Camp Kiss

Finished Camp Kiss by JK Rock.   (I work for this company but I have nothing to do with this book.)

Summary from Goodreads:

The Camp Kiss That Started It All…

Lauren Carlson, a fourteen-year-old expert on the cosmos, superheroes, and science fiction trivia has a crush on her longtime camp friend, Seth. Last summer she’d dreamed about upgrading their relationship to BF/GF status and this year she has a plan… if only her well-meaning cabin mates wouldn’t interfere before she’s ready. She hasn’t even adjusted to her new braces yet, let alone imagined kissing Seth with them. When a dare pushes her out of her comfort zone, will she and Seth rocket out of the friendzone at last? There’s only one way to find out….“

This novella is absolutely adorable.  I never went to camp, and this book (and, I’m guessing, its sequels) makes me so sad about that.

So this centers around Lauren, who’s gone to camp for several years.  She’s had a crush on Seth for a while, and finally she’s determined to do something about it (which may or may not have something to do with the fact that her cabinmates have dared her to kiss him and you absolutely cannot break a dare at camp).

It’s probably not a spoiler to say that things go well for Lauren, at least initially. My only problem with this book  is that the thing that breaks them up seemed a little ridiculous.  But then I’m 34 and I would be willing to bet that it would make a lot more sense if I were 16.

Even so, this is a fantastic book and I am so excited to keep reading! (And while most of the books center around different people/couples, Lauren and Seth are back in the next book, Camp Boyfriend.  It’s also a full-length book, so I’m excited for that, too.)

Recommended.

Welcome to Camp Boyfriend Week!

The next few days on the blog will be devoted to the Camp Boyfriend series by JK Rock.

I never went to summer camp and this series is making feel like I missed an essential part of childhood.

Yes, as someone who’s grown up watching horror movies, I know the downside of summer camp (as evidenced in the Friday the 13th series and Sleepaway Camp, although at least in the first series, odds are good that the kids would be fine*) but reading these books and watching Indian Summer make me feel like maybe I was robbed a little bit.

Did you go to camp? Let me know how it was in the comments. :)

* = save for the odd drowning, with a victim that may or may not come back from the dead

Bleed Like Me Spotlight

First, an excerpt:

“You sure you’re okay?” I asked again as Brooks navigated the streets to my house. His lips looked bluish-purple and he gripped the steering wheel to keep his hands from shaking.

“Yep.” His teeth chattered and I bit my lip.

“Not to be a bitch, but I did warn you the water would be freezing.”

He pulled the car to the side of the road. “Gannon. You’re gonna need to stop doing that.”

“Doing what?”

“Acting like you give a shit.”

I opened and closed my mouth. “I—“

He faced forward and gripped the steering wheel again. “Don’t bother lying. It’s true. You don’t really care. You don’t really know me. You’re just intrigued.”

I shrugged. We sat in silence for too long. “Do you want to tell me about your back?” I’d been thinking about his scars ever since I’d seen him at the river.

“Not really. Do you want to tell me about the cutting?”

“Nope.”

He released a breath. “Okay then.”

I tapped his shoulder and pointed to the end of the street. “I can get out there.” I moved my hand to the door handle, but he batted it away.

“I can drive you to your house,” he said.

I dropped my hands to my lap and eyed the clock. My parents should be asleep, but after the argument from the other night, I couldn’t be sure. What would they think of Brooks?

He stopped two houses away from mine and faced me. “We’re gonna be a thing, you and me.”

“I don’t even know you,” I repeated back to him. The thing was, I wanted to know him. I was intrigued. But it was more than that. Something I didn’t even want to think about.

His fingers traced a line down my cheek. “You will, though. And I’ll know you. We’re gonna be good together.”

“I’m a mess,” I blurted out. Stupid. Too many emotions skated along my skin when I was with him. It was like my shields didn’t work around his Brooks-ness.

His laughter echoed through the car and I blinked back tears. “Oh Gannon.” His rough fingers traced my eyelids, finding unshed tears. “Don’t cry. I like the mess. It makes me look better.”

He leaned forward then and took my cheeks in his hands. His mouth dropped to mine and then he really kissed me. Not a little peck or a rushed kiss like the one in the woods. A real kiss. Lips and teeth and tongue and it was so overwhelming, I almost couldn’t breathe. My hands tugged at his blue hair and I inched toward him, holding myself back from hopping into his lap. He laughed into my mouth and I let go.

He rubbed his thumb over my bottom lip and looked at me hard. “Yeah. We’ll work.”

He sat back into his seat. I moved on autopilot, grabbing my messenger bag and opening the door. The cool night air rushed over me, but I didn’t feel it. Didn’t notice my feet stumbling as I walked toward my house, knowing his eyes were on me without even turning to check. My fingers brushed over my mouth again and again. I slipped the key into the lock of the front door and finally turned back to see he was still parked in the same spot. He lifted his hand and waved at me. I waved back and then slipped into our dark front hall. My legs buckled beneath me.

I wanted to tell someone. Call Ricardo. Text Ali. Wake my mom. But sharing wasn’t my style. So I snuck up to my room and lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling. My hands slid beneath the edge of my shirt and I traced the lines carved into my stomach. And even though I knew better than to believe it, I couldn’t stop the echoing of Brooks’s words in my head: We’re gonna be good together.

About Bleed Like Me:

 

From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy–like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

 

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers—even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

 

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

 

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks—until he poses the ultimate test.

 

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bleed-Like-Me-C-Desir-ebook/dp/B00BSAOJAI/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bleed-like-me-c-desir/1114818767

 

Q&A with Christa Desir:

 

Note: the ones used on HTML doc are highlighted on Q&A doc

 

 

Excerpt:

 

Note: Excerpt 2 used on HTML doc

 

About Christa Desir:

 

I’m Christa Desir and I write young adult novels. I am an avid reader and have been in love with YA books ever since reading Judy Blume’s FOREVER (while hiding between the stacks in the library).

 

My first success with writing came at the age of five when I wrote a story about my sister and our neighbor Andy “kissing in the dushes.” My parents were so proud of this work, they framed it and showed it to every visitor who came to our house. My sister still has not forgiven me.

 

I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband, Julio, and our three children. When I’m not writing, I am an editor of romance novels. I am also a feminist, former rape victim advocate, lover of coffee and chocolate, and head of the PTA. It is a rare day when I don’t humiliate myself somehow, and I frequently blog about my embarrassing life moments.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristaDesir

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/christa.desir1

 

Website: http://christadesir.com/index.html

 

Blog: http://www.christaramblesandwrites.blogspot.com/

 

Tumblr: http://christadesir.tumblr.com/

AlibiZ

Finished AlibiZ by Karice Bolton.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rebekah vows to expose the truth behind the RecruitZ that are killing the innocents. These creatures must be stopped, but so should the people controlling them. When Rebekah uncovers who is behind the uprisings, her own life becomes in danger.

I was so excited to get this book, because RecruitZ was pretty much my favorite series debut in a long time.  You know how sometimes a book that you look forward to can be a letdown because it can’t possibly live up to the hype? That was not at all the case here.

As tends to be the case in middle books in a series, there is some new information learned here.  The unique thing, though, is that everything that happens in this book is both unexpected but also, when considered in the context of the first book, completely obvious.  Like, of COURSE this would turn out to be true.  It has to be an incredibly hard line to walk, but Karice Bolton makes it look easy.

What I love most about this series is the fact that, while it’s about what happens after a zombie apocalypse, the zombies are almost an afterthought.  Society is well along the path to rebuilding itself and the villains tend to be entirely human (as opposed to the formerly human, current zombies).

One of the things that fascinate  me the most in books like these (about potentially world-ending events) is how people react to it.  You see a lot of extremes and people tend to be either much better or much worse than you may have reasonably expected them to be.  That’s definitely the case here.

I love this series and I cannot wait to read the third installment (which would be true even without the insane developments in AlibiZ).

Highly recommended.

Things I’m Obsessed With

Welcome to the latest Things I’m Obsessed With!

Books:

I continue to be way, way behind on everything but I have a lot of good books ahead.  Eventually I’ll read them all, right?

Movies:

My time of horror movies is almost over!  I agreed to do 31 Horror Films in 31 Days, and I have been able to do it.  The month’s almost over, though, and I am also excited 22 Jump Street again; it should show up in my Ultraviolet account on the 28th.   There have been some less than great movies, but I also have seen some amazing ones.  (I was very impressed with The Caller and The Possession of Michael King, to name a couple.)

TV:

I am currently in love with a couple of new fall shows (The Affair, Marry Me and How to Get Away With Murder).  But I am ALSO so in love with The Mindy Project and Sons of Anarchy! I’m finally caught up with Sons and I can’t wait to see what happens with this final season.  I guess we’ll see how it goes; the season ends in early December.

So what are you obsessed with this week?

All Broke Down

Finished All Broke Down by Cora Carmack.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this second book in “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author Cora Carmack’s New Adult, Texas-set Rusk University series, which began with “All Lined Up,” a young woman discovers that you can t only fight for what you believe in sometimes you have to fight for what you love.

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he s arrogant and infuriating, she can t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He s met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.”

I’ve loved every book that Cora Carmack has written but this is easily my new favorite.

It’s definitely her sexiest book to date (which is pretty impressive, all things considered) but that’s not why.  (Okay, that’s not entirely why.)

Silas and Dylan could easily have been caricatures, right?  I’d be willing to bet that if you read the synopsis, you’ll picture her as a young Reese Witherspoon (and if you didn’t before, you probably agree with me that she sounds perfect) and Silas sounds like any one of a number of bad boys that we’ve encountered in books and movies and TV shows since there WERE books and movies and TV shows.

I immediately identified with Dylan, as I think any over-achiever would tend to do.  She’s smart and funny and a good friend.  She’s also prone to living her life to please other people, as opposed to living the kind of life she wants to lead.

As for Silas, he’s living exactly how he wants to, but is terrified that things will change and he’ll live the sort of life he was destined for before he found football.

These two absolutely should not work, but they do.  And it’s more than a little magical to see how they fall for each other and how they just mesh.

I’m very excited that the next book will be about Torres, because I liked him a lot in this novel.  (I really hope the fourth book will be about Stella, because she deserves something happy.)

The only problem is that book three isn’t out until SPRING.  You guys, that’s forever!

Highly recommended.

An Italian Wife

Finished An Italian Wife by Ann Hood.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the best-selling author of The Obituary Writer, the stirring multigenerational story of an Italian-American family.

An Italian Wife is the extraordinary story of Josephine Rimaldi—her joys, sorrows, and passions, spanning more than seven decades. The novel begins in turn-of-the-century Italy, when fourteen-year-old Josephine, sheltered and naive, is forced into an arranged marriage to a man she doesn’t know or love who is about to depart for America, where she later joins him. Bound by tradition, Josephine gives birth to seven children. The last, Valentina, is conceived in passion, born in secret, and given up for adoption.

Josephine spends the rest of her life searching for her lost child, keeping her secret even as her other children go off to war, get married, and make their own mistakes. Her son suffers in World War I. One daughter struggles to assimilate in the new world of the 1950s American suburbs, while another, stranded in England, grieves for a lover lost in World War II. Her granddaughters experiment with the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll in the 1970s. Poignant, sensual, and deeply felt, An Italian Wife is a sweeping and evocative portrait of a family bound by love and heartbreak.”

I’m a huge Ann Hood fan and have been since I read The Knitting Circle.  All of her books are far deeper than they appear to be at first glance and this one is no exception.

While the synopsis implies that the whole book is from Josephine’s perspective, each chapter tells a different character’s story.  While I missed Josephine at first, I ended up liking all of the characters and the pieces they told of the family’s history.

It’s fascinating to see how the world changes and to have it told from one family’s perspective (and one person at a time).  The things that would be pretty much literally unheard of in Josephine’s chapter because not only no big deal but actually commonplace in her granddaughter’s chapter.

I loved this story and can’t wait to read whatever Ann Hood does next.

Highly recommended.

Atlantia

Finished Atlantia by Ally Condie.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from publisher):

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.”

I’ve read Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy (and really enjoyed it) and while this is completely different, it’s still incredibly good.

I wasn’t sure if this is supposed to be our world (think Planet of the Apes) or if it’s completely different.  I’m still not sure (although I don’t think so) but I just went with it.

I loved the idea of people living underwater (and I love the fact that the community is called Atlantia) and that some of them have evolved into sirens.  This is an excellent world Ally Condie built.

And oh, I loved Rio.  She’s smart and determined to get what she wants, and she never gives up.  And I loved Bay, although we didn’t spend that much time with her.

I enjoyed this book tremendously.

I’m not sure if this is a standalone or the start of a series.  I hope it’s the start of a series because I miss Ally Condie’s books.

Recommended.

Leaving Time

Finished Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.  I received a copy from the publisher at BEA.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Throughout her blockbuster career, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult has seamlessly blended nuanced characters, riveting plots, and rich prose, brilliantly creating stories that “not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us” (The Boston Globe). Now, in her highly anticipated new book, she has delivered her most affecting novel yet—and one unlike anything she’s written before.

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.”

I was talking to a coworker about this book and I said that I think it reminds me most of Jodi Picoult’s book Lone Wolf.  It’s different from most of her other books (although I still haven’t read The Storyteller, which I’m guessing is also different) and it deals as much with animals as  it does people.

I absolutely adored this book and its central mystery.  I felt for Jenna, who has no idea what happened to her mom, and whether she’s alive or dead.  (And really, which of those is the better scenario? If Alice is alive, then she chose to leave Jenna…but at least they could have a relationship, possibly, if Jenna could find her.  If she’s dead, then at least she loved Jenna and would’ve stayed if she could.)

Jodi Picoult’s biggest strength is writing characters.  I immediately knew who these people were, and so seeing things happen to them was upsetting.  (Yes, I treat fictional characters like they’re real. Shut up.)

Highly recommended.

Famous in Love

Finished Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.”

I absolutely loved this book.  It’s incredibly fun but it’s also got a lot going on under the surface.

I think most people have had little daydreams about becoming famous and this book addresses that somewhat—the idea that, while it seems incredibly fun at first glance, there are a lot of other things to consider.  You’ll earn a lot of money, of course, but you’ll also have to give a lot of things up: privacy, obviously, but also a lot of your relationships will change.  It will be hard to relate to your friends who have minimum wage retail jobs when you can match their weekly salary in probably, what, half an hour of work? This was touched on in this book, but I think it will come into play in the next two books, as well.  (YES, this will be a trilogy and that makes me ridiculously happy.)

I feel like this contemp is breaking all the contemp rules (trilogy, not standalone; love triangle where both boys are actually good people, not the obvious choice and the distraction) and I love it.

And yes, while we’re here, let’s talk about the boys.  I love Rainer and Jordan but my choice is clear: I am SO Team Rainer.  And again, it’s not that Jordan is a bad choice.  He isn’t.  I just feel like we got to know Rainer more in this book and I like him as a person and as the “leading guy” for Paige.

Bottom line, this book is an absolute delight and I can’t wait for everyone to read it and talk about it.

Highly recommended.