Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Backlist Revival Project 2: IN OVER HER HEAD by Anne Plaza

Back in January, I announced that I will be working with Ms. Mina Esguerra. We are doing Backlist Revival Project to help bring attention, new reviews, and new readers to books that are a few years old. We will feature a book per month and the featured book of the month is a contemporary romance that was published in 2014 or earlier. So, if you are interested to REVIEW books by Filipino authors, please let us know.

For this month, the featured book is IN OVER HER HEAD by Anne Plaza.

Publication Date: October 24th 2013

Goodreads Synopsis:
All she wants is to get even...

Erika Apostol's quiet and unassuming life gets disrupted when she learns that Richard Javier, the very same person who broke her heart many years ago, is now back in the country. Her world is turned upside down as old feelings she thought were buried resurface to haunt her once more.

Determined to give Richard a dose of his own medicine, Erika finds herself involved in an outrageous plan devised by her friends. They enlist the help of Jerome Gonzales, an attractive and charismatic DJ (with a playboy reputation), to pose as her significant other.

As the plan goes in full swing, Erika discovers Richard's jealous side, and that there's something more to Jerome than meets the eye. Will this grand charade work out the way it should, or will she be left with nothing in the end?

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In Over Her Head is a light and fluffy contemporary romance. It's a perfect staycation read. With nothing to do, I devoured the book last Saturday. I thought I would hate the predictability of the plot, but I ended up cheering for the main characters, Erika and Richard.

Erika got dumped by Richard ten years ago. Then, they meet again because of a get-together. She did not want to seem like a loser in front of now successful program developer Richard. Erika and her friends devised a plan to make Richard jealous so they tagged this hot DJ to become Erika's pretend boyfriend. 

I hated Richard. He left her without any explanation and ten years later he comes back like it's nothing! I was surprised on how everything came together in the end. Anne was able to write that particular scene (sorry, no spoilers.) very well. 

I understood where Erika was coming from. There are things that we could not just let go. We've all been there! In Over Her Head is all about choices. Will she stay in the past or will she finally move forward?

Read this and find who Erika will end up with. If you love stories of great friendships and second chances, don't miss Anne Plaza's amazing debut! 

"You're so caught up in your past that you're forgetting to live in the present. I told you that I like you, and apparently that counts for nothing."


Elaine banters with Richard and I’m left alone with my thoughts. I can’t help but think about what they both said, feeling like I’m caught in the middle of two raging storms. I have to settle this mess once and for all, and I know for a fact that will involve blowing the cover for this entire charade. It may all be for the best; I’m already getting worn out with the pretense. Heck, I don’t even know what’s real and what’s for show.

God, the stupid things I sign up for.

Just then, Jerome’s phone vibrates, the backlights flashing to reveal an incoming call. I freeze on the spot when I see what’s displayed on the screen:

Babe calling…

Who the heck is this “babe”? I look around furtively for Jerome, wondering what the hell is taking him so long. And why did he just leave his phone out here? I look at the phone again, feeling the cold sweat form over my brow. My hands are shaking and my heart is beating so fast, I struggle to breathe.

I don’t know why I’m even affected seeing this mystery caller on Jerome’s phone. We’re not in a relationship and I definitely don’t have any feelings for him, right? I take a deep breath and try to calm my frazzled nerves.

To my horror, I catch Richard looking at the blinking cellphone with a bewildered expression on his face. He looks at me, his brow in a tight knot. Our eyes meet and I know for certain that the game is up.

Oh no.

About Anne Plaza:
Anne Plaza writes contemporary romance, young adult, and speculative fiction novellas. She has been into writing since high school and has been actively pursuing it on a professional level despite having a totally unrelated bachelor’s degree. Her first contemporary New Adult romance novella In Over Her Head was published in 2013 and was subsequently nominated for the 2014 Filipino Reader’s Choice Awards Romance in English.

When not writing, Anne juggles time in her day job, obsessing over her TV show fandoms, and shopping for new books to add to her growing TBR pile.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Guest Post: If My Characters Had a Spirit Animal... by Kim Savage

by Kim Savage
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: February 23rd 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Realistic Fiction, Suspense, Horror
Rating: 4/5


Would you risk your life to save your best friend? 

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

In After the Woods, Julia avoids the natural world as much as possible. You’ll have to forgive her. A year ago, she was tracked in the woods by a paroled predator and wound up with a wrecked ankle, hypothermia, and a raging case of PTSD to boot.

Even though Julia doesn't like to hang with the furry folk doesn't mean my characters can’t claim their own spirit animals. Because: fun!

Let’s start with JULIA. A year ago, a simple run in the woods ended with her best friend Liv leaving her in the hands of Donald Jessup. Her mental toughness is what gets her through: counting stars, doing long-form math, and thinking about her mother in the long hours between night and morning. Later, she learns a devastating truth that would break anyone’s spirit.

Julia’s spirit animal? The mouse-bench-pressing-the-hammer-bar of his mousetrap in that chirpy meme of the same. Because Julia is living proof that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

LIV’s spirit animal is the cheetah. Cheetahs are fast and Liv is fast, in every sense of the word. But that’s way too literal for my tastes. See, Julia’s not the only survivor. Whereas Julia toughens overnight, Liv has evolved into a survivor over her lifetime. Like the cheetah whose evolutionary tweaks (an elongated spine, enlarged heart and lungs) help her track down food and escape predators, Liv’s character has evolved in ways that help her survive—and prevail against— a kind of oppression that even Julia can't fully understand.

Speaking of literal, and predators: DONALD JESSUPV is the convicted sex offender who takes his gaming to a whole new level when he acts out his favorite past-time, Prey. But Donald has a backstory, and like his spirit animal, the Chupacabra, he’s not exactly what he seems. The legendary goat blood-drinking creature has been proven to be just a coyote with a bad case of mange. You don’t necessarily want to run into a hairless coyote—in the woods, for example—but it’s not on par with, say, a really scary mother.

Which leads me to DEBORAH. Liv’s mother is a classic narcissist, prone to exclaiming things like “The mother of that [dead] girl could have been me!”. For Deborah, it’s all about appearances, and her spirit animal is Dottie the Texas Barn Owl. Dottie kills an invading snake to save her newborn owlet babies for the camera. I would argue Dottie knows exactly what she’s doing when she disembowels that snake and nets 190,000 likes in one swoop.

SHANE, Liv’s new boyfriend, is a real catch. He smokes too much, hits too hard, and makes Julia want to shower in Purell. Shane’s Spirit Animal is Ser Pounce from Game of Thrones. Ser Pounce is adorable, you say! But he’s also a pawn in a sick, sexy little game between underage Tommen and his older bride, lusty Maergery. Cue Shane, whose purpose in Liv’s life only Liv understands for most of the novel.

In keeping with the GOT theme, KELLAN is so clearly a Direwolf I scarcely have to point it out. Julia’s love interest shows up at all the right times, is fiercely loyal, and has probably warged into a hot guy, if GOT viewers are lucky this season. It just fits.

Another character known for her loyalty to Julia is ALICE, who is also Hedwig the Owl from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (and beyond). JK Rowling has said that Hedwig’s death represents Harry’s loss of innocence. Alice is Julia’s past incarnate, an old friend from a time before things got complicated, messy, and way too adult.

Finally, Paula Papademetriout, the aggressive reporter who befriends Julia for her own purposes, is a Jabberjay, the bird in The Hunger Games bred to eavesdrop on, memorize, and report human conversations to the Capitol. Jabberjays stuck it to their breeders by mating with mockingbirds and starting a new breed that would later be a symbol of the resistance. Like the Jabberjay, Paula’s faces extinction: her career is on the wane; she’s in an era where j-cred isn’t critical to success as an on-air personality. Still, with two juicy stories to pursue at the end of the novel, Jabberjay Paula remains as relevant as ever.

And the author’s spirit animal?

I vacillate between Grumpy Cat and the cat scared by the cucumber. Because on one hand, when things get between me and my writing, this:

On the other hand, AFTER THE WOODS is about to go out until the real world. And that has me all:

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Follow the After The Woods by Kim Savage Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Kim Savage is the author of AFTER THE WOODS, a debut psychological thriller for young adults coming on Feb 23, 2016 with Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan. Her second thriller for young adults comes from FSG is 2017. Before writing fiction, she worked as business journalist, pitching stories along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You get the idea.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pre-Order Blast: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

New books are amazing. New books that come with free gifts are even better!
Debut Young Adult author Kerry Kletter is giving you just that!
Pre-order THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED on or before March 14th, 2016 and you’ll get a signed poster and bookmark! Supplies are limited to 50 sets, and ship ONLY in the US.
Getting your free poster and bookmark is as easy as 1..2..3..4..
1. Go to whatever book seller you like and pre-order THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED (links below in case you need them!)
2. Screen shot your reciept!
3. E-mail that reciept to meandmyshelf(at)gmail(dot)com  ATTN: TFTSD Pre-Order
4. Fill out THIS FORM so Kerry knows where to send your goodies! 

About The Book

The beautiful struggle of a girl desperate for the one relationship that has caused her the most pain.Cassie O'Malley has spent the past two and a half years in a mental institution—dumped there by her mother, against her will. Now, at 18, Cassie emancipates herself, determined to start over. She attends college, forms new friendships, and even attempts to start fresh with her mother. But before long, their unhealthy relationship threatens to pull Cassie under once again. As Cassie struggles to reclaim her life, childhood memories persist and confuse, and Cassie must consider whose version of history is real, and more important, whose life she must save.

A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.

"Beautiful and passionate . . . [Kletter is] a writer of great distinction and infinite promise." —Pat Conroy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad

"A lovely and haunting keep-you-up-all-night heart-wrencher that is both beautiful and raw, painful and uplifting. An incredible read.." —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places

"Sentence by sentence . . . one of the most lyrical novels I’ve ever read. Haunting and exquisite." —Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything

"The First Time She Drowned is an exquisite and masterful dive, a brave exploration into the complexities of family, and the saving grace of friendship. Kletter’s writing is hypnotic, her characters alive, her story tragic, beautiful, hopeful. Simply put, this book is stunning." —David Arnold, critically acclaimed author of Mosquitoland

About The Author
Kerry Kletter has had a lifelong passion for story. She holds a degree in literature and has an extensive background in theater, having appeared in film, television, and onstage. When not writing, Kerry can be found surfing, running, working with animals, or singing loudly in her car while stuck in LA traffic. A native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, Kerry now lives in Santa Monica, California, with her partner, screenwriter David Zorn. The First Time She Drowned is her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @kkletter!


Monday, February 08, 2016

Blog Tour: The Secret of Letting Go by Katherine Fleet (+ Giveaway!)

LETTING GO Publication Date:  February 1st 2016
(Entangled Publishing)

Goodreads Synopsis:
Haunted with guilt after his girlfriend's death, Daniel Hudson has no interest in committing to anyone. At the end of the summer, he'll be leaving Florida for a new start in college. If only he could avoid the mysterious new girl in town, who seems every bit as naive and eccentric as she looks. Trouble is, she's hard to ignore, with her beautiful piercing eyes, pitiful-looking dog, and unsettling tendency of finding trouble. Clover Scott lived her whole life off the grid and arrives on the Gulf coast in search of her grandparents. She never expected to nearly drown, or get caught in a hurricane, or fall in love with the boy who rescues her. Now, she has a chance to rewrite her life's story, to finally fit in somewhere, but Daniel wants answers about her past. When the police start asking questions about the disappearance of her parents, she must make a choice: go to jail or confess her secrets-even if they might destroy her chance at a happily-ever-after.

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“So, I’ll see you tomorrow at noon?” She nodded so hard, her teeth probably rattled. “I’d like that.” It wasn’t like we were arranging a date, so why did her enthusiasm make me straighten up and puff out my chest? “We can meet at the beach next to the pier. My friends and I’ll be surfing. You bring the preserves, and I’ll bring the stove.” Uncertainty flickered across her face, and her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. I should have used her reluctance to back out, but instead I reassured her. “We won’t be hard to find. We’re just north of the pier, and this way we can meet on neutral territory.” Her expression turned blank. “You know…in case I’m secretly a serial killer. There’s always safety in numbers.” Her lips twitched upward, and she laughed. The sound tinkled through the air like wind chimes on a breezy day. “I already know you’re not a bad person.” “Oh yeah?” She nodded. Her unwavering stare made me want to squirm in my shoes. “True evil can never be hidden. It’s always there, if you know where to look. When I look at you, I see only good things.” I snatched my gaze away from hers and tugged at the collar of my shirt. I wanted to know how she could talk with such authority on the subject. I wanted to know what evil she’d seen, but I wanted even more to escape the narrow store aisle. Warning bells pealed in my brain. She’s crazy. Don’t get involved.

Giveaway Info: $25 Amazon Gift Card (US / Canada)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 About Katherine Fleet:
Originally from Newfoundland, Katherine Fleet gave up the cold winters of Eastern Canada for the year round warmth of the Caribbean. The slower pace of island life has given her time to pursue a long-time goal—becoming an author. When she’s not writing, she spends her time baking, chauffeuring her three amazing, talented kids around, and having sun-filled adventures with her husband and wonderful friends in CuraƧao. She is also a very thankful breast cancer survivor. In 2007, she joined RWA and has enjoyed the support and camaraderie of the YARWA and OIRWA writing communities. She’s participated in NaNoWriMo since 2012 and is an active supporter of the associated Young Writers Program. She is represented by super-agent Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. The Secret to Letting Go is her debut novel.


Friday, February 05, 2016

Review: THE UNION by T.H. Hernandez

Publication Date:  November 18th 2014 
I got a review copy courtesy of YAReads

Goodreads Synopsis:
After global warming and a second civil war devastated the former United States, two different societies rose from the ashes – the Union, a towering high-tech utopia, hugging the perimeter of the continent, and the devastated, untamed midsection known as the Ruins.

Seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor has an easy, privileged life in the Union. What she doesn’t have is any idea what to do with the rest of her life. She only knows she wants to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the lives of others.

When she’s kidnapped and taken into the Ruins as a pawn in a dispute involving her boyfriend, Bryce, her ideal world is turned upside down. What she learns while in the Ruins shakes her faith in everything she’s ever known, from Bryce, to her family, and even the Union itself.

Now Evan must choose whether to stay with Cyrus, the sexy, resourceful survivor who believes she’s in the Ruins for a reason, or return to the only life she’s ever known. But when she stumbles upon a dangerous plot that threatens both worlds, her decision could tear her apart.

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Read the first 3 chapters for FREE!


Rating: 3.5 hearts!
Evan Taylor has everything she ever could dream of. She lives in the lap of luxury, but she is trying to find her purpose. In order to find her way on things, she decides to go on an adventure with her friends Lisa and Colin. Then, she gets kidnapped from the perfect world into the Ruins, which supposedly is uninhabitable. Her life is turned upside and everything she learned about the Ruins could be wrong. Can she still go back to her luxurious life back at the Union?

Let's start on the positive things about this book. I do not really like dystopian novels, but The Union is a pleasant surprise for me. I can relate to Evan very much. She was able to take a 180 degree turn. She was able to surpass the obstacles that came her way. I enjoyed the writing style in this novel. T.H. did an outstanding job of making the characters someone you would root for. Story-wise, it was fast-paced and it's not as heavy as the usual books in the same genre. Very easy to follow!
On the downside, I want more action scenes, but the book focused more on the romance than anything else. It is really going to appeal to those dystopian romance lovers out there. I want the characters to plot against the government and take down the evil ones!  I also wanted a cliffhanger ending, but it was a bit too rushed for me.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Union. The world building was great. There was a clear distinction between the Union (utopian) and the Ruins (dystopian). The Ruins reminded me of the TV show called Revolution, where the people did not rely on technology. Recommended for everyone who wants to read about a story of finding yourself, a story of great friendships and family ties.

(1) $25 Amazon GC,
(2) $10 Amazon GC,
(5) $5 Amazon GCs
a Rafflecopter giveaway
About T.H. Hernandez :
T.H. Hernandez is the author of the young adult futuristic/dystopian series, The Union. The first book, The Union, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category. When not writing, you can usually find her reading, finishing more than 200 books over the past two years. She loves pumpkin spice lattes, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home. When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California with her husband and three children, a couple of cats and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, often referred to as “the puppycat.