Friday, May 15, 2015

Under the Spotlight by Angie Stanton [Blog Tour + Review]

Hello! I am very happy to be a part of the blog tour for Angie Stanton's newest title Under the Spotlight! I really enjoyed Angie Stanton's book Royally Lost last year and was very pleased to be invited to be able to help with this title as well! 

Title: Under the Spotlight
Author: Angie Stanton
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: From Publisher for honest review
Available NOW! 
After an embarrassing stint on a reality-TV music competition years ago, Riley vowed never to sing again. Now she's behind the scenes, working at the prestigious Sound Sync recording studio, and life is looking up. But then Garrett Jamieson, the oldest brother in the famous Jamieson brothers band, crashes into her world.
Garrett has hit rock bottom, and he is desperate to reinvent himself. After calling in a few favors, he ends up working at Sound Sync to learn the ropes of record producing from the industry's best. And he can't believe his luck when he discovers that Riley has been keeping a secret—she is an amazing singer. By producing her album, he's sure to top the record charts again. But Garrett is forced to use every trick in his arsenal to persuade the sassy girl to record.
Riley refuses to sing—or even entertain the thought of it—and sparks fly as Garrett finally meets his match. But in the heat of the moment, one stolen kiss changes everything. Will Riley be the first person to finally rein Garrett in, or will Garrett succeed in getting Riley back under the spotlight?
This was my first time diving into this trilogy, but I made if for the final book! I thought the premise was interesting, the focus on music one that I don't particularly get into myself. It was interesting to be able to go into Riley's world and see the steps taken behind the vale the public sees when it comes to music. Though, I did want her to take the spotlight herself pretty much from the get go.

I've been doing some light research on the other books in the series to make myself feel more well rounded for this review, and from what I gather Garrett has been the "jerk" throughout the series thus far. I felt that from him pretty instantly, though it didn't always bother me like I normally expect. I'm not a fan of jerky boys getting the girl -- and his need to get the next big thing felt very strong to me. He's full of angst and he's mad at his brothers for ruining it all. His need to make it big by using Riley kind of rubbed me the wrong way for awhile... but I got over it... slowly.

I liked how both Riley and Garrett both seemed to hold back their relationship. It was not rushed, and it was not out of nowhere. There were subtle hints and moments where you questioned what would happen... but you don't know for awhile. I liked that in this book because I felt it was true to both characters - each of them are longing for different things, so it takes a bit to find each other. 

Ultimately, if you are like me and have somehow missed this series, book three is actually a really great place to start! 

I thought this book was cute and different, at least for me. I don't read books regarding music very often so this world felt new and exciting to me which was nice. I appreciated the time spent building the relationship and it is clear that Angie Stanton knows these characters very well and that they are well fleshed out. Garrett, even with all of his intricacies, still felt real and his choices seemed to reflect him once I got to know him better. 

I can't wait to catch up on the first two books! 

About the Author: 

Angie Stanton never planned on writing books—she wanted to be a Rockette. However, growing up in rural America with her brothers’ 4-H pigs as pets, she found that dance didn’t quite work out. Instead, she became an avid daydreamer. After years of perfecting stories in her head, she began to write them down, and the rest is history. When not writing, she loves watching natural disaster movies, going to Broadway musicals, and dipping French fries in chocolate shakes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Ice Like Fire
by Sara Rasch
Release Date: October 13, 2015 

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.
Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?
Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?
As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

I LOVED Snow Like Ashes, and am super excited for this sequel! I love a good fantasy, and this series is very promising. 

What are you guys waiting on this week?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Feature Follow Friday: How Do You Decide What Books to Read Next?

How do you decide what books to read next?

This is really quite the loaded question because there are SO many factors involved in what I'm reading and when I'm reading it. I keep a master list that isn't too fancy, but since I just made out "The List" for Summer and Fall so far I will show you

As you can see the above is really nothing special. It is simply a list of books that I need to read, and their release dates. Some of them are older and I haven't gotten around to them - some of them have not come out yet. It is truly a mixture. This is a brand new list (made it yesterday) so unfortunately, I have not highlighted or crossed anything off. Making a physical list helps me because it allows me to feel accomplished. I also have a calendar with all the books and the dates they come out so I know time frames required to get everything done. 

Level of importance goes as follows: 

1.) Books for blog tours/ interviews /requested reviews. 
These books are the ones I know I need to get to first because someone else is depending on it and a schedule exists. 

2.) Books requested from Publishers. 
These books are the ones that I wanted really, really, really bad... so I have to read them. Sometimes I request a book that just isn't for me, and these things happen. The occasional DNF is acceptable, but with the books I request I REALLY try. I read these books in the order of publication... most of the time. 

3.) Unsolicited books sent for review: 
These books were from the publisher but I did not request them. They are being provided in hopes a review will happen. These books I go to for the genres I often wouldn't normally seek out. Normally these books are Middle Grade and I read them when I want to feel accomplished by reading a simple, cute book extremely fast. One of my favorite books last year THE LUCK UGLIES occurred this way, it was an unsolicited Middle Grade fantasy that I LOVED. I received it unsolicited and as you can see, its sequel has made its way onto the "real" list. See, the system works! haha

4.) Books I buy for myself: 
Life of a reviewer means you often buy books that stay on your shelves for what feels like forever before you're able to get to them. I try to read one book that I bought for myself a month, but recently it has been more far apart than that. You can see on the bottom of the Summer TBR list I have just a few books that I didn't receive for review and this is primarily to remind me that it is okay to read things that aren't on the "schedule". 

Ultimately I read whenever I have the time, but I'm also a senior in college majoring in English so life happens and sometimes I have so much reading for school that I can't read for a few days and that is okay. 

I don't always follow this exactly, and that is also okay. Ultimately,  I decide what I'm going to read by this thought process... but that doesn't mean I stick to it religiously. I'm a person who does this as a hobby (the best hobby EVER, but still a hobby). If I'm not feeling a contemporary when it's the next up... it's okay for me to skip it and come back. If I receive the sequel to my favorite series 7 months in advance... I'm going to read it earlier than what is technically "allowed". 

I think it is important to not get hung up on what our system is... because that isn't fun. Reading is fun. And we love reading... so let's just focus on reading. 


What does your process look like? 

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Bloglovin, Facebook, or all if you're feeling daring! 

City Love by Susane Colasanti [DNF Review]

Title: City Love
Author: Susane Colasanti
Source: From Publisher for honest review.
Rating: Did Not Finish
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are living together in New York City the summer before their freshman year of college begins. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.
Sadie is a native New Yorker. She is hopeful, romantic, and an eternal optimist who is ready to find her soul mate. Then she meets her dream boy: cute, funny, and quirky in all the right ways. The chemistry between them is unreal. Could he be the one?
Darcy is a free spirit from SoCal with rebellious tendencies and unlimited financial resources. Moving to New York City is just another adventure for her. Darcy wants this summer to be all about boy adventures—nothing serious. But how much fun is too much?
Rosanna leaves Chicago for NYC so she can put her past behind her and reinvent herself. The only thing standing in her way is the grand total of seventy-three cents she has saved. Then she meets a guy who wants to show her the glamorous side of New York—a side that she would never get to experience on her own. If Rosanna doesn't resist, she may find herself in city love.

City Love started off with promise but it slowly lost me. I made it 40% of the way through and no longer cared about what the characters were doing, or what was going to happen to them. My problems with this title are as follows:

1.) Insta-Love: There's some insta-love in this book, and I just don't do insta-love anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love to love love stories, but I want the stories to be realistic. While I do think that the insta-love is being used to display the "newness" of New York City... I just couldn't get past it. It felt like it was everywhere and it was just too much.

2.) Hard to Follow: I liked that the story was told from alternating perspectives, but the character's voices really blended together for me. I found myself confused as to who was talking. I don't often stop reading at chapter breaks, so I found myself unable to decipher who was narrating when I began reading again. This was just frustrating, and it may be a completely me issue.

3.) Unbelievable: I didn't become indebted in these character's lives like I feel I should have. The girls didn't stand out. Half-way through the book I was not sure what the point was as it felt entirely based on romantic relationships and not the friendships which were described.

Ultimately, if you're a fan of love stories and multiple relationships in a single package this book is for you! I believe the majority of the issues I found in this title were "me" problems. I'm 23, so childish relationships where the guy seems perfect outwardly and you fall head over heels just isn't my thing anymore. I didn't feel enough depth which I think was my real issue, and ultimately that was what made me stop reading.

If you love stories that take place in the Big Apple, you should definitely check this one out! I loved the NYC images in this one and that was one aspect I definitely would not change.

Have you guys read this one? Were these issues just me? Comment below with the answers! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This weeks title looks amazing! It's like all the elements of perfection rolled themselves into one binding. This one is explained as based on Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer with a fantasy twist. The very mention of Georgette Heyer (as she is so often forgotten) makes me want it. Plus, look at that cover! 

Check it out! 

Release Date: November 29, 2015

After the Newington Emerald is stolen at the height of a conjured storm, eighteen year-old Lady Truthful Newington goes to London to search for the magical heirloom of her house. But as no well-bred young lady can hunt the metropolis for a stolen jewel, she has to disguise herself as a man, and is soon caught up in a dangerous adventure where she must risk her life, her reputation... and her heart. 
Balancing twin roles as a young lady coming out in her first season and as an intrepid young man up against an evil sorceress isn’t easy, but Truthful has to manage it. Her father’s life and even the fate of England may depend upon her recovering the Newington Emerald!

What are you guys waiting on this week? 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Conversation With Bestselling Author Deeanne Gist [Author Interview]

Today I have a very special guest with me! I have been a fan of Deeanne Gist's historical fictions since I was a teenager and if you have not read any yet you should make doing so a priority. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Deeanne about her upcoming title, Tiffany Girl, and also about her writing life!

You can buy Tiffany Girl TODAY, and it is the perfect book to start your Gist collection. Here is some information on the newest title to get you excited! My review will be posted next week. 

From the bestselling author of It Happened at the Fair and Fair Play comes a compelling historical novel about a progressive “New Woman”—the girl behind Tiffany’s chapel—and the love that threatens it all.
As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.
But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the New York Art Institute. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”
Tiffany Girls is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.
As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?
Here is our conversation, hope you enjoy!

C: What inspired you to write Tiffany Girl?

DG: My mom is always on the lookout for good ideas and has given me ideas for a lot of my books. She was watching a PBS program and the detective show mentioned the Tiffany Girls and how Tiffany was making his big debut at the World's Fair and the men who were making his mozaic chapel went on strike around 5 months before the Fair was scheduled to open. Tiffany didn't have time to negotiate,  out of desperation and without any other option he turned to a group of female art students and hired them to finish the job. Everyone was scandalized and upset, no one could believe they could do it because it was a man's work and they were young and inexperienced and there were only about 150 men in New York who could do the work that Tiffany required. So when this group of girls stepped up to the plate not only did they finish it and do a good job, they also became a permanent fixture in Tiffany's studio.They added a woman's department and became known as Tiffany Girls. I knew that when my mom told me about them that I would want to one day write about them.

C: I was very surprised when I heard that Tiffany began and worked in glass, I find that fascinating.

DG: His dad was the jeweler, so Louise who did the glass was the heir to the jewelry empire and did inherit it but by that time he had really made a name for himself in the stained glass and mosaic industry. They did it at the same time, father Tiffany had his place on 5th avenue and his son, rather than going straight into the jewelry was very interested in the stained glass. The thing that was so revolutionary about Louis Tiffany was that back then when they did stained glass they painted the back of it so it wasn't really transparant. What Louis did was he poured this hot molten glass onto a big iron table and he poured color into them and stirred them up with this big fork and it made the color transparant and it made it very fluid with all different shapes and shades. So these windows were like nothing they had ever seen because they were so transparent.

C: How long does it normally take for you to write a book? From idea to finished copy?

DG: It takes me a year to write a book, I spend six months researching and six months writing. I find that my time has become a lot more fractured with the introduction of Social Media. I have found that it all becomes rather addicting and I find that I don't have quite as much time as I used to, so I may slow that process down. I may slow it down for my next book because there were several books that I wanted to read on Tiffany that I didn't have an opportunity to read so who knows what I missed in those that I could have included. I think I'm going to slow down a little bit. Tiffany Girl is my eleventh book and I've had one every year since I started.

C: What is your writing process like?

DG: I guess the first thing I do is start with a premise like the one that my mom gave me. Then I try to research as much as I can about that topic. Once I have exhausted the books in my library and the sources on the internet that I can get my hand on that are reliable I spend ten days in the location of where my books are set. So in this case I spent ten days in New York, because I had done so much research on the front end I knew exactly where in new york that I wanted to go. The head of the women's department, Clara Driscoll, penned a whole bunch of letters to her family and within those letters she talked about her job at Tiffany's. That is how the scholars found out that there even were Tiffany Girls because this is a brand new discovery as of 2005, before that Louis had taken credit for these iconic lamps that we found out through these letters were clearly designed by the Tiffany Girls.

C: From my reading of Tiffany Girls so far, Flossie is very much into the idea of the "New Women" and female empowerment in general. Why did you include that so prevalently in the novel?

DG: Part of that is due to the research and I started when i research a time, I researched New York City in 1892, 1892, I read a lot about the social climate, the economic climate, the political climate and it was just the climate, like the weather. From doing that I found out about the New Women and I found out that it was really quite scandalous for women to leave home before they were married and that women could not retain a job if they were married. So the only way they could work is if they were single, but their parents didn't want them to work they wanted them to stay home and get married. So these women were going to the city to work and they had to have a place to live. The fact that they were living in boarding houses was also scandalous because they were coed and they were unchaperoned and if they went to an all female boarding house that was also seen as suspect because a lot of the brothels would disguise themselves as all female boarding houses so it became associated with brothels. It was a lose, lose for these girls. They had to really, really work hard to establish themselves in those boarding houses as respectable and they did all kinds of things which is one of the things I have Flossie do to try to make sure everyone knew that her boarding house wasn't really a boarding house. It was a home and she tries to turn it into a home. I got that idea from reading journals from people who lived in boarding houses and that is when I discovered how scandalous it was and how hard a time these girls had. I was actually trying to research how she got from the boarding house to Tiffany's studio and read about the street cars and discovered that the men abused the women and they were called "bustle pinchers" because they would pinch them and rub against them and do inappropriate things to them because they were on the street car, in rush hour, when they considered that an all man domain like smoke rooms and things of that nature. This was an all man domain and they really resisted the women infiltrating them. When I saw all of these things that women had to do in order to pave the way for women like you and me, I really felt compelled to research and write that as accurately as I could.

C: Why do you focus on historical fiction? 

DG: Well, you know that I am just really intrigued with the fact that humans are still struggling with the same things now as they were in the Middle Ages, and in Victorian times and Biblical times. It doesn't matter what generation it is we are still struggling with the same things. I like to be able to write about these things. For an example, in Tiffany Girl Flossie is an only child. I read contemporary books about being an only child and what the struggles were and what the pros were and all of those kinds of things about being an only child. I was able to take that and then place it in a time where things were just a little bit slower, things didn't move as fast as it did today. It allows me to slow down and see things from a different perspective and it hopefully allows me to take something that is relevant today and places a fresh outlook on it.

C: Do you think you will write any contemporaries anytime soon?

DG: I have ideas for five right now, but I'm not sure. I'm trying currently to transition from the inspirational market to the general market and I don't want to change everything too fast. Right now I am going to focus on historicals that are general market. Then maybe after I have established myself there I may just get a wild hair and try my hand at a contemporary. The only contemporary I have done so far is a romantic suspense, Beguiled, I cowrote with J. Mark Bertrand.

C: I was looking through the physical copy of Tiffany Girl, and was struck by all the artwork included. Why did you choose to make that a part of the novel? 

DG: That started with the first book in the series, It Happened at the Fair, which if any of your readers have read Tempest in the White City, that book takes you through the forming of the fair while mine takes you to the fair. That book is also a general market book. When reading about the fair I found it very hard to describe in words how over the top that fair was because you can't go too over the top in your writing. I called the publisher and told them that we had to include some pictures because I don't think people had any idea how amazing the fair was. I own so many books from the 1890's with images in them that are now public domain, and the publisher agreed to include them. So I pulled all of the images and scanned them to put them in the book. When we decided to make a World Fair series we continued including the artwork so they could follow that same example. I've had the best time with it and it has really been a lot of fun to include the images.

C: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

DG: You know, I never dreamed I would be a writer because I had dyslexia as a child and I managed to graduate with Texas A&M with my 2.3 GPA with a lot of celebration. If you had told me then that I would be making my living with the written world I would have laughed, my parents would have laughed, my sisters would have laughed... no one would believe it. I had always been a good writer in creative writing at school or letter writing and my parent's knew it because they were very focused on my disability before people really knew what learning disabilities were, but they knew because it was hereditary. They were quick to zoom into what I was good at and they were great at encouraging me. One thing I was always good at was writing. When my dad went to a writers conference he came home and called me and told me to come over and read me all of the notes he took. He convinced me to be a journalist that day so I could work from home with my small children. So I started pitching ideas to magazines and ended up writing for People Magazine, Parenting, and Family Fun. That experience taught me how to write to a deadline, how to write to a word count, how to edit, and it really gave me a lot of good practice so that when I began to write a book I had a good idea of what to expect.

C: I read that you were an entrepreneur at one time, how has that influenced your writing? 

DG: Yes, much to my husband's distress, I have a very entrepreneurial spirit to the point when he would tell me to please not make him anymore money! I was losing way more money than I was making. I dabbled in all kinds of things. Antique booths, and I have a parenting product out, what I think it is something called ideaphoria where you have lots and lots of ideas. When you have ideaphoria you want to see that idea become an end product but the problem is is most creatives don't have much business savvy. So, I see now why so many brilliant ideas never make it to the store shelves because the creatives have no business savvy. It has affected my writing by allowing me to never run out of ideas. I will never run out of ideas for books, or plots, all of that. I don't think it is as much the entrepreneurial spirit as it is the ideaphoria.

C: What is your favorite historical period? 

DG: I have written everything from 1644 to 1905 and I have really parked myself in the Victorian Era. I think I really like the clothing of that era, and it is a lot easier to find information about that era. When I wrote the book placed in 1644 it was so hard to research. There just wasn't a lot about America in 1644. Trying to find what kind of houses they lived in, what clothing they wore, what food they ate, and what slang they used along with the political and social climate was so hard. I gravitated then towards Victorian because there was so much more to choose from and I could be a lot more accurate. I think I am ready to move on, whether I will move forward or backward I'm not too sure, but I am ready to try something new.

C: What advice do you have for an aspiring writer? 

DG: When I realized I wanted to be a writer I was in a used book store. With dyslexia reading doesn't always fuse in the brain until sometime during adolescence, and for me it was sometime between my junior and senior year of high school.  I'd become a voracious reader and I was introduced to the wonderful world of fiction. I had a lot of catching up to do, and I was in a used book store where they had a sign that said, "Have Lunch With Judith McNaught" who was one of my favorite romance writers back then. I picked up the brochure and it had some information about meeting editors and agents. I called the number and they said they had some editors and agents coming in from New York that you can sign up for a 15 minute appointment to pitch your book to and if they will ask you to send it in. I told her to sign me up for it, and the woman advised it was best to have already written a book, but I said I'd have one done by then. I was so clueless! I sat down and wrote the worst book ever in about six weeks. It was so bad, but I thought it was so good. I had my appointment and the agent loved my idea so he had me send it to him. He sent it back and said I could write, but I needed to learn my craft. What I tell people is you can be the best athlete in the world, you can be Michael Jordan, but you still have to learn the rules of basketball. You can't play unless you know the rules. To me, that is the way writing was, it was a natural ability but I still had to learn my craft. I spent the next three years learning my craft and then that book sold immediately, A Bride Most Begrudging. I guess my advice for writers is just to finish the book. If you finish the book you are so far ahead of so many people. My second piece of advice is to learn your craft. If you don't learn your craft you're just spinning your wheels. I read How To books, I joined a critique books, I went to conferences, I did everything that I could to learn the craft. I still do that, I don't feel I have learned everything. You never know it all and you will always learn something knew. That would be my two things, finish the book and learn your craft.

Thank you so much for joining me on the blog today Deeanne! It was so wonderful to have you! 

About the Author: 

Deeanne Gist has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captivated readers everywhere with her original historical and contemporary romances. A favorite among readers and reviewers alike, her popular titles include It Happened at the Fair and Fair Play. Her latest book, Tiffany Girl, is available May 5, 2015. 
A popular speaker, Gist’s presentations have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and in other publications. The Wall Street Journal’s accompanying online video was the most watched video on the website for several days following their feature.
Gist has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel. She is also the creator of I Did It!®, a parenting line of products. Gist lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of thirty years. The couple has four grown children. 
Gist’s fans enthusiastically interact with her at her popular online communities:, as well as on Facebook (@DeesFriends) and Twitter (@DeeanneGist). 

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