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Spotlight plus Give-Away: Losing Track by Trisha Wolfe

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Losing Track (Living Heartwood #2)
by Trisha Wolfe
Release Date: 10/15/14

Summary from Goodreads

Sometimes you have to lose your way before finding the right track.

The roar of a bike engine. The vibration between her thighs. The feel of cool darkness kissing her skin as she coasts along twisty back roads at night—Melody Lachlan lives for these things. Ever since Mel and her best friend Darla escaped their small, backwoods town, they’ve traveled the countryside in search of fast rides, tatted bikers, and good times. 

A self-proclaimed poet and lover of all things free, Mel views her life as one long bike ride—with pit stops along the way to numb the pain. But she never saw herself as a junkie. Party as hard as you ride. That’s her motto…until a tragic night steals her soul. Then she’s forced to delve below the surface, to where her demons rage. 

When she meets recovered drug addict Boone Randall, she’s more likely to deck him than kiss his dimple-adorable face. She doesn’t want his help; doesn’t want to own up to her part in that night. She just wants to do her time and keep her promise to her friend. Yet Boone challenges Mel, and soon she doesn’t mind sharing the road. Only when Boone’s own secret demons threaten their newfound, fragile security, Mel’s course becomes rocky, and she must decide if letting her well-worn track marks fade is worth finding a new path.  

Told from Dual point of view from Melody and Boone, this is a New Adult Contemporary Romance intended for readers seventeen years of age and older.

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Content is for readers 17+ please read responsibly ;)

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About the Author

I’m the author of the YA Steampunk DESTINY’S FIRE (Omnific Publishing), ASTARTE’S WRATH NA Historical/Supernatural, and the upcoming YA Utopian FIREBLOOD from Spencer Hill Press, October 2013. My NA Dark Fantasy OF SILVER AND BEASTS available May 2013.

I’m the creator of YA Bound, a promotional site for the Young Adult genre. Also a member of SCWW and The Apocalypsies.

A proud business owner, I’m partnered with my partner, my husband. When I’m not busy doing all of the above, I’m a wife and the mother of a gorgeous teen boy who’s the sounding board for my male characters.

Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebookTumblrYouTubePinterest

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Review: The Templeton Twins Make a Scene by Ellis Weiner

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Image from Goodreads

Title: The Templeton Twins Make a Scene
Series: Templeton Twins #2
Author: Ellis Weiner
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 15 Oct 2013
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

With its kid-perfect humor and dynamic illustrations, Book 1 of the hilarious Templeton Twins series left young readers clamoring for more. This time, Abigail and John Templeton find themselves at TAPAS (the Thespian Academy of the Performing Arts and Sciences) where their father, the illustrious Professor Templeton, has been hired to invent a groundbreaking theatrical device. Once again, there is drama (of course!), silliness, and suspense, as the twins (and their ridiculous dog) must thwart the dastardly Dean brothers in order to save the invention as well as their father (and the dog). Oh yes, there is sure to be another recipe. This time for guacamole. Or is it coleslaw?

REVIEW BY EVAN – YEAR 8

As you would expect, The Templeton Twins is about twins, Abigail and John, who are the son and daughter of a world famous inventor. He is about to create a device which could fetch millions but somebody is trying to take the credit for it. The twins will stop at nothing to make sure their father gets what is rightfully his. I feel that the Twins each boast qualities that will be put to very good use at the climax. On numerous occasions they have to work together, complimenting each of their strengths, aided by people who they believe are annoying, but are actually their friends.

The best parts of the book is when the narrator gets up to his antics and begins talking about how brilliant he is. He is not afraid to show his seeming dislike for us readers if we haven’t read the first book. However, the best thing about it is how if you haven’t read the first book, it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the second. You don’t miss out on anything that is vital to your understanding of the story.

The way the characters develop, is one of the ways I think the story is kind to those who haven’t read the first book despite how unkind the narrator is if that is the case. My favourite character would be the boss of the Twins Dad. She steals the show when she is in the room and is portrayed truly brilliantly! It is one of the few books that will make you laugh out loud. Tell your friends, make them laugh as well :)

Unfortunately, some parts of the book were not quite as good as they could have been. The characters don’t get old but I feel that the narrators jokes did at times. At first, I think that when he was talking about how amazing he is and how disappointed he was if we hadn’t read the first book was quite funny. However, those jokes and the use of French words all the way through the book just got overused.

Despite this, I think I would read another book by the same author because I think that I did enjoy it. Out of five, I think I would give it a four because like I said, there was a bit of room for improvement but I enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend this book to others who are over the age of ten because there are lots of French words and I am not sure that they would fully understand the humor.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and if you want a funny children’s book, you can’t get much better than this.

Review: Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

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Title: Fire and Flood
Series: Fire and Flood #1
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: March 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Time is slipping away….

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she’s helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

REVIEW BY RACHEL – YEAR 8

Fire and Flood is about a girl called Tella and her brother Cody, who has cancer. He doesn’t have long to live. Tella is determined to save him, even if it means risking her own life. She has been given the opportunity to compete in a treterus competition that will test her physically and mentally, she doesn’t think twice.

Tella meets Levi and Ransom when she is trudging through the jungle looking for food when their paths cross. They have to be my favourite characters. I thought they had a great personalities and always lightened the mood in the team. It felt as if I knew these characters personally and had been with them for years, they were very realistic and I was able to relate to them very well. They had an adorable cheekiness about them!

The plot kept me guessing the whole time, which made me want to read it even more! It was exciting and had lots of twists along the way, many of which were very unexpected. The story was very gripping and made me want to keep turning the pages.

The only things I disliked about this book was it finished very suddenly and we never find out the end. I found this very disappointing because I was very intrigued, and I wanted to found out how she finished in the competition.

I would recommend this book to anyone but only in the target age range, because it could be inappropriate for younger readers a times. But it was a great book and I really enjoyed it.

Spotlight: The Best of Retro YA with Robin Talley

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Book Angel Booktopia welcomes Robin Talley today as part of the Lies We Tell Ourselves Blog Tour to share her favorite retro YA reads.

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The Best of Retro YA

When I started writing my first novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves, set in 1959 Virginia, I knew I was going to have to do a ton of research.

I started at the library. Lies We Tell Ourselves focuses on school desegregation, so I read everything I could get my hands on about that process ― the lawsuits, the political wars, and, most importantly, the memoirs and oral histories from the students who’d been on the front lines of the desegregation efforts in their schools.

After that, though, I turned to my eReader. I didn’t just need to know about the big picture of the history of that time. I needed to know the little things, too.

So I looked for young adult books written during the 1950s and 1960s. What had the characters I was writing about been reading? What did these books have to say about how teenagers in the 1950s talked to each other, how they dressed, what they did after school, what the etiquette was on a first date?

One of the first things I learned was that a lot of these books weren’t available in ebook form. I had to scour the Internet for secondhand copies. A friend sent me one old library book she found at a flea market. I even stole books off my sister’s old bookshelf ― 1980s reprints of classics from earlier decades.

Here are some of my favorites from what I found:

Fifteen (1956) by Beverly Cleary 

Yes, that Beverly Cleary, of Ramona Quimby fame. This novel is a combination coming-of-age story/dating how-to manual for respectable girls in the 1950s who’d never been kissed. The big climax hinges on whether Stan, “a very nice boy,” will give 15-year-old Jane his ID bracelet. It’s actually pretty funny.

Ransom (1966) by Lois Duncan

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Yes, that Lois Duncan, the one who wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer and other 80s classics. Lois Duncan has been writing YA books for a LONG time. This story is an addictive thriller about five high school students who are kidnapped off their school bus. It’s an interesting social study, told from rotating points of view between all five teenagers. It’s also delightfully old-school ― the kidnapped boys are locked in a freezing cold basement all night; the girls are allowed to sleep in a bedroom in bunk beds because the kidnappers assume the girls are timid and won’t possibly try to escape.

Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones (1967) by Ann Head

This is a book I’d recommend for more than just its historical value. It takes place in 1963 and focuses on 16-year-old girl named July who gets pregnant on prom night, and her boyfriend, the titular 17-year-old Bo Jo. They immediately get married and drop out of high school (it’s implied that dropping out of high school is a legal necessity if you get married at 16, though I wasn’t able to find proof of that). They move into a tiny apartment together and realize that, despite having hung out at school and dated for a while, the truth is, they barely even know each other. And now here they are, trying to start a family. July’s voice sucks you in, and the story keeps you riveted.

Reach for a Star (1957) by Florence Crannell Means 

Eighteen-year-old Toni is unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend immediately after her high school graduation. Distraught, she decides to change her college plans and sets off for Fisk University in Tennessee, far from her home in Colorado and far from her ex. Not to worry, though; her freshman year includes a pack of awesome new friends and a far superior boyfriend who’s willing to overlook Toni’s incredibly annoying personality. This was the only YA book from the 1950s I could get my hands on that focused on characters who weren’t white. This story, like the others, is delightfully retro; apparently, Fisk used to have a policy that freshman girls weren’t allowed to ride in cars for any reason, and when Toni gets a ride with a friend to get out of a rainstorm, she has to go before a student disciplinary committee ensure that she wasn’t up to any nefarious activities.

The Cheerleader (1973) by Ruth Doan MacDougall

This one is cheating a bit ― it was published in the 1970s, and was written from the author’s memories of her own high school days in the 50s. Like Fifteen, it partly functions as a dating how-to guide, but its characters do things Fifteen’s Jane would definitely have felt she ought to save for marriage. Which is to say ― this is a book that aims for realism. It also features characters who are named “Snowy” and “Puddles” without a hint of irony. Realism in the 1950s was its own very peculiar thing.

Spring Fire (1952) by Marijane Meaker writing as Vin Packer

This one is cheating too, because this book wasn’t published as YA; in fact the idea of teenagers reading Spring Fire probably would’ve been enough to get the flimsy paperback banned from the bus stations where it was sold back in the 50s. This book, written by future mega-award winner Marijane Meaker (who also wrote YA under the name M.E. Kerr), told a tragic love story between two college students and is credited with starting the lesbian pulp fiction publishing movement. Soon, a series of paperbacks featured young women who loved other women. Those women usually wound up dead, crazy, or repentant for their lesbian ways. Spring Fire is now considered a classic, although Meaker has spoken out in protest of the sad ending her publisher forced her to include so that the book would pass the censors at the Postal Service.

I’ve got to admit ― I loved having an excuse to read these books. Sure, today’s YA books tackle a wider range of subject matter and feature a far more diverse cast of characters (though we’ve still got work to do on that front), but the 1950s and 60s were a delightfully weird time. It’s a fascinating world to immerse oneself in. I’d recommend giving some of these a read!

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Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: Mira Ink
Publication Date: 3 Oct 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

It’s 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it’s Sarah Dunbar’s first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they’ve never felt before. Something they’re both determined ignore. Because it’s one thing to be frightened by the world around you – and another thing altogether when you’re terrified of what you feel inside.

REVIEW BY BETH

On reading the premise of this novel I thought Robin Talley might be trying to do too much, the integrationist issue itself was large enough without the added complexity of the nature of the two main characters’ relationship and I was sceptical, I didn’t get why there was the need to do both, and then I read the book.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is wonderfully written with empathy and realism in equal measures. It’s a must-read, I’d say especially in American high schools but equally here. Living in a city where many of the streets are named after slave traders and home to the National Slavery Museum, I am well-versed in the time before Sarah’s but the movement she was involved in and the importance of that movement is something I had never read about in depth. Reason number one that Lies We Tell Ourselves is a great book. Talley handles the subject with grace and it is a fantastic example of modern historical fiction.

The split narrative technique allows the two lead characters to grow in their own ways. In some aspects I’d say Sarah stays more static than Linda, in that many of her heartfelt opinions and reasoning stays the same throughout, although this can’t be said of her feelings towards Linda, whilst Linda finally takes the opportunity to have her own thoughts, rather than regurgitating those of her father and her family.

The second reason Lies We Tell Ourselves is so effective is the balance Talley achieves. Yes, this is a momentous time in history but for people like Sarah and Linda, they were just living it. The regular feelings and stirrings of adolescence were no weaker and Talley manages to add this element into the story with ease.

Lies We Tell Ourselves seems to be about truth, accepting yourself for who you are and bravery. The act of integration was something that was forced upon many children and though they agreed in principle, it wasn’t an easy process and Talley doesn’t shy away from the language, the brutality and sheer viciousness of the attacks on the black children as they try to fit into a white school.

This novel is deeply personal, both Sarah and Linda feel like real people and it’s more than possible to believe that the experiences people went through weren’t far too different from theirs.