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  1. Real Books Challenge - September Link Up!!

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014

    Real Book Challenge

    Welcome to 2014 “Real” Book Challenge!

    August - where did you go!!  How is everyone doing with the challenge?  I know it is summer but make sure you are taking those books outside with you and don't forget to link up!!

    Erin's Books

    Goal: 75

    Progress Made: 67
    Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)Lailah (The Styclar Saga, #1)The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2)
    The FallStitching SnowStray



    Jaime's Books

    Goal: 100

    Progress Made: 92
    Not in the Script (If Only . . . #3)Love and Other Foreign WordsStone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements, #2)
    White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements, #1)The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2)Althea & Oliver
    RoomsThe MasseuseSnow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)
    Famous in LoveThe Glass ArrowDove Arising (Dove Chronicles, #1)


    • *Swoony Boys and Fic Fare currently host a monthly twitter read-a-long. Participating in these would be a great way for you to get an extra book in each month. We’ll post the title and dates for the next month in the newsletters.

    • *If you’re an Author or Publisher who would like to sponsor our challenge by donating a book, swag, or doing a fun interview for the newsletter- email us at realbookchallenge@gmail.com.

    Got questions?

    There’s no such thing as a bad question! If something doesn’t make sense, we want to hear from you! You can leave your question in the comments below, tweet @SwoonyBoys, @JaimeArkin, or @Erinlee20, or email us at realbookchallenge@gmail.com and we'll get back to you as soon as we can!

    Link Up Here


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  2. STRAY
    By: Elissa Sussman
    Publication Date: October 7, 2014
    Stray
    “I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”

    Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

    When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

    But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

    After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

    STRAY is the first in a collection of intertwined stories, all set in a world where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict doctrine called The Path. A cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked, with a dash of Grimm and Disney thrown in, this original fairy tale will be released October 7th, 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins.

    About Elissa
    Elissa SussmanElissa Sussman is a writer, a reader and a pumpkin pie eater.

    Her debut novel, STRAY (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins), is a YA fantasy about fairy godmothers, magic and food. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and in a previous life managed animators and organized spreadsheets at some of the best animation studios in the world, including Nickelodeon,  Disney,  Dreamworks and Sony Imageworks. You can see her name in the credits of THE CROODS, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG and TANGLED.

    She currently lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and their rescue mutt, Basil.


    Erin's Thoughts
    Stray by Elissa Sussman
    My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

    Stray by Elissa Sussman was a quick and interesting read. It was different than anything I’ve read lately and I enjoyed that about this book. There were times where I felt the story moved a bit slowly but overall I thought it was done well.

    Aislynn is a princess in a world where women are definitely not in charge of what they do and where they go. Being at the mercy of their parents and ultimately their advisors, girls are considered wicked and must do everything they can to protect themselves from the dangers of that wickedness. On top of that, as a royal, Aislynn is watched very closely for any signs of magical episodes which if they do happen, mean she is failing to comply with The Path.

    Aislynn struggles with her magic and because of an episode, the night of her Introduction Ball ends up with the wrong outcome. Instead of a proposal of marriage, Aislynn finds herself being redirected as a Fairy Godmother. This means she will say goodbye to all family and friends and be sent away to take care of another girl going through the same things she had recently been going through.

    I absolutely felt badly for Aislynn. She had no control over her future and no choice in what she would be doing. When she is sent away to begin her new life as a Fairy Godmother, she immediately meets Thacker, Brigid, and Ford. All of whom make an impact on her. As Aislynn learns more about herself and her new role, she also begins to see that something not quite right is going on. Girls are disappearing across the land and while people are assuming they are going “stray” (running away) she begins to believe otherwise.

    As the story moves forward, we learn more about who Thacker, Brigid, and Ford are and they are the ones who end up helping Aislynn when she most needs it. Brigid was a wonderful friend for Aislynn and she helped her when she needed it most. Thacker was an interesting character and although their friendship started out rocky, they both quickly learned to trust each other. Eventually the story comes to a head and we find out the major players in what is going on with the missing people but we don’t find out everything. I would have liked to better understand, outside of the power, what was really motivating these characters.

    Overall I found this to be an enjoyable read. It moved quickly and I was always interested to see what was going to happen next for them. I am interested to see where Sussman takes the story in the next book and will definitely check it out when it is released.

    Thank you to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for the review copy.
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  3. WILD
    By:  Sophie Jordan 
    Publication Date: November 18, 2014

    I love this series by Sophie Jordan, and I'm very, very excited for this third book!! If you haven't started the series get on that! You can even get Foreplay ($1.99) and Tease ($2.99) for less than $5 on amazon!!! 
    Months after her boyfriend dumped her, Georgia can still hear the insults he hurled at her. Boring. Predictable. Tame. Tired of feeling bad, she’s ready to change her image, and go a little wild. What better way to prove her ex wrong than a hot night of sexual adventure at the secret campus kink club?

    In the shadowy den of the kink club, she unexpectedly runs into Logan Mulvaney, her friend’s little brother. A player extraordinaire too hot for his own good, he may be younger, but the guy is light years ahead when it comes to sexual experience. Now he’s telling her to go home—“good girls” don’t belong here!

    Georgia is tired of having others define her. She’s going to teach Logan a lesson he won’t forget—one white hot, mind-wrecking kiss . . . that leads to another . . . and another . . . and. . . . Realizing she’s way in over her head, Georgia runs.

    Only Logan won’t let her go. Everywhere she goes he’s there, making her want every inch of him. Making her forget who she is. Who he is. And just how wrong they are for each other.


    So...What are you waiting for this week?

    Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine - make sure you head over and see what other people are waiting for!
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  4. LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES
    By: Shannon Lee Alexander
    Publication Date: October 7, 2014
    Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck. 

    The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy. 

    By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared)

    ABOUT SHANNON
    Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. Math makes her break out in a sweat. Love and Other Unknown Variables is her debut novel. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.




    Jaime's Thoughts
    Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars


    “Please don't confuse love and logic Charlie. They aren't even remotely related. “

    I have a crush on Charlie Hanson.

    First of all, I loooooove stories written from a male point of view… let me clarify. I love them when they’re done well, and this one…. Well it’s done amazingly well.

    Secondly… I have to tell you right up front that this story did not make me cry. If you’re looking through some reviews for this book, you’re definitely going to see a lot of comments about crying, and if you’re a book-cryer, be prepared, you may need some Kleenex going into this.

    Charlie Hanson is a giant nerd. And I love him. He’s honest, he’s straightforward and he’s totally a teenage boy. Charlie attends Brighton School of Science and Mathematics and he’s got his future planned out. He’ll graduate and attend MIT and solve all the great unanswered questions … at least that is his plan until he meets Charlotte.

    Charlotte is new to town and just happens to end up being his little sister’s best friend. His little sister has never had one of those so no matter how much he’s attracted to her, even if Charlotte was remotely interested in a nerd like him, he couldn’t and wouldn’t screw up her one and only friendship.
    Plus… she just so happens to be Brighton’s newest English teacher’s, younger sister.

    At Brighton, the focus has always been on Math and Science and the students don’t see any value in the ‘arts’. But Ms. Finch is determined to make them see the value and she’s heard about all the past teachers and what they had to endure. She isn’t going to give up no matter what kind of things they try.


    “Brighton goes through English teachers like Hogwarts devours defense against the dark arts teachers”.


    And so begins a school year of pranks in order to get Ms. Finch to quit her job, with Charlie leading the way, and when Charlotte finds out what is happening, she convinces Charlie that it’s a good thing. That any distraction he can cause that keeps her sister’s attention away from her, the better off she’ll be.

    But aside from all the high school hi-jinks, there is a much more serious issue going on. Something that Charlotte keeps to herself and there’s a reason that Charlotte is pushing Charlie to distract her sister. Despite all the reasoning Charlie does, nothing really is making much sense anymore and though his common sense tells him not to fall for Charlotte, he just can’t seem to help himself.

    Alexander tells a wonderful, heartwarming story here. The writing is well-done and the pacing and flow of the story really worked for me. I found myself not only loving our two main characters but also connecting with some of the peripheral characters as well… Charlie’s best friends, the cranky old woman down the block and I even loved his little sister!

    While this story has a very serious side to it, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The serious is balanced wonderfully with some fun, sweet and lighthearted moments.

    If you’re looking for something that will definitely make you laugh out loud at times and possibly cry a bit at others, I can’t recommend this one more.

    I’ll be adding this one to my list of favorite boy POV stories!

    Thank you to Entangled Teen and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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  5. AS LONG AS YOU LOVE ME
    By: Ann Aguirre
    Publication Date: September 30, 2014
    Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasons; missing her family, losing her college scholarship. But then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother. 

    Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He's the guy who women love and leave, not the one who makes them think of forever; until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her.

    Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.

    ABOUT ANN

    Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Doctor Who. She writes all kind of fiction in multiple genres, both YA and for adults.



    Jaime's Thoughts
    As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    As Long As You Love me is book 2 in Ann Aguirre’s foray into the New Adult genre, and once again, I liked but didn’t love this installment.

    We met our main characters briefly in book 1. Lauren has just moved back to Sharon, Nebraska. You might remember her as Nadia’s roommate in I Want It That Way, and I knew when we met her that her story would include Rob, Nadia’s brother.

    College just wasn’t working for Lauren. She knows what she wants and she’s determined to get it, but she can do it from home… and by home she means Sharon, the small town she grew up in.

    For ages she’s had a crush on her best friend, Nadia’s brother, and even though he’s got a girlfriend she’s not willing to pass on the opportunity to get to know him better and work on a possible friendship with him.

    Rob’s kind of been written off as unintelligent by those around him, so he’s never really expected much of himself. He never pursued college because what good would it do when he’d just end back up in Sharon working construction. The one thing he’s doing for himself though is flipping a house.

    Lauren jumps at the opportunity to help Rob in anyway that she can, whether it’s sanding or painting she’s up for the chance to get to know him better. When she sees what he can do, she decides to help Rob in the one way she can… by building him a website and posting ‘how to’ videos. She’s positive with his good looks plenty of people will watch, and once they watch, they’ll see how amazing he actually is!

    When Rob and his girlfriend break up though, it doesn’t take long for their friendship to escalate into something more, and Robs videos are garnering the attention of people they never expected.

    So here’s the thing. I actually really like the stories that we’re getting in this series… I really do. I think I’m struggling more with the connections among the characters. I’m just not feeling that zap when they’re together. You know, the one that makes me cheer for them, and fall for them. I like them well enough, I just don’t love them.

    I do have to say I really loved Rob as a character – he’s different than your typical hero for sure, and I liked that aspect of him. And I even liked Lauren. She’s smart, she’s decisive and I love when we get to meet intelligent female characters.

    I do feel like the end of the book felt very rushed to me. I disliked (immensely) the drama that caused the separation of these two. I just felt like Rob fell for it a bit too easily, especially after the way their relationship progressed so wonderfully.

    I did like the added side story of Lauren’s mom in this one, and I do have to say that I’m really looking forward to Max’s story next. I’m incredibly intrigued by him!

    Overall, this series is a wonderful addition to the new adult genre – not as heavy as some of the books you’ll find in this genre, but I really like that we’re getting some that aren’t all angst, angst, angst. I wouldn’t put this among my all-time favorites, but I like them! I’ll definitely be waiting to hear all about Max in book 3!

    Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!


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  6. QUEEN OF SOMEDAY (STOLEN EMPIRE #1)
    By: Sherry Ficklin
    Publication Date: October 7, 2014
    Queen of Someday (Stolen Empire, #1)
    ONE GIRL WILL BRING AN EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES...

    Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

    Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

    Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

    In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?

    About Sherry
    Sherry D. FicklinSherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.



    Erin's Thoughts

    Queen of Someday
    by Sherry D. Ficklin

    My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

    Queen of Someday is the first book in the Stolen Empire series by Sherry Ficklin. I was looking forward to reading this book because, while it is definitely fiction, it ties in Russian history and you all know how much I love historical fiction. I love how Ficklin took the baseline of what happened and really made up a story about what she thought could have happened with Catherine the Great. I love when authors do this.

    Sophie is a princess but comes from a family that is in some financial trouble when the story opens. Because of this, her mother is working hard to marry her off and when we are first introduced to her, Sophie and her mother are on their way to the Russian Court to see if she is fit to marry Empress Elizabeth’s nephew Peter.

    I liked Sophie – she is smart and she quickly realizes who she can trust and who she can’t at court. She isn’t put in a good situation but she realizes she doesn’t have much say in it so she is determined to make it work. Not everything goes her way in this story and to be perfectly honest, there were times where if I were in her shoes I would have probably completely broken down. As a young girl, she is definitely tested but she is strong and she realizes what she has to do to survive and make things work for herself and protect her family.

    As Sophie begins to navigate Russian Court, she starts to learn more about who Peter really is and doesn’t really like what she sees. She also begins to grow closer to Alexander, one of Peter’s friends and they soon realize that despite the expectations, they have fallen in love. I don’t want to give anything away around this plot line because this is where things got very interesting. Let me just say that Alexander is definitely swoony and they are both in a tough situation. Needless to say, when the Empress finds out what is going on, it isn’t pretty and things do not go well.

    One of the people who quickly becomes a trusted advisor and friend to Sophie is Sergei Salkov who serves on the Empress’s Imperial Court. I have to admit, where their stories ended up together was unexpected but it all tied together and again, Sophie used her brains to come up with a solution that would help her survive. I liked Sergei and if he hadn’t been there for Sophie, I’m not really sure how things would have ended up for her. I also don’t believe that she would have made it through her time in court without him.

    This was my first read by Sherry Ficklin and I definitely enjoyed it. It was one of those stories where I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen next and I loved that about this. I am definitely interested to see where Ficklin goes with the next book of this series and will check it out when the next book hits the shelves.

    Thank you to Netgalley and Clean Teen Publishing for the review copy!

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