Category: Young Adult

Review: Amity by Micol Ostow + Giveaway

For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.

Connor’s family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she’s recovered from a psychotic break.

But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor’s nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren’t there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?

Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again.

Alternating between parallel narratives, Amity is a tense and terrifying tale suggested by true-crime events that will satisfy even the most demanding horror fan.

If you’re one of those readers who is a bit on edge about the idea of jumping into horror, let this book be a sign. Horror is back. The past few years have seen a new surge of frightfully terrifying horror novels and this one can be counted among the best of them. And I hope that we’ll be seeing plenty more in the mainstream soon!

Amity may be a new take on the true events of the Amityville Horror most know about but believe me, this book (and house) has a story of their own and they’re ready to tell it. Relive the horror like never before. You will feel this house in your bones before you finish this book and it may haunt you.

One of the most interesting things I found about this book was the perspective in which it’s told in. Now, I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t because that’s the magic of it. But the POV tells two different stories within the house that are ten years apart. Two different characters experiencing nearly the same horrors weaving them together though they’ve never met themselves. It was a seamless transition from past to present every few chapters and one that I think the reader will find extremely unique and powerful.

If you’re looking for a light read to cap off the summer, I don’t suggest this book to you. But if you’re looking for a killer novel that will scare the pants off of you (you can handle it), then this is one book that you absolutely cannot miss.

Amity will be available in stores everywhere August 26, 2014.

micolostowAbout the author:

Micol Ostow has written dozens of books for children, tweens, and teens, but Amity is her first foray into horror. I turns out, writing a ghost story is almost more terrifying than reading one. (In a good way.) Her novel family was called a “Favorite Book of 2011” by Liz Burns at School Library Journal, and her illustrated novel, So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. In her spare time, Ostow blogs with the National Book Award-winning literacy initiative readergirlz.com. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, her (utterly fearless) daughter, and a finicky French bulldog named Bridget Jones. Visit her online at www.micolostow.com or follow her on Twitter.

The next stop on the blog tour is Good Books and Good Wine with a guest post and giveaway.
To keep up with the rest of the tour, click here.

Giveaway:

Enter the form below for a chance to win a finished copy of Amity! The giveaway is for US/Canada only.

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Video: Lois Lowry’s Endorsement for The Giver

giverheaderLast week, I was given the chance to see the adaptation of The Giver a bit early to be able to share my thoughts and tell others to go see the movie. For those fans who seem apprehensive about seeing The Giver in theaters, check out author Lois Lowry’s glowing endorsement for it!

The Giver is now in theaters across the country. Go see it and let us know what you thought!

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla Top
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

It’s not a secret that all of us have been waiting a long time for Isla. A long time. Despite the long wait and all the hype surrounding the book, Isla more than lived up to my expectations. In fact, she surpassed them.

Taking place in my relatively new hometown of New York, and the series’ beloved Paris, the scale of this book feels larger than the others in the series, simply because it covers more distance. But the locations themselves play less of a character in this book, and for good reason. While our two previous heroines of the series  Anna and Lola — know very much where they are and where they are going, Isla does not.

Isla is facing the choices and questions every senior in high school faces: what do I want to do with the rest of my life? What happens if you don’t know? Does my life still have value and do I as a person still have worth even though I haven’t claimed my place in the world? How exactly do I figure out who I am? Isla grapples with these things through the highs and lows of new love, the pressures of family and school, and what the rest of the world thinks of her.

While Anna and Lola stole my heart, I identified with Isla and her struggles on a whole other level. I sat down with the book, only intending to read a few chapters and read the whole book in one sitting. I finished at four in the morning, blown away by what I had just read and filled with happiness.

This book has everything fans will want and expect in the ending. Breathtaking romance, beautiful cities, heartbreak, wonder, and closure, all blended together with Stephanie Perkins’ characteristic wit and charm. If you love the series, then this is definitely the book you’ve been waiting for. If you haven’t read them yet, what are you waiting for?

Blog Tour: Interview with Katherine Longshore

9780670014019_large_BrazenMary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

1. Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen are all set during King Henry VIII’s reign in the Tudor period, what is it that drew you to that specific time period and cast of characters?

There is so much raw material to work with! Fascinating characters—not just kings and queens, but strong, opinionated women and men with dodgy pasts and poetic hearts. Situations that verge on the fantastical—secret marriages, half-planned coups, executions based on trumped-up charges. Beautiful clothes, rich fabrics, thriving arts and sciences, chivalry, jousting, falcons, dancing…

I love the characters because there are so many that we think we already know—Henry VIII with his jowls and his vicious temper, Anne Boleyn with her machinations. I love being able to explore alternate possibilities and ask the big what ifs?

2. If you had to write in a historical time period, other than Tudor, what would it be and why?

I would love to find out more about the English Civil Wars. They are partly responsible for the founding fathers’ exodus to America and they mirror America’s Civil War, but we know so little about them. Again, there are some fascinating characters involved—Charles I’s consort, Queen Henrietta Maria comes immediately to mind, as does the diabolical Oliver Cromwell—and situations that rival even the most active imaginations.

3. A lot of your characters come from actual history. Can you talk about fictionalizing their stories and writing their love interests?

Most of what we know about history is “just the facts” or the opinions of those who were around at the time. We all know that what my friend says about me is going to be very different from what my enemy says, and neither one may be completely accurate, so how can we trust the bulk of those accounts? What I love about fictionalizing these characters is being able to take the essence of these accounts and trying to spin it in a way that seems believable. Anne Boleyn was described as mouthy and shrill, but what if she just wanted the opportunity to speak her mind? I also find it fascinating to look at “just the facts” and try to figure out the motivations behind them. It’s like being author, psychiatrist and police detective all at once.

4. If you had to pick a favorite British monarchy, which would you choose?

I’m quite fond of the Windsors, actually.  They showed great courage and solidarity during the bombings of London in World War II, great humanity and humility during the abdication of Edward VIII, struggled visibly with the divorces of the 80s and Diana’s death in 1997 and have embraced modernity through Harry, William and Kate.  They’re part of the great, lingering appeal of England—not just the history, but the continuation of tradition.

5. Out of all of Henry VIII’s wives, which do you think had the most interesting backstory/ tragic tale?

Poor Catherine of Aragon! A Spanish princess, raised during her parents’ (Ferdinand and Isabella—the very same who sent Columbus to discover America) turbulent reign, she left her homeland to marry Prince Arthur (Henry’s older brother) and moved to this dreary and insular little island. But her husband died young and her father and her father-in-law argued incessantly over her dowry, so she had to wait years before her fate was decided by Henry upon his father’s death. Then, after twenty years of marriage, Henry threw her over for a much younger maid-in-waiting. I have a lot of respect for Catherine—she was intelligent, passionate, steadfast and devout—and I think Henry (and his father) treated her abominably.

6. Now that you’ve completed this trilogy, do you find that you favor one of the romantic couples over the others? And if you have to pick one of the love interests for yourself, which would you choose?

I love Fitz and Mary. In BRAZEN, they have the time and the opportunity to discover love the way I hope we all do—patiently and truly and passionately. And I enjoyed writing them and their relationship because for them, everything was new and wonderful.

But if I were to pick one love interest for myself, I’d choose Thomas Wyatt. He can be a bit selfish and arrogant, but he’s so amorous. And the poetry just makes me swoon.

7. If you could be transported back to any time period (Tudor or otherwise), which era would it be?

I’d have to be assured that I could come back to the modern day, because I can think of no historical era I’d want to stay in forever! I’d love to visit the 1920s, because I adore the fashions. Dropped waists, skirts cut on the bias, lots of fringe and movement and fun. I also love it because it was a time that women were just beginning to come into their own. Most had the vote, they were shedding their corsets, asserting their rights, believing that there was more to life than kitchens and babies and that they were smart enough and good enough for anything. How exciting is that?

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for more interviews and to learn about Katherine Longshore’s favorite historical hotties!

Midsummer Romance Blog Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, July 8 – Good Books & Good Wine
Thursday, July 10 –Perpetual Page Turner
Tuesday, July 15 –Alice Marvels
Thursday, July 17 – Confessions of a Book Addict
Tuesday, July 22 – Novel Sounds
Thursday, July 24 – Starry-Eyed Revue
Tuesday, July 29 – The Midnight Garden
Thursday, July 31 – Novel Thoughts

Katherine_Longshore_1589_CL_57_W
Katherine Longshore (www.katherinelongshore.com) is the author of Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen. She lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshipping dog.

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Buy COURTED (paperback compilation of Gilt and Tarnish)
Buy BRAZEN

 

Review: Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

stillblueheaderThe race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do—and they are just as determined to stay together.

Within the confines of a cave they’re using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn’t just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival–he’s also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her earth-shattering Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

I tend to be wary going into the final book of a series. There’s a moment when I’m absolutely terrified, wondering if my heart will be broken, or I’ll regret knowing what happened, or even that I might be over the moon with happiness. So I was relieved when I absolutely loved the ending of the Under the Never Sky trilogy.

In this book we see Aria and Perry’s relationship blossom through impossible situations and choices. We see true growth by them as a couple which leads to an incredibly satisfying end or both their combined and personal character arcs. In addition, they are not the only characters which receive more than satisfactory endings, almost everyone grows or changes in a visible way.

But perhaps most impressively is the way in which Rossi handles the book 3 conundrum–how to you reach and surpass a goal that has been looked forward to for two entire books? As is the case with many recent trilogies, there is a journey to either a specific place, or a specific goal. A thing that will bring immense change to all the characters and most likely change their entire metaphorical–or in this case, literal–world.

When this goal is reached, it is neither overblown into a utopia or so underwhelming that it is disappointing. Rather, Aria and Perry’s new world has all the problems of their old one, because the same humans still inhabit it, and with them come the same set of relationships and prejudices. Yet, there is the knowledge that in this new world there can be change and overcoming, and that makes all the difference.

I thought that this trilogy ended beautifully, and I encourage everyone to read and enjoy this beautifully rendered fantasy.

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