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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Giveaway: Wonder Light: The Unicorn Thief by R.R. Russell {Blog Tour}

Win a copy of the second Wonder Light book, The Unicorn Thief. Find out more below!

About the Book

Danger lurks in the mist.

Twig and Ben are unicorn riders--guardians whose job it is to keep the last free unicorn herd safe. But a new danger is threatening the beautiful, mysterious creatures of Lonehorn Island. A thief from Terracornus has snuck onto the misty island and stolen Ben's loyal unicorn, Indy. There's only one path for Ben and Twig--straight into the secret, shadowy heart of the island and through the passage to Terracornus.

But their rescue mission is unexpectedly complicated by a secret Ben has been hiding. A secret about the Queen of Terracornus who has enslaved all the unicorns of Ben's homeland. A secret that could save them all--or start a war.

Win It!

Giveaway ends 6/19/2014. Open to US mailing addresses only.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

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Title: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to                      Mend
Author: Katie Finn
Publisher: Macmillan
Pub. Date: May 13, 2014
Genre: YA
Rec. Age Level: 14+

Gemma has spent years trying to bury and atone for a summer spent in the Hamptons when she was 11-years old. The year she horribly betrayed her friend and sabotaged a woman's career. When Gemma's boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her before they head to South America for a mission trip, Gemma is forced to return to the Hamptons, where her father is spending the summer. When Gemma comes face-to-face with Hallie, the girl she so badly hurt five years before, she's sure she'll never get a chance to make up for what she did. Luckily a mislabeled cup of coffee and the fact that 16-year-old Gemma looks nothing like 11-year-old Gemma offer her another option... Gemma becomes "Sophie" and hatches a plan to win back Hallie's friendship, prove she's a good person, and then reveal the truth of her identity. Things get complicated when Gemma and Jason, Hallie's older brother, become friends. Things aren't going at all according to plan and Gemma has to wonder: Is it karma... or does someone know her secrets?

I was motivated to pick up BROKEN HEARTS, FENCES AND OTHER THINGS TO MEND because of the premise, but also because I'd heard it compared to the television show Revenge, which I love. I definitely understand the comparison, but I feel the need to clarify that this book is nowhere near as dark (or deadly) as the show its being compared to. After hearing the comparison, I was worried that the bright blue cover and bubbly lettering was sitting atop a story of murder and mayhem, which would have felt totally inappropriate. But, never fear, there is plenty of scheming, secrets, and lies within these pages.

I loved that, sometimes, I felt sure I knew what was going on, but then something would happen and I'd suddenly have doubts. While this isn't one of those novels that's going to keep you up late into the night puzzling through clues and word choices, it might keep you up wondering what new misfortune will befall Gemma. I was constantly wondering what so-called solution Gemma would cook up next. This girl knows how to make a mess... seriously.

I'll definitely pick up the next two books in this trilogy, REVENGE, ICE CREAM, AND OTHER THINGS BEST SERVED COLD and HEARTS, FINGERS, AND OTHER THINGS TO CROSS. I have a feeling things are only going to get more twisted and crazy for Gemma after the end of book one!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: These Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar

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Title: These Gentle Wounds
Author: Helene Dunbar
Publisher: Flux
Pub. Date: May 8, 2014
Genre: YA
Rec. Age Level: 14+

It's been five years since the tragic day when 15-year-old Gordie's mother drove herself and four of her kids into the river. Gordie should be thankful he survived, but, most days, it feels like a curse. Plagued by guilt over his inability to save his mother and siblings, Gordie struggles to keep his panic attacks and stress-induced ticks under control. Hockey and living with his half-brother, Kevin, and Kevin's father, Jim, has kept Gordie grounded, as well as his budding relationship with photographer Sarah, but he starts to lose control when his estranged birth father reenters the picture, demanding custody. Gordie and Kevin have never told anyone about the Gordie's father's violent tendencies and abuse and now it might be too late. Can Gordie face the painful truths of his past to save his future?

Wow. This novel deals with seriously intense subject matter. Immediately, I was pulled into the painful tragedy of Gordie's life - how could you not be? He was just a little boy when his mother made the fateful decision to drive her car filled with her children into the river. It's impossible not to be just as lost and confused as Gordie is; understanding how and why a mother could do that is not an easy task as reader or as the son that survived.

Despite the dark subject matter of THESE GENTLE WOUNDS, author Helene Dunbar punctuates the heaviness with moments, people, and memories that offer hope and solace. In Dunbar's skilled hands, Gordie's story is survivable, even in it's horrible sadness... and it needs to be survivable for Gordie to find his way through the aftermath.

One source of light was Sarah, the girl who surprises Gordie with her candor and kindness, providing him with a distraction and refuge from the turbulence of his past and the reemergence of his father. Sarah is unique in that she's ignorant of Gordie's past. She shows him that he is more than the boy that survived; his mother's son; his father's possession. It could be argued that putting so much power in a high school relationship might not be the best message, but I think readers will be sophisticated enough to realize that it isn't simple infatuation or a crush that makes Sarah's influence within Gordie's life so powerful, it's that she is truly a good person who cares about Gordie as a person, not as a product of parents' actions.

In addition to Sarah, Gordie finds gains much needed support and love from his half-brother, Kevin, Kevin's father, Jim, the legal representative who has handled Gordie's case for years, his teacher, and, in small ways, some of his teammates. Time and time again, the message that "you are not alone" was reinforced for Gordie, and, I think, for readers. This message, coupled with Gordie's strength, make THESE GENTLE WOUNDS a surprisingly hopeful novel, despite its heavy themes.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

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Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Penguin
Pub. Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: YA
Rec. Age Level: 14+

Popular queen bee Harper Price has worked hard to be Homecoming Queen and nothing is going to ruin her night... except, maybe, becoming a Paladin. When a freak encounter leaves Harper the unwilling inheritor of supernatural abilities and the responsibility of protecting an unknown individual, winning the crown is the least of her concerns. Of course, the guy she's bound to protect would be David Stark, quite possibly the most annoying person Harper has the displeasure of knowing. As Harper and David struggle to figure out what their new relationship entails, Harper must fight off evil forces that seek to take them out and the uncomfortable new feelings she seems to be developing towards David.

To offer some clarity regarding Paladins, these individuals were the foremost warriors of Charlemagne's court, sworn guardians with supernatural powers. Of course, Hawkins explores the mythology in REBEL BELLE, though I can't tell you how closely it follows (or doesn't follow) popular mythology surrounding Paladins.

I'm a huge fan of Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall books, so I knew REBEL BELLE would be a must-read. Can I first just mention how wonderfully awesome the cover of this novel is? It totally fits the premise and the main character, Harper, a southern belle with a dangerous edge.

What I loved most about Harper is the fact that, even before she inherits the role of Paladin, she's already ready to kick butt and take names. She might be sweet as pie on the outside, but she's got enough backbone and sass to put anyone in their place. While becoming a Paladin makes her life a lot more complicated, it also makes her a much more complex and, arguably, better person. I loved her character development.

The novel's description pretty clearly states that there's some romantic tension between Harper and her sworn charge, David. Despite the fact that I knew this romance was going to develop, I still loved the push and pull between the two characters. Their witty jabs and banter was entertaining and the development wasn't near as predictable as it could have been.

Overall, I really enjoyed this first installment to Hawkin's new trilogy. I can't wait to read more about Harper and David!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Title: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pub. Date: May 6, 2014
Genre: YA
Rec. Age Level: 14+

When Emily's best friend Sloane and her family suddenly disappear from town, leaving nothing behind but a list of 13 random things for Emily to accomplish, Emily is lost. Her most recognizable trait is that she's Sloane's friend, but now that Sloane is suddenly gone, Emily doesn't know who she's supposed to be. And the list? Sloane was always sending Emily off with lists of dares, but, now that Sloane is the one that's gone, Emily's only hope is that the list will somehow lead her to Sloane, wherever she is. Emily is determined to accomplish everything on the list, even the things she's terrified of, like riding a horse. With the help of the clean cut, perfect Frank Porter, Emily will cross all 13 dares. Over the summer, she'll conquer her fears, make new friends, let loose, and, unexpectedly, now that Sloane is gone, understand her in ways that she never did before.

I LOVE this book. At the beginning of the novel, Emily only defines herself in relation to Sloane, but, by the end, she's her own person. She becomes braver and more herself than she's ever been before. Her journey is really, really inspiring, but underneath all of that, Sloane and Emily have a really wonderful relationship that actually grows in important ways after Sloane mysteriously leaves town. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and, in this case, smarter.

One of my favorite elements of the novel was the look at family it offers. Emily's family isn't perfect, but she comes to realize how loving and enviable her home life is in comparison to many of her friends'. Sloane and Frank live in perfect houses and have traditionally successful parents, from the outside their lives look perfect to Emily, but she soon comes to learn that it really is what's inside that counts... that her messy, crazy, theatrical family is nothing to scoff at.

Now somebody write me a list of dares that will change my life!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw Character Profile & Giveaway {Blog Tour}

Character Profile:
Captain Jerica 

Occupation: Pirate Captain
Affiliation: The crew of the Dreadwind 
Kingdom of Origin: Unknown
Current Residence: Cruising among the waves of the Aurelian Sea
Parents: Uncertain, but they were obviously not the best role models
Closest Confidants: Mr. Roderick Key (the Dreadwind’s first mate) and Mr. Flint (the Dreadwind’s official parrot keeper)
Longtime Foe: Rival pirate captain, Salt-Eye Buck
Likes: Swordplay; big ships; mocking her foes during combat
Dislikes: Seasick passengers; hardtack; stick-in-the-mud prisoners
Signature Move: The Flick-o’-the-Wrist Rapid Disarming Maneuver (complete with a wink and a smile)
Quote: “I’m not saying I can beat you because you’re a man—I’m saying I can beat you because I’m better than you.”
Little Known Fact: The Dreadwind is the largest known vessel on the Aurelian Sea. Among its many features are 28 cannons, two oversize treasure rooms, an 18-cell brig, three shuffleboard courts, a full-service pub, two kitchens, and a parrots-only play-space.

About the Book:
The League of Princes returns in the hilariously epic conclusion to the hit series that began with Christopher Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, which the Los Angeles Times called "one of the more clever, hilariously successful incarnations of the current literary rage to rip apart and rewrite fairy tales."

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don't you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they're on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar's murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.
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Watch the Book Trailer:

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Giveaway Ends 6/12/14. Open to US mailing addresses only.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

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Title: The Art of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: May 13, 2014
Genre: YA
Rec. Age Level: 14+

When Lainey is very publicly dumped by her boyfriend Jason and then finds out he's already moved on, her perfect summer is ruined. Not to mention her plans for the future... She's willing to do anything to get back the life she's lost, including resorting to ancient war tactics. With The Art of War as their guide, Lainey and her best friend Bianca devise a plan of action to win back Jason. Lainey's first move? Achieve equal ground by being seen on the arm of a new guy. Enter Micah, who also wants to win back an ex and is willing to play along. It's the perfect plan, until Lainey realizes that the future she's fighting so hard for might not be the one she really wants. In THE ART OF LAINEY love really is a battlefield and someone's bound to get hurt. Readers will love the quick banter between Lainey and unlikely love interest Micah and the clever use of Sun Tzu's ancient wisdom.

During the first couple chapters of this book, I wasn't sure I loved it. Lainey's personality and actions were, in my opinion, really abrasive and selfish - I honestly wasn't sure I could stand a book with her. Then, she comes up with this ridiculous scheme to win back her boyfriend and teams up with Micah. From there, I was hooked. Plus, it didn't hurt that Lainey does change (in positive ways) throughout the novel.

As a sucker for reluctant romantic tension, so Lainey's unlikely romance with Micah was like a siren song to this reader. Of course, the tough, unapproachable Micah is much more complex (and sweet) than Lainey first assumes, but, even more than that, Lainey has more depth than she allows herself to admit.

THE ART OF LAINEY is a must-read for contemporary romance readers, especially fans of Jennifer Echols.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Interview with Jaleigh Johnson, author of The Mark of the Dragonfly

Jaleigh Johnson's The Mark of the Dragonfly is one of my favorite 2014 MG fantasy novels, so I'm thrilled to host Jaleigh at The Hiding Spot to answer a few questions. Check out my review here, then read the interview for more information about the novel, Jaleigh's surprising day job, and her upcoming novel!

About the author:

Jaleigh Johnson is a fantasy author born and raised in the Midwest. Her novels for the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms fiction line include The Howling Delve, Mistshore, Unbroken Chain, Unbroken Chain: The Darker Road, and Spider and Stone. Her first book for middle grade readers is The Mark of the Dragonfly, from Delacorte Press.  In her spare time, she enjoys gaming, gardening, and going to movies with her husband.  Visit her online at 

The 401, the train that travels between the territories, is a character in its own right. From where did you draw inspiration for the train—its security, crew members, etc.?
The 401 train was actually based on a real steam engine, the 401 Southern at the Monticello Railway Museum in my town of Monticello, Illinois. A team of dedicated volunteers at the museum spent fifteen years restoring the 401 to working condition, which amazed and inspired me. I had to make it part of my story.
Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
My favorite scenes to write were those involving Piper and Anna, particularly when they’re bantering or when Piper is trying to understand or just keep up with Anna. Those scenes flowed much more easily than others did because I could see those two girls so clearly in my head, how they argue like sisters and care for each other.
Did the title change as your novel journeyed toward publication?
The title did change a bit, yes. Originally, the book was called Dragonfly, but we added to it.
The Mark of the Dragonfly is currently a stand-alone book. Is there a possibility for more novels set in this world? Might we see these characters again?
I’m actually working on a companion novel now that I’m really excited about. It does take place in the same world, but it’s not a direct sequel and it follows different characters.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
People are usually surprised when I tell them that my day job is an accountant/tax preparer. While I don’t think working with numbers has shaped what I write about, it definitely helps balance my brain. That probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I’ll try to explain. In writing, there is no perfect, correct answer to a story problem. So much of writing is subjective. In accounting, there is always a correct answer. You can get the right numbers if you work at it. It’s nice balance of concrete and abstract in my head.

If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?

Surreal. I think it’s a beautiful word, and sometimes it’s the best way to describe those times when life hands you the unexplainable.

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
I love that concept! I’d have to say mine is gaming. I’ve been a gamer (role-playing games, video games, tabletop board games) for most of my life, and it’s brought me great comfort and joy over the years.

Don't miss my review of The Mark of the Dragonfly, here!