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March Contemporary Challenge Review Link-Up and Giveaway

Hi everyone! I apologize for this post being a few days late. The following is the March link-up and giveaway, which will stay open through April 8. This giveaway is international  and in order to be eligible to win, you must be signed up as a participant in the challenge. For the review to count, it has to be a contemporary novel in the young adult genre and have been read in 2015 and reviewed in March. As always, I hope you all have been having an amazing reading month :) It's hard to believe 2015 is already a quarter over!

Things We Know by HeartSince You've Been Gone

-1 Preorder of Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
-1 SIGNED Hardcover of Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
-Isla and the Happily Ever After Mug

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Catalyst by S.J. Kincaid Book Review

The explosive conclusion to the series reviewers have likened to Ender’s Game and “Hogwarts-in-Space”
This exhilarating, explosive, and heartrending conclusion to the Insignia trilogy brings Tom and his intelligent, passionate, and brave young friends stunning tests and dangerous confrontations and through to an impossible future they could never have predicted.
Tom Raines and his friends are eager to return to the Pentagonal Spire to continue training for the elite Intrasolar Forces, but they soon discover troubling changes: strict new regulations and the revelation that the Spire is under new military control. What begins as an irritating adjustment soon reveals a dangerous shift in reality. Those now in control are aligned with corporate sponsors and their ruthless agendas. And when the military academy begins welcoming new cadets with suspicious neural processors, the first step in a plan with horrifying worldwide ramifications, Tom is desperate to stop it, even if that means keeping secrets from his closest allies.
Then a mysterious figure, the other ghost in the machine, begins fighting against the corporations, but with methods even Tom finds shocking. And when the enemy comes for Tom, how much can Tom endure in the battle to save himself? He must decide if he can still fight when the odds of success seem to be sliding from his grip.

This is the final book in the Insignia series and I was very happy with how it ended. I had picked up the first book in this series simply because it caught my eye and then I was blown away when I read it. The sequel and now Catalyst have been on the same level, if not better, in my opinion. As much as I can be found enjoying John Green or Stephanie Perkins book or any other contemporary/romance mix, I have to have a good fantasy or science fiction book regularly too. And this book definitely fits the bill. I'd almost say it's not quite science fiction, there's a touch of dystopian in the mix, but in the end it really is a sci-fi book, despite the fact that the characters aren't really in space all that much. I'm not sure if that's a stereotype, but I always think of Star Wars & Star Trek when I think of Sci-fi ;) 

Instead of actually being in space, the main character, Tom, and his friends who are called combatants and have been specially selected because they have an innate ability to pilot their space ships with their minds. How is that possible? Because they were able to undergo having a special sort of computer put into their brains. It allows them to download information and speak multiple languages very easily and learn all sorts of things. It's a very cool idea, one I loved... I mean imagine if I could just download all my math homework and then understand it the next morning? I'm not going to go into more detail about their neural processors sense I honestly doubt I could explain it well. So these kids are smart and it's certainly helpful in all the crazy situations that they get themselves into whether it be a spat between other combatants or between a madman who is trying to destroy the earth. 

It's a very exciting book, I feel like this one kept blowing my expectations for this book out of the water. I got maybe a hundred pages in and saw what things were building up to and went WOW. I knew it would be good, but then twists kept coming up in the plot and make me just stare at the page and wonder what on earth was happening. Then things get tied up beautifully in the end. It's a bit different then the first two books but I think it was a great ending. And the characters, even if Tom is a bit brash he's smart and takes calculated risks (well sometimes) and he has such a good heart, loyalty to his friends, and a good sense of things. I loved him for all that he goes through in this book and just how fun he is. His friends are great too, there's the ultra-smart Wyatt, Yuri her physically perfect boyfriend who's like a teddy bear, and Vik who is Tom's best friend and partner in crime. There's also the girl on the enemy side who shares a very special ability with Tom which brings them together.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The world-building is really good and addicting, it carries through all three books really well as do the characters who are fun and unique. I read this book very quickly, it was hard to put down with all that was going on, believe me! ;) There really wasn't anything that I disliked. There's some intense things that Tom goes through, but he handles them well. And in the end he has a very deserving happy ending. I would recommend this book to you if you enjoy science fiction and some rather daring (or reckless) characters. I'm giving Catalyst 5 out of 5 flowers.

Sara Bennett, someone more likely to be found in bed, curled up with a good book, than out at a sports game or a gig (although she's pretty addicted to music too). Hoping for a better world, believing in her Savior, daydreaming of One Direction, hanging out with friends, or wherever she may be or might be doing....there's always a little voice inside wondering if it's almost time to return to the books sitting on her shelf. In short, an average young woman with a book in hand and a dream to write one day.

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows Book Review

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

The Secrets of Flirting and a Giveaway

The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine is coming out at the end of next month, and in anticipation for its release, I'm sharing my flirting story!
The Secrets of Attraction
Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine's debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Mlynowski, and Jennifer E. Smith.
Madison Pryce thinks she's got everything figured out—she's working on a portfolio for a summer art program and hanging with her friends. Plus she has her hot boyfriend, Zach. But then a visit from a family friend turns Maddie's life upside down.Jesse McMann is still reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band. Then pride (and some goading from his bass player and fellow barista) forces him to find a new drummer—and the inspiration to write music again.Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett, who tries out for Jesse's band, and whose girlfriend is BFFs with the cute girl who orders a chai latte after yoga every Thursday: Maddie. What Jesse and Maddie thought they knew about the secrets of attraction and the rules of romance changes once they start falling for each other.

What's the best/worst advice you've been given (or gave) to help woo that special someone or secret crush?

The summer before I started high school, I was told by a friend that a good way to start a conversation with a guy was by asking him lots of questions about himself. During freshman year, there was a guy I liked in one of my classes. I remember thinking that maybe that advice would be useful in trying to start a conversation with him. So, I put it to the test and it ended up being extremely awkward. The guy I was talking to responded to all my inquiries with very brief, one word answers and I pretty much had to carry the conversation, which resulted in me rambling due to the fact that I had become nervous.The whole situation ended up being extremely uncomfortable for both us. Although I'm sure that advice may sometimes be useful, it's definitely easier (at least for me) to start a conversation by pointing out something both you and the other person have in common :)

Giveaway: Share your flirting story in the comments or on another outlet in order to be entered to win a paperback edition of The Promise of Amazing. This giveaway is US only.

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About The Promise of Amazing:
The Promise of AmazingWren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how. One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.