Reading

The Muses Read: Open Road Summer

Posted by on Oct 7, 2014 in Reading, Young Adult | 0 comments

The Muses Read: Open Road Summer

There’s a reason why I always pay attention when someone recommends a book for me. I was asked if I wanted to participate in a summer readathon of OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Skye from Skye’s Scribblings. Admittedly, such…cheery sounding… YA contemporary isn’t exactly my go-to. But didn’t I say I was going to expand the genres I’m reading from? (I’m pretty sure I did!) Thankfully, Open Road Summer made me entirely glad that I gave it a shot! OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord Blurb: After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes. Find it at: Amazon Muse KJ’s Thoughts A few pages into Open Road Summer and you feel like you should be on the beach. It’s light, endearing, and absolutely perfect for summer. The friendship between Dee (short for Delilah) and Reagan is the driving force of the book, and will keep you coming back for more. What would you do for your best friend? For the person who’s always been there for you, who can read you like a book, and never ever judges you – even when she should. Reagan’s running away with Dee’s tour for the summer, to give herself a second chance – and maybe just to run away from her past. After all, she can’t do anything to mess up Dee’s reputation as the famous Lila Montgomery. It’s a sure thing. It’s safe. Dee’s her anchor, keeping her from staying too adrift in life, and she’ll provide some security for her BFF. I absolutely adored the characters (even though a large part of me really insists on believing Dee is Taylor Swift). You can’t NOT love these characters. Dee is gracious, kind, and endearing – exactly how you wish more celebrities were. She’s also been thrown into a crazy world in the middle of her teens, so some of that comes out from time to time.  Reagan is snarky (although a few times I thought it went past snarky into the zone of judgemental for no reason), spunky, and spirited. Both friends are devoted to their friendship in a way that you just don’t get to read about enough. Matt was a wonderful fresh take on the love interest -he seemed truly realistic to me. He’s the type of character I can imagine many of you will make your next book boyfriend. Thoughtful, witty, and appreciates the bonds of friendship? Yes, please. End of story – I finished the book, cried my eyes out, texted my BFF that I loved her, and texted other BFF to ensure she read the book. If that doesn’t sum up my feelings, I don’t know what...

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The Muses Read: STORM by Danielle Ellison + Giveaway

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Paranormal / Supernatural, Reading, Thriller | 0 comments

The Muses Read: STORM by Danielle Ellison + Giveaway

October’s the perfect time for a paranormal read, right? I certainly think so – October’s the time of the year that I rearrange my reads to include as much paranormal, thriller, and horror as possible. Luckily for me, STORM counts for two out of those three! Storm (Salt #2) by Danielle Ellison Release Date: 09/29/14 Entangled Teen Blurb: Up until recently, Penelope was a witch with no magic. After having it stolen by a demon when she was just a child, Penelope had been forced to rely on sharing others’ powers as she went through the grueling training required to become an elite demon hunter. Now Penelope has more magic than she’s ever known. And when you’re this powerful, who needs salt to keep the demons away? But power has a dark side. Carter Prescott just wants to hunt demons and be with Penelope. But suddenly, witches who formerly had no magic are developing terrible, out-of-control powers. Now the world Carter swore to protect isn’t just endangered by malicious demons―it’s threatened by the same witches who once defended it. And Carter is horrified to see his girlfriend starting to change. Stronger. More powerful. Unrecognizable. It’s just a matter of time before Penelope changes into something far beyond his worst fears…     Find it at: Amazon│Barnes & Noble│Kobo Books Links to Salt (Book One): Goodreads│Amazon│Barnes & Noble│Kobo Books Muse Kristen’s Thoughts STORM is a fun paranormal read for YA fans. It opens with a kick – “Three days ago, I went to hell.” The action doesn’t slow from there. The story is told in both the POVs of Carter and Penelope (something that is different from SALT, and threw me for a moment or two).  I ended up liking the dual-POV, as there were key points where being in Carter’s head told a different story. Penelope is the witch with no powers – before Carter showed up. She’s out for revenge, and now that she has her stripes nothing will be getting in her way – except for the little detail like Static witches everywhere are getting powers, and the world is going crazy. Carter is used to avoiding his family name – except for when it benefits his friends. What happens when a witch with no powers suddenly has major power? If the truth may have been kept from you? Penelope’s supposed to be protecting the world from demons – but who’s going to protect the world from her? The tone of this book is very conversational – it’s as if you’re a bystander watching everything unfold. It’s very easy to get in the head of Carter and Penelope, which pushes the story along pleasantly. I’d highly recommend reading SALT before reading STORM – I’m not as certain that some of the world building details will make sense. STORM picks up right where SALT ends, throwing you into the action immediately.   If you’ve enjoyed SALT, you should definitely continue on to the sequel. About the Author: Danielle Ellison Danielle Ellison is from a small town in West Virginia. She spent her childhood pretending to fly, talking to imaginary friends, and telling stories. She hasn’t changed much since then. You can still find her pretending to work, talking to imaginary characters, and writing stories. When she’s not writing, Danielle is probably drinking coffee, fighting her nomadic urges, watching too much TV, or dreaming of the day when she can be British. She is the author of five upcoming novels and you can find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites. Author Links: Website│Goodreads│Twitter│Facebook   Giveaway a Rafflecopter...

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Review: BRUTAL YOUTH by Anthony Breznican

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Reading, Thriller, Young Adult | 2 comments

Review: BRUTAL YOUTH by Anthony Breznican

When I received Brutal Youth in the mail from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The cover is delightfully sinister, with a prep school jacket going up in flames, and the novel is blurbed by some pretty big names, including Stephen Chbosky, James Dashner, Gillian Flynn, and even Stephen King. I mean, when a book is blurbed by the one and only Stephen King, I obviously go in with really high expectations. The big question going into this reading was- would it stand up to all that hype? Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican    When incoming freshman Peter Davidek arrives for his first day at Saint Michael’s, tensions are already high at the private Catholic school known best for its enrollment of expelled delinquents and overtly religious students. After a cruelly tormented upperclassman snaps and goes on a rampage, violently attacking cruel students and corrupt faculty, everyone is on high alert. But this sense of unrest does nothing to stop the culture of hazing that has gone on for years as a sort of tradition at Saint Michael’s. Peter befriends fellow freshman Noah Stein, who bears the scars of a tough past, as well as the beautiful and desperate Lorelei Paskal, and the three navigate the uneasy halls where upperclassmen senselessly torment freshman and haze them with no respite. It soon becomes clear that nobody can be trusted, with even the closest of friends hiding secrets and turning on one another.   As if the cruel upperclassmen vying for revenge weren’t bad enough, the faculty is corrupt and seems to be out to get the students in increasingly sinister ways. Father Mercedes is blackmailing students and running off with church funds; while the embittered guidance counselor Ms. Bromine is upholding the rampant bullying culture of Saint Michael’s in her own ways. As these students fight to make it through their day-to-day activities, alliances are formed and broken, and they find that it really is every student for himself. Find it at: Amazon  | Barnes and Noble This was one of the most thought-provoking and intense stories I’ve read in a long time. The Catholic school setting is the perfect backdrop for the corruption and terror that befalls these students, and with every page bringing a new agreement or a broken alliance; the plotting captivated me. From page one, this novel is packed with action that never lets up, from the initial rampage of an embittered and tormented student, to the final Hazing Picnic when things start to become very real for many of the students. Tensions are high throughout the book, and it is deliciously unclear whom the main characters can trust. Just when you think they’ve found someone to protect them and their secrets, another lie is told and it becomes clear that absolutely nobody in this book can be trusted.   Brutal Youth has a little bit of something for everyone. There are friendships being tested, romances being forged and then thwarted, and corrupt faculty out for only themselves. The book is listed as Young Adult, but often seems to veer over into Adult Literary Fiction. It will captivate audiences in a wide range of ages. Teens as well as older readers will identify with the spot-on feelings of adolescence, including feeling alone and misunderstood amongst peers, and will be riveted by the complex system of alliances and the underhanded motivations of the adults in this novel.   It’s been a long time since I devoured a 400-page novel in one sitting, but I did it with this book....

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The Muses Read: Shameless by Nina Lemay

Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in New Adult, Reading, Romance | 1 comment

The Muses Read: Shameless by Nina Lemay

We’re all aware Muse KJ has a fondness for books who talk about the taboo, yes? It’s so easy to pretend that life doesn’t get tricky, and bad stuff doesn’t happen, and people don’t do things that are against the grain. News Flash: Life gets tricky. Sometimes bad things happen to people. People go against the grain – often. Which is exactly what I love about this book. Pink hair. Exotic dancer. Tough as nails heroine. And while this book isn’t technically banned… I think #BannedBookWeek is the perfect time to talk about it.  Don’t you agree? Shameless by Nina Lemay Release Date: August 18th 2014 Blurb: ~New Adult Contemporary Romance — recommended for mature readers~ Girls like me don’t get happy endings. I know what I am. At worst a cliché, at best a cautionary tale. I put an international border between me and my past, only to wind up working in a low-end titty bar. Even my excuse is as lame as it gets: I’m paying for college, getting my art degree from Montreal’s most prestigious school. Although some days it becomes confusing: am I just a student who moonlights as a stripper, or a stripper who masquerades as a student? But the inevitable happens and my two lives collide. And now there’s one other person who knows both the quiet, antisocial Hannah and the sensual, shameless Alicia. One person who keeps my secret. He’s beautiful, he’s sophisticated. He comes from the other side of life, the one where I’m not wanted or accepted. But he calls me la petite Américaine, and his hot, hot hands on my skin promise me things I long ago gave up on. The problem? He teaches my Classic Photography class. This is a standalone novel, no series, no cliffhanger. Find it at:  Amazon Muse Kristen’s Thoughts Let’s just get this out of the way – it’s been a long time since I’ve read a New Adult novel that impressed me like this one. By day, Hannah is a shy art student – unsure what she wants in life, simply running from her past. By night, she becomes Alicia – the confident girl who can make you fall in love with her with a spin around a pole, and a shake of a hip. But what happens when the two collide? Because all it takes is one wrong customer…and her worlds will collide. All it takes is for last night’s customer to become today’s professor. I found the characters to be intriguing. Emmanuel is more complex than the average man – but sweet, instead of the broken hero we often see.  Hannah’s voice is realistic, a tinge bitter, and hilarious. He’s the freaking knight in a white Audi. She’s strong, she’s tough – but she’s certainly not flawless. She uses her sharp tongue to keep everyone – especially men – far away from her.  She’s running away from affection before anyone gets close to her. What happens when she meets someone who she’s not sure she wants to run from? Can she move past the scars of her past to become vulnerable before life – and their forbidden romance – get in the way? And, like a weak little girl who can’t resist the piece of candy with the razor hidden inside, I reach for him. I don’t agree with all of Hannah’s actions – but it’s explained why she behaves that way. Her character growth is what impressed me the most – there’s so many ways her story could end, with her character becoming different things – but this ending is the only...

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Forest of Whispers by Jennifer Murgia Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY!

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Reading, Writing, Young Adult | 4 comments

Forest of Whispers by Jennifer Murgia Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY!

I almost lost it when I first heard of Forest of Whispers. I thought, holy crap, this book looks fantastic! I eagerly searched for any blog tours and thankfully found one run by Rockstar Book Tours and of course, immediately joined. Jennifer, the author, was kind enough to let me interview her for the post today and I couldn’t be happier! Just look at this cover– it’s gorgeous! I love the intrigue here. The tagline Magic Haunts Her… is SO good. And then of course I read the blurb and was hooked. Check it out. About the Book Title: FOREST OF WHISPERS Author: Jennifer Murgia Publisher: Spencer Hill Press Pub. Date: September 9, 2014 Find it: Goodreads|Amazon|Barnes& Noble Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago… and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting. Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to–one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder–a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe. Interview with Jennifer Murgia Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for being a guest today on Pen & Muse. I’m so excited to have you and your novel Forest of Whispers.  Let’s get started! How long have you been writing? Have you always known you wanted to be an author? I first fell in love with writing when I was nine years old and knew it was something I wanted to do.  I would dabble in poetry and stories which later morphed into darker, longer works of fiction. My first book, ANGEL STAR, was published in 2010. FOREST OF WHISPERS is my 5th published Young Adult novel. Wow! All of your books look fantastic! I just author stalked you on Goodreads. So many to add to my must-read list! I have to ask, are you currently working on a new project? I am currently writing a YA Horror that centers around an insane asylum. *dabs away drool at the corner of my mouth* I can NOT wait to read this. There’s nothing I love more than YA horror. There’s not enough of it! So speaking of books, what book do you wish you could have written? Oh wow . . . Is it odd to say I wish I could have written THE MAZE RUNNER? That was epic! Not weird at all! I haven’t read that yet, but I need to! So, not to change the subject, but what writing tips or advice do you have to offer others writers and authors? I’ve learned it’s important to set time aside to write—like every morning or whatever works best for you. If you let too much time pass between projects, it’s so much harder to begin again. Solid advice Jennifer! Noted! So what are your habits? Do you have any writing habits/practices? Tea and music? Silence? Coffee and absolute silence. And my cat. He snuggles up to my laptop and stares at me. Really, he’s telepathically convincing me to write him into the story . . .  cats are sneaky like that. Hehehe. I’m pretty sure you HAVE to write him in! He may start demanding it soon! So, speaking of cats. I automatically think of villains. Who is your favorite book villain? Hadrian from my ANGEL STAR series. What a dark angel bad-ass he is. Which novel...

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Review: A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in Reading | 0 comments

Review: A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

With summer rapidly waning and Fall swiftly approaching, back-to-school is on my mind. What better way to get in that educational spirit than with a novel set in a historical time period? I was on the hunt for smart historical fiction with a riveting plot and a well-rendered accurate setting. When I came across Makiia Lucier’s novel set against the backdrop of the deadly Spanish Influenza pandemic, I knew I had found the book for me. A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier Safe in her home in Portland, Oregon, Cleo Berry can only imagine the terror of the Spanish Influenza that is ravishing the East Coast. When her guardians go away on travel and Cleo is stuck boarding at school, things begin to hit much close to home. The flu that felt so very far away becomes a real threat as cases begin popping up in the Pacific Northwest. Along with churches, theaters, and other public venues, Cleo’s school is shut down. Cleo foolishly decides to ride out the pandemic in the comforts of her own home, but when she sees an ad for Red Cross volunteers, she can’t ignore the call to action. Although at first out of her element, Cleo begins to identify with the patients she is caring for, and she slowly begins to fall for Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Cleo is drawn to helping people, but at what personal risk? Review Based on the most devastating real-life pandemic ever recorded, A Death-Struck Year is extremely well researched and vividly depicted. I was captivated by Cleo’s story as she dives headfirst into a world she never thought would exist. She’s all at once strong and unwavering in her devotion to the Red Cross, yet still naïve and cautious in her commitment. As a girl who had been spending time questioning her place in the world and what she might do after graduation to make her mark, answering the ad for volunteers led her straight to a path that has her making a world of difference in the lives of those in her community. Amidst the sheer terror and pandemonium that is rife in the novel is a sweet story of friendship. Cleo finds a like-minded and tender soul in Kate, who comes from a long line of nurses. Kate and Cleo hit it off immediately and fall into the comfortable routine of searching neighborhoods for the ill and tending to patients in the sick ward. As the two girls forge a new friendship, Cleo learns that Kate never wanted to follow in her family’s footsteps and become a nurse. She is set to leave on scholarship for a prestigious music school as soon as things settle down in Portland. My heart broke for the things that Kate wanted and might never find in her life, and I was drawn to this friendship forged from tragedy. Another intriguing storyline comes in the form of a budding romance between Cleo and handsome medical student Edmund. Through the chaos and death that surrounds them, Cleo and Edmund forge a tenuous bond, constantly tested by the rigors of caring for the deathly ill. I loved seeing their relationship blossom, confined by both the conventions of the time period as well as their circumstances. It is difficult to even begin to imagine the terror that the people of this time period must have felt in seeing their loved ones and neighbors fall ill to a pandemic never before seen. The Spanish Influenza did not discriminate in choosing its victims, with both the very young and the very...

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