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ALA Midwinter Conference Giveaway!

Saturday, January 30, 2016
I was lucky enough to go to ALA this year despite studying and working.  Unfortunately, one of the boxes I sent appears lost and the other was missing tons of books and I received someone's CDs instead of my books, but I still have books to share with you! Some of the ALA highlights that I was really looking forward to included the authors, publicists, and theaters.  I was also really happy to see certain books at the conference such as....

You will have the chance to win a random, mystery box filled with 20 conference books!  Enter below :)

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

I Woke Up Dead at the Mall by Judy Sheehan

When Sarah wakes up dead at the Mall of America, she learns that not only was she murdered, her killer is still on the loose. I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL is a terrifically fun & voicey YA novel that tackles some of life’s – and the afterlife’s – biggest questions. 
When you’re sixteen, you have your whole life ahead of you. Unless you’re Sarah. Not to give anything away, but . . . she’s dead. Murdered, in fact. Sarah’s murder is shocking because she couldn’t be any more average. No enemies. No risky behavior. She’s just the girl on the sidelines.

It looks like her afterlife, on the other hand, will be pretty exciting. Sarah has woken up dead at the Mall of America—where the universe sends teens who are murdered—and with the help of her death coach, she must learn to move on or she could meet a fate totally worse than death: becoming a mall walker.

As she tries to finish her unfinished business alongside her fellow dead teens, Sarah falls hard for a cute boy named Nick. And she discovers an uncanny ability to haunt the living. While she has no idea who killed her, or why, someone she loves is in grave danger. Sarah can’t lose focus or she’ll be doomed to relive her final moments again and again forever. But can she live with herself if she doesn’t make her death matter?

Goodreads Summary

I couldn't imagine dying at 16...much less being killed, but that's exactly what happens to Sarah.  When she first arrives at her afterlife, she is surprised to find herself in a mall.  The Mall of America not only holds nearly everything someone could ever need or want, but it also is home to ghosts!  She has an assigned death coach who is supposed to help her work through her anger and sadness at being murdered.  A fate worse than death would be to end up as a mindless mall walker.  As Sarah weaves her way through her new afterlife she works out the mystery of her murder and discovers that someone she loves may be in danger.

Sarah's character was nice enough.  I didn't totally connect with her, but I could imagine being friends with her in real life.  I thought the author's idea of an afterlife centering around the Mall of America was comedic and innovative.  I've wondered a lot about what, if anything, happens after and I never thought of a mall!  Sarah's small romance with Nick added a cute dimension to the plot and another aspect to her decision-making process.  I completely understand her wanting to feel like her life meant something and I loved how the author tied up this desire neatly with a bow on top at the end of the book.  This novel would be a fun read for young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls

Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They're making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

With stories by:
J. Anderson Coats
Andrea Cremer
Y. S. Lee
Katherine Longshore
Marie Lu
Kekla Magoon
Marissa Meyer
Saundra Mitchell
Beth Revis
Caroline Richmond
Lindsay Smith
Jessica Spotswood
Robin Talley
Leslye Walton
Elizabeth Wein

Goodreads Summary

I love so many of the authors who helped write this book so I was really looking forward to their stories...and I wasn't disappointed!  There were fifteen unique stories with poignant, intelligent female characters.  It's hard to go into one specific story since I enjoyed most of them and they were short enough that if I go into detail I might give something away.  Some of the stories resonated with me more than others.  I will admit that there were a few characters that I had a hard time connecting to.  I really appreciated that I could read one story at a time and pick the book up later on.  I didn't feel rushed into reading through the book.  The authors, for the most part, were wonderful at plot building and picked interesting settings.  I liked how there were unique historical events incorporated into the stories and how each girl was unique in her own way.  Overall, this book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.

3 1/2 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Sanctuary Bay by Laura J Burns and Melinda Metz: Excerpt and Giveaway!

Daddy  pressed his finger to his lips, shushing Sarah quiet as he slid the door to the tunnel back on. She wrapped her arms tightly around  her knees and pressed her cheek against her arm, trying to pretend she was back in her  own  room.  But it didn’t smell like her room. Even the spicy smell of Daddy’s cologne had faded now  that the tunnel was closed.  And  grayness was all around her. She was almost four, and that was too old to be scared of the dark. But it wasn’t all dark. It was just gray dark.
She tried not to think of monsters crawling toward her. Daddy said there were no monsters. But monsters  liked tunnels. They liked little girls.
Sometimes when she was scared she liked to sing the Maggie song. But that was against the rules. She had to be quiet. She had to be still. She had to wait until Daddy  or Mommy  opened the door and got her.
Thinking  about  the rules  helped.   She  could  almost hear Daddy  saying them, as if he was hiding in the tunnel with her. Even though he was way too big. If something bad happens, wait until the room is safe. If you leave the tunnel, put the funny slit- ted door back on. Run fast. Find a lady with kids. Tell her your name is Sarah Merson. Merson. Merson. Merson. Merson. Ask for help.
               Her nose started twitching, itching from the thick air. Mak- ing her want to sneeze. But she had to be quiet.
Then she heard Mommy screaming. Mommy never screamed. Were the monsters out there and not in the tunnel?
On  hands and knees she started creeping  toward the slits of light, heart pounding.
“Kt85L is our property,” a man said. “You had no right!”
Out there. Mommy  on her knees facing the hotel room wall. Someone’s legs. A hand  reaching  down.  A silver bird stared at Sarah from a ring on the finger. Stared with a horrible  little black eye. The finger pulled  the trigger of a gun.
A bang. Her ears filling with bees. Mommy  collapsing on the floor. Red spilling out.
Sarah shoved her fingers into her mouth. Quiet. The rule was be quiet.
Shouting. Daddy’s legs running by, out of the room. The bird man chasing. The door banging closed.
Something bad happening.
The  room  was safe. The  bird  man  was gone. So she had  to get out. Mommy  was on the floor. Daddy  was gone.
She shoved the door and it fell out onto the floor. Near Mommy. Near  the red. But the rule was to put  the funny  door back on. She picked  it up and shoved  it over the tunnel like Daddy  had shown her.
Sarah  didn’t  want to look at Mommy.  She looked  out the window  instead. The window  was always open  and there was never a screen. Daddy’s voice came from the hallway, yelling. Screaming.
Another bang.
Sarah pressing her hands over her eyes. Not looking. Not look- ing. Something bad happening.
Daddy  was quiet now. Something bad. She had to run fast.
Sarah climbed  on the chair under  the window.  The chair al- ways went under  the window.  She stuck her legs through the window  and jumped down.  Now run fast.
She ran fast, looking for a lady with a stroller or a kid her age. A mommy  would  help  her.  She would  say she was Sarah Merson.
Sarah Merson, and something bad happened.

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country—Sanctuary Bay Academy—it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home and struggling with the memory of her parent’s murder, escaping to the school’s tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn't sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate's dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay's glossy reputation.

Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong and the YA novels Crave and Sacrifice. They have also written for the TV shows Roswell, 1-800-Missing, and The Dead Zone. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.


St. Martin’s Griffin



Leave a comment with your email for a chance to win a copy of this amazing book (USA)!!!

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

2016 list of First In Line authors!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Check out the video to see the list of 2016 Young Adult books from amazing authors!

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

A Son's Vow: Blog Tour and Review

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shelley Shepard Gray’s first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy.

Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family. Darla’s father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm’s lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn’t looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger—with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.

Now her brother’s anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn’t change soon, Darla fears it will cost her—and her family—even more.

Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father’s lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he’s feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone—especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can’t simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.

As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla’s love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?

Goodreads Summary

It is always fun to dive into a book about unfamiliar lifestyles compared to the one that you are used to. In this case we are given a story about a big conflict in an Amish town in Charm, Ohio. The more simplistic lifestyle does not equate to more simplistic issues in the town, and most certainly does not equate to more simplistic emotions when things go wrong. There is a lot to loose and many big things at stake for all the characters in this story. A lot of unresolved pain and anguish and heightening tensions that can go either like a war or be resolved peacefully. Is love possible even after all the hurt?

I loved the characters of Lukas and Darla. They have so much raw emotion behind their words and actions and it made the story very enrapturing the more you read into the book. Its not exactly the same, but you get a little bit of Romeo and Juliet in this story with the feuding of families and lovers on opposite sides. It is a story that has been told a million times and will be told a million more, however this one is unique enough to keep your attention and desire to see what the next chapter unfolds. Will the two families stop their feuding and let the love grow between Lukas and Darla, or will the war continue? You will have to take a look to find out.

3.5 Stars

Reviewed by Chris

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Guest Post and Giveaway with Gail Barrett!

Author Gail Barrett Shares Tips & Tricks of Researching Your Next Novel, To Celebrate the Launch of the FBI-Thiller Tough Justice

I don’t know much about anything – at least nothing that’s useful in a book.  A career as a high school Spanish teacher has taught me a lot about learning languages, but nothing about weapons or crimes.  So to write a suspense novel with any sort of credibility I’ve resigned myself to doing research.  Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1.       Folk remedies don’t always work.

I never expected to get altitude sickness when I took a research trip to Peru.  I’d read about it, and even took medication to prevent it since I was joining a medical group visiting villages at 13,000 feet.  Regardless, my blood oxygen still plunged to 71%, leaving me so exhausted I could barely stagger across the room.  And while folk remedies may sound intriguing, all the coca tea in the world didn’t stop the horrible throbbing in my head.  But like any writer I put the misery to use and used it in my book.

2.       I’m far more cowardly than my characters.

I like to think of myself as courageous, but I’m really not.  That point hit home when I did a police ride-along in Baltimore one time.  I weathered a high speed chase, confronted junkies in a flop house, and helped serve several ex-partes in some pretty rough neighborhoods without losing my nerve.  But when we stopped a break-in in progress, and the officer I was with confronted the suspects with his weapon drawn, I realized how scared I was, even wearing a bullet-proof vest.  I might write about kick-ass characters, but I’m definitely not one of them.

3.       I’m hopeless when it comes to guns.

One of these days I’m going to have to break down and take shooting lessons.  It might be the only way I’ll ever be able to write about firearms with any sort of credibility.  As it is, it doesn’t matter how many times someone walks me through a scene, I forget everything as soon as I’ve written it down.  Fortunately, I have a husband and son with military backgrounds I can pester for facts.

4.       There are some amazingly nice and helpful people in the world.

And I don’t mean only those related to me, who are obligated to help me out.  I’ve met some incredibly generous people over the years: the head of the Enoch Pratt library in Baltimore who gave me a private tour, the Baltimore cop who not only let me ride along with him but still answers my questions whenever I plead for help, the smokejumper in Montana who demonstrated how flares work and let me sit on his plane, a retired DEA agent, an expert in illuminated manuscripts, the owner of a Harley Davidson store – just to mention a few.  I’m eternally impressed by how helpful people can be.

5.       The world is a scary place.

If you think people are out to get you, they probably are.  The problem with doing research for suspense novels is that I’ve come across a lot of information I wish I didn’t know.  Thanks to the internet, I’ve learned that what doesn’t make the news is far more terrifying than what does. 

6.       Writers will do anything for research.

In 2008 I wrote an article for the Romance Writers Report about what writers will do to get authentic details for their books.  And I have to tell you, I’m a total slacker compared to most.  Other authors I spoke to have spent time with hookers, flown through a gale in a small plane, gone down in a submarine, ridden an elephant, become an EMT, gotten a tattoo, dodged wildfires, gone to strip clubs, and tagged along on a mountain rescue -- all for the sake of their books.  One writer tried to sneak across the border.  Another tried to smother herself!  One thing’s for sure -- writers are an amazingly intrepid bunch!

7.       It’s worth it.

I can’t guarantee that I haven’t made mistakes in my books, despite doing research.  In fact, I’m sure I have.  There are too many things I still don’t know.  But I feel good knowing that at least I’ve tried to get it right.  And in the process, I’ve had some great experiences, traveling to different countries and expanding my limited horizons – even if I’m still a coward at heart.

Be sure to check out part 1 of Tough Justice, EXPOSED, available to readers for FREE!

For more information about the series, visit

Get part 1 of TOUGH JUSTICE for FREE:

About the author: Gail Barrett is the award-winning author of over a dozen romantic suspense novels.  A former RITA® finalist, Gail has received countless awards, including the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Holt Medallion, The National Readers’ Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence in romantic suspense, and Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart.  For more information, visit her website:

Tour Schedule:

The amazing team at Harlequin is offering up a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally.

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel whose characters will come to feel like friends. Tell Me Three Things will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart. 
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago—the closest place she has to something like home—she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

The thing is, Jessie does need help. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live in LA with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

"Three Things about this novel: 1. I loved it. 2. No, really, I LOVED it. 3. I wish I could tell every teen to read it. Buxbaum's book sounds, reads, breathes, worries, and soars like real adolescents do." - Jodi Picoult, NYT bestselling author of LEAVING TIME and OFF THE PAGE.

Goodreads Summary

I would love the idea of a secret helper guiding me through certain parts of life and befriending me.  Jessie is that lucky; someone-a guy-at her school is telling her the people she could try befriending, what to avoid in the cafeteria, etc...  Jessie really wants to meet SN (somebody-nobody) and make regular guesses as to who it could be throughout the book.  Her life is definitely not the easiest; her mom passed away, her dad remarried a widow with a son, and her dad moved her across the US to California to start at a new school.   She initially has a hard time at school and appears to draw the attention of a couple school bullies.  However, her life proceeds to get better and more interesting as things are prone to do.

Jessie is a sympathetic character.  I can't imagine my mom dying. I do think I would likely count the days afterwards much like Jessie does.  SN was a mystery and made it fun guessing at Jessie's potential secret admirer.  I was a little worried that she wouldn't resolve the mystery at the end of the book.  I liked how the author developed the characters and made them into more than they initially seemed.  Her step-brother ended up impressing me and her friends (both from Chicago and California) were fun and I liked how nice their relationships are.  The book was a fun-read and kept me distracted even when I was having a hard time with something.  Overall, this book is perfect for teen/young adult readers.

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

A North Story by Dean Economos: Spotlight and Q&A

Friday, January 22, 2016

For the teenagers of Chicago’s North Shore, everyone has something to hide.

In a daring attempt to impress the elusive Sophia, Michael makes the biggest decision of his life, stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from St. Theodore Community Church.

That same night, Nichole’s insecurities are finally forgotten with a drug she soon won’t be able to control.

When Michael makes his getaway, he sees his friend Joseph cheat on his girlfriend with the priest’s daughter and knock over a candle that sets the church ablaze.

As the consequences of that night unfold, Joseph is blamed for the fire and the missing money. Can the teenagers of the North Shore confess their vices to help their friend? Or will their greed, infidelity and jealousy change all their lives forever?

Goodreads Summary

Buy links:



Author Q&A

Give us some background, what did you do before writing this book?
I went to college at Loyola University Chicago and received my undergrad in Biology and a minor in Biostatistics. I then went on to receive my M.B.A. from Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.
What were the events that inspired the book?
The book was inspired by different experiences growing up. Those key events and experiences were then intertwined with the more current events of our church’s media coverage.
Some parts of your book are things you actually experienced, they must have stuck with you for you to want to write about them years later. Did you always know you wanted to tell these stories?
I kind of had a premonition growing up that these events would be shared. My friends and I would always say we should’ve had a show like Laguna Beach, or something of that nature. So, in a way, I did think these stories would be told in one way or another, I just didn’t think I’d be the one to tell them.
Like other stories of turmoil, we are drawn to A North Shore Story because we can relate to the characters. Can you elaborate on what is relatable about the internal struggles of the book’s characters?
What makes these characters extremely relatable to readers are the confidence and relationship problems each one of them goes through, whether it be friendship or romantic. Some characters go through other internal struggles such as underage drinking, drug use, and sexual peer pressure. I think that everyone at one time or another has been in one of these circumstances.
What was your favorite part of writing this book?
Since this was my first book, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was supposed to have a template or well-thought out plan before writing anything. Instead, I jumped into it head-first and developed the story as I wrote. I feel that doing it this way allowed myself to be more creative and not stick to a “script” per say. I was even surprised at what I was able to create. 
What inspired you to write this story so many years later?
What originally got my gears turning was the media’s coverage of our former priest and his embezzlement of church funds. I then started to think about our time growing up at our church and the
events that our friends and I experienced. After pinpointing key events, I began formulating the plotline which now makes up A North Shore Story.
You know some of these characters in your waking life. Who was the most exciting to write? How have they changed because of what happened?

The most exciting character to write about was definitely Kate. Kate, and the girl who she’s based off of, has a very exciting personality and a distinct attitude. When our friend read the story, she loved how she was portrayed in the storyline. I think that she, along with the rest of our friends, have changed in that we’ve learned how to tackle the problems that Kate and the rest of the group are dealing with right now.

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or
reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace: Review and Giveaway!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Shallow Graves
by Kali Wallace
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror, Zombies, Fantasy, Thriller, Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery, Supernatural
Rate: 4 Stars!


For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.

I love Nova Ren Suma so I wasn't surprised that I really enjoyed this book.  Would you get up from the grave to find your murderer?  When Breezy wakes up, she knows that she was dead and she knows that she was killed.  That has to be a harsh realization and I think that I, personally, would be really mad and sad.  She recovers nicely, however, and searches for her murderer.  In a lot of ways, Breezy is a normal teenage girl with typical teenage worries.  She has a new talent though-she can sense murderers.  Along the way, she makes new friends, some are paranormal and some are not.  The novel is filled with intense situations and Breezy making quick, desperate choices.

I liked Breezy's character.  I felt bad for her and her untimely demise, but if I was murdered I think it might be nice to find out who and why.  Parts of the book read like a mystery while others resembled a thriller.  I enjoyed getting to know the secondary characters and how some fit into the plot.  The cult chasing after Breezy scared me; I spent a lot of the book worried that Breezy was going to lose her undead life.  This book would make a fun read for anyone who enjoys horror/thriller/mystery.

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Follow the Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Kali Wallace studied geology and geophysics before she decided she enjoyed inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked researching the real one. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov's, Lightspeed Magazine, and Her first novel will be published by Katherine Tegen Books in 2016. She lives in southern California.


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ