Where the Staircase Ends {Book Review & Giveaway}

unnamed

ABOUT WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS

Publication date: April 14, 2015

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.

After her best friend orchestrates the lie that destroys her reputation, Taylor wants more than anything to disappear from her life. But when an accident turns this unspoken wish into reality, instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase into the sky.

Instead of going up, the journey plunges her into the past. As she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal, she must face the truth about life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable — unless the staircase breaks her first.

ABOUT STACY STOKES:

Stacy Stokes attended the University of Texas at Austin and The Wharton School of Business.  She grew up in Dallas, TX, and currently lives in San Francisco with her husband.  WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS is her first novel.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter

My Review

When I started this book, I thought it was going to be sort of the teenaged version of It’s A Wonderful Life (which is great, because I love that movie). After dying, teenager Taylor is forced to climb an enormous stone staircase – all she can do is go up as she gets glimpses of her new reality and is faced with the ghosts of her past as they appear on the staircase.  Memories, both good and bad, take her through the decisions she made in her life.

This is not your typical “teenager girl” problems book which I can find insipid and irritating if not done correctly.  This is a really good book and the writing is really well done.  The characters are relatable and realistically flawed, but at the same time not stock or stereotypical, which I occasionally find in books of this genre.

I was left with questions of “Who would be on my staircase?” and what moments would show up as the best and worst in my life.   I do recommend this book – it’s worth the investment and it’s definitely a page-turner.

 Buy Where the Staircase Ends

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD

If you’d like to read Where the Staircase Ends, five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Where the Staircase Ends by Stacy Stokes (INT), so make sure to come back every day to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl {Book Review + Giveaway}

* I received a e-copy of The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.
unnamed (1)

 

About The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl

Publication date: March 17, 2015                              Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.                                                  Author: Leigh Statham

Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th century French girls can only dream of: Money, designer dresses, suitors and a secure future. Except, she suspects her heart may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithie in the family’s steam forge. When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love. Only the trip proves to be more harrowing than she anticipated. Love, adventure and restitution await her, if she can survive the voyage.

My Review

If I were to classify this book, I would classify it as a YA Steampunk novel.  It’s a really quick read, and I really enjoyed it.  Marguerite is a pretty awesome character – strong and independent, a good friend, and she’s smart!  These are refreshing to see in a female character.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of Claude, but there are plenty of other male figures in the book who are worse.  I really enjoyed how resourceful Marguerite is, and how she never really depended on or needed a man to get herself in (and out!) of some really interesting situation.

The book is completely appropriate – even though there are some romantic parts, I would not hesitate to give to my 13 year old.  I think she will definitely enjoy the steampunk aspect to the novel!

ABOUT LEIGH STATHAM

Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.

Connect with the Author: Website |Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show {Book Review}

* I received a free ebook of Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show

 

ABOUT LUCAS MACKENZIE AND THE

LONDON MIDNIGHT GHOST SHOW 

Publication date: November 18, 2014                                    Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.                                                             Author: Steve Bryant

Lucas Mackenzie has got the best job of any 10 year old boy. He travels from city-to-city as part of the London Midnight Ghost Show, scaring unsuspecting show-goers year round. Performing comes naturally to Lucas and the rest of the troupe, who’ve been doing it for as long as Lucas can remember.

But there’s something Lucas doesn’t know.

Like the rest of Lucas’ friends, he’s dead. And for some reason, Lucas can’t remember his former life, his parents or friends. Did he go to school? Have a dog? Brothers and sisters?

If only he could recall his former life, maybe even reach out to his parents, haunt them.

When a ghost hunter determines to shut the show down, Lucas realizes the life he has might soon be over. And without a connection to his family, he will have nothing. There’s little time and Lucas has much to do. Can he win the love of Columbine, the show’s enchanting fifteen-year-old mystic? Can he outwit the forces of life and death that thwart his efforts to find his family?

Keep the lights on! Lucas Mackenzie’s coming to town.

My Review

If you are looking for a great new middle grade book, you have to check out Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show!  The length is perfect for a quick read at only 173 pages, and the action moves right along – no bored readers here!  It has great universal themes like growing up and finding yourself.  There is also a tinge of romance (discussing kissing and such).

If you object to ghosts, vampires, Ouija boards or other supernatural events, this is definitely not the book for you.  This kind of thing doesn’t bother me (quite the contrary), but be aware if this is your thing.  There are also some anachronistic type things that some modern kids may not get – like references to Shirley Temple.  But as a whole, this one should be a winner for middle grade readers!

ABOUT STEVE BRYANT

 Steve Bryant is a new novelist, but a veteran author of books of card tricks. He founded a 40+ page monthly internet magazine for magicians containing news, reviews, magic tricks, humor, and fiction; and he frequently contributes biographical cover articles to the country’s two leading magic journals (his most recent article was about the séance at Hollywood’s Magic Castle).

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy Lucas Mackenzie

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD | Indiebound

 Win Your Own Copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fingers in the Mist {Book Review and Giveaway}

*Disclaimer:  I received a free ebook copy of Fingers in the Mist from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Fingers-in-the-Mist-banner

About Fingers in the Mist

Sixteen-year-old Caitlyn Foster never believed in the legend of the Redeemers. That was before the trees started to whisper her name. Before a murder of crows attacked the town. Before she and her family came home to find a bloody handprint on their front door, marking one of them as a sacrifice. As Caitlyn’s friends are ripped from their homes, she knows it’s only a matter of time before the Redeemers come for her. Caitlyn has the power to stop the terror, but she’ll have to decide if she’s willing to sacrifice herself to save those she loves.

Publication date: February 24, 2015      

                                                       Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.                                                          

Author: O’Dell Hutchison

My Review

I loved this book from the minute I started it…and in all honesty I finished it in one day because I couldn’t put it down.   When I first started the book, it reminded me a little of bit of M. Night Shymalan’s movie “The Village” combined with “Children of the Corn” as it is set in a rural farm community that is hyper-religious in a cultish way, believing in “Redeemers” which essentially come and steal your children in the night.

Caitlyn Foster is a fantastic main character, and I quickly became enthralled not only with her, but her choices as she attempts to cope and deal with the exceptionally odd situation that she is faced with.  She is wonderfully flawed, but has a good heart, and I found her absolutely likable as a main character.  I was cheering for her the entire time.

Plot-wise, the story moves at a GREAT pace – like I said, I couldn’t put it down.  There were certain elements to the plot that were a bit predictable for me, but not NEARLY as much as your average YA novel.  O’Dell Hutchison kept me guessing throughout the novel, and this was a refreshing thing for a YA novel. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but it is safe to say that you will be engaged throughout the novel.

If you are a fan of YA paranormal fiction – you have to get this book!  You will not be disappointed.   For those of you who monitor the content of your YA books, I would have no issue giving this to my 13 year old, but if you object to references of drug use (in an addiction context) or teenage pregnancy references, you might want to give this a read first.

About the Author

 O’Dell was born in a small rural town in Idaho. There were no Redeemers living there (that he knows of). After attending college in the Pacific Northwest, he found his way to the Houston area. By day, he is a Business Systems Analyst and at night you can either find him sitting at home, dreaming of random super powers he wishes he had, or directing plays and musicals at various theaters around Houston.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter Facebook Goodreads

 Giveaway

Five (5) lucky winners will receive a digital copy of Fingers in the Mist by O’Dell Hutchison (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buy Fingers in the Mist

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD

 

Tombquest Book of the Dead Unlocks Ancient Egypt in a new Scholastic Series! {Book Review}

* I received a free copy of Tombquest Book of the Dead from Scholastic in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Logo

 Fans of The 39 Clues, the Infinity Ring series, and the Spirit Animals series, heads up!  Scholastic (one of my favorite and the world’s largest publishers of children’s books is at it again in a brand new series that is going to have young readers hopping in 2015.  I was super excited to get to read the first book in the new Tombquest series, called Book of the Dead, which you will find on bookshelves in just THREE days (January 27, 2015).  But just to get you even more excited, check out the book trailer…Pretty awesome, huh!

 

About Tombquest Book of the Dead

Alex Sennefer’s mom uses the Lost Spells of the Egyptian Book of the Dead to crack open a door to the afterlife and pull her son back from the brink of death. But when she uses the spells, five evil ancients–the Death Walkers–are also brought back to life. Mummies are awakening. New York is overrun with scorpions. And worst of all for Alex, his mom and the Lost Spells have both disappeared. He and his best friend, Ren, will do anything to find his mom and save the world!

My Review

I loved this book as an adult, and I have no doubt that my two girls (both fans of 39 clues) will be huge fans, even though my older daughter is 13!  When I was recently in New York, I took selfies in the Egyptian area of the Met, where a good portion of Book of the Dead takes place, and sent them to her…the replies were unkind (as unkind goes for 13 year olds).  I pretty much know that after reading this book, I’m going to have to make a trek in from Western NY to take the girls to the Met.  This is the kind of book that sparks kids imaginations, and can get them interested in some serious history – which as a mom and former teacher, I love.

Attention – skip to the next section if you want to miss a few little spoilers (don’t worry I won’t give it all away!)

I think the book is correctly aged at 3rd-6th grade, but I think older students (and adults!) will enjoy as a quick read.  I love how Alex begins the book suffering from an illness…I think children who are chronically ill would see Alex as a hero!  He is “cured” by his (single) mother’s use of the scrolls, but I’m interested to see how this plays out in further books.  Ren also isn’t the “perfect” character – she speaks of working extra hard at school, and having a hard-working dad who spoke only Spanish at home growing up, but put himself through engineering school.  I love to see this type of diversity in main characters, and I hope this continues as characters get added to the books.

In terms of plot line and character development, I think Book of the Dead deserves five stars.   There is a build up at the beginning of the book, but it doesn’t drag and once the action gets started, it goes full-speed towards a harrowing conclusion.  There is definitely a “hook” at the end, but Michael Northrup did a masterful job of creating an ending that is both satisfying, but leaves you wanting more.  It is a first class start to what I’m sure is going to be another hit series!

The Tombquest Game

As you saw in the book trailer, there is an accompanying game that kids can play online that goes along with the book series.  I didn’t play too, long, but setting up an account was really easy and fairly kid friendly…here I am…

tombkeeper

You pretty much get to customize everything about your avatar, which I know my girls are going to LOVE (don’t even ASK how many Miis they have created…it’s pretty disturbing).  The game is easy to navigate and you basically move from tomb to tomb, collecting treasure, attacking enemies (mummies) and raiding other players’ tombs!  It’s like you are a little Indiana Jones/Lora Croft…definitely no archaeology here, but fun nevertheless. Here I am about to collect my first treasure, woohoo!!

Capture

The game is going to be a huge hit with kids, and I think it will keep kids engaged in the series as they wait for the next book to come out (shhhh, don’t tell them it’s all about encouraging reading!).  Speaking of which….


Tombquest Teacher Resources

One of the great things about Scholastic is that they do such an amazing job supporting teachers (and homeschooling parents)!  And their roll out of the new Tombquest series is no exception.  You don’t have to go hunting for Tombquest Book of the Dead teaching activities or make up your own – Scholastic has a lot of great resources already prepared for you that are aligned and meet the Common Core State Standards for Grades 3-6!

Using Book of the Dead as a book club book?  Check out the Tombquest Book of the Dead Discussion Guide.  How about some awesome Tombquest videos featuring the awesome author, Michael Northrup doling out facts on Ancient Egypt?  Or how about some fun Book of the Dead activity sheets (great for morning work!)?  The best part is that all of these resources are completely FREE – just check out Scholastic’s webpage for teachers using Tombquest in the classroom!

Buy Tombquest

You won’t be able to find it until January 27, 2015, but you can preorder now on Scholastic.com or Amazon.

Meritropolis {Book Review}

* I was provided a free copy of Meritropolis in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Meritropolis

 

 

About Meritropolis

The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment–to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.

But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn’t an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing–not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science–is going to stop him.

Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn’t possibly have bargained for…

My Review

If you have wandered into a bookstore in the last couple of years, you will know that dystopian literature is all the rage in the YA section.   As this is a super popular genre, I have read several of them lately – and some are definitely better than others.  While I love this particular genre, I am always suspect of a new author breaking on to the scene.  The question that always enters my mind is “Is this a rehash of something I’ve already read?”

I can say that I was definitely pleasantly surprised by Meritropolis!  While all the elements of a great dystopian book were there, it was unique!  One of the features that I really enjoyed was the artwork in the book, which depicted the creative animal hybrids that exist in the book “Post-Event”.  These are some pretty imaginative creatures and I felt like this added a very unique aspect to this novel.

The main character is  bit different from others that I have encountered in YA dystopian novels – Charley, the main character, definitely has an ax to grind.  As a “High Score”, I did expect him to exhibit some more intelligence traits – so far what I have seen as a reader is that he is quite physically powerful, but not as intelligent as his “score” would imply that he is.  His female love interest definitely seems to have the brains of the relationship!  I am hoping that the author develops this trait in Charley moving forward (see below).

I really enjoyed the parts of the book where we are learning about the world outside the walls of Metropolis. Fairly soon after this, a “war” begins with raiders of unknown origins, which leads to the end of the book.  There is a HUGE cliffhanger at the end of this book, which I am assuming means a sequel is coming.  Otherwise this book has a very “Giver” like quality in that you will be left to decide for yourself what happens to these characters.

I did enjoy the book, but I think the optimal age range for this book is 11-15.  It is certainly quite appropriate for young adults and I have no qualms about handing this one right over to my 13 year old for her to enjoy!

 

And here’s an awesome giveaway for you to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Below the Surface {Book Review}

Disclaimer:  I received Below the Surface from BookLook Bloggers for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the Book

Something is wrong with Cooper. He is plagued by a fear he doesn’t understand and can t control. Cooper just wants to escape, and a summer vacation aboard the restored cabin cruiser, The Getaway, with best friends Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk seems like the perfect way to do it. Two weeks of fun—with no mysteries or life-and-death danger. That’s the plan. But their plans are shattered the very first night when they witness a murder. Or did they? Despite their intentions of leaving the investigation to the police, narrow misses and creepy encounters lure them in. Is there really a body floating in the underwater currents of the lake? The closer they get to the truth, the deeper into danger they get. Too late they see the trap. Now each of them must face their own buried fears . . . just below the surface.

My Review

The publisher bills Below the Surface as Christian teen fiction, but frankly, I didn’t find this book overly preachy or religious.  What it did not have was a bunch of sex and bad language – so BONUS!  It focuses on handling fear – both religously and secularly.  This is also supposed to be a book billed for boys, but I think that sells it short – there is only one main female character though.  The general premise of the movie is that the group of teens think they witness a murder, but then the dead girl shows up.  So they continue to investigate, and basically get themselves into a whole mess of trouble.  The book is quite suspenseful, and the writing is competent.  There were some parts of the plot that seems a bit remarkable/unbelievable, but I don’t want to give away too much The book is very easy to read and I think most teens would find this an entertaining and engaging series.  I will likely be checking out the early books in the series.

Buy It

 Buy Below the Surface on Amazon (Hardcover) for Only $10.75

The Body in the Woods {Book Review}

* I was provided a free ecopy of The Body in the Woods by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

About The Body in the Woods

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series, The Body in the Woods is full of riveting suspense, putting readers right in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

My Review

Overall, Henry’s writing is solid, engaging, and the book is a fast and easy read.  However, I did feel like the book was somewhat predictable.  It was fairly easy to figure out the mystery portion of the book, and I really wanted more character development.  Because the book changes perspectives between the characters, I wanted a little more depth for all of them.  I thought Ruby was quite interesting, but I wanted her seeming personality disorder or whatever made her not quite the same as her peers to be explored more – as it was, she just came off as a little weird.

However, I think this book would probably appeal to upper middle grade students, and I would definitely read the next book in the series in the hopes that there will be more character development!

Buy

The Body in the Woods will  be released on 6/17/2014.

Buy The Body in the Woods on Amazon for $10.74

We Are the Goldens {Book Review}

* I received a free ebook of We Are the Goldens from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

About We Are the Goldens

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

Review

We Are the Goldens is an interesting book.  First of all, the perspective and writing style is unique, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  It is told in the first- and second-person, past- and present-tense, with Nell being the narrator.  I loved the complex bond between the sisters, and loved to see how the bond changed as the sisters dealt with this huge secret – Layla’s involvement with one of the teachers at school.  This is a theme that I have seen more of recently (hello, Pretty Little Liars), but We Are the Goldens definitely does not go down the path of condoning the relationship.  Layla often comes off as desperate and naive, while Nell struggles with what to do about the situation.

There are definitely some intense themes in this book – the teacher/student relationship, as well as Nell’s exploration of her own sexuality.  The book is by no means explicit, but I think I will be holding off for another couple of years to give this one to my 13-year old.

The only thing I didn’t really care for was the ending – I don’t want to give away to much, but I felt like the ending was anti-climactic.  I wanted more – much more – so I’m hoping this was an intentional cliff-hanger to set up for the sequel!

About the Author

DANA REINHARDT is the author of A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, Harmless, How to Build a House, The Things a Brother Knows, The Summer I Learned to Fly, and Odessa Again. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their two daughters.

Buy It

We Are the Goldens will be released on May 27, 2014

Preorder the Hardcover on Amazon for $10.74

Preorder on Kindle for $9.78

 

Becoming Monsters {Book Review}

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.  I received a free e-copy of Becoming Monsters in exchange for my honest review.


 

Book Synopsis

It’s been a year and a half and Missy, now close to seventeen years old finds herself returning to the human realm she left behind in hot pursuit of Anukhan, the thief that stole her blue light and almost left her dead. Sensing it when he uses her abilities, she along with Charlie, and Saal race to find this ruthless killer of men and monsters. But they realize almost too late that there is a physical connection between Missy and Anukhan and now stopping him with deadly force will prove fatal for Missy as well.

Undeterred, Missy prepares herself for a difficult fight, one that could cost more lives than she’s willing to sacrifice. Unlike her quests in the monster realm, another silent killer returns. One she’s fought against her entire life and this time, it could win.

Review

I really enjoyed Becoming Monsters, by Liss Thomas.  It is definitely in the YA fantasy genre, which isn’t always my favorite, but I this one had me hooked.  I liked the characters, and I felt like the relationship between the characters was adequately explored; I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the first book in the series.  That being said, the book was very enjoyable standing on its own.  The author does a good job of conveying emotion, and I really felt for Missy, who is suffering from cancer in the midst of her wild ride through this novel.

All in all, I really enjoyed it, and recommend it for those who enjoy fantasy – it is a YA book but I think fantasy lovers of all ages would really enjoy it.

Buy Becoming Monsters

Buy Becoming Monsters on Kindle for only $1.99!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.