Monday, September 26, 2011

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: 09.05.2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 273

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.

Kody Keplinger has a way of writing characters that are so realistic that you genuinely feel like you've met them and personally know them, after reading about them. Her dialogue is fresh, completely realistic, and when I read it I'm constantly left thinking things like: "I'm pretty sure I've actually HAD that conversation with my friends before." She has a way of weaving a story which seems like it would be simple, but when it's all put together it creates one powerhouse of a story. If you haven't read a book by Kody Keplinger yet, you're completely missing out!

I'm a reader who loves her characters. If I don't like the characters, I generally don't like the books. In Shut Out, I never had that problem at all. Lissa, the main character, was insecure, yet she was full of sass. She had a douche of a boyfriend, and I was seriously so proud of Lissa for how she handled the different situations that Randy put her through. So freaking proud...I may have even actually said "You go girl!" while reading. :P

Now onto the yummy and awesome-tastic Cash, who was so awesome I just added a -tastic when describing him. He was smart, about most things anyways, and just all around amazing. The chemistry between Cash and Lissa was so amazing, and I found myself gushing over every single moment that they were together. I loved that Cash was more than just a jock too. He's a soccer player...which seems like it shouldn't be a big deal, but in Lissa's school, it is. Instead of there being rivalries with other schools, they have a rivalry within the school. The soccer and football teams endlessly torment each other, and it even leads to violence. It's even gotten to the point where the players don't even remember why their whole rivalry started.

She starts the whole hook-up strike because she's fed up with her boyfriend, Randy, placing more importance on the rivalry than he does on their relationship. She's also fed up with the violence after a soccer player gets injured after one of the football teams "harmless" pranks. Lissa manages to get a bunch of the girls on her side, and she leads them, and she helps keep them from caving in to their boyfriends. Then the boys start fighting back.

I absolutely loved Shut Out, if that wasn't already obvious. I loved the idea, the way it was written, and the characters. This story was hilarious, and I encourage everyone to read it! I really don't think you'll be disappointed!



Review: Deviant by Adrian Mckinty

Release Date: October 1, 2011
Publisher: Amulet Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 368
Overall: 3/5 Stars
Source: Netgalley ARC

Summary From Amazon: Danny Lopez is new in town. He made a mistake back home in Las Vegas, and now he has landed at an experimental school in Colorado for “tough cases.” At the Cobalt Charter School, everything is scripted—what the teachers say, what the students reply—and no other speaking is allowed. This supercontrolled environment gives kids a second chance to make something of themselves. But with few freedoms, the students become sitting ducks for a killer determined to “clean up” Colorado Springs.

I hadn't heard much about Deviant or Adrian McKinty before, so when I picked up this book I wasn't sure what to expect. But before I get on to the actual review I'd like to bring up some things that are incorrect from the blurb (which really bugs me). First, Danny did not make a mistake in Las Vegas, or at least the book doesn't say so. Instead, his mother gets a new job in Colorado so that's how they moved there. Also, the blurb makes it sound like the children are getting threatened or something at school. This is not the case as most of the action takes place outside of the school. Just had to set that straight before the review.

Anyways, this book was a pleasant surprise, but also had a few let downs. I found that it had a good plot that kept you interested as you tried to figure out who terrorized the town. (Okay, terrorized isn't exactly the right word, but I don't want to give anything away.) There was a good mix of characters, although it seemed like all the guys liked Danny's friend Tony (Antonia), which got a bit repetitive. I did like the two warring friend groups in the school, as they provided a lot of action and helped the reader make real life connections. As far as subplots, there was a lot going on. First there was Danny and Tony's group being detectives about the town criminal, then the dynamics between the two groups at school, Danny and the Principal's relationship, Tony and Danny's relationship, and the short chapters from the criminal's POV. However, I felt like there was so much going on that Adrian McKinty didn't have enough time to develop a main plot. I think maybe the author was trying to add depth to their story, but it just came off as trying too hard. McKinty tried adding little idiosyncrasies to the characters and giving them more purpose, but it just didn't work. I thought it was strange that Danny called his mom Juanita even though she was his biological Mom and he lived with her his whole life. Danny's issues with his MIA biological father were also just sort of thrown in there and felt out of place. As for the criminal(s), because the author focused on so much else throughout the book we only got a vague idea of their purpose for what they did. So overall, McKinty was good at throwing in bits of mystery and suspense, but tried too hard when attempting to give the book some depth. It was still a good book, but just a bit lacking for me.

Writing: 4/5 stars
Characters: 3.5/5 stars
Plot: 3/5 stars
Ending: 4.5/5 stars
Cover: 4/5 stars

Feel free to tell me what you thought!

Love always,


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Post on Hero Creation with Atonus Perry

Hey guys! As part of a blog tour we have a fun guest post from Atonus Perry, the author of Sinexia : The Mark of Perillius.

Sinexia is a bastard world that never should have existed. Its birth was an accident. Born of war and anointed with savagery, its lands were conquered by magicians, monsters, and creatures that some would revere as gods or demons. Just as Earth holds Sinexia's Origin, Sinexia holds the fate of the Earth. The Sinexia series chronicles the events that bond Earth and Sinexia. Read them and become engrossed in the tales of honor, love, despair, and action that cycle in a ring of creation and cataclysm. The Mark of Perillius follows the adventures of a young orphan who inherits the powers and abilities of his fabled ancestor. He is taken from the only normalcy he has ever known and tossed into a world of mystery and magic. Once there, he must learn to master his newfound abilities while encountering a host of rich characters, places of wonder, and dire situations.


I keep getting asked how I came up with the protagonist for Sinexia: The Mark of Perillius. I do enjoy talking about it, but I am going to write it here so that I will still be able to answer this question when old age starts to claim my memory.

I wanted to write about a hero, but I wanted to show his progress in a gradual kind of way. When I was in junior high and high school, Dragonball and Dragonball Z was a very popular animated series. One of the things I really enjoyed bout the series was that it chronicled the events surrounding a young boy and continued to follow him when he reached adulthood. I liked the way it was done so much, that I did a similar thing in The Mark of Perillius. The exploits in the first Sinexia span nine years. The protagonist begins as a teenage orphan and has reached adulthood by the book’s end.

Although I write about beings with fantastic super powers, I felt it was vital for me to show traits that are not typical for heroes in my protagonist. So, I made him rash, impulsive, and selfish. Those traits, along with a tendency to wallow in his own self pity, earned him the disdain of even me! He was very un-heroic. Through the events in The Mark of Perillius, he grows into someone worthy of the title hero. Disdain turns to adoration and a hero is born.

I really just tried to make him human. I gave him faults, goals, and secrets. I also gave him passion, and love.

This is a progression that I have witnessed first hand. I have cousins who were hellions and have turned into upstanding pillars in their community. Everyone is given the opportunity to rise to the occasion. It how we meet these challenges that determine the titles we are worthy of.

Sinexia book trailer

A big thanks to Atonus Perry! Make sure to go check out his book, Sinexia: The Mark of Perillius!

xoxo and love always,

Shelbie and Amanda

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lucky Number 7

Okay, so Princess Bookie is hosting Contest Craze, a fun event at her blog full of fun mini challenges by other bloggers. One of the mini challenges is the lucky number 7 challenge by Jessi from The Elliott Review.

So what exactly is the lucky number 7 challenge? Well, you open up to the book you are currently reading, go to page 7, look at the 7th word (if it is an article like a, an, the you go to the next word)and type that word into the Google search bar.

The book I picked is Sweetly by Jackson Pearce. The seventh word happens to be witch.

So here is my picture and my book!


I though it was pretty cool that it came up with a Puritanical witch image. Kind of Salem Witch Trials -esque.

Anyways, make sure to go see the other mini challenges and do your lucky number seven!

Love always,


Monday, September 12, 2011

BBAW: Blogger Interview Swap

Hi guys! So if you've been anywhere in the book blogging world lately, you probably know that this week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. As a part of BBAW, there is a book blogger interview swap. We're very excited to be interviewing Roberta from Wrapped in Foil. Roberta is a scientist, writer, and mother who reviews children's books. Her blog is great if you're a parent looking for good books for your kid or just someone who's a little kid on the inside. To visit Roberta's blog, click HERE. Roberta also has a science blog called Growing With Science. Make sure to stop by Roberta's blog to see her interview with us and find some great children's books. Also, stop by the BBAW Interview Swap Day pageto check out the rest of the interviews! Without further ado, let's welcome Roberta!

Okay, so we're going to start out with a really random but fun question. What is an interesting fact or two that not many people know about you?
I once helped build a boat out of cardboard that actually floated on a lake and carried people.

That's actually really cool. That must've been loads of fun! So, you review children’s books, what made you decide on that genre to review? What got you interested in it?
That is an easy question. When my son was born, I wanted to read to him every day like my mother had for me. As with many new parents, I wasn't knowledgeable about current children's books, so I had to start researching what was out there. Every year my son's interests and needs changed and I kept researching. The more I discovered, the more I became committed to promoting children's literacy.

Children's books remain appealing to me for a couple of reasons. I love the art in picture books, I'm definitely a visual person. I admire how children's book authors are able to distill a huge mound of information into a few perfectly chosen words. To me, that is more impressive than authors who chug out a series of books with thousands of words.Reviewing children's books has an added benefit: I can read a children's book quickly when I want to do a last minute review. I probably would give up book blogging if I had to finish a full length book each time. :-)

Besides children’s books, what are some of your favorite types of books to read?
I read a lot of adult nonfiction (science/nature), but I also read some fiction and I have been a mystery fan forever. This month, in addition to the review books, I have been reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, books from the Mrs. Pollifax mystery series by Dorothy Gilman, and Words in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse. I especially like the last one because the book is based on her blog. I am always inspired by bloggers who get published. I will be adding Wither and a few others I was on your blog to my TBR.

Well we're glad you found some new books to add to your pile on your blog. Anyway, on your blog you mentioned that you started blogging as part of National Novel Writing Month, what got you interested in writing?
When you love books, it isn't much of a leap to realize you want to have your own out there.

That makes sense. We always thought it'd be cool to have a book of our own, too. Okay, now for another fun question. If you could meet any one person in the world, from the past or the present, who would it be and why?
When I was in graduate school, the building I worked in was named for a man and his wife. Her name was Anna Botsford Comstock. Intrigued, I looked into the story of her life. It turns out she was the first woman professor at Cornell University. She was an artist, teacher, prolific writer and outstanding naturalist. She wrote the Handbook of Nature Study in 1911, and it is still in press today. I would love to go back to her time and talk with her.
Why? Because she had so many diverse interests (similar to mine) and was successful enough to break barriers.

We always love to hear what someone’s favorite part about blogging is. So what is your favorite part about blogging, what gets you excited about it?
Blogging has so many benefits; some tangible, some not so tangible. I think everyone loves to hear comments about what they posted, to know someone read what they wrote and cared enough about it to reply. It is wonderful to get to know other bloggers, in particular, which is why I signed up to do the BBAW.

I really like the visual aspect of blogging, too. In some of my other blogs, I post quite a few photographs. Getting to play with images and color is fun, and it so easy using blogging software.

Yeah, we saw lots of those pictures not only on your book blog, but on your science blog. How does your love of science influence your reading and/or writing?
Being a science/nature geek definitely influences my reading, because I do tend towards science-related nonfiction. As for writing, I have to say because I learned how to do scientific writing first, it has probably been a hindrance to creative writing. Scientific writing is full of the passive voice, for example, which is a big no, no in English class.

You’ve been blogging for quite a while, how has blogging changed your reading tastes or your writing style, if at all?
Actually, I was hoping that blogging would improve my writing, but I find that readers give no feedback about the writing itself, and without feedback it is hard to improve. I do think it helped me with finding different voices, especially with the different blogs. I can probably gather my thoughts and get something down on paper more quickly, too.

Now for a last fun question. Both of us are kind of twitter fiends, and we love to find new and interesting people to follow. Who is one of your favorite people to follow on twitter and why?
After playing with lists and such, I decided the best way to treat my diverse interests was to have two Twitter accounts, @RobertaGibson for books/writing and @ScienceAntics for geeky science/nature stuff. In the children's book world, @FuseEight is definitely the person to follow.

Again, thank you to Roberta from Wrapped in Foil! Also make sure to follow all the fun happenings of Book Blogger Apreciation Week and check out all the other interviews to learn more about your follow bloggers.

xoxo and love always,

Shelbie and Amanda

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This is just an update post, but it has Fantasyfest 2011 information, so you might want to read.

Hi, my name is Shelbie and recently I've been rejecting my baby (this blog) for a multitude of different reasons that all add up to equal I'm procrastinating............. :)

I have to do a TON of reviews I'm so behind and I am terribly sorry for getting so behind. 

Here is a list of reviews that will go up soon (hopefully)

  • Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen 
  • Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
  • Fat Cat by Robin Brande
  • Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
I think that's it. So I suppose I've been farther behind. 

However that brings me to topic number two.

Amanda and I are planning to have a second annual fantasyfest, our last one was in August of 2010 and it was a big hit. We were going to do it again but do to the fact that we've both been behind on things we have to do (especially with the blog) we were unable to get it ready in time for August.

So we decided to push it back to September, which seeing as it is the first of September and we have planned next to nothing out, I think it is safe to say that we won't be having it then either. 

So now Fantasyfest 2011 will be held in October. Which sort of makes sense with Halloween and stuff of that nature :)

But, we actually need your help with that part.

We need bloggers to help with Fantasyfest! It's a great way to interact with new people, possibly get more followers, and just have an awesome time in general. If you would like to help us out with Fantasyfest (and I hope you do!), please fill out the form below.

Any blog can participate, in fact we encourage all different types to enter so we can have a variety.

So, please fill out the form if you would like to be an official participant in Fantasyfest 2011, and I'm going to write some of the posts I'm behind on :)