conference of Jewish Librarians and it's re-release became a 2014 Amazon Bestseller in Literary and Inspirational Fiction.

Her second contemporary novel, All This Time, will be released by Booktrope in 2015, and the second, A Berlin Story, in her bestselling WWII novella series, Embers of War, is an Amazon Historical German Fiction Bestseller.

She has studied English Literature at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania and holds a BA in Cognitive Science from Ashford University. She is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing.

Author Links Website || Twitter || Goodreads


Get to Know: Tiffani Burnett-Velez
1)     When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was six years old and wrote my first sentence. I know it had something to do with Sherlock Holmes, because my father was a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and used to read the stories to my older brother and I all the time. I remember looking up at my dad and asking, “Daddy, how do you spell Sherlock?” That was the beginning, and I told him that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. He said, “Lot’s of people say that.” I guess I took it as a challenge, and I have surprised myself. It’s not a pipe dream if you’re a hard worker and have some talent, which can be cultivated.
2)      Why do you write so often about war?
That’s a great question. My first novel, Budapest, is not directly about war, but Anna Laszlo, the main character, is searching out the home her grandmother lived in before she was murdered in the Holocaust, so I guess war influences the story. But it is also about human trafficking and domestic abuse, while still being hysterical and quirky in places. In A Berlin Story, I was compelled to learn what it was like for a young woman surviving the Fall of Berlin in 1946. I had this image in my head of her sitting in her living room, the walls are shaking, the windows are crashing with the violent rumble of Soviet tanks as they move down her street, and she knows, at that moment, her life is going to change forever. All This Time was originally a story about a man who dies immediately after sustaining serious injuries in Iraq. However, my original editor and I, decided on a major plot change, and I immediately went to the Syrian community in Allentown, Pennsylvania and murder in Iraq. I have no idea why I am drawn to write about conflict and PTSD so much. I guess, because both my father and stepfather are veterans, and both have PTSD. I saw the effects up close, and I know the effect every area of a person’s life.
3)      About your latest novel, All This Time, specifically  - Why did you choose to write about a Syrian-American family in All This Time? Are you Syrian?

I love this part of writing, peeling back the layers.  No, I’m not Syrian, but I learned from “The Albanian Virgin”, a short story by Alice Munro, that one does not have to be part of a culture to write it well from the inside out. Also, Syria and its people are complicated, beautiful, and ancient. How could one not be attracted to that? Additionally, Syria is experiencing a horrendous civil war right now and innocents are dying every day, but we're not talking about it anymore. I want to get it back into the American discussion.
4)      Why isn’t Lydia Fadoul Muslim? Aren’t most Middle Easterners Muslim?
Firstly, people from that region of the world don’t use the term “Middle East”, as it is not a real place. What we consider the Middle East is Africa and Asia, and within those places, there are large pockets of Christians and other religions as well. In fact, the largest Christian Syrian population outside of Syria lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, just a few miles from my home. I drive through the neighborhoods where my characters live, move, and eat fine hummus, nearly every day.
Originally, Lydia was Muslim, but because I was raised Catholic (and have extensive experience with Eastern Catholics and I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy a few years ago), I run a much greater chance of NOT offending whole religious groups and people by writing what I know. I would have loved to have made Lydia Muslim. However, I just didn't feel that I held the appropriate knowledge to do so. I've ventured out into worlds I've never been to with Budapest and A Berlin Story (but I'm connected to both places and experiences, so it's not completely foreign), and "Little Syria" as it's called here in the Lehigh Valley is only a short drive away. I'm getting bolder, though, and I’ll venture out further each time I write.
5)      Did you have to do a lot of research for All This Time?
Yes, quite a bit, actually. Besides the cultural learning curve, I spent several hours pestering my father and stepfather (both US Air Force veterans) about military rankings, whether or not this idea or that was plausible, etc…

This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap

Hey guys! The Books 'n' Bloggers Swap is upon us! If you have never heard of this, which, let's be honest, I haven't either, it is where you and a newly made book buddy send each other a box of three books based on their wishlist and what you think they may enjoy. If you are interested in participating in the next one, I think it's in July, be sure to check out the Chaotic Goddess Swaps blog!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Seed: Keepers of Genesis Blog Tour!

Hello all! I am extremely fortunate to be participating in a blog tour for an amazing book by DB Nielsen! If you have not read Seed: Keepers of Genesis, I highly recommend you check this post out and immediately pick up your copy!!

Title: SEED
Series: Keeper of Genesis I
Author: DB Nielsen
Publication Date: May 7, 2014
A powerful, hidden artefact is unearthed in modern day Iraq and, with its discovery, an ancient conflict is reignited. Seventeen-year-old Sage Woods, the daughter of an eminent archaeologist working at the British Museum recently relocated from Australia, uncovers the artefact’s disturbing secret and is placed in terrible danger. Unwittingly, she has stumbled into an invisible war between two primordial dynasties of a supernatural order – a war in which she has a fateful role to play in a race to control the power of the SEED.
Embroiled in a quest that takes her from the British Museum to the Louvre to the Vatican Secret Archives, Sage realises that her blossoming romance with the mysterious, alluring St. John Rivers is inextricably tied to the artefact. Up until now, St. John has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Sage is determined to delve deeper to uncover his dark secret and his connection to the SEED. It is a decision that will have a devastating effect on humankind…

Author Bio:

db nielsen was born in British Hong Kong and immigrated to Australia in childhood. db likes to travel the world with family; dividing time between residing in Sydney and visits to the cathedrals, crypts and museums the world over, doing research for new projects. The author is a university lecturer in Linguistics and Semiotics, and continues to teach English Literature and Language whilst writing fiction.

Author Links: 

SEED: Keepers of Genesis I: a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Cover Reveal was organized by Good Tales Book Tours. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

Ah February! The month of overly cheesy attempts at romance, where a couple's relationship can be defined by one particular day, and Cupid runs rampant, shooting his pesky bow into the unsuspecting stranger. As an avid bookster who enjoys any holiday as much as the next person (ESPECIALLY if it means having a day off work), I decided to celebrate the romance of this month by reading contemporary romance novels. Yes, this vow is strictly applicable to contemporary! There are few historical romances that I can actually read without the stereotypical Me Tarzan, You Jane rearing its ugly head, causing said novel to soar across the room in a fit of rage. If it happens to connect to an unassuming target (usually the cat), more points to me!

The first contemporary romance I read this month was Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys) by 
18333999Amy Spalding, a quirky, fast paced novel about making out, finding love, and becoming a rock star. When best friends Riley and Reid stumble across their band mates making out, a pact is formed where the two will look for love and document their experiences in a notebook. While Reid is more concerned with finding love with any girl, rock star Riley has her sights set higher. She wants none other than Ted Callahan, the perfect guy she has been crushing for as long as she can remember. As Riley continues her attempts at wooing Ted, other potential suitors come to light, causing the shared notebook's pages to be rapidly filled with kisses and concerts, first times and first loves.

Overall, I enjoyed Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys) and found myself laughing and listening along to a playlist this novel crafts together. Riley's journey was easily relatable to me and the characters had me drawn into their story from the first page. 

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Positives: An easily relatable main character and a light-hearted, quick moving story.
Negatives: Nothing particularly stands out
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 9, 2015

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

As I sit here, cuddled under a warm blanket (the temperature here has plummeted AGAIN) and listening to what is undoubtedly my favorite song (Letters from the Sky by Civil Twilight, in case you were wondering), I literally find myself being forced into sitting at my computer and typing on this wonderful blog of mine. Not because I hate blogging. On the contrary. I actually love it, otherwise I would not do it.Obviously! It is difficult for me because of the content of this review. Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. 

To be 100% honest, I came THIS close to not finishing this book. To say I was disappointed would be a gross understatement. Seeker follows the story of Quin, a young girl who is training to become a Seeker, the newest in a long line of people who have sworn to protect the world from threats. After discovering seekers are no longer the honored position they once were, Quin must decide where her loyalties lie and if she can finally become the master of her own fate and save the people she loves.

This book had such a great premise, but a little under halfway through, I realized this was all it had going for it. The multiple perspectives had me confused as well as the different times they were in. I never truly understood where the story was taking place and did not develop a connection with any of the characters, not even the main protagonist. 

I know I am being EXTREMELY generous here, but I rated Seeker a 3 out of 5 stars. Do I recommend it? Probably not. Now, on to some more anticipated reads of February!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

So, I am pretty certain that I am one of the last people on planet earth that has read this book. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I highly doubt it. It's one of those books like Gone Girl or the Throne of Glass series that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has seemed to already have read. Even little old ladies getting their hair blow dried have read this, under the false pretense of staying current on what their grandchildren are raving about when, in all actuality, they enjoy the story line. They covet it and race, literally race, on their electronic scooters into the nearest book store to buy the newest installment. Is it sad that my mother is reading Throne of Glass before me? MY MOTHER!! Who said she could not get into it, but is now devouring it like I devour gum...or M&Ms...or Shadow and Bone!

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)I picked up a copy of Shadow and Bone in November and why it took me this long to get to it, I shall never know. Maybe if I could go back just a few short months and watch myself picking it up in the bookstore, I could pop over a shelf and scream at my past self "You will read this book NOW!", but alas, I cannot.

Leigh Bardugo has created a masterpiece in this YA fantasy with her magical world of Ravka where war rages and Grisha power threatens to overpower the king. The novel follows Alina, our young protagonist who has only known orphaned life with her best friend Mal since she was a young girl. As she and Mal prepare to enter the Fold, a mysterious darkness that separates Ravka in two, a long suppressed power comes to light (pun intended), forcing her from the only life she has ever known and into the magical world of the Grisha.

Life at a palace, a warm bed, delicious food, glorious silks, and the attention of a mysterious, handsome man; what more could a girl ask for? But life at the Little Palace is far from what Alina has imagined and she must learn to control her powers before a terrible plot to further divide Ravka can be fulfilled.

I loved this book! Leigh Bardugo has crafted excellent, well-rounded characters and a plot that has no slow moments. I was continually turning the page, desperate to read more. If you are anything like me and have the rule of finishing a chapter before you put the book down, YOU CAN THROW THAT OUT THE WINDOW RIGHT NOW! There is no putting this book down. No running to the store, eating, sleeping, or conversation PERIOD! There is, unfortunately, working. Imagine how awkward it would be to call off to finish a book....Along with great characters and a quick pace, I found the world of Ravka completely engrossing. Granted we did not get a complete description of Ravka, it made me want to know more and I am eagerly anticipating starting Siege and Storm.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Positives: I really enjoyed the whole book, but the thing that stood out for me was the quick pace and the romance. *Swoon* It was refreshing to not read an instalove that made me outwardly cringe!
Negatives: My only TINY critique is that I felt the world of Ravka could be expanded on a bit more.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars