The Anatomical Shape of a Heart (Review and Giveaway)

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Hi everyone! This is my review for one of the Sunday Street Team’s November books, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennet.

You can enter to win a copy of this book here.

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Release date: November 3, 2015

304 pages

My rating:

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?


As far as contemporary young adult romance goes, this has to be one of my favorites so far. Since the goodreads synopsis gives you a good idea of what to expect, I’m going to jump straight into the review and skip the summary that I usually give.

I love the fact that this book has a strong artistic flavor to it. Both the protagonist, Beatrix, and her love interest, Jack, are artistically inclined, but in completely different ways. I also love that Beatrix is motivated and has a goal in sight which she stays focused on throughout the novel.

Both Jack and Beatrix have family issues that they have to deal with throughout the novel, and the support that they provide for one another is admirable; I enjoyed seeing the way that they were able to help each other during those difficult moments. I liked how no one in the novel is “perfect” and that even the characters that we assumed were honest and straightforward turned out to be hiding something. It’s fun to see a contemporary novel that still has plot twists and surprises.

This book deals with specific issues that I won’t go into because of spoilers, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a seemingly light book take such a dark and heavy turn. To me, that shows that you don’t have to sacrifice a good plot and meaningful message for a cute romance story; you can have both and still end up with a great novel.

Lastly, I liked the romance between the two characters. They were both endearingly cute and shy and a little awkward at times. They respected one another and understood that boundaries should only ever be crossed with permission. Neither of them tried to push the relationship in a way that made the other uncomfortable.

If you’re looking for a short and adorable love story that isn’t cliche or boring in the least, then I highly suggest you give this book a try.

Thanks for reading!

About the Author:

Jenn Bennett is the author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series with Pocket and the Roaring 20’s historical paranormal romance series with Berkley. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two pugs.

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Gabriel by Nikki Kelly book blitz (with interview and giveaway)

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Goodreads synopsis:

The handsome Angel from Lailah gets center stage in this continuation of Wattpad sensation Nikki Kelly’s romantic and action-packed series about mortals, vampires, and angels.

Gabriel is an Angel Descendant. He’s also an ally to a generation of vampires who want to break away from the demon who controls them. His faith in the power of good over evil wavers, however, when he discovers that Lailah, the woman he considers his only true love, may be both angel and demon. Is their love enough to overcome the dark forces who are ready to go to war with Gabriel, the vampire Jonah, and the angel and vampire forces? And can Gabriel compete with Jonah, who is also in love with Lailah?

Once again, Nikki Kelly looks deeply into the heart and soul of good and evil to create a romantic, action-packed reading adventure.

If you’re eager to read Gabriel, you can get a sneak peek of it on Nikki’s Wattpad.

And now, on to the interview portion of this evening-er…morning.


 

What did you do on your research trip to France? 

Mainly, I visited all the locations used in the book! I also spent some time writing while I was there of course! I think the nicest thing about my research trip was that I ended up using my Auntie and Uncle’s barn conversion as a base for the property our gang find themselves staying in! Everything in the story form the barn, the village itself and various locations (including the snowy mountains) are completely real – you could even go and visit them all yourself!

Was the writing process for Gabriel a lot different than Lailah? 

The writing process for GABRIEL was shorter, because this time around I was writing full time! But the actual ‘writing’ part was much the same. I start with a premise, have an idea in my head of the beginning/ the ending/ a specific character etc etc. and start writing! I only ever do rough outlines, it’s all pretty much in my head, which is another reason why I have often said I feel like this story was implanted in my brain sometimes and I am the mere mortal who gets to put pen on paper to bring it to life!

What can we expect from Gabriel (the novel) ? 

Gosh, A LOT! The story picks up right where it left off, and continues to be told form Lailah’s POV – The main cast are back, but we get to meet some lush new ones too! I am still a great fan of the twist – suffice to say, just when you think you know, really you have no idea! 😉 Oh, and also, did I mention… #NoMercy 😉

Would you say that you’re similar to Lailah in any way? 

Naturally, Lailah and I have a few of the same traits, I think every character in my stories have a little something piece of me, whether intention or not! But I think we can all relate to Lailah’s plight, I think most of us go through a time in our lives where we are working out who we are and making choices that carve out who we ultimately end up becoming.

What are you currently reading? 

I have a new baby, so my hands are a little tied at the moment! But I can tell you what I will be reading next *grabby hands* Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo !!!

Any advice for aspiring authors? 

If you have a story to tell, don’t stop until it’s told… and Never.Ever.Give.Up

How much of your personal experience is tied into this series?

A very large percent! A good example — In GABRIEL Ruadhan tells Lailah ‘You only fail, if you never try.’ That is the very advice my Mom gave me, and one of the reasons I am living my dream today… I think it all goes back to that great advice you hear again and again about writing – about writing what you know. So in this case, for example, I know very well the true meaning and the importance of that message…  Even down to the mythology in the story — it’s all based loosely on my own belief system (you’ll see plenty more of that in Book2 and especially in Book3)


For those of you who haven’t read Lailah yet, check out the goodreads synopsis below to get in on the action.

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The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find   her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NIKKI KELLY was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah was first launched to Wattpad, an online readers and writers community. Within six months, the novel had over one million reads. Lailah is Nikki’s debut novel, and the first book in The Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a Chihuahua).

LAILAH is my debut novel, and first launched in serial form to wattpad, a readers & writers community. Within just 6months, LAILAH had over a million reads and thousands of comments and votes.

Since then, The Styclar Saga has gone on to pick up a traditional deal with Feiwel & Friends, and LAILAH, the first book in the series is due for release on October 7th 2014.

These days I spend my time balancing my amazing job of writing fantasy fiction, with my other, very important role of Chocolate Connoisseur. I like to multitask and do the two together. It makes me happy.

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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads | Wattpad | Youtube

Thanks for reading!
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Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (Quote Highlight and Giveaway)

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I’ve picked out my top five quotes from this month’s Sunday Street Team read, Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson, to share with you. The book goes on sale tomorrow, but you can enter to win a copy if you scroll to the bottom of this post!

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A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children’s young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.


1.

…the bandit […] reached for my gloved hand and brushed my knuckles with his lips, whispering, “I hope the rest of your journey goes smoothly, miss,” before he climbed onto the seat, passed the stolen case up to a colleague, then pulled himself through. The hatch closed behind him with a clang and the car instantly grew quieter.

2.

These people’s rags were filthy and unkempt. Their eyes were neither sad nor proud. A few looked sullen, others blank. Many of the adults- and some of the children- appeared to be intoxicated, even at that hour on a Sunday morning. They probably didn’t know or care about the struggles between the Mechanics and the British because they’d come out the same, either way.

3.

“To be perfectly honest, I think she became sick of Society during her debut season. Better to lock herself in her room with her books than to spend her life paying calls and going to balls. The doctors said something about fragile nerves. She gets a lot of headaches, apparently.” He quirked an eyebrow and added, “Especially around people she doesn’t like.”

4.

Most of the guests wore the Mechanic’s odd mix of attire. Their colorful clothing was garish in the bright lights. In the center of the room, couples spun wildly in time to the odd music. Around the perimeter, groups of men and women tinkered with or showed off their inventions. Tables laden with food, punch bowls, and ale kegs lined a nearby wall. An odd contraption made up of tubes, clockwork gears, and strangely shaped bits of glass spewed vapor and flame and made loud clattering noises.

5.

He’d drawn not only Olive, but also Rollo and me, and although it was a quick pencil sketch, it seemed very lifelike, capturing Olive’s wide-eyed innocence and Rollo’s fascination with something that lay beyond the edge of the page. I looked prettier than I was accustomed to seeing myself in the mirror. The loose wisps of hair around my face looked like winsome tendrils instead of untidiness, and he’d drawn me with a mysterious smile that made me wonder what I’d been thinking.

giveaway

About the author:

Shanna Swendson is the author of the popular adult romantic fantasy series, Enchanted, Inc. Rebel Mechanics is her first novel for young adults. She lives in Irving, Texas.

Thanks for reading!

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Interview With Rachel Shane, Author of Alice in Wonderland High

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Sixteen-year-old Alice just can’t find a way to be free. Her parents are environmental activists, whose cringe-worthy 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 farmer’s market meets with more snickers than signatures, she figures she should shut up instead of speaking 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–aka 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 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 screaming, “Off with her head!”


I was lucky enough (thanks to Nori, the coordinator of our Sunday Street team) to have the opportunity to interview Rachel! Keep reading to get to know a little bit about Rachel and her new book.

  1. What made you choose to write YA fiction as opposed to writing children’s, middle grade, or adult fiction?

The simple answer is because I started writing while in high school and never stopped writing about that time period. Even though I’m solidly an adult now (apparently marriage and a child does that to you), I still feel like I relate better to teens. Most TV shows I watch are centered around teens. I love getting to experience all these firsts–first love, first big decision, etc.–again vicariously through my characters.

 

  1. What inspired you to write Alice in Wonderland High?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has always been a favorite book of mine. When news came out that Tim Burton was doing an adaptation, I had the urge to re-read the original book. At the same time, I was trying to write an outline about a girl who does ecotage for a quasi-secret society. As I was reading Alice, I realized her main goal in the original was to get inside the beautiful garden, and that every beat in the story could be reworked to meet that goal from an environmentalism standpoint. I also loved the idea of making her main ally from the original–the cheshire cat–into the love interest since all retellings I’d read focused on the Mad Hatter.

  1. What do you think is key to creating a believable yet interesting character?

I think the key lies in what the character wants and what they do to get it. Characters who want something desperately and go to extreme measures to get it are interesting. And they become believable when the reader gets invested in seeing them meet their goal. Humor also helps!

 

4.What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a novel?

Everyone always says middles are difficult but I have a much harder time with endings. Specifically with Act 3. I had to rewrite the Act 3 of Alice in Wonderland High from scratch more than once because I’d written myself in the wrong direction. A particular challenge with this book was finding a good balance between recognizable items from the original but also making the characters and plot my own.

 

  1. The main character in your book, Alice, discovers a secret underground society in her high school. If you had the opportunity to make your own secret society, what kind of society would it be?

What a great question. I’d love to create a secret society of writer vigilantes who go around turning reluctant readers into avid ones.

 

  1. What do you do to relax yourself on days when you’re feeling very stressed?

I binge-watch every show that airs on TV that isn’t a medical, crime, or law procedural. But writing is also my main form of relaxation. I also have a 2.5-year-old who keeps me on my toes. We have a lot of tea parties.

 

  1. What is the last book you finished reading?

BONE DRY by my critique partner, Cady Vance. A fabulous paranormal YA.

 

  1. What activities do you like to do in your free time?

My free time is very limited these days but mostly I like to write, read, watch TV, and buy cute shoes I don’t need.

Thanks so much to Nori and Rachel for this awesome interview! If you’re interested in buying this book, then you’d be happy to know that Alice in Wonderland High is available for pre-order now. Click here to place your order through Amazon, or here to do it through Barnes and Noble.

Also, enter this giveaway to win an annotated hard-cover copy of Alice in Wonderland High!
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Rachel Shane studied Creative Writing at Syracuse University and now works in digital publishing at in New York City. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, young daughter, and a basement full of books. This is her first novel.

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1000th View Giveaway

Hello!

For those of you who haven’t been here before, welcome!

I am currently very close to having a 1000 views to my blog. Thus, to commemorate this momentous occasion, I will be hosting my very first giveaway! The winner of the giveaway will receive any book of their choice with a maximum value of $15. I will be purchasing the winner’s prize from Barnes & Noble; if you are unsure of how much your book costs, you can check on the B&N website.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor 😉

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