Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder

All We Have Is Now Banner
Welcome to the tour for All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder! This is a young adult apocalyptic fiction that releases July 28, 2015 by Scholastic. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
All We Have Is Now
All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder

From the author of THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU, a groundbreaking novel about what matters most — when time is running out.
What do you do with your last day on earth?
There are 27 hours and fifteen minutes left until an asteroid strikes North America, and, for Emerson and everyone else who didn’t leave, the world will end. But Emerson’s world already ended when she ran away from home last year. Since then she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.
The city’s quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them that he has been granting people’s wishes. He gave his car away so a woman could take her son to see the ocean for the first time, and he gives Emerson and Vince all the money he has in his wallet.
Suddenly this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in 27 hours — maybe even their own.
All we have is now is one of those books that I knew that I had to read as soon as possible. I saw it on Goodreads quite some time ago, so I was thrilled when I received the email with sign ups to read and review - and participate in a blog tour. Not only that, but they sent a physical ARC which is just BEAUTIFUL. The cover of it is amazing, and I cannot wait to get my hands on a hardcover copy of the book when it releases on the 28th.
My favorite thing about this book is that it so easily rides the line of science fiction and contemporary, which happen to be my two favorite genres when it comes to young adult novels. While the main premise is that an asteroid is coming to hit Earth, and they only have a certain amount of time left to live, that is not made the overall focus. Instead, we get a unique and lovely view of the two protagonists, and the book takes on a positive light instead of dealing with the terror and negativity that would typically come from the given situation.
The two main characters, Emerson and Vince, were so easy to fall in love with. Emerson is an innocent young, homeless girl who ran away from home because of issues with her mother's boyfriend. She never would have survived being on the streets had it not been for her best friend, Vince. He had a hard enough life himself, being bounced from one foster home to the next, but you can hardly see it in his demeanor. He is such a wonderful and caring character.
As I said, the main focus of the novel was not on the fact that an asteriod is coming and that they are all going to die; instead, Schroeder decided to focus on a positive side of the story, and we see the main characters using their last day together to pay it forward. They decide to go about making things great for as many people as possible in the time they have remaining. None of them are expected to survive, and so they feel they might as well end things on a good note. I LOVED that the book took this turn instead of being dark and depressing - it's certainly a twist that I have not seen before with this plot!
As with any contemporary book, there was romance, which is always one of my favorite parts. The romance in this book was fabulous because it was incredibly subtle and sweet, and it was not insta-love or a triangle, or any of those things we see far too much. Instead, we see two young adults who have been friends for quite some time, and their feelings simple develop and the relationship falls together. It's beautiful and heartfelt, and I loved reading these parts.
Overall, this book was one that was incredible to read. The writing was amazing, and it left me thinking long after I finished reading. For me, the ending did leave a little to be desired, but the rest of the novel completely made up for that. This was a book that I did not want to put down, and did not want to end as I had grown quite attached to the characters. I simply loved the message that Schroeder portrayed - make the best out of the life you're given, and help others if you have the means to do so. This is a book that I would highly recommend to everyone, of any age. I plan to re-read it once I pick up a physical copy for myself.    
“Thoughtful, endearing, and surprisingly fun — a reminder of what’s really important in life.” –Suzanne Young, New York Times bestselling author of The Program
“All We Have Is Now is one of those books my teenage self needed — a thoughtfully crafted reminder that every moment is a gift and that we should be kind, especially to ourselves.” –Julie Murphy, author of Side Effects May Vary
“Heartwarming and hopeful. I’d take this book with me to the apocalypse!” –Amy Plum, internationally bestselling author of the Die for Me series
How did the idea for ALL WE HAVE IS NOW come about?
When I was in high school, I had a leadership class where we did lots of different activities and exercises. One of the most memorable ones was when we all sat in a circle and our teacher, Mrs. Smith, said something like: “Imagine the world is going to end in 24 hours. I’d like you to share with us how you would spend those last 24 hours.” What made it so memorable was how emotional people got as they spoke of the ones they love the most, or relatives they hadn’t seen in a while and wouldn’t be able to see again. It wasn’t long before almost everyone was crying. It was strange and kind of eerie, but also wonderful, because it was such a great reminder of what matters most. Of course, the class clown, a kid named Eric, gave us all a break from our tears when it was his turn and he said something like, “I’d find a girl and we would have a fun 24 hours, and that’s all I’m gonna say.”
I’ve always been fascinated with meteors and asteroids. The one that happened over Russia in 2013 was slightly terrifying, seeming to come out of nowhere and creating a huge blast in the sky, injuring over 130 people. As I thought about writing a book that dealt with that question of – how would you spend the last 24 hours – this seemed like a unique premise to play with.
Lisa Schroeder is the author of over a dozen books for kids and teens, including the YA novels I Heart You, You Haunt Me and The Bridge From Me to You. She loves tea and cookies, flowers, family hikes, books and movies that make her laugh and cry, and sunshine. Living in Oregon, she doesn’t get nearly enough sunshine, but the hikes are amazing. You can visit her online at on Twitter at @lisa_schroeder.
AUTHOR ONLINE: Website | Facebook | Twitter

The author will be giving away $40 Powells e-gift card (US) OR a signed copy of All We Have Is Now (INT) to the winner of the below Rafflecopter. The giveaway ends August 5th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  
This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Merit Press Author Interview: Shana Silver + Giveaway

I am back today with another Merit Press post. This is one I am VERY excited about because we get to learn a little bit more about one of the authors and their book, as well as a GIVEAWAY for the book! Yay, everyone loves a giveaway!

I would love to introduce you to Shana Silver, author of Alice in Wonderland High, one of Merit Press' recent releases. 

I asked Shana some interview questions, and here are her responses (continue reading for the giveaway at the end of the post.)

1. How did you first think up the idea for Alice in Wonderland High? Is it something that just came to you, or did you take motivation from somewhere? 
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has always been one of my favorite books. As part of a reading challenge, I decided to re-read it. At the same time, I was mulling a book idea involving extreme environmental activism but hadn't gotten very far plotting it. While I was re-reading the original book, I started to realize how many of the scenes and themes of the original aligned with my environmentalism idea. For example, in the original, Alice's main goal is to get inside a beautiful but forbidden garden. A few key scenes became obvious to me too, like how to re-imagine the baby turning into a pig after Alice rescues it. Maybe instead she has to dress a pig as a baby to rescue it. Stuff like that. Once I started plotting, it all fell into place! 

2. Did you base any of the characters in the book (personality, looks, etc.) off of yourself, family, or friends?

I wish I had a fun answer about this, but since this is a retelling, I mostly used the original characters personality traits as a basis for guiding these. I did sort of model Chess's appearance after Finn from the TV show GLEE, but very loosely. Really, the only Easter egg from my real life that made it into the book is the orange and navy sweater the college tour guide wears. That was the same shirt worn by tour guides at my alma matter. That said, in the book, Alice is extremely short, and while I'm not as short as her, I am only 5 feet, so I was able to draw from experience to describe her struggles with being vertically challenged. 

3. What was your favorite scene to write from the book?

My favorite scene to write from the book was actually the last scene I wrote in one of the later revisions. It's the scene where Alice calls Kingston for help in breaking and entering. I love the dynamic between the two of them in that scene, how they hate each other but also really need each other. I can't believe this scene didn't exist the entire time in the book! It was conceived as part of a revision request during querying to add more beats to the mystery plotline. 

4. What do you hope readers will get/achieve from reading your book? Is there an overall theme you hope that they take away from it? 

Honestly, I just hope they have fun while reading it and enjoy it! I guess if they want to take away something, maybe they should consider not doing ecotage? 

5. Do you have any favorite quotes from the book?

The first line of the book is a particular favorite of mine. It was originally buried in the middle of the first chapter until a critique partner pointed out it was the perfect starting place. I also love a few of the lines between Alice and Chess, particularly when one slips in something and the other withholds something the other wants to hear (trying to be vague here!).

6. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers? 
Don't give up! I had a very long journey from first deciding I wanted to pursue publication to actually becoming published and it would not have happened if I had given up. To that end, my best advice is to continue writing. You can't publish a blank page.


Merit Press is giving away TWO (2) copies of Alice in Wonderland High!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Merit Press: Recent Releases

Hey all, and welcome back to Merit Press July here on my blog! I am super excited to share lots of reviews, interviews, and giveaways in the next couple of weeks. I thought today I would share some information on some of the most recent YA books that Merit Press has published and released. That way, when giveaways pop up soon, you will know which books you REALLY want to win (hint: it will probably be all of them!).

We Will Be Crashing Shortly by Hollis Gillespie
Release Date: June 15, 2015
Page Count: 256
April Mae Manning from Unaccompanied Minor is back, and back in trouble, but this time, she's run out of chances...
April Mae was raised on airplanes by her flight-attendant parents. But since her dad's death and her mom's remarriage to the nefarious pilot Ash Manning, April's been in nothing but danger: two airplane crashes; two car crashes; and now, as a student pilot, in an old plane crippled over the Caribbean. Can she survive, and save her friends, or is this the watery end to "Crash" Manning's story?
Praise for Unaccompanied Minor: "A laugh-out-loud thriller about family court, money laundering and skyjacking" ~Kirkus Reviews

Crossing into Brooklyn by Mary Ann McGuigan

Release Date: July 18, 2015
Page Count: 224
To Find Your Future, You Have to Face Your Past

At sixteen, Morgan Lindstrum has the life that every other girl wants--at least from the outside. A privileged only child, she has everything she could ever want, except her parents' attention. A Princeton physicist and a high-powered executive, they barely have any time for each other, much less for Morgan. Then her beloved grandfather dies, depriving Morgan of the only stable figure in her life. If that's not enough, she suddenly finds out he was never her grandfather at all. To find out the truth about her family, Morgan makes her way to Brooklyn, where she meets Terence Mulvaney, the Irish immigrant father who her mother disowned. Morgan wants answers; but instead of just satisfying her curiosity, Mulvaney shows her the people in his condemned tenement building, who are suffering and have nowhere to go. He challenges her to help them, by tearing away the veil of shame, and showing her wealthy parents and her advantaged circle of friends a world they don't want to know exists. The temptation to walk away from this ugly reality, as her mother did, is strong. But if she does, can Morgan ever really leave behind what she learned when she crossed into Brooklyn?

Alice in Wonderland High by Rachel Shane
Release Date: April 18, 2015
Page Count: 304
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Alice just can't find a way to be free. Her parents are environmental activists whose cringeworthy public protests might involve chaining themselves to a fence and pleading with passersby to “Save the World. Save Alice!” It’s not that Alice doesn’t believe there’s work to be done. But after a petition to start a farmers’ market meets with more snickers than signatures, she figures she should shut up instead of speak out. At least, that is, until she can find something that feels real. Then along comes Whitney Lapin, a girl who speaks in cryptic riddles and spends her free time turning abandoned warehouses into beautiful gardens. Charismatic Whitney leads Alice on a rabbit trail into the underground—a.k.a. secret society—of Wonderland High.

Curiouser and curiouser. Alice is in wonderland! Even though Whitney’s group of teenage environmental vigilantes operates on the wrong side of the law, with them, Alice is finally free to be herself. She stomps on her good-girl image by completing a series of environmental pranks to impress the new group: flooding the school and disguising a pig as a baby in order to smuggle it out of a testing facility. She wants to trust them, and she especially wants to trust (or maybe kiss) Chester Katz—a boy with a killer smile, a penchant for disappearing, and a secret that will really turn Alice’s world backwards. But then one of the young vigilantes tries to frame Alice for all the pranks, and she must figure out their secret before she ends up in front of a jury that’s screaming, “Off with her head!”
Perdita by Faith Gardner
Release Date: August 1, 2015
Page Count: 224
Synopsis: Granted, Arielle has a vast, excitable imagination. But she's not imagining how strange and out of control her life becomes after the death by drowning of her older sister's best friend, Perdita. Not only does this death echo the death of Arielle's own older brother, ten years before, it leads to dreams and visions in which Perdita seems to be reaching out to Arielle, asking for her help. The only other explanation—that Arielle's high-strung emotions have finally caused her to break with reality—is even more terrifying. A story that builds to greater and greater heights of suspicion and fear, Perdita is also a multi-layered literary achievement that leaves no emotion untouched.
Unlovely by Celeste Conway
Release Date: January 2, 2015
Page Count: 256
Synopsis: Accidents happen. But they happen more often when the beautiful ballet dancers return each summer to the island. When he hears the ruthless way that the loveliest dancer talks about boys getting what they deserve when they break girls' hearts, Harley, home for the summer after his first year of college, wonders if he's losing his mind. He knows for sure that he's losing his heart to this girl...But then, strange incidents start happening all over the island and Harley is caught between desire and fear: could he also be in danger of losing his life?



Friday, July 10, 2015

Review: Aoleon the Martian Girl Part 5 by Brent LeVasseur

Aoleon the Martian Girl - Part 5
By Brent LeVesseur

Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Aoleon Press
Release Date: Feb 1, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: Aoléon, Gilbert, Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot make it to their final destination - Cydonia where Aoléon’s parents are being held captive. They infiltrate a secret underground base and are confronted by a small army of sentrybots.

Bizwat lends Aoléon and Gilbert some of his advanced combat skills via a psionic brain dump. However, this may not be enough to save them from overwhelming hostile forces that will do anything to stop them.

They finally meet Pax - the Martian who originally set them out on the mission to discover the truth about the Luminon and his plans to invade Earth. However Pax is not who he seems to be, and through a turn of events, they uncover the true power behind all that has been happening on Mars.

Will they be able to rescue Aoléon’s parents and save Earth from invasion?
Join Aoleon and Gilbert in the conclusion to this exciting middle-grade science fiction and fantasy adventure!


(This book is NOT part of Merit Press, but I am excited to bring you reviews of all five parts of this book this week as an addition to my July posts!)

Review:  Part 5, the last part of the book, had me just as excited as the first four parts had me. The anticipation for the ending was amazing based on how well LeVasseur had already built up the story at this point. Picking up where we last saw Aoleon and Gilbert, the story continues right on as if there was no break at all. LeVasseur takes his character through the ending of their exciting journey as they learn more about Mars, Pax, and what it is going to take to save Aoleon's parents, as well as the dairy cows back on Earth. He continues to develop the history and politics surrounding Mars and Aoleon's home, as well as the continued friendship between the two main characters...and the other characters they have met throughout their journey.

I do still think that it was a wonderful and fascinating quality to have a female alien as one of the main characters. Typically, we find males in this role when it comes to literature, and having Aoleon was a much welcome change. It was exciting and fun to hear her talk about the technical language that comes with her kind and environment. I think that she was a wonderful sidekick to our main character, Gilbert, who remained completely relate able throughout the entirety of the book, and majored over the five parts of the book.

As usual, incredible illustrations contributed to the overall effect and success of this part of the story. They went along so perfectly with the text that I felt completely emerged in the world; like I was there myself instead of just seeing the pictures. It is incredible to see the things that LeVasseur describes in such vivid color and detail, and I do believe that it is something that will encourage middle grade children to continue reading the story, as if he plot itself was not enough. 

While I believe that LeVasseur finished the story in a fantastic way, it is still incredibly disappointing for it to be over. I had so much fun emerging myself into this world and going along with the characters as they dealt with all sorts of difficult and exciting adventures. I can only hope that we might see the characters again in future books.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: Aoleon the Martian Girl Part 4 by Brent LeVasseur

Aoleon the Martian Girl - Part 4
By Brent LeVasseur

Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Aoleon Press
Release Date: Feb 1, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: Aoléon and Gilbert have become the Luminon’s top priority in stopping the Martian resistance movement, and after being chased by the Royal Paladin Guard, they are forced to flee the Martian Megalopolis. Aoléon, Gilbert and Zoot escape with the help of Bizwat and his newly found friend, Helios, a first generation soldierbot.

After their saucer is destroyed, they crash land somewhere in the deep Martian desert, and they set out to locate Kyrios and the secret base where Aoléon’s parents are being held captive.

After battling the forces of nature, starvation, a Klyklon dust storm, (and not to mention a giant slor that almost swallows them alive), they finally make it to their destination. However, after Kyrios gives Gilbert some basic training to develop his budding psionic power, they learn that their journey is far from over.

Will Aoléon, Glbert, Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot be able to rescue Aoléon’s parents and stop the Martian invasion of Earth in time? 


(This book is NOT part of Merit Press, but I am excited to bring you reviews of all five parts of this book this week as an addition to my July posts!)

Review:  You guessed it, I'm back again with my review of the next part of Aoleon the Martian Girl! Today is my review for part 4, and I was just as excited to pick up this part of the book as I was with the first three parts. I honestly was not sure that another part of the book could be as exciting and adventurous as the three previous parts had been, but then I read part 4. I think it is amazing that LeVasseur is able to bring in so many plot twists and adventures without it getting at all repetitive. While it has been able to keep me engaged, I have no doubt that it would keep middle school children engaged as well.

In this part of the book, we see Gilbert and Aoleon getting chased away from her planet as they try their best to save the cows on Earth. They have been found out, though, and so they must run for their lives in order to survive what is going on. Along with making sure that they stay safe, they now have to figure out where Aoleon's parents are being held captive so that they can save them as well. Talk about a lot of stress for two young characters! I do believe that Gilbert and Aoleon have majored thus far throughout the book, and that is an excellent example to set in a middle grade story. The theme of friendship is on that is very relate able, as well. However, I do think that it is beneficial to add in all of the political features as well, as those are often left out of middle school novels.

The thing that is becoming my favorite part of the book, aside from the illustrations, is the language that is used. In a way, it feels as though that LeVasseur has made up a new language to go along with the world that he has created, and that makes things even more exciting. Everything has its own name and meaning, and the characters' names are fun as well (I especially love Helios since I am such a mythology fan!). As with the three previous parts, the illustrations are wonderfully vivid and eye-catching. I don't think that I could ever get tired of looking at them. LeVasseur has created something magical when the words and pictures are put together. I cannot wait to read part five and see how the story ends. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: Aoleon and the Martian Girl Part 3 by Brent LeVasseur

Aoleon and the Martian Girl - Part 3
by Brent LeVasseur

Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Aoleon Press
Release Date: Feb 1, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: Aoléon and Gilbert investigate the Luminon to try and uncover the plot to invade Earth to steal it’s milk cows. In the process, they discover a disturbing revelation about the Martian leader. After overhearing the Luminon discuss his plans to use sabotage to disrupt Mars’s galact supply, the duo races to try and to warn Aoléon’s father Deimos, who is a manager at the galactworks plant before the saboteur can act.

Meanwhile, Aoleon has to take her pilots exam, which would enable her to eventually join the Martian intergalactic explorational fleet. However, during the test-run, something goes horribly wrong. The two are put in a life threatening situation that only Bizwat, a Procyon commando, and Aoléon’s friend can save them from.

Gilbert finally gets his chance to learn to skyboard. However, things go horribly wrong and they are chased by the Royal Paladin guard.

Will they survive?


(This book is NOT part of Merit Press, but I am excited to bring you reviews of all five parts of this book this week as an addition to my July posts!)

Review: So excited to continue on with Aoleon and the Martian Girl! Honestly, I love how this book is in so many separate parts. I think it makes it a lot easier to read through the story, and like I said before it would make things a lot easier for my middle school students. I also enjoy how each part has its own story within itself, that adds to the whole plot once they are all together. I was not sure how this book could get any better, but then I read part 3. The story really picked up in this part, and it led to more adventure and danger for our two main characters. 

This part has our characters, Aoleon and Gilbert, trying to figure out a plan to stop the Luminon from attacking Mars for some of their resources, and then taking the cows from Earth. Their task does put them in quite a bit more danger, though. Throughout the story, we get to see Aoleon take her pilot's test in order to join the intergalactic explorational fleet. Along with that, Gilbert has decided he wants to learn to Skyboard. That leads to some excitement, but then a whole lot more danger! We end this part with a cliffhanger that leaves me eager to pick up and read the next part! 

Again, the illustrations are amazing in this part. As we see new things occurring in the story, we get the detailed pictures to go along with them. I would highly recommend making sure that you read the book in color as well, to make sure that you get the illustrations to their full extent. (I know a lot of Kindles only show pictures in black and white, and that takes away from how amazing they can be). The illustrations continue to impress, just as the text does.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Review: Aoleon the Martian Girl Part 2 by Brent LeVasseur

Aoleon the Martian Girl - Part 2
by Brent LeVasseur 

Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Aoleon Press
Release Date: Feb 23, 2015
Page Count:114

Goodreads Synopsis:
Aoléon and Gilbert receive a special mission from PAX, a wanted criminal and leader of the Martian resistance movement to investigate the Luminon of Mars, who he suspects is planning an invasion of Earth to steal its milk cows. Gilbert has an encounter with the Luminess (the mate of the Luminon) and discovers something strange about her during a procession, and the duo are chased by the Royal Paladin Guard.

At Aoléon’s home, Gilbert meets Aoléon’s family, her sister Una, mother Phobos and father Deimos as well as her overzealous pet Zoot. He is also introduced to Bizwat, a covert operator and Procyon Commando, who uses his Saturn Pizza delivery job as a cover.

Gilbert then gets to visit the Martian Space Academy (Aoléon’s school) where he encounters Aoléon’s nemesis, Charm Lepton and her friend Quarkina, as well as receiving a history lesson on the Martian people by Plutarch Xenocrates. After class, Gilbert and Aoléon get to train in zero-G and Gilbert is treated to a Psi-ball match between Martian Space Academy and Martian Science Academy.

(This book is NOT part of Merit Press, but I am excited to bring you reviews of all five parts of this book this week as an addition to my July posts!)

Review:  I am so excited that I was given all five parts of this book to review at one time so that I did not have to wait for the next part. I can be very impatient when it comes to stories that I am really enjoying, and I could not wait to pick up and read part two of this after finishing up part one. I don't think I mentioned yesterday, but each part of this story is a fantastic length for middle grade. I find that my middle school students struggle to read long books, and so shorter books with pictures are really ideal for that age level. Due to this, I do think that my middle school students would love to read this story just as much as I am enjoying it.

In part two, we continue to see our two main characters, Gilbert and Aoleon, becoming even better friends as they deal with more adventures. Their characters are still amazing and relate able, and their dialogue really is wonderful. They're witty and fun, and that makes the story that much more enjoyable to read. We get to meet so many different and new characters in this part too, however. Aoleon takes Gilbert to her home where he gets to meet her family (and her fun pet!), as well as go to the Martian Space Academy where Aoleon attends school to meet her friends (and maybe even a couple of enemies).

The conflict within this story is one that is very unique, and also a very fun addition to the plot. When it comes to alien stories, we're usually dealing with something scary or their attempt to completely take over the world. Instead, the aliens here want Earth's cows. You read that right. The cows. Dairy is running short, and they love ice cream and pizza on their planet just as much as Gilbert (and all of us) love it down here on Earth. Aoleon and Gilbert are given a special mission to help with this situation, but we have to wonder who they can actually trust...there are a couple of characters I'm pretty unsure of!

Again, the illustrations in this part of the book were just captivating. I love how graphic they do look, as if they do live in a world of higher or different technology - this is something I certainly think of when it comes to alien and outer space stories. The pictures are just as detailed as the writing, which makes for a wonderful combination throughout the story.   

Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: Aoleon the Martian Girl Part 1 by Brent LeVasseur

Aoleon the Martian Girl - Part 1
by Brent LeVasseur

Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Aoleon Press
Release Date: Jan 31, 2015
Page Count: 94

Goodreads Synopsis: Mars wants our cows (yes, cows!) and they're sending an invasion fleet to take them from us. Only Gilbert and Aoleon the Martian Girl stand in their way!

Gilbert always longed for adventure but now that he has it, he's not sure that it's everything it's cracked up to be. Ever since the night he met Aoleon the Martian Girl sitting in the middle of a crop circle in Farmer Johnson's field, it's been nothing but one wild ride after another.

From fighting off swarms of giant killer robots to dealing with strange aliens from another world, never mind trekking across the vast Martian desert in order to skyboard deep into the center of a (hopefully!) extinct volcano, Gilbert's had his hand full just trying to keep up with it all. And now it's up to him and his new friend, Aoleon, to face off against the evil Martian overlord and keep our cows safe at home where they belong.

The launch of this exciting and innovatively illustrated new series takes the reader deep into the heart of an unforgettable and out-of-this-world friendship in a story full of hijinks, hilarity, and good old-fashioned fun. Join Gilbert and Aoleon in this exciting middle grade science fiction adventure today!


(This book is NOT part of Merit Press, but I am excited to bring you reviews of all five parts of this book this week as an addition to my July posts!)

Review:  When I was first contacted about reading and reviewing all five parts of Aoleon, I was very excited. I have not read a lot of middle grade, and I have been trying to get into some more of it since I do teach middle school reading. The fact that this book promised to have great illustrations was enough for me to agree to read and review it. This first part of the book was an amazing introduction to a fun new story. I am a huge fan of science fiction, and while I have only read a couple of other alien books thus far, I have enjoyed them. This book was no different, and I was thrilled to find an alien GIRL in this book. It was a fun change to what we normally get to see.

The main character, Gilbert, is incredibly relate able, and I'm sure that middle school students will feel the same way. As I am from a small town in Iowa originally, right outside of Omaha, Nebraska, I was thrilled to have a character who was from Nebraska. I could already relate to him, and I thought it was quite fun that he lived right next door to a farm. Gilbert has quite a wild imagination and lots of crazy dreams too, but he never expected to find himself brought into this sort of situation.

As this is the first part of the book, we really just get an introduction into the story. We meet Aoleon, our martian girl, and she and Gilbert become quick friends as he gets into her space ship with her to avoid shots fired from the farmer. They then begin their adventure, flying around so many different countries, and seeing wonderful landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower!).  They make their way into outer space where Aoleon shows Gilbert Mars, and then takes him to her home, which happens to be a huge volcano on another planet. There, Gilbert has to paint his face blue to blend in so they can start working to solve problems and go on more adventures. I am quite excited to see what happens next!

Now, the big part, and what I'm sure you're all interested in. The illustrations! They are SO fun! I have not read a lot of highly illustrated books since I was young, so it was quite fun to get to do so. The pictures are so bright and detailed, and they definitely draw you in. The book took me awhile to get through just because I stopped so much to stare at the pictures. There was just the right amount of pictures to go with the text, too. I am very excited to see the pictures throughout the last four parts of the book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Merit Press Publishing - July Feature

In July I have decided to do something a little bit different on the blog, especially since I'm coming off a bit of a blogging hiatus. I have been working alongside Merit Press for several months now (maybe even close to a year!). I first read and reviewed one of their YA books for a tour, and then was contacted by Bethany and asked if I would like a hard copy of that book (obviously I said "Yes!" because I loved the book!). Since then, Bethany has been sending me copies of their newer releases, and they have been wonderful! So, with that, and being so thrilled with the company, I decided I would focus on them for the whole month of July!

What sorts of things will you see?
  • Obviously there will be LOTS of reviews, as that is something that I like to focus on here on the blog. I have several of their newer releases that I have read and am ready to share some reviews with you (SPOILER: they're all amazing!). 
  • Guest posts - The authors might share their own posts, and I will share some information about some of the awesome authors as well! 
  • GIVEAWAYS - Want to read some of the books I review/talk about? Here is your chance! 
  • LOTS of other fun posts! 

I am so excited to share this wonderful publishing company with you guys! If there is anything you would like to see this month, let me know! Any questions you would like some of the authors to answer? Leave them in a comment below!

Happy July!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Wishlist

Needless to say, with the huge reading slump I have been in lately, I have purchased very few books in the last few weeks. There are quite a few newer releases that I would like to get my hands on AND read with the time I have remaining this summer (I will be spending a week at the beach in August, so that sounds like the perfect time to get some reading in!). Here are some 2015 releases I would like to purchase and read before I get back to work in August.

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

 A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

 The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman
What would you pay to cure your heartbreak? Banish your sadness? Transform your looks? The right spell can fix anything…. When Ari's boyfriend Win dies, she gets a spell to erase all memory of him. But spells come at a cost, and this one sets off a chain of events that reveal the hidden—and sometimes dangerous—connections between Ari, her friends, and the boyfriend she can no longer remember.

 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

 Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. 

 Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

 Emancipated by M.G. Reyes
The good girl, the bad boy, the diva, the hustler, the rock star, and the nerd. Six teens legally liberated from parental control for six different reasons, all with one thing in common: something to hide.

Now they’re sharing a house in Venice Beach, acting like a family, and living their lies. No parents. No limits. No alibis. One witnessed a crime, another might be a murderer—and one’s been spying on them all.

As they cling to a fantasy of freedom and slowly let down their guards, the past creeps up on them. And when one of them gets arrested, everyone’s carefully constructed facade comes crumbling down. 

Joyride by Anna Banks
A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

 Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

  The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

There we have it! I would love to get my hands on these books soon. Have you read any of them? What did you think of them? What books do you plan to read this summer? 
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