Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Into the Fire

Into the Fire
Birth of the Phoenix, book one
by Ashelyn Drake

Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.
  (Description from

This book sucked me in from page one.  It has a great opening scene that really sets you right into the heart of the story. I was fascinated by the concept of Cara and her family being Phoenixes and the way the lore hits their family... my heart ached for Cara and Jeremy!   

While I'm not usually a fan of insta-love at all, in this case, with the way that Cara's genetics affected things I got it.  The way that both she and Logan felt it but also wanted to resist it really made sense.  Drake did a great job with that. The deeper they got it, and the higher the stakes got, the more I found myself rooting for Cara's happiness, no matter where it came from.  

And when we find out who the hunter is...well, I knew something was up with this character, but I have to admit to still being shocked at the big reveal! Well done. I love not being able to guess the bad guy.

AND with where this book leaves us... HELLO CLIFFHANGER!!!... I cannot wait to read the next one.  

Full Disclosure: Review copy received from publisher

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Author Interview - Georgia Clark!

So, on Monday I reviewed Georgia Clark's new YA dystopia, Parched (check out my review here). Today, I'm lucky enough to welcome Georgia to the blog to answer a few questions! 

Photo from Georgia Clark's Goodreads page 

1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs to write your newest book, Parched?

I started working on Parched the year I moved to New York from Sydney: 2009, towards the end. I handed in the final manuscript to my publishers at the end of 2013. But I was working on it on and off, and the first draft barely resembles the final one. It took a long time, because I was basically teaching myself how to write a full-blown dystopian sci-fi as I went.

2. What kind of research did you do to write a book about a teen living in a domed city because the outside environment was considered unlivable?

I did a lot of research! I listened to podcasts about artificial intelligence, interviewed scientists and other experts, talked to smart friends, subscribed to Popular Science magazine, read similar YA titles etc etc. most of my research centered around AI and robotics, which I didn't know much about when I started working, but am somewhat of an expert in now. I've even given talks on it, here in Brooklyn!

3. If you could write a book under a pseudonym that no one would ever connect to you, are there any genres you would love to secretly explore?

The only topics I’d feel the need to secretly explore would be topics that would be risky for me. The very real danger that feminist journalists are getting into over #GamerGate is frightening, but so important they’re speaking up. So something like that. Everything else I’d slap my name on and yell it from the rooftops!

4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?

Assuming money was no object? I’d love to go scuba-diving in the Greek Isles. This would feed my fondness for sun, the ocean, and olive oil. I also really need to try the Salted Caramel ice cream at Blue Marble in Park Slope. I’ve heard it’s amazing.

Quick picks list:

Favorite vacation destination – The Amalfi Coast, Italy. My friends and I stayed in a 4-story, 400-year-old villa there for a week last summer. Thank you Air BnB! Truly spectacular part of the world.

Favorite childhood book – I inhaled Susan Cooper’s Over Sea, Under Stone series. Classic YA fantasy. Also loved Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree series: fantastic, highly imaginative early chapter series.

Favorite writing snack food - Financier’s chocolate macaroons. Little slice of heaven, right there. I always spend ten minutes critically assessing every delicious-looking pastry in their display cabinet, then get the same thing every time.

Favorite clothing item - I have a great pair of beautiful tan leather boots I bought in Bologna, Italy, many years ago that are still going strong. And, like every Brookline, I have a khaki-green cotton parka that I basically live in.

Thank you so much, Georgia, for stopping by to visit today! 

Author Bio
I'm a young adult novelist with a weakness for hot nerds and cheese platters, not necessarily in that order. I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and spend a lot of time hanging out with improvisers and searching for the perfect pair of skinny jeans. I love Katniss, Katsa, Karou, Clary, Grace, Puck, Lena—you get the picture.

Places to Contact Georgia:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brunette Ambition

Brunette Ambition 
by Lea Michele

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her--from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights. Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way. (Description from

I like to flip through a lot of non-fiction "lifestyle" books.  I dabble in books on diet, fashion, and decor but I don't often truly read them from start to finish. When my friend Jen over at yabooknerd reviewed this one I was immediately curious and requested it through interlibrary loan. I was hesitant to let my hopes build up too much because I often find celebrity books to be either knowingly pretentious or to just be written as if we all had enough money and time to live as they do and thus, unknowingly unrealistic. 

I was pleasantly surprised that though, there were a few moments like that here, they were few and far between.  For the most part Lea Michele seems down to earth and the tips she gave and stories she shared seemed well chosen for a large audience.  I liked that she threw in tips on every part of a healthy and happy lifestyle - from loving yourself to choosing and cherishing good friends, to staying  healthy and stress-free, to looking and feeling great! It was not only a fun book to flip through, but one that I actually sat down and READ.  I even took it back to work and photocopied some of the exercise and recipe pages.  

A much better read than I'd anticipated. 

Full Disclosure: Borrowed through Interlibrary Loan