Thursday, July 31, 2014

Blog Tour: Magnolia by Kristi Cook {Guest Post + Review + Giveaway}

Release date: August 5, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.
There was no doubt that I would read Magnolia. As I've grown older, I've come to love where I'm from, but it's an area you simply don't see much of in fiction. So, I get irrationally excited when I see a book is set here. The cute setup for the story and the location got me reading, but the endearing characters, sweet romance, and all around charming feel of the novel made me fall in love and left the goofiest grin on my face.

We've all read the Romeo & Juliet retellings, but what's so fun about this setup is that it's the opposite. Yes, the inspiration comes from the ill-fated romance, yet Jemma and Ryder fight. Like all the time. Their parents are constantly pushing them together, so intent on connecting their families. Like good rebellious teenagers, the two could not want to be together less. There's history, a defining moment in their relationship that lead it to the dire straits it's in. Yet, the two are also about to have another defining moment. When Jemma's family is out of town and Ryder is volunteered to come ride out a hurricane at the Cafferty house, their relationship takes a sharp turn... And it's wonderful!!

The tension between the two is thick, and I couldn't help but sit around, almost chanting aloud, "Kiss. Kiss. Kiss." I mean, you know that's what's going to happen eventually, right? But in reading Magnolia, there's more to the story than the synopsis can tell you. Yes, it's about enemies who overcome their dislike and fall in loooove, but Jemma and Ryder have a lot more to their story. They both have huge hopes and dreams, some they're too afraid to share with their families, knowing that what they want is not what is expected. At the same time, neither is sitting back and letting others plan their lives for them. And while I was sitting around, hoping and wishing for the romance (which I got, I promise), I got to learn all about Jemma and Ryder and come to love them for who they were. I didn't just love the book because the romance was cute (which it was) or because it was set in Mississippi (which makes me happy dance), but I loved it because I got to know these interesting, vibrant characters who I was rooting for--the road to happiness for Jemma and Ryder just happened to include romance.

Have I convinced you? I loved Magnolia. Sure, I needed it because it's set in my home state and it sounded adorable, but Jemma and Ryder's story would have appealed to me had it been set anywhere. It's the characters that make Magnolia memorable and so wonderful--everything else is just icing on the (caramel) cake.

As a born and bred Mississippian, I get more than my fair share of excited when books are set here. And when I saw that Kristi had attended college in the Magnolia State, I knew I needed to know some of the places she loved here. Mississippi is a gorgeous place that's full of history--which you get a great taste of in Magnolia--and Kristi has obligingly shared some of her must-dos, should y'all come visit! (Which you should!) I'll admit I've not done a fair number of them. :) (Images link to sources.)

Mississippi is a beautiful place—and so underrepresented in fiction! I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi, and was lucky enough to spend four years there soaking up the state's southern charm and famed hospitality. I've compiled a list of ten "must-sees" in case you ever find yourself in the Magnolia State! 

1. Vicksburg National Military Park—I’m a sucker for Civil War battlefields, and Vicksburg doesn’t disappoint!

2. Natchez Trace—440 miles of some of the most beautiful countryside and historic homes you will ever see. I could literally spend a week touring the plantation homes in and around Natchez.

3. Elvis Presley’s Birthplace in Tupelo, MS—Love Elvis?  You’ve gotta go!

4. Tupelo Battlefield—Yet another Civil War site--see #1 above!

5. The Beauvoir Estate in Biloxi, MS—this was the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his wife, Varina. Unfortunately, much of the estate was seriously damaged during Hurricane Katrina, but I’m pretty sure they’ve restored at least some of it!

Beauvoir today
Beauvoir post-Katrina
Rachel popping in here! I live not twenty minutes from Beauvoir, and it's been completely restored since Katrina. They also have a gorgeous Presidential library and museum that reopened last year, and every year (in October, I believe) they do the Fall Muster, with battle reenactments and everything!

6. Springfield Plantation near Fayette, MS—I think technically this is on the Natchez Trace, but I wanted to single it out because this is one of my all-time favorite plantations to visit.  A must-see! Andrew Jackson married his wife Rachel here in 1791.

7. Edd’s Drive-In, Pascagoula—Far and away, the *best* chili cheeseburger I have EVER had! Totally worth a trip to Pascagoula.

8. Sugaree’s Bakery in New Albany, MS—The best caramel cake (Ryder’s favorite!) you will EVER taste.  ‘Nuff said.

I was going to put a picture of the bakery, but DROOLS. If you haven't had caramel cake, you're missing out!
9. Oxford Square in Oxford, MS—A little taste of Faulkner, plus it’s just a beautiful, historic place!

10. Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner, in Oxford, MS—for literary buffs *and* fans of historic homes.

A thousand thanks to Kristi for letting us mine her brain! Now y'all can see we've got beauty, history, and FOOD here in Mississippi, and you have a sense of location for reading Magnolia! :)
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Follow the FFBC Magnolia Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week. Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

That’s the official version–here are some other fun facts:
~ As an undergrad, I majored in History and minored in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. While at Southern Miss, I was a member of Phi Mu sorority, and I was a Dixie Darling. And yep, Brett Favre was our quarterback at the time!
~ I studied American History in grad school at Columbia University. I *love* history, especially the Civil War era (U.S.) and Regency- and Edwardian-era British history.

~ My all-time favorite book *and* movie is GONE WITH THE WIND. My favorite literary characters are Rhett Butler, Atticus Finch, and Mr. Darcy. I kind of want to add Peeta Mellark to that list!

~Weirdly enough (or maybe not so weirdly?) I’m also a big fan of STAR TREK (the original series). I never can remember if I’m supposed to call myself a “Trekkie” or a “Trekker,” though!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir {55}

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Release date: April 28, 2015
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Vow your blood and body to the empire.
Keep your heart for yourself.
Oh my gosh, do I have to say a thing? The cover? The synopsis? Rome-like? I neeeeeeed it!

So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre {81}

Title: Mortal Danger
Author: Ann Aguirre
Release date: August 5, 2014
Pages: 372
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget. 

In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.

My teaser, from p.163 in the ARC:
She seemed uncomfortable, as if it had belatedly occurred to her I might not want to leave my glamorous life in Boston to spend time in Ohio.

"I'd love to," I said.

As soon as it's safe. But I feared that day might be a long time coming.
I loove Ann Aguirre, so a new, creepy-sounding book is perfect! :D

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Release date: July 8, 2014
Author info: Website | Facebook
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 368
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
"Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It's my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy."

Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain. 

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a beautifully and romantically written adult fairy tale.
Alias Hook is gorgeous, and largely, it's masterful, an imaginative and stirring reimagining of one of children's literature's most famous villains. Every aspect of the Neverland is lovingly crafted and taken to a deeper level while also retaining the magic of the original story. It's a feat of retelling prowess, blurring the lines between hero and villain, making neither who we thought they were but also never fully reversing the roles.

The famed Captain Hook has been trapped in the Neverland for centuries. While a paradise at first, it has become his purgatory to fight Peter Pan time and time again, never able to win but also never able fully to lose, to die. He has "died" at Pan's hand countless times, only to live on. All he seeks is death, an end to the drudgery of a meaningless life of fighting, knowing he can't win, and watching his crew die. This is the Hook we meet at the beginning of Alias Hook, desperate for an escape but hopeless that one will come. When Stella Parrish, an impossible grown woman in the Neverland, drops in, it's through her that he realizes a reason to live on, a reason to cherish the Neverland that has served as his prison, and a reason to fight for his escape. His journey is a startlingly lovely one, full of regret and sorrow, but also of the joy of love.

The Neverland is just as magical in a novel written for adults as it would be to the child's eye. A world built around the whim of Pan, it is conducive to his needs and odd dislikes, but it's also a paradise to the innocents who come to escape and to learn why they must grow up. But the Neverland hides secrets from Hook, and it hides even more secrets about Pan, unexpected but that also deepen him as a character.

As a reader, it's easy to get swept up in Alias Hook and forget imperfections. For me, all that detracted was that I was unable to connect to Stella and her relationship with Hook. I'm unsure why that was, but I never felt for her the way I felt so intimately connected to Hook. I saw how their relationship changed him and enjoyed the change, but the relationship itself never stirred much within me. This didn't much take away from Hook's story itself, but I wished I had a better idea of Stella so I could see his transformation more completely.

Alias Hook paints a new, nuanced, and flawed portrait of Captain Hook that takes the reader on a journey of epic proportions, though time and space and into the lands of the fairies and mermaids. A story of the transformative power of love, Alias Hook is gorgeously written and beautifully romantic.

About the author:

I might have been a pirate in a previous life, or else I watched too many old Errol Flynn movies on TV in my formative years.

My historical fantasy “Alias Hook,” presents the flip side of the Neverland from the caustic perspective of its prisoner, Captain Hook. It will be published by Thomas Dunne Books in July, 2014. My historical pirate novel, “The Witch From the Sea,” published in 2001, is the first book in a planned trilogy.

In real life, I’m a film critic for an alternative weekly in Santa Cruz, CA, a position I’ve held since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I also reviewed books for the San Francisco Chronicle for 13 years, where my specialty was (surprise!) historical fiction, and women’s fiction.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stacking the Shelves {78}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been very good! I wrote and turned in my final undergraduate paper (commence screaming!) and am in the middle of packing up my apartment. I move out on Tuesday! By 10 am on Friday, I will be completely finished with college. And you all won't have to hear me counting down anymore! Woo for everyone! :D


Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
$1.99? No will power? Yep, it became mine. :)
Meeting His Match by Katee Robert
It's all Nick's fault! Her review just made it sound so gooood. :D

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Monday - Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: Unleashed (Uninvited #2) by Sophie Jordan
Thursday - Blog Tour: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz {Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway}
Friday - Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Books I read this week:
Extraction by Stephanie Diaz
Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

I'm currently reading:
Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

So that's been my week! I got a lot less reading done this week, but I'm reading things that are a little heavier than the fun contemporaries I have been reading, so they just take longer. Still a slow week bookwise, though! :D I have packages waiting for me at home, so next week will be larger than recent weeks. I can't wait! Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Release date: July 22, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Pages: 300
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. 

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend. 

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.
It's summer, so I imagine a lot of people are like me and constantly looking for light, fun reads that make you feel happy when you're done. That's what I was in the mood for when I picked this up, and that's exactly what I got. At the same time, there's more than just romance and girls trying to win boys to this one.

While, yes, Marijke and Lily are trying to solve their love-life problems through movie scenes, it's their new friendship that shines in Just Like the Movies. Marijke is having boyfriend troubles, but she's let everything in her life beside Tommy and track fall by the wayside. And Lily's been too focused on being an invisible star student to have made any friends. It's in their mutual love of romantic movies and desire to improve their love lives that they're drawn together, but they get friendship out of the deal. Yes, I love a happy, romantic ending, but Marijke and Lily's friendship is the happy ending I loved more.

Otherwise, all through Just Like the Movies, you're treated to romantic movie mentions and homages. Some don't go off without hitches, but they're fun and a treat to read. Watching Marijke and Lily learn what they deserve and should expect from the guys in their lives is nice, too. Marijke sees that how she's put herself to the side for Tommy is not right and Lily learns that putting yourself out there, fighting for what you want is worth the risk.

Just Like the Movies is the perfect summer read. It's got cute romantic scenes, new friendship, and enough smile-worthy scenes to leave you a happy goof at the end of the book.

About the author:

Kelly Fiore has a BA in English from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. She received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2005 and 2009. Kelly’s poetry has appeared in Small Spiral Notebook, Samzidada, Mid Atlantic Review, Connotation Press, and the Grolier Annual Review. Her first young adult novel, Taste Test, was released in August 2013 from Bloomsbury USA. Forthcoming books include Just Like the Movies, again from Bloomsbury, in 2014 and The People Vs. Cecelia Price from HarperTeen in 2015.

Kelly teaches college composition in Maryland, where she lives with her husband and son. You can connect with Kelly at her website (, on Twitter (@kellyannfiore), on Tumblr (, or on Facebook (

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog Tour: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz {Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway}

Release date: July 22, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
"Welcome to Extraction testing."

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too. 

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters,Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Game and leave them breathless for more.
Extraction is fast-paced and exciting, with a world that I found myself intrigued by from the first pages. And while it has a lot of familiar elements, it's also interesting and original enough to make it an enjoyable read from the first page to the last.

Clementine is nothing if not strong-willed, dedicated to saving the life of the boy she loves, the only person she has in the world. It tinges all of her efforts in a new light, because everything she does is to save him. Yes, she, like anyone, is selfish at times, knowing what she does leads to helping herself more than Logan, but it's admirable nonetheless. It's a shame we don't see all that much of Logan, since he comes off as sweet and caring, with only Clementine's welfare in mind.

I'm very intrigued to see where this series goes, because it's very much dystopian with a bit of science fiction thrown in here in this first book, but I feel like it has a lot of potential to turn heavily in the science fiction direction, which would make for a really interesting rest of the series. Nonetheless, the concept is interesting and the world is very well-realized.

Extraction is a very solid introduction to a new series that has a lot of growing potential. With a smart, selfless heroine, a well-built world, and great pace, I devoured Extraction and am definitely looking forward to more of Clementine and Logan.

About the author:

Twenty-one-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her debut novel, Extraction, when she should've been making short films and listening to college lectures at San Diego State University. When she isn't lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fan-girling over TV shows.

I forget about things that used to matter. Things that hurt me, scarred me, and worried me. Floating here, I could be a cloud, a krail, a wanderer among the stars. Or maybe I am a star. Whatever I am is a small thing with little significance in a universe as wide as this one, but in this moment, I feel big. I feel like nothing can break me.

Fear makes me weak, but facing it makes me strong.

"It's not your fault, I promise," he whispers. His starry-night eyes stare straight into mine, sending a flutter into my stomach. He holds me like I'm a shard of trembling glass. Like he's sure he's going to make a mistake and I'm going to break, but I'm waiting for it. I've wanted it forever. 

"We want you to be stronger. Fiercer. Better."
"Aren't we better already, sir?" the dark-skinned boy, Stanley, asks.
Sam grins. "Of course."
Colonel Parker doesn't argue. Neither does anyone else.
I want to say something. I want to tell them they're wrong, we're not better than anyone in the camps. The only difference between us and them is the clothes we're wearing, and the food we eat down here, and the lack of scars on our faces.
The only difference is we got lucky, and they didn't.

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