Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop! Win Shift by Kim Curran!

Welcome to my  Stuck in a Good Book giveaway,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Valerie from Stuck in Books.  This hop runs from September 20th to September 25th, and you can win lots of new reads.  Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I recently read and enjoyed Kim Curran’s SHIFT, and I like you will, too! 

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

 

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Review: Shift by Kim Curran

Title:  Shift (Strange Chemistry)

Author:  Kim Curran

Publisher:

Shift (Strange Chemistry) DIGITAL

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.


Review:

When I discovered that Angry Robot Books would be launching a YA imprint, I was excited to check out the Strange Chemistry line.  Every book under this imprint looks good.  I don’t think there can ever be enough books released with fantasy or sci-fi elements, so I was eager to start digging into the launch titles for Strange Chemistry.    First up for me is Shift; I found this one intriguing because protagonist Scott learns that he is a Shifter, and that he can undo decisions he’s made if they turn out to be bad ones.  It’s like having a non-expiring do-over card, except for those occasional unpleasant consequences.   Yes, you knew there would be consequences for using a power that cool, and after seeing the heartbreaking handiwork of one of his Shifts, he decides that maybe it’s not such a great ability after all. 

I thought the pacing for Shift was great.  I powered quickly through this book, and once I got a few chapters in, I didn’t want to put it down.  I wanted to learn more about Scott’s ability and the world he lived in.  This is a great blend of super-hero comic with equal parts futuristic thriller and murder mystery tossed in for good measure.  There were even a few pages that completely freaked me out and got my heart pounding in fear as Scott got himself into some horrific and scary situations.  For a kid who has no idea what he’s doing, he sure manages to get himself into so much trouble!  Life-threatening trouble, too!  I still can’t believe that he made it to the last page relatively unscathed.  That just proves that luck is just as important as mondo-powerful supernatural abilities.

Scott discovers that he has the power to undo decisions he’s made quite by accident.  He is showing off in front of a bunch of his classmates, and his uncharacteristic flash of bravado is just about to get him killed.  Until he wishes with everything he has that he hadn’t decided to act like a moron.  He’s never been cool, and he never will be cool, even if he completes the dare, so he wonders why he even bothered.  Being a pancake after falling from a utility pole just doesn’t seem worth it.  He regrets that he wanted to impress a pretty girl he’s never seen before, and now it looks like it’s going to be the death of him. 

I loved Scott.  He’s self-depreciating, and once he started getting over himself, he is a fun character.  Thrown into circumstances far beyond his control, he finally starts coming into his own.  As he begins to understand the consequences of  both doing and un-doing his decisions, he begins to accept some the less favorable choices he’s made.  He can no longer blame others for his poor judgment, and that helps to give him the kick in the pants he needs to start growing up.  People can live or die by his actions, and there is no blaming anyone else when he messes up.  Instead, he has to put on his big-boy pants and fix the chaos he’s caused.  He needs to risk himself to save his friends from the harm he has caused them, and this time, a simple shift isn’t going to cut it.  For a big nerd, Scott’s take charge attitude impressed me, and his determined charge to the end of the book kept me completely engaged in the story.

I had some quibbles with Shift, but they weren’t enough to ruin the book for me.  Many of the secondary characters are one-dimensional and yawn inducing stereotypes.  I would have liked more depth to all of the secondary characters.  Overall, though, this is a fun read, and it got me geeked to read more releases from Strange Chemistry.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Cover Shot! Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

Alex can talk to the dead! How fun would that be? Probably not much, to be honest.  I am looking forward to seeing how Alex feels about her new ability when Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway hits shelves in August.

 

Recent college grad Alex Conner is thrilled to have landed a job as the Hughes County coroner/medical examiner in Pierre, South Dakota. But when her first day on the job ends with a missing corpse, Alex starts to wonder if she would have been better off collecting unemployment…

When the cops made some cryptic comments about being careful with the body they brought in, Alex just thought the boys in blue were messing with her. That is, until something freaky happens that no amount of med school could have prepared her for. By the time Alex gets herself together, the body has disappeared and the other residents of the morgue start talking her ear off.

After working up the courage to report the missing body, Alex is transferred to the mysterious Precinct 13 where she discovers that her new co-workers—including a cute technomage named Jack—are paranormals just like her. Now, Alex is being encouraged to use her ability to speak to the dead to solve crimes. And despite being in the middle of nowhere, Hughes County sure does have a lot of paranormal activity…

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Cover Shot! The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

Supervillains.  I love them.  Especially when they are, deep in their heart, good guys.  Look at this guy.  Does he look like a devious doer of evil?  Nope!  I can hardly wait to get my hands on The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz, to see just how bad Alex really is.  Or isn’t.  In stores October 2012

 

The Cloak Society: An elite organization of supervillains graced with extraordinary powers. Ten years ago they were defeated by the Rangers of Justice and vanished without a trace. But the villains of Cloak have been biding their time, waiting for the perfect moment to resurface. And twelve-year-old Alex Knight wants to be one of them.

Alex is already a junior member, and his entire universe is Cloak’s underground headquarters, hidden beneath an abandoned drive-in theater in Sterling City, Texas. While other kids his age are studying math and history, Alex is mastering his telekinetic powers and learning how to break into bank vaults. His only dream is to follow in his parents’ footsteps as one of the most feared supervillains in the world. Cloak is everything he believes in.

But on the day of his debut mission, Alex does the unthinkable: he saves the life of a young Ranger named Kirbie. Even worse . . . she becomes his friend. And the more time he spends with her, the more Alex wonders about the world outside of Cloak—and what, exactly, he’s been fighting for.

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Review: Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley


 

Title: Cat Girl’s Day Off

Author: Kimberly Pauley

Publisher:  Tu Books

ISBN: 978-1600608834

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Natalie Ng’s little sister is a super-genius with a chameleon-like ability to disappear. Her older sister has three Class A Talents, including being a human lie detector. Her mom has laser vision and has one of the highest IQs ever. Her dad’s Talent is so complex even the Bureau of Extra-Sensory Regulation and Management (BERM) hardly knows what to classify him as.

And Nat? She can talk to cats.

The whole talking-to-cats thing is something she tries very hard to hide, except with her best friends Oscar (a celebrity-addicted gossip hound) and Melly (a wannabe actress). When Oscar shows her a viral Internet video featuring a famous blogger being attacked by her own cat, Nat realizes what’s really going on…and it’s not funny.
(okay, yeah, a frou-frou blogger being taken down by a really angry cat named Tiddlywinks, who also happens to be dyed pink? Pretty hilarious.)

Nat and her friends are catapulted right into the middle of a celebrity kidnapping mystery that takes them through Ferris Bueller’s Chicago and on and off movie sets. Can she keep her reputation intact? Can she keep Oscar and Melly focused long enough to save the day? And, most importantly, can she keep from embarrassing herself in front of Ian?
Find out what happens when the kitty litter hits the fan

Review:

I have read all of Kimberly Pauley’s books to date, and I have enjoyed each one of them.  Her Sucks to be Me series is a tongue in cheek take on vampires (they are also Bargain Priced on Amazon as of the writing of this review here and here), and when I saw that her next project was about a girl who could talk to cats, I was all over that.  I love animals, and the thought of being able to talk to cats sounded like a fun plot device, considering how humorous I hoped that the book would be.  Turns out, I wasn’t disappointed in the least.  I hope I get to spend more time with Nat in the future.

Natalie Ng feels like she’s the under-achiever of her family.  While her sisters have cool Talents, like being a human lie-detector and being able to levitate things, hers is just plain dumb.  Nat can talk to cats.  She’s afraid her classmates will find out and start making fun of her, so she keeps her Talent under wraps.  It’s also grating that her younger sister is a super-genius and already in a higher grade than she is, and that her older sister and her dad both work for BERM, the organization that monitors Talents, so they stick together like glue.  Nat is adrift in her own family, and she feels like she doesn’t fit in.

When she and her friends discover that a celebrity blogger has been kidnapped, they spring into action.  They cat-nap (rescue?) Tiddlewinks, aka Rufus Brutus the Third, and using her special Talent, Nat gets the scoop on the truth.  Easton West has been kidnapped, and Nat’s celebrity obsessed BFFs are determined to save her!  Whether Nat wants anything to do with their rescue mission or not!  Hijinks ensue, which include an epic food fight in the high school cafeteria, skipping classes, breaking into a creepy house, and random discourse with strange cats, only one of which is pink.

I loved Nat and her relationships with the animals she meets during her adventure.  Her own cat, Meep, is genetically engineered so that her mother’s allergies don’t get out of control.  Meep is snarky, but she can’t hold a candle to Rufus.  Rufus is a prima donna in pink cat fur, aloof, demanding, and temperamental.  He also loves his person and wants to save her from the clutches of the evil woman who has kidnapped her and taken over her identity.  The cats are a lot of fun, and their diverse personalities added some laughs when tensions ran high.  I am a sucker for animals, and I loved the idea of being able to communicate with them.  They don’t pull any punches, either!  These cats can be brutally honest.  Nat can only talk to cats, though there are those occasional times when she can understand a dog, usually one that lives with a cat (so maybe the dog is really speaking cat?).

While I did find Nat’s friends too stereo-typed and uber annoying, overall, I thought Cat Girl’s Day Off was a fun, fast read.  I was engaged in the story from beginning to end, and even had a few stressful moments when it looked like Rufus might meet an untimely end. Gah!  Thankfully, Nat cleverly, albeit reluctantly, races in to save the day, as well as the cranky cat.  This is the perfect book to pack in your beach bag; it’s a quick read, it’s light, and it’s a great escape from reality.  I hope Nat has more adventures, because this really is a fun read.

Note: Nat’s footsteps follow those of Ferris Bueller, but since I haven’t seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in forever, most of the nods to the movie went right over my head.  That didn’t stop me from enjoying the book anyway.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by {teen} Book Scene

 

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Review: Hush Money by Susan Bischoff

 

Title: Hush Money

Author:  Susan Bischoff

Publisher:

ISBN: B003YCPGOG

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

They call their abilities Talents, and that’s what they call themselves as well. Talents are people born with supernatural powers, feared by the population at large. Possession of an “unregistered ability” has become illegal, and those who are discovered are forcibly removed to government-run research facilities. They do not return.

And so the Talents try, as best they can, to keep their abilities secret–some more successfully than others. For some, keeping that secret begins to define who they are. That’s where Hush Money begins…

Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Those are the rules to live by for seventeen-year-old Joss. She spent years as an outsider, hoping to hide what she is, until the new girl, Kat, decides she’s friend material. Kat doesn’t realize her mistake when she stands up for Joss against Marco, a guy who’s been giving Joss a hard time since freshman year. Joss is horrified when these heroics lead to the reveal of Kat’s Talent. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss. And if all that weren’t complicated enough, Dylan, Joss’s long-time crush, is finally starting to talk to her. But as Marco’s best friend, can Dylan be trusted at all? Can Joss keep her secret and still save her friend? And what’s more important, staying safe or doing what’s right?

Hush Money is a novel of approximately 50,000 words, and is rated PG-13 for strong language and one suggestive scene. It is recommended that parents read the sample provided by their retailer before purchasing this book for tweens/younger teens.
 

Review:

This was a very fun read, and it made me realize that self-pubbed books can be just as entertaining as books released by traditional publishers.  Yes, I have been known to be a bit of a book snob, and I have avoided smaller press and author published books.  The few I had read previously just didn’t draw me into the story, but over the past few months, I have read some that I really enjoyed.  The key is to sample, sample, sample, and make use of the free chapters before making a purchase decision.  I am finding that with my Kindle, I am reading books I would ordinarily not have.  The pricing for this book was hard to resist, too.  It was .99 cents, and after reading the free sample, I quickly found myself clicking the Buy button at Amazon.

Joss is a loner, and that’s how she likes things.  Her family isn’t quite normal, and her father has drilled both Joss and her younger sister Jill on the importance of being ready for anything and not getting close to anyone.  Joss is a Talent, and the government would swoop in like an angry crow and snatch her away from her family if they ever found out.  When Kat moves to town, Joss’ world is turned upside down.  She suddenly has a friend, and she’s making connections with other people.  Dangerous connections that could get them all in serious trouble with the government.  As Joss finally starts to feel like she belongs, though, she throws caution to the wind.

This is a very fast-paced read, and it will appeal to fans of super hero comics.  As Joss gets to know her classmates, she discovers that a surprising number are Talents, and she begins to wonder how they will avoid detection from the authorities.  With fellow classmate Marco making life a living hell for both Joss and Kat, Joss begins taking chances she would normally never consider.  Marco is threatening to turn Kat over to the government, and when Joss learns that he is also blackmailing a boy she has a crush on, it’s the last straw for the usually quiet and reserved Joss.  When she gets pissed, watch out!  Joss thinks well under pressure, she knows how to fight, and she won’t let the people she cares about get hurt.

While I found Marco just a bit too one-dimensional, the action and the plotting kept the story feeling fresh, and kept me engaged in the book.  I love when I discover entertaining reads in places I wouldn’t normally look, and I am looking forward to learning more about Bischoff’s Talents. 

Grade: B

Review copy purchased from Amazon