Best of 2014 Book Giveaway {International}

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The fabulously awesome Ginger at GReads Books asked me if I would be interested in doing a little holiday giveaway for one of my top reads in 2014. My answer to that was duh because I love to share the book love. The problem became actually narrowing it down.

You see, 2014 was a great reading year for me. For the first time since 2011 and reached my Goodreads Challenge goal and read 150 books. Out of those 150, 30 of them were given between 4.5 – 5 stars with 23 of them being books that came out in 2014 or before. I removed the 2015 releases as that will be for another day. So basically I had to chose between 23 books which was not an easy task. What it ended up coming down to? Two debuts (everyone needs to meet a new author), an amazing sophomore novel, and a book that opened my eyes to fantasy and magic types of reads.

What am I giving away you ask? The winner will get to pick from the following 4 books: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, Loop by Karen Akins, Free to Fall by Lauren Miller or Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Giveaway will run until 12:00am EST on 12/31/14. It is open internationally if The Book Depository ships to you and if the book you pick is in stock. Throne of Glass can be substituted for another book in the Throne of Glass series if you have read/own Throne of Glass. Just click on the picture below to enter. Good luck! And fair warning…2015 is filled with some awesome reading.

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Parallel – Andi at Andi’s ABCs aka ME

 

paralleltimeloop

And finally we have me. I’m the last post on the fabulous Parallel Time Loop tour. I just want to take the time to say a brief thank you to the lovelies that played along with me, that humored me, and that went out of their way to write posts for my blog while still handling their own. You have all been the best and I thank you for that. If you missed a stop a full listing is after my post.

For my book I went with the book that started my love for all things parallel life and time travel. I went for Parallel.

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parallelWhen I came up with this idea for Parallel Time Loop I knew exactly what I wanted to have my post be and which book I wanted to use. You can ask the other 9 bloggers. I told them immediately what my plan and book was so they couldn’t grab the book up. There was never any question in my mind that I wanted to do Parallel and I wanted to interview Lauren Miller about it. Lauren has been nothing but awesome to me since I reached out to her about her debut novel. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever interacted with and it was a pleasure to get to interview her about a book that I just love. (Side note, read her second book Free to Fall. IT IS AMAZING!)

1) Describe Parallel in 5 words.
Girl lives her parallel’s life.

2) Where did the idea for Parallel come from? Where you inspired by a movie, an idea, another book?
Lost-season1
I guess I’d say I was inspired by JJ Abrams and Einstein.  Parallel started as just a seed of an idea — a girl wakes up in another version of her life.  That story has obviously been written many times before, so my starting place was a desire to put a new spin on this very basic concept.  To do, I realized then, what JJ Abrams had done with LOST.  Plane crashes on a deserted island.  We’ve seen that before.  But he gave it a part-sci-fi, part-supernatural explanation, and it became something totally new and amazing and addictive.  So I started hunting for my hook.  Using parallel worlds appealed to me, but having my main character travel to a parallel universe seemed both too-sci-fi and too far-fetched.  Then I stumbled upon an article about quantum entanglement, a real life phenomenon Einstein called “the spooky action at a distance,” and I knew I’d found my answer.  I’d have the parallel worlds collide!  What happens to the parallel worlds in Parallel is a fictional spin on what happens to subatomic particles when they collide.

3) The plot is pretty intricate going back and forth between “Here” and “There”. Did you find it difficult keeping the two worlds straight? Did you have a trick for this?
Actually, it wasn’t that hard for me, mostly because in my head, Abby and Parallel Abby are two very different girls.  Their voices felt different to me as I was writing them, and their timelines felt very distinct.  The tricky part was figuring out the cause and effect between the two worlds, to come up with connections that would be interesting, not too complicated and completely unexpected.

4) Since the book deals with parallel lives I’m guessing you weren’t able to have any hands on research. How did you handle the research aspect? I mean I know there is a lot of science to Parallel. Is that where you started?
Oops, I guess I already answered this one in #2!  Yes, I started with science for sure, and actually tried very hard to make the rules of my world(s) coincide with real scientific ideas and principles.

5) With Parallel being your debut book I must ask, what would you be doing in her parallel life if you weren’t an author?
You know what?  I have no idea.  I can see myself teaching art history at a tiny liberal arts college just as easily as I can see myself working as a television executive for a studio or network here in LA.  I think in every world I’m doing something creative.  But, the truth is, I’m happiest doing exactly what I’m doing now, writing books!
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6) You currently have Parallel and the AMAZING Free to Fall on the shelf. I know you are currently working on a third book. Can you tell us anything about that? I may be a little excited for it no matter what it is. 🙂
Yay!  I like excitement for unwritten books.   This new story is a little less sci fi than my previous two, and a lot more character driven.  I don’t want to say too much, but I’ll tell you that it’s about beauty and vision and the nature of reality.

7) I ask all interviews this questions since my blog deals with clothes and accessories too. What is the one accessory, book, or clothing item laurenyou personally could not live without?
My distressed Citizens, which I am wearing right now (boyfriend cut, rolled up) and white v-neck t-shirts from Jcrew.  I like to get fancy on occasion, but most days, this is my uniform!

8) Finally, what does a girl have to do to get you to Boston so I can tell you in person just how awesome you are??!!
I think that can be arranged. . . 

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Thank you so much Lauren for taking the time to answer my questions when I know you are busy writing a 3rd book for my everyone’s enjoyment. You can find Lauren on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

And on a side note, I’m not one for book trailers, but the one for Parallel is AWESOME!

And Free to Fall is just as good!

 

Parallel Time Loop:
Introduction
Rachel – A Wrinkle in Time
Brittany – Dissonance
Lauren – The Ruby Red series
Rachel – The Time Traveler’s Wife
Alexa – All Our Yesterdays
Emma – Pivot Point
Lauren – Just Like Fate
Katie – Hourglass series
Danielle – Ask Again Later

*images from Google and Polyvore, videos from Youtube

 

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Review: Free to Fall – Lauren Miller

Review: Free to Fall – Lauren MillerFree to Fall by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen
Published: May 12th 2015
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

From the author of Parallel comes a high-stakes romantic puzzler set in a near-future where everyone's life is seamlessly orchestrated by personal electronic devices. Imaginative and thrilling, this fast-paced story with two starred reviews is not to be missed.

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision-making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is to follow what Lux recommends. When she's accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn't use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux's recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore—a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Straight up, I am fangirl crushing on Lauren Miller. I can’t help it. I honestly have no free will over this. Her books have made me do it.

I first fell in love with Ms. Miller when I read her debut book Parallel (review). I’m a sucker for parallel life stories that emulate the amazing Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors. I was basically hooked from the first page. Then I heard about her second book, Free to Fall, and I was intrigued. It was completely different from Parallel but also really relevant to our current times and how technology takes over our lives. So when I was offered a copy I basically did an obnoxious chair dance and I did an even more obnoxious one when I finished reading it. Free to Fall did something I never expected it to do…it took over my live for Parallel and is now my favorite Lauren Miller book. Seriously amazing doesn’t even begin to cover my thoughts on this story.

Free to Fall is essentially and epic story about free will and our right to make decisions and mistakes. Basically the story is about Rory, a 15 year old girl that is offered the opportunity she has dreamed of, to attend Theden Academy in Massachusetts. Rory lives in a world where Google and Apple are obsolete and have been replaced by a company that is called Gnosis and there decision making app Lux. Like 99% of the public Rory relies on Lux to make all her decisions and her life generally easier. But when Rory gets to Theden she meets North, an off the grid hacker that does things old school, and everything starts to change for her. Soon she is falling head over heels for him and how she once saw things doesn’t seem so black and white anymore. She starts to question everything in her life and at Theden. As Rory digs deeper she starts to uncover some things she never thought she’d find out that change everything. Now instead of possibly just finding her first love, Rory may uncover something that could put her and the people she loves in danger.

My love for this book really defies words. From the first pages I was essentially hooked. So much in fact that I read it slow as I didn’t really want it to end because then it would be over and then what. I think what really got me was the way the story unfolded. It’s been a long time since a book has surprised me with where it was going and Free to Fall did just that. As the mystery started to unravel and reveal itself I was completely unsure where it would go. Miller wrote a lot of twists and turns in this story and they kept me on my toes. What could have been a confusing mess of clues and direction changes made the plot unexpected and really unbelievably fantastic. From Rory’s back story to the secrets of the past to the seemingly random world puzzles it all worked in a really great, uniquely clever tale.

Also I loved the plot. As a society we are addicted to technology. I personally am on my computer, tablet or iPhone more than I should be. I feel like it is an extension of me I away that I shouldn’t so I was totally fascinated by the idea of what technology could do in the not so distant future if we let it take over our lives. And as farfetched as it sounds the more I read of Free to Fall the more I believed in the possibility. As a society we are always trying to find ways to make daily activities easier and more streamlined. We want to constantly one better the product before which is both great and scary. So the idea that an app, not much different than Apple’s Siri, is used to make all life decisions isn’t as farfetched as one would think. Technology is a slippery slope that can easily go bad and Miller did a fantastic job of showing that without being preachy about it.

And to go along with the plot there were the characters. I was enthralled by this cast of characters. Whether it was the sometimes selfish, always over the top Hersey, the technology truster Rory, or the old school hacker North. They each played integral parts in the book and I think grew as characters which is really important to me. I loved North the second I met him and that love didn’t change as I read on. Rory it took time to get to know but as I found out more about her and as she started to change I really loved her. And Hersey was Hersey. She was one of those characters that can get on your nerves but you also need in a good story. Between these three and the other supporting cast Free to Fall is a great character story.

Look, I could go on and on about this book. I could tell you everything I loved in great detail. I could tell you about how Miller won me over even more with the fact that she obviously did her research on Boston which endeared me to her more. But really all you need to know is that this book is fantastic, will keep you thinking and on your toes, and will leaving you wanting more even though it is over 450 pages long. It’s basically the complete package and has made me a fan of Lauren Miller and her writing greatness for life. This is one book that you certainly do not want to miss. A must read for 2014 and on my top ten list for the year.

*Although this book was sent by the author, this is 100% my opinion.

 

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Just Like Fate – Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young plus a Note

Before I get to the review for this one I wanted to say something about the rash of parallel life books that seem to be out in the YA world right now. I was talking to Christine of Oh, Chrys! on Twitter a little bit back when she was reading Pivot Point by Kasie West. She was telling me that she wanted more science. Being a big fan of the parallel life books I suggested that she read Parallel by Lauren Miller because that one had more science to it. She said she heard the books were both similar which is true, but only to a fault. Christine suggested that I write a post on what I told her about so before I get to the review of Just Like Fate I’m going to tell you what I told her.

Not all parallel life books are the same! That is very important to remember. I 3 parallel books in a pretty short time span and all three brought something new to the table.

1) Pivot Point (review): The clever paranormal version of this subject matter. There were powers involved in this amazing book and it is the only one in the group that is a series!
2) Parallel (review): Standalone which is very rare in YA these days. It deals more with the scientific reasons to parallel lives but isn’t so heavy on the science that you fall asleep. Fantastic book.
3) Just Like Fate: Today’s review. A take on parallel lives that is more the ‘flip side of a coin’ thing. It is the more contemporary of the lot in my opinion and seems to have a grass is greener quality to it. Also a stand alone.

So there you have it, my input on parallel life books. Now on to the review.

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Title: Just Like Fate [Amazon]
Author: Cat Patrick [website] and Suzanne Young[website]
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Genre:  Contemporary
Source/Type:Edelweiss/Digital
Stars: 5 of 5

Publisher Description:
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline’s been at Gram’s bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape–both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram’s side, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths–and she’s about to live them both.

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she’s ever wanted.

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending…

My Thoughts:
I have read a string of parallel life/alternate reality books lately and I think that I need more of them in my life. I’m completely enthralled by the possibility that one decision can change everything. Ever since watching Sliding Doors years ago I have been fascinated by this theory and Patrick and Young have just added another reason for me to love it. Them seamlessly wrote a story about choices and what can happen to life by doing something as simple as saying yes or no.

Just Like Fate is the story of Caroline, a simple girl that never really fit in with her family and is scared to face her problems. Since her parents’ divorce Caroline have been running from her problems and not dealing with them. She has always had her grandmother there to help her pick up the pieces. But when her Gram gets sick and Caroline is faced with her inevitable death she has a choice given to her. She can got to a party with her best friend and not deal with her current situation or she can stay and be at Gram’s beside.  Each decision takes Caroline on two very different journeys that alter her life. But no matter what sometimes you can’t out run fate so matter which path you take to get there.

I really really loved this book. It was my 3rd parallel life book in the past couple of months which could have made it seem monotonous. But Patrick and Young managed to take a currently popular concept and make it their own. There was no bells, no whistles, no talk of science or paranormal powers. It was straight up “what would happen if I choose…”.  It was a character driven story. It was Caroline’s story about her fear of facing things, of dealing with things.

And did I ever love Caroline. She was so totally relatable, in both “worlds”. I understood why she was afraid to face problems because the truth is we all are and we all deal with problems differently and not having her grandmother there for her terrified her so why would she want to deal with that. But I also got where her family was coming from in terms of calling her out on her crap because at some point she had to grow up and stop running. But what I really liked was Caroline’s relationship with her brother Teddy and her relationship with Chris. Oh how I love Chris. I barely knew him and I loved him. He really helped Caroline in a way that she didn’t even know she needed. In a way Chris helped her to stop running and to face her problems. He was sweet and charming and lovable and the completely opposite of Joel who I didn’t like at all. Compared to Chris Joel gave Caroline more problems instead of helping her fix them. He really got on my nerves, that’s for sure, but he was an important part to the story so I let it slide.

Basically I have always been a fan of Cat Patrick and now I’m a fan of Suzanne Young(review for The Program is coming soon!) These two authors crafted a very clever tale about fate and what it takes to get there and that no matter what path you take you should end up where you belong. The weaved an intricate story about growing up and standing still and figuring out who you are and what you want and how to stand up for yourself without running away and brushing things under the rug. Highly highly recommend this one. You wouldn’t be disappointed!

Don’t forget to enter my Last Hurrah Giveaway. Goes until 8/24 at 11pm EST.

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Review: Parallel – Lauren Miller

Review: Parallel – Lauren MillerParallel by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen
Published: April 8th 2014
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

A romantic, mind-bending novel about parallel worlds, soul mates, destiny, and the big-time consequences of even our smallest choices, perfect for fans of The Future of Us and Before I Fall.

Abby Barnes had it all planned out—high school, college, career—but one decision made in her senior year of high school changed her carefully mapped-out future.

When Abby wakes up the morning of her eighteenth birthday, it's as though her past has been rewritten. Abby discovers that a cosmic collision of parallel universes has erased her old reality. Now Abby is falling in love with a boy from her Parallel's memories—a boy she's never even met. She's living the life she always wanted, but what if living her Parallel's life means she loses her soul mate?


I kept hearing how amazing this book was so when a friend got an advanced copy and sent it to me I was siked! Jumping in I didn’t really know what to expect. Was it paranormal? Was it a contemporary? Would it be too much science and universe talk? The more I read the more I realized that it didn’t matter what category it fell into. It didn’t matter if there was science talk and if the concept seemed out there on the surface. All that mattered was how fantastic this book was and how it got me thinking. You see I have always been a fan of what I call ‘The Sliding Doors Effect'(after the movie which this book reminded me of) where one small choice/decision/incident can completely alter the life you live. That by taking a taxi two feet instead of walking in the rain can change how things play out. One small thing that you don’t even realize has happened can make a huge effect on everything, and Miller played that effect to perfection, hitting on everything I have ever thought about it. My thoughts are going to be hard to get down on paper as I don’t want to give anything away in regards to the story, but I will try.

Parallel is the story of Abby, a girl with a plan. She has known exactly what she was supposed to do her whole life. She was going to be a journalist after graduating from Northwestern and get a job at a huge newspaper. It was her plan, her calling, her goal. And then drama class happened and suddenly Abby was living in LA filming a movie and missing out on everything she dreamed. Resigned to her new life, but not necessarily happy about it, Abby celebrates the eve of her 18th birthday with her cast mates, but the next morning she wakes up in a Yale dorm with a completely different life like her past had been rewritten and she doesn’t remember anything. Stuck in this new life with memories of her old life, Abby has to navigate the constant changes and surprises and learn that sometimes life gets in the way of plans.

Did I mention that this book was fantastic? I mean really really really fantastic. Miller wrote this book in a pretty genius way that kept the story fresh and interesting. Knowing the background of Abby’s life and seeing the small changes that lead to her parallel life and everything different about it was done amazingly well. As you got further into the book and Abby started to remember more of her “life” it was easier as a reader to see the moment that changed things and created the situations Abby found herself it. With every turn of the page I felt like I was reading a new kind of book and I liked that.

I found Abby to be such a likable character as was her friend Caitlin. Watching them both navigate through the confusion that was Abby’s life was truly a joy given the fact that Abby had no idea what was going to happen to her on any given day.  And watching as Josh, who I totally swooned over, was folded into the story was awesome. For a character that played such a minor role in the book, he was huge to the story, but in a way that you don’t really understand until you are a good chunk into the book. His presence and lack of, is one of the most important parts of the story and I loved how Miller dealt with that. It wasn’t in your face but on the surface and it worked for this story.

Honestly I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this debut novel by Lauren Miller. It touched on everything I love about a good story and kept you thinking the whole time. So much can change the outcome of your life but lead you right where you belong even if it is the last place you expect. Just because that butterfly flaps its wings in New York doesn’t mean the rain will never stop in China. You just might have to take the long way to get there. I can say without a doubt Lauren Miller has just become one of those authors that “if she writes it, I’m buying it”. Thanks Ms. Miller for awesomeness.

Side note:
I’m not a usual book trailer kind of girl. But I watched the official trailer for Parallel and it is awesome! Just thought I would share it with all of you too.

And thanks to all that signed up for the Parallel or The Elite giveaway. The winner has been notified via email.

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