Xpresso Book Tour and Giveaway: The V Girl by Mya Robarts

Genres: Contemporary, Dystopian, New Adult

The V Girl: Second Edition
Mya Robarts
Publication date: July 1st 2014
Genres: New Adult, Dystopian, Contemporary, Romance

In post-apocalyptic North America, sexual slavery is legal. Lila Velez desperately wants to lose her virginity before the troops visit her town and take it away by force. She makes plans to seduce her only friend. Lila does not love him, but he is the only man who has shown her true affection, an affection she is willing to take as a substitute for love.
Lila’s coping mechanism to cope with her mother’s loss is her secret. A secret that will bring her closer to Aleksey Fürst, a foreign, broody man who she distrusts because of his links to the troops and his rough, yet irresistible appearance. He offers Lila an alternative to her plans, a possibility that terrifies her…and tempts her in spite of herself.
With threats looming at every turn and no way to escape, Lila fears that falling in love will only lead to more heartache. The consequences of laying down her arms for Aleksey and welcoming hope might destroy more than her heart. They might force her to face the worst of her nightmares becoming a reality. Is love possible in a world that has forgotten what the human touch is?

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EXCERPT from the book: 

He lays me on the bed softly, checks my blood pressure and temperature, and returns to his seat. He plays a fast and furious melody, his eyes closed, completely engrossed in his music.

Disappointment curls through me. That’s it? The way he’s just treated me makes me feel as if, to him, I’m just a little girl.

I sit up and look at him. The way he skillfully works the strings makes me aware of the contrast between us. He’s older than I am in more than one sense. The man is not only the leader of his unit, but also well-traveled and skilled at music, medicine, and the art of seduction. I’m just a regular girl and hardly a leader. I have yet to seduce anyone, or even leave my hometown. For me, attending medical or music school is only a dream. In short, he has lived his life. Whether he has led a good life or a bad life, at least he has lived. My life is based on survival, which means I have yet to live at all.

But I want to.

Aleksey has offered to teach me the basics of sexuality, but at the moment, he’s ignoring me completely. I am stirred by a yearning to make him pay attention.

I rush toward the door. I don’t take two strides before my back slams against a hard surface. His palms are pressed against the wall, and my head is enclosed between them. Aleksey kneels on one knee. We’re face to face now.

Lila.”

The hoarse sound of Aleksey’s voice makes me shudder. Nobody has ever said my name like that, with that breathy, lustful quality. I don’t want to admit that I love the way my name sounds on his lips.

I close my eyes. Please say my name again. All I want is to hear him say my name.

My mind reels, and for a moment, a black haze overcomes me. I feel that I’m about to faint. The sedatives are keeping me from thinking clearly.

I try to escape, but I find myself caged in the prison of his strong arms. Eager anticipation courses through me. Something is about to happen. I want it to happen, but insecurities riddle my mind. Am I safe with him? Will he be gentle?

Let’s start your training.” The way his breath caresses my face sends sparks all over my body.

I’m trembling. “I … uh … our training?”

A half-smile appears on his face.

I realize what kind of training he’s referring to, and I shiver.

Don’t be nervous,” he says.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Mya Robarts is a bookaholic who regrets nothing.

She spent years trying to become a contemporary dance choreographer. Eventually she realized that she enjoyed writing her stories rather than dancing to them.

Robarts is obsessed with books that present damaged characters, swoon-worthy guys, controversial topics and happy endings.

http://myarobarts.tumblr.com/

 

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Book Review: Hello? by Liza Wiemer

Book Review: Hello? by Liza WiemerHello? by Liza M. Wiemer
Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 417
Goodreads
five-stars

One HELLO? can change a life. One HELLO? can save a life.
Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma's death.Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.
Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens' stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.
Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian).

There is a saying/belief that certain people or things come into our lives for a reason. I believe that in the case of this novel, that belief completely applies. Not just for the characters within the story, but also for the reader. Hello? is the embodiment of all the many ups, downs, and life changing moments we all have experienced in our lives. Especially the transition as we cross that very unstable threshold between teen and adulthood. There are so many of us that have suffered through grief at an early age, and many others that have been hurt by those we should most be able to trust. Other times we have been in so much pain that we don’t know how to handle it. Everything begins to lose meaning and life has no purpose. We spiral out of control and into total darkness, we feel alone, scared, confused, unwanted, unloved, devastated and so many other emotions. It is upon moments and fractions of life like these that Hello? touches on, as well as the possibility of finding ourselves again, and of being happy with the help of our family, friends or something as simple as one “Hello”.

Hello? is the story of 5 high school seniors, whose lives are intertwined without any of them really knowing it yet. Tricia has already suffered the loss of her parents, and now an even bigger blow with the loss of her dear grandmother. Her boyfriend Brian has been trying his hardest to be a constant source of support for Tricia, but he doesn’t truly know how to deal with Tricia’s grief or understand that his way of trying to comfort her isn’t what Tricia needs at this moment. Tricia keeps pushing him away, resulting in both of them feeling confused, alone and empty. Emerson is dealing with his own inner demons. He is constantly trying to be perfect and worthy of having been given a second chance in life (he was almost killed when he was a small child). He is also struggling with his relationship with his girlfriend Angie. Angie is in desperate need of some self-love. There is plenty of family drama for Angie to deal with too especially because of her abusive father who is in jail. Angie doesn’t trust people and pretty much only confides in her best friend Brenda. Brenda is tortured by what happened to her when she was younger, something that is directly linked to Angie leaving Brenda unable trust or open herself up to anyone because of what she endured.

The book is written in the prospective of these 5 characters. I really liked the unique way Liza gives each of them their own voice and bit of personality by how she structures their individual chapters. Tricia and Emerson’s chapters are written the most traditionally, but you get artwork with Brian (he’s a sculptor/potter), poetry with Angie and a playwright format with Brenda’s chapters. I think that this allows for a deeper perspective on what maybe mere words on a page might not get through to a reader. For example, Brenda writes about her life as a play, as if she is a stranger looking in. She is distancing herself from her own reality. Angie writes free form poetry,  giving her a depth that you might not think she has from how she is portrayed and spoken of by other characters. The story really starts to bloom for me when  Tricia just can’t take it anymore and is about to go down a very dark path. She decides to make a phone call in her desperation, a call to her deceased grandmother’s cellphone. She wants a “sign”, guidance, a glimmer of light. The person that answers is Emerson. That phone call not only saves, but changes Tricia’s life. It also causes  a domino affect that impacts everyone else in the story.

Liza Wiemer really captured the raw emotions of growing up. Liza writes from the heart, and creates a deeply emotional and unforgettable story about friendship, heartache, grief and everything in-between. I could not put this book down. The connections between all the characters reminded me very much of theories regarding how humans are all somehow connected, as well as the idea of soul-mates or past lives. Sometimes we might even walk by someone, be connected to them but only find out much further in the future, or sometimes we feel such a strong urge/draw to certain people and can’t hold back wanting to reach out and connect with them. I am a big believer in soul mates (not just in love, but also in friendship) and I can definitely say I have experienced this theory and sensation in my own life. It’s quite a beautiful thing to find people you connect with so deeply that it feels like you have known them all your life, like you are “coming home”. This is how I think Tricia and Emerson felt when they started talking during that fated phone call, probably one of my favorite parts of the book.

Liza Wiemer has written a gorgeous debut novel. It left me in total awe and wonder. She managed to perfectly keep all the perspectives interlaced and smoothly coming in and out of one another allowing the story to glide. I was moved to tears but also laughed and rejoiced with her characters as they each faced the darkest parts of themselves,  pushed on ahead and conquered their own individual demons. This novel filled me with hope, it reminded me of my own personal struggles that I have experienced and also conquered. I loved reading Hello? and I if I could I would buy everyone a copy so they too could experience the journey that I went on while reading it. My love for this book is probably what made this review so hard to write. There just doesn’t seem to be enough words (or words that are worthy enough) to express how much I enjoyed this book. Hello? touches upon everything a person could want in a study of human emotion and connectivity. It shows us the power of human connection, friendship, family and love. It is honest and true. It doesn’t sugar coat anything and will cause the reader to FEEL, and I don’t mean like “the Feels” but actual gut-wrenching true FEELS. There is at least one subject matter if not many that at one point or another every reader has experienced in their own lives. It will TOUCH your soul in so many different ways.I love that the story inspires us to reach out to one another more, to check in with friends and family, to make that much-needed phone call. You never know what it could lead to, what it could stop or bring forth. The power and potential of one simple Hello.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

five-stars

Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van PraagThe Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
Published by Ballantine Books on December 30th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 326
Goodreads
four-half-stars

For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.
Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.
Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

This book was a delight to read. It charmed me from the first few sentences as if Etta herself was stitching a little red star unto my soul. A book about a little dress shop, that’s filled with more than pretty gowns and baubles. The owner Etta Sparks creates dresses that will complete the person that wears them. Be it fulfilling their need for confidence, beauty, potential for success or finding their true love with a little magic red thread she stitches the shape of a star in the lining of the dress. By doing this Etta can give the wearer the power to achieve whatever they most need and desire. I must say that I absolutely LOVED the descriptions about the dress shop and the dresses. Being a seamstress myself (whenever I have time) I love reading about the art of making clothing and the materials behind it.

The story is also about Cora Carraway who was orphaned as a young child and was raised by her grandmother Etta. She is a no-nonsense scientist with an obsession for counting everything (sort of a coping mechanism I believe). Due to the loss of her parents Cora has locked her emotions away and has not had much success with finding love and Etta thinks it’s time to take matters into her own hands.

On the same street as the dress shop there is a bookstore owned by Walt. Walt has known Cora since they were small children and he has been in love with her ever since . However Cora has never noticed the way Walt feels about her. He also is the voice of the Night Reader, a radio show on a local station where he narrates books. He gets plenty of fan mail from ladies that are infatuated with him, but the only woman he ever wanted is Cora.

The book has many other characters including:

Milly who ever since the death of her husband has shut herself off from the world and is finally putting herself out into the world now that she has received a letter from the Night Reader.

Dylan, who is answering the letter that the Night Reader has been receiving.

 Father Sebastian who listens to the confessions of so many, but hides his own secrets.

Officer Henry and his wife Francesca who has taken his son back to Italy but Henry does not understand why.

The story intertwines around all these lives and as it moves forward you begin to see how they each connect to one another. Along with a bit of romance, a little bit of red star magic being sewn here and there, the mystery of Cora’s parents’ death, some heartbreak and a little chaos the story is able to balance everything and everyone out. It does eventually come to the expected happy ending, though it was a bumpy trip getting there for all those involved.

It was a very satisfying and fast read, especially during the holidays in the comfort of my chair and with a cup of hot chocolate. I would highly recommend this book for anyone wanting a little light-hearted, whimsical, feel good about life story.

Thank you to the publisher Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

four-half-stars

Book Review: The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

Book Review: The Wonder of All Things by Jason MottThe Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott
Published by Mira on September 30th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance
Pages: 304
Goodreads
three-stars

From critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott comes a spellbinding tale of love, sacrifice and the power of miracles.
On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, killing and injuring dozens. But when the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear. Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. But now the whole world knows, and suddenly Ava is thrust into the spotlight. People from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to glimpse the wonder of a miracle. But Ava's unusual ability comes at a great cost, her own health, and as she grows weaker with each healing, Ava begins searching for an escape. Wash agrees to help Ava, but little does she know he has his own secret he's been harboring, and soon Ava finds herself having to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to save the one she loves most.

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott is  set in a small town of Stone Temple. Like most small towns everyone knows everyone else, and they generally spend their entire lives there without any need or want to go anyplace else. Things begin to change for this little town when during an airplane stunt show, one of the airplane crashes and almost kills Ava Campbell’s best friend Wash. The reason Wash does not die, is because Ava has a special ability that allows her to heal people.

The news starts getting out about “The Miracle Child” and soon the town is flooded with all sorts of people who want a little piece of Ava. From reports, churches, doctors and people seeking to be cured or to have their loved ones cured Ava is in high demand. The catch is that every time thirteen year old Ava heals someone, she becomes weaker.

Ava’s father is the sheriff of the town and he is struggling with potentially using his daughter’s gift to better their family’s life. Ava is also struggling with how much she should say about what the costs of using her power means. She feels guilty because she can only do so much, without completely destroying herself in the process.  Does she “have” to help others? What about just for her family? What gives people the right to “expect” you to help them just because they think you owe it to them? Should she sacrifice herself? Is she being selfish if she chooses to not save/heal someone so that she can stay alive and healthy?
I think Jason Mott has a beautiful story here, it is well written and the depictions of the town,  the people and the surroundings pull you right into the story.  I enjoyed reading this book, it was very poetic in places though I felt it seemed a bit rushed as things came to an end. In the end though, I am still thinking fondly of Ava and Wash and about all the questions that were raised in this book, and how I would handle them if I were ever in a similar situation.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

three-stars