Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Finding the Cure Blog Tour

Ellie Abela’s life has been anything but easy. Tragedy follows her where ever she goes, and she’s been a lot of places. At twenty she’s lived in over ten different states, all because of her dad’s career in medical research. His career is just another list of the causes of tragedies in El’s life. He’s dying, and with every breath he takes closer to Heaven, Ellie dies a little bit inside too.
At twelve she lost her mom in a drunk driving accident, and in a matter of months she fears she’ll lose the last person she has in the world to cancer.
While Ellie’s life has been rife with sadness, Trent Wentworth’s has been a challenge. A drug-addicted mom and a dead-beat dad meant at twenty three he was the adoptive father of his two year old sister. Now at twenty five he’s working his way up the corporate ladder and a struggling single parent.
Each is searching for a cure to the things in their lives dragging them down.
Not all cures are black and white; not all cures save us–and sometimes saving isn’t what we need. Sometimes we just need to realize how lucky we are to be alive, at least for this moment.

I wrapped my fingers around the steering wheel, and it squeaked with the pressure as my knuckles turned white. The sound echoed through the car as my grip continued to tighten. I used to wonder if it was harder to know you're going to die, or just dying without the ability to say goodbye. The tears began to stream down my face as I sped down the highway. The guardrails were just silver blurs as I hammered the gas.
I shouldn't have wondered it. My life was cruel punishment for the thought. The question should've been what's harder, never getting to say goodbye or knowing that every breath could be goodbye?
My chin trembled as my eyes fell to the speedometer.
I was going too fast.
The highway was too straight; a never ending path in front of me that I wanted to drive on until I fell off the edge of the Earth.
I already had, hadn't I?
My eyes lashes fluttered, the drops of tears weighing them down.
Never getting to say goodbye.
I knew that evil. God, did I know that evil. The look on Dad's face as the phone slipped from his hands, the words forming at his lips never reaching my ears.
I read them.
I knew them.
The shock hit my body, and I desperately wanted to feel something--anything besides the rolling waves of pain. That numbness weighted down my limbs as the physical ache coursed through my veins. The anger and pain crushed down on me until my chest was so tight I couldn't breath. Then I had Dad-- he was always there, despite his own pain. His warmth overtook the shocking cold of loss. He broke the edges that hardened on my soul.
Knowing that every breath could be goodbye.
That was now.
I lifted my foot off the gas, letting the car slow until I pulled over and stopped. My head dipped between my shoulders as my chest heaved with a sob. I let my hands drop to my lap, red lines marking them where my skin had met too tightly with itself. The tears puddled in my palms.
I knew he was going to die. There was nothing that could stop it. I had to watch it. The pillar of strength when Mom died was withering into nothing in front of my eyes. The numbness that hit me when Mom died was a constant part of my life; it never left. I had just gotten better at hiding it. The chains around what was left of my heart tightened with each passing day. Each day meant there was one less breath. Who would save me now?
My eyes rose to the black sky above me.
There was no cure for Dad.
There was no cure for me.
I walked over to the door leading to his room and pushed it open. I wanted a distraction. I didn't want to think about it. I heard Trent follow me, and I walked over to the guitars hung on the wall. I ran my fingers over the strings. I knew Trent was leaning against the door frame, watching me carefully.
"My dad used to play drums before he got sick," I explained. "I used to want to learn how to play guitar...then we could have our own band."
Trent walked forward, going to sit on his bed, and I turned to face him.
"He's a scientist. He's been trying to find the cure for different types of cancer for as long as I can remember...and I don't mean little labs somewhere. Government labs...and all those tests...and chemicals--and whatever the fuck," I replied, stopping as my body trembled. "He was handling--that's what gave him it...the cancer. He was trying to find a cure," my neck pushed forward as I fought back the tears. "And he...he basically killed himself."
"There's no cure?" Trent whispered.
I looked at the ceiling, dimly lit by the bedside lamp. "If there was, he would've found it."
Trent stood and his face came into my vision as he looked down at me. He ran his hand up my back until it reached my head, tipping it back to a normal position. He put his forehead against mine, his hand cupping my cheek as his other stayed on my lower back.
"Not all cures are black and white--not all cures save us," Trent whispered, and I felt my eyelashes heavy with tears.
"I'm dying too--every time I look at him and know that every breath he takes is closer to his last one." I didn't bother wiping away the silent tears now making their way down my face.
"It's always been that way, El. We're all going to die someday," He crushed his eyes shut, shaking his head. "That sounded harsh. I didn't--"
"You're right."
He opened his eyes, his chest rising with the deep inhale he took. "I do get it. I used to come home and wonder if I was going to find my mom dead." His eyes drifted before coming back to mine. "But every time I didn't--every time I came home and she was fine--I was thankful for it, even more so if she was straight."
I laid my head on his chest, and his hands stayed on my lower back, his own head lowering into the crook of my shoulder. We stayed like that for a moment as my heart beat evened out, my eyes drifted to his bed and the rate picked up again. My chest tightened as I stared at the neat brown and tan checkered comforter, and then my eyes drifted to the time.
1:30 PM.
My eyes suddenly felt heavy, and my mouth formed a yawn.
Trent looked down at me, and his own eyes were heavy. "Tired?" he asked.
"Yeah, and I don't feel like driving home." I ignored the whooshing of blood through my ears as my face heated.
"I can take the couch," Trent explained as he pulled away and pointed his thumb over his shoulder before going to his dresser and pulling out a pair of pajama bottoms and a plain black tee. "They might be big, but it should be more comfortable for you."
I took them from him, my hand touching his and causing tingles to run up my spine. "You know, I don't mind if...if you don't take the couch."
Trent's eyebrow twitched as he looked at me, and I laughed.
"Come on, we're both adults, and I'm sure you can keep your hands off of me if I'm hidden under all this," I replied, holding up the clothing that undoubtedly would be baggy on me.
"Are you sure?" he asked, pulling his own pair of pajama pants out of the drawer.
"Positive, now turn the other way so I can get undressed," I ordered, using my pointer finger to signal a circle.
He put his hands up. "Of course, but I think you'll be the one peeking."
I rolled my eyes as I turned, pulling my shirt off and replacing it with his. I paused as I heard the zipper of his pants go down. I pursed my lips as I gazed straight ahead as I unzipped mine and pulled them off. I cursed as I struggled to pull the tight bottom off. "Skinny jeans."
"You okay?" Trent asked, his voice deep with amusement.
"Oh, shut up! If you had to wear jeans this tight you'd understand."
I turned and flopped on his bed, putting my arms behind my head as I stared at his bare back. Between his shoulder blades was another tattoo, this one of a bird flying through the sun.
"You didn't tell me about that one," I commented, and he turned, putting his hands up.
"I didn't know you wanted to know where all of them where," he replied, smirking down at me as my jaw dropped.
There was another tattoo on the cap of his shoulder, this one a Japanese lotus in bright orange and pink. My eyes wondered to his chest, which was covered in a thin layer of hair I hadn't expected. He scratched it, his neck turning red up to his ears.
"Sorry about the hairy chest. I can put a shirt on if it bothers you," he said.
I sat up, pulling my knees to my chest as my eyes wandered again. I shook my head, putting my eyes back where they belonged, on his face. "If you have to put a shirt on it won't be because of your hairy chest."
His eyebrows twitched as he laughed. "You like it then?"
I tapped my hands on my knees as my eyes dropped to his slightly sculpted chest, down to his flat stomach and his hip bones. I lay back, pulling the pillow over my face. "Why couldn't you put on a burlap sack?" I muttered into it.
I felt Trent's body indent the bed next to me, and he lifted up the edge of the pillow, blinking at me.
"What was that?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes smacking him with the pillow before putting it back under my head and turning my back to him. Trent reached over me, flicking off the light switch, and wrapping his arm around me. I snuggled into him and closed my eyes.
Cassandra doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing. In fact, the first time she was published was when she was seven years old and won a contest to be published in an American Girl Doll novel. Since then Cassandra has written more novels than she can count and put just as many in the circular bin. Her personal goal with her writing is to show the reader the character’s stories through their dialogue and actions instead of just telling the reader what is happening. Besides being a writer, Cassandra is a professional photographer known for her automotive, nature and architectural shots. She is happily married to the man of her dreams and they live in the rolling hills of New England with their dogs, Bubski and Kanga.

Cassandra Giovanni is published by Show n’ot Tell Publishing based out of Connecticut, USA

Connect with Cassandra on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.  Learn more about her and her novels at her website, and read the first ten chapters of each of her published novels through her Book Catalog.
Flawed Perfection

In Between the Seasons (The Fall Series #1)

Love Exactly  

 Walking in the Shadows 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: Ruin and Rising

Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: June 17th 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 422 pages
Rating: 5 Cows

Goodreads Description: 

 The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

            It’s a rarity for me to be so surprised throughout a book series, especially given the fact that many YA books tend to follow the same pattern of thinking.  With Ruin and Rising though, none of these rules apply.  Everything I thought I knew, or had figured out, in Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, played out differently than I ever would have expected.  I should also add that despite my ship not working out (I can’t say who without ruining it for you), I wasn’t too upset by the outcome of the love interests at the end of the book.  Leigh Bardugo brings up what she refers to as “The Gotcha Badge” in her interview with her editor at the end of Ruin and Rising.  Well got me you did Bardugo! The shock factor alone was enough to make me appreciate every aspect of the final book in the Grisha Series, right down to each violent and horrifying death.  If you thought the Darkling was bad in books 1 and 2 of this series, think again.  He’s stepped up his game to a whole new level in Ruin and Rising and is willing to do whatever it takes to get back his Sun Summoner. 
            One of my favorite things about Ruin and Rising (and the Grisha series overall) was that there’s no TRUE villain or hero.  Sure, the Darkling is certainly ruthless and power hungry, whereas Alina is depicted as the beacon of hope for the people of Ravka, but both of them have their faults.  I think many readers saw the Darkling as the villain and Alina as the hero, but I think circumstances played a big role in that.  The Darkling has had to deal with his thirst for power for hundreds of years, whereas the Alina we see presented in the series has just come into her powers.  I think the Darkling just had a hard time remembering the boy he used to be, and I thought Bardugo did a great job of writing his story and giving the reader a chance to feel some compassion for this character. At least I certainly did! The inclusion of Bahvra in the text was crucial to understanding the boy the Darkling used to be though, before his power became a tool of destruction.  She knew her son wasn’t the only Grisha who could turn his/her power into a terrible thing, and she warns Alina on more than one occasion about the greed that can come with more of the amplifiers if she’s not careful.
            While I can see where some people were distraught by how the book ended, I thought Ruin and Rising was an exceptionally fitting way to finish off the series.  Like Bardugo mentions in the interview at the end, “The rules don’t apply differently to Alina just because she’s the hero of this story or because her cause seems just.” I loved that because I thought it was more realistic this way.  After all, heroes are usually the ones who have to suffer the most, and even though Alina has already been through a lot, she did break the rules on more than one occasion.  Although I’ll likely be crying over the ending for a few days to come (I may have gotten too attached to a few of the characters) I thought Ruin and Rising was splendid and I wish there was more! Lucky for us, the Grisha World is not over and we have Six of Crows and the rest of that series to be thankful for! 


Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: The Selection Stories

Title: The Selection Stories: The Prince and the Guard
Author: Kiera Cass
Release Date: February 4th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 227 pages
Rating: 4 Cows

Goodreads Description: Two novellas set in the world of Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series are now available in print for the first time. The Prince and The Guard both offer captivating views into the hearts and minds of the two men fighting to win America Singer's love. This collection also features exclusive bonus content, including a sneak peek at The One, the eagerly anticipated third novel in the Selection series.

Before America arrived at the palace to compete in the Selection, there was another girl in Prince Maxon's life. The Prince opens the week before the Selection begins and follows Maxon through the first day of the competition.

Raised as a Six, Aspen Leger never dreamed that he would find himself living in the palace as a member of the royal guard. In The Guard, readers get an inside look at Aspen's life within the palace walls—and the truth about a guard's world that America will never know.

            I read The Selection Series earlier in 2015 and fell in love with the books! Although The Heir wasn’t my favorite and I ended up DNF’ing it, I wasn’t opposed to The Selection Stories because I knew they were told from Maxon and Aspen’s POV and they were two of my favorite characters in the series.
            The Prince: I loved this short story the most because it was honestly a side of Maxon we didn’t really see in the books when they were told from America’s POV.  When I read the series, it always appeared as if Maxon had everything under control and was extremely sure of himself.  Always the diplomat, Maxon was calm and collected in many of the situations, including the time America kicked him in the gardens.  After reading The Prince though, I know that wasn’t entirely the case!  Maxon actually has a slight temper and he thought about sending her home for it.  Reading this story also showed just how relatable both Maxon and America’s experience was in the selection process.  Like America, Maxon struggled initially.  All his life he’s always lived in the palace and never really interacted with many people his age, especially girls. One of my favorite parts about The Prince was that the chapters were snippets of different moments in the series and not continuous.  Each of the chapters were memories from Maxon’s POV from some of the most important scenes in the books or some of the ones that stood out the most (for me, that would be the garden scene; girls kicking boys in the groin never fails to give me a good laugh).
            The Guard: Although I think it’s safe to say we all knew Aspen didn’t send America off to the selection process because he didn’t love her, I think I still felt some level of resentment towards Aspen for the role he played in the books.  He was the first to get angry when he saw just how close Maxon and America had become, but the truth of the matter is that his actions led to her arrival at the palace.  That being said, reading this story from his POV gave me a little more compassion for Aspen.  He’s torn between wanting to do what’s best for America and wanting to be the one she ends up with.  This internal battle he goes through makes for interesting chapters in The Guard, especially after he arrives as a guard at the palace and has to see American on a daily basis, but pretend as if he doesn’t know her.   One of my favorite parts about reading this from Aspen’s perspective is that we find out a few things we didn’t know about in The Selection Series.  For example, some of the moments that take place between Aspen and America’s maids are included in The Guard. I loved just how much respect Aspen showed towards them and the friendships he builds with them over time. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (126)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added To My TBR
1. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
2. Nettle King (Night and Nothing #3) by Katherine Harbour
3. Charmed (The Witch Hunter #2) by Michelle Krys
4. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
5. Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson 
6. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
7. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
8. Wild Crush (Wild Cards #2) by Simone Elkeles 
9. The Martian by Andy Weir
10. The White Rose (The Lonely City #2) by Amy Ewing

Friday, January 15, 2016

Guest Post: Power to the (Human) People: Could The 5th Wave Be Real?

Today we are pleased to welcome back guest writer Beth Kelly to the blog.  


 Beth Kelly is a freelance writer and blogger based in Chicago, IL. After graduating from DePaul University with a degree in Communications she taught English throughout Southeast Asia. Now back in the Windy City, more often than not you can find her baking bread at home with her pet rabbit Anthony Hopkins. She’s currently studying Italian and hopes to travel to Europe this summer. Find her on Twitter @bkelly_88

Power to the (Human) People: Could The 5th Wave Be Real?

No trend in YA lit has gotten quite as much attention over the past couple of years than dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels. Readers young and old are both enticed and alarmed by a world that looks so much like our own but could crumble so easily around us. Heroes and heroines like Katniss Everdeen and The Maze Runner's Thomas are great for intense stories, but they also serve as mirrors for young readers. In the 2013 novel The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, 16-year-old Cassie Sullivan must face "waves" of alien destruction that take out most of the world's population and push them back into a Stone Age-like existence. This novel and its sequels are especially chilling because the methods of otherworldly destruction are not too far off from some problems we’re seeing in the world today.

First Wave

In the novel, the first wave is an electromagnetic surge that results in mass power failure all over the world. Thousands die instantly due to failures in cars and airplanes, and the lack of functioning telephones and computers make mass communication impossible. While electric companies have long built natural gas and oil-powered generators close to customers, USA Today has shared that there have been over 360 attacks on the U.S. power grid over the last four years, proving that the power grid is certainly vulnerable to critical destruction and the potential for continuing attack attempts is high.

Second Wave

Due to the alien "Others" controlling the destruction in The 5th Wave, they know that a huge percentage of the Earth's people live in coastal areas, so they drop gigantic steel beams onto major fault lines to cause devastating tsunamis. Though this disaster was caused by a malevolent force in the novel, the type of destruction is completely possible for our own planet. In 2014 alone, natural disaster events like heatwaves, floods and ongoing droughts can all be traced back to man-made climate change, showing that we don't exactly need an alien race to come in and alter our world indefinitely.

Third Wave

The third wave in the novel is the one that is most immediately familiar to our own world. The aliens infect the Earth's birds with an Avian flu that turns humans into a bleeding viral time bomb ripe for infecting everyone around them. The disease spreads quickly and violently, much like so many diseases in our history, like Ebola or the Spanish flu. In 2015, scientists discovered a strain of bacteria that is resistant to most of our known antibiotics, which shows just how quickly an epidemic on Earth could get out of hand, and with no help in sight.

Fourth Wave

Though this wave is the one closest to science-fiction rather than real life, we do have a basis for why we should fear this type of upheaval. The fourth wave in the novel involves the aliens inhabiting the bodies of humans and gaining the trust of the survivors, resulting in them killing off 97 percent of the remaining population. In popular media like the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, audiences have watched in horror as alien races take over families and next-door neighbors, showing that we can't always trust the people who we're closest to. This mirrors political fear stemming from the Red Scare during the Cold War and similar widespread events of panic all over the world, showing that humans have a strange history with the concept of trust.

Although post-apocalyptic tales like The 5th Wave (hitting screens January 22) are thrill rides meant to entertain, they are not created in a vacuum. More often than not, life imitates art, so we better keep our eyes on the world around us for who knows what’s waiting out in the galaxy beyond!
Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cover Reveal: Right of First Refusal

Right of First Refusal
By: Dahlia Adler
Cover Reveal January 13th 2016


On the lacrosse field, Cait Johanssen gets what she wants. Off the field is another story. Because what she wants is the school's hot new basketball student-coach, Lawrence Mason, who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in sports camp two years earlier.

But it's Cait's new roommate who's got him.

Cait and Mase agree it's best to keep their past a secret, but she doesn't expect him to completely ignore their history...or how much it'll hurt when he does. So when a friend on the basketball team asks her to pose as his girlfriend for a night, Cait can't turn down the opportunity for distraction. (Okay, and a little spite.) But what starts as an evening of fun turns into a fake relationship with more lies than the usually drama-free Cait can handle, and it's only keeping her from the one truth that's nagged at her for years: Why did Mase cut her out of his life to begin with?

And is it really too late to get him back?




Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a blogger for B&N Teen Blog by night, and writes Contemporary YA and NA at every spare moment in between. She's the author of the Daylight Falls duology, Just Visiting, and the Radleigh University series, as well as over five billion tweets as @MissDahlELama. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (125)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get But Didn't
1.Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) by Rae Carson
2. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
3. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
5. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
6. Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke
7. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
8. Mirrored by Alex Flinn
9. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
10. Joyride by Anna Banks

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