Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

23281811Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: July 21st 2015
Page Amount: 272 pages
Price: $17.99 Hardback
ISBN: 0670014974 (ISBN13: 9780670014972)

You may have noticed, I didn't include a summary with this review! I will discuss that once I get to the second to last paragraph of my review, but don't be alarmed! 

I could not have picked a better book to start of the new year with.

I loved this book, so much so where I don't even know where to begin with my review.

Let me begin by saying how much I loved the idea of the story. It took me a few minutes of reading the (advance) synopsis on the back of the book to figure out what was going on, but once I understood it, I was instantly intrigued. I have never read a book that deals with this plot before. I think it is very interesting to write about abduction and kidnapping, especially the aftermath of it. But the piece of the plot that really drew me in is that Erica isn't really who she says she is. She is pretending to be Erica.(name drop!).

Normally, all of the YA books that I read don't have characters placed in sticky situations. Many of the characters that I read about and relate to are characters that haven't done anything wrong, at least not knowingly. They are mainly opposed to crime and fight against it, only engaging in illegal activities when it is necessary to save their lives.

I really liked the change in ideas. The main character of this story isn't like that, that she knows very well what she is doing and the consequences of getting caught. I really like seeing a main character that doesn't always make moral decisions. Morality is such a huge theme in all YA books now-a-days, and I was happy to see that this book went against that idea.

I also want to say that (after looking on Goodreads for this book) that this is Ms. Painchaud's debut novel! For a novel (and let alone a debut novel!) I couldn't be more impressed! Her writing style hooked me in from the very first page, and I found it difficult to break away from this book. I wanted to finish it all at once! I was very impressed with the story that she crafts along with the characters that she creates. 

Before I conclude this review, you might realize that I did not include a summary of the book in my review. Typically I would do this, but this is one of the special-exception books that I blog about. I think the best way to experience this book is to go into it blindly. I think it adds a lot more depth to the story and also adds a lot more reveals to the book. I went into the book only knowing a few sentences about it and I found it to be very enjoyable. I honestly think if you want to try this book to pick it up without reading the summary. I think it will change the reading experience for you and make it a better one. (Note: I'm not saying the summary gives away too much, I'm just saying I liked not knowing character's motivations, plot points, etc. until I read them. If you want to ask me more you can always comment below or tweet me on Twitter @iamabookjunkie!)

Again, this is one of those books where, if I say too much, it will ruin some of the giant reveals of this book. I love the fact that I get to read so many books that have amazing plot twists and character developments, and I hope that you decide to pick up this book too! I promise you that you will not regret it, especially with this amazing read!

Pretending to Be Erica is a young adult thriller unlike any other. Erica is a character with questionable motives and an even more indeterminate past. If you are looking for a young-adult thriller that will hook you in from the very first page, this is the one for you. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Disclaimer: Per FTC Guidelines, I received this book as an ARC for free and this in no way, shape or form affects my opinion or review of the novel.

What did you think of my review? Did you like this? Have you read a YA thriller that you really enjoyed? What was it? Did you read this book before? What did you think! Tell me in the comments below (and I will be sure to respond!) 


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie Week: Top Ten Bookish Things I Would Love to Have

This week's Top Ten Tuesday was a freebie week, which means that I can write about anything that I wish was a category. For my freebie week, I decided to pick the Top Ten Bookish Things that I Would Love to Have. Whether or not these things actually exist, I'm not sure. But here is to hoping that they will exist in the future.

I'm going to write a shorter list this week - I'm only going to write about five things - and I would love for you to contribute to this list! I would love it if you would leave down something that you would LOVE to have that would make your reading life or blogging life a little bit easier.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I've Recently Added To My TBR

The theme for this week is: The Top Ten Books I Recently Added to my TBR List!

For this post, I decided to include unreleased books as well, not just finished copies that I have not read in the past few years. I thought it would be nice to have a mixture of not released and already released novels - hopefully I can get to reading some of these books soon!

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1)

Do I even have to justify this one? A young adult novel, that takes place in Russia AND some amazing characters. How can I resist? It's like this book was made for me! This has to be one of my most anticipated books of the new year (of course with Black Widow : Red Vengeance, which is fitting!) and I cannot wait to read this one!

Once Upon A Dream (A Twisted Tale #2) by Liz Braswell

Once Upon a Dream (A Twisted Tale, #2)

I'm a sucker for fairytales, especially involving retellings. I love to read all of the different interpretations of fairytales! When I saw this one, I knew I had to put it on my TBR. Sleeping Beauty is my favorite princess and I have never read a retelling of her story before (nor have I read the "real" one, but I've heard it's kind of graphic so I don't want to!).

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Gracefully Grayson

I found this one at my used bookstore (very, very cheap!) and I decided that if I didn't buy it now, I would never read it! I've heard some buzz about this one, but never thought to put in on my TBR. But, now that I have it, and I like the premise of the book, it's on the list!

The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu


This one was on my radar for quite a while, but I didn't really feel I needed to read it until I read Legend, one of Marie Lu's other novels. I really love and adore the characters in that story and I hope that I can say the same for this book too! I'm actually kind of angry that I didn't get to reading this book sooner than I did - I met Ms. Lu last July at a convention but only had one book for her to sign, and it wasn't Legend or The Young Elites! Hopefully I can meet her again.

Am I Normal Yet (Normal #1) by Holly Bourne


I have actively been searching out more and more young adult novels that deal with mental illness and mental health, along with physical disabilities. For some reason, this book didn't cross my list until very recently. I'm very interested to see what this book holds for me! I'm still trying to find it in a bookstore around me, but I know I want to finish this in the new year!

Icons (Icons #1) by Margaret Stohl


After reading Black Widow: Forever Red, I have to read all of Ms. Stohl's other books! (I'm in the middle of reading Beautiful Creatures right now!) I love her writing style and the premise of this book sounds very interesting to me. Plus, it is already on my bookshelf at home, so I have to read it at some point!

This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

This Is Where the World Ends

Similarly to the last book, I read Ms. Zhang's previous novel and also enjoyed the read. I also felt that her writing had a certain flow and pace to it, one that I resonated with. I'm also interested in the plot of this book. I think I am finding myself pulled toward more and more sensitive subject matters, and this one definitely fits the bill!

Love Blind by Christa Desir and Jolene Perry

Love Blind

A friend of mine recently put this book on their TBR list, and recommended it to me as well! (I do have to say, this friend knows me very well!). The protagonist of this story is going blind, and to try and distract herself from what may come, she makes a list. She wants to tackle her greatest fears. Like many of the other books on my TBR, this one also deals with a physical disability, and also has a character that wants to live in spite of it. I can't wait for this one to come out!

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin


This is one of the FIRST books that I have read that deals with gender identity. I have the same reasons for looking into this book as I do for Gracefully Grayson - I want to see a story about someone trying to figure out who they are, not just what they stand for, and I feel that these two books will definitely deliver!


You may realize that I didn't pick ten books for my Top Ten Tuesday. This is because I want YOU to pick the last one for me!

Answer in the comments down below: What book should I add to my TBR and why? Or, what is your favorite book and tell me why! I'll let you know if I decide to add them to my TBR list, potentially by featuring your comment in my next Top Ten Tuesday post! :)



Saturday, January 9, 2016

Why I No Longer Feel Safe in the Blogging Community

It has only been a few days into the new year, and already, the blogging community was (and continues to be) shaken by another blogging scandal.

I really didn't want to be able to say this again. I really wish it didn't happen. But scandals in the blogging community happen way too much. Even one scandal, plagiarized post, is one too many.

I'm sad to report on what is happening now.

From my understanding, there was an author named Corinne Rosanna Catlin who wrote her own novel. She pretended to be a Penguin Random House employee, and emailed several bloggers under this name or a pseudonym. She asked them if they would like to review some ARCs from Penguin Random House.

Some bloggers (including teen bloggers) were contacted by her and even gave their address in order to receive ARCs that they believed were from Penguin Random House itself.

Jon was actually one of the bloggers who received one of the packages from her, and he described their being the Penguin Random House logo on the side of a box. Inside of the box were several books - which he says were a mix of a Penguin Adult Title (with a Thrift Books Sticker), and the author's book, along with an ARC that he wanted.

I'm pretty sure the ARC was bought off of the Internet if she doesn't work for Penguin Random House. Which, is yet again, illegal.

You can read about the incident more on Publisher's Weekly or from Jon's blog!

(I'm sorry if some of this information isn't correct - I'm still trying to figure out what happened myself. But if something is wrong/something is missing, let me know in the comments, and I will update it!)

I'm very, very scared for the bloggers that gave her their addresses, personal or not, PO box or not, and I am very scared for what this woman can do with them. I'm not quite sure what will happen, but I am happy to say that I have not been emailed yet, and in the case that I am emailed, I will definitely not be responding to it.

But, this shakes me up.

I am a teen book blogger. I'm still relatively new to blogging. I don't really have any publicity contacts from any publishing houses. If I was approached by a publicity representative from a publishing house, I wouldn't have anything to check it against, and I probably would have responded to the email as well.

I don't feel safe. I doubt I will feel safe for a long time.

I was able to get past the (hopefully) isolated incident between Kathleen Hale and Blythe Harris. I have never read any of Hale's books (and I don't plan on doing this in the future) and I figured that this was just ONE bad egg in an entire batch of great ones. It did take me some time though, to trust that my personal information wouldn't be leaked by other people. I still ask for emails to be deleted, I don't participate in Books for Trade as much as I used to. I'm horrified to even think about giving my address out to anyone I don't know personally or trust.

I'm shaken by this, especially when it involves a giant publishing company.

For those of you that don't know, blogging involves a lot of different things. Most of the time, it starts out with a single post on a brand new website. Then reviews of old books you have on your shelves start to show up on the website, reading challenges begin to appear. You begin to write book haul posts and take part in blog tours, and you occasionally can get a book sent to you for review, which is all very exciting!

But when you build up your blog with all of your original content (there is another post talking about this), publishers can take notice, and it is possible for you to work with publishers and authors directly to promote their books/ideas, sometimes even before the book comes out!

Some of this, involves giving publishers your personal information. Your address. Your PO box. Your name. 

To see someone take advantage of this trust that we give to publishers - the trust that they won't do anything "bad" with our addresses, that it will remain private, and it will only be used when there is something book related coming in the mail - is absolutely crazy. I'm not blaming Penguin for any of this (as they are looking into it), but the fact that someone can abuse it like that, abuse Penguin's trust of them as well, just hurts my heart.

It hurts to see that so many bloggers I know, love and trust, are victims of this. I can't even imagine how you all feel right now and I am so sorry that this happened. If there is anything I can do, just let me know. Just know that every single one of you are shining lights in my life and I love everything that you do.

But,what is harder to understand stems from what went through this author's mind that made her think it was okay to lie to bloggers, to trick them into reading her own book. I have seen so many bloggers that said her book looked good, but because of this whole scandal, they won't be reading it at all, even if she sent them the book.

Some individuals on Twitter are beginning to have the conversation of why book bloggers are so "attached" to ARCs and why they were willing to give out information when it is just for an ARC, and not really for blogging itself. Let me say first that I completely understand where they are coming from. When you are not in the blogging community, it's hard to understand that this isn't just about advanced readers copies. Plus, advanced readers copies are not "free books". Bloggers and reviewers have to put a ton of work into reading and reviewing the book in order to boost publicity. ARCs are publicity materials.

But even then, it doesn't matter. ARCs can be a part of book blogging if you want them to be, and you can't victim-blame or shame anyone who was tricked by this. It's NOT their fault, they are completely innocent. If you blame people for not knowing that this person was a "fake", the emails did come from a real Penguin email address in some situations and many bloggers have a great relationship with publishers.

I mean this very politely, but YOU CAN'T BLAME US.

Sorry, that part of the rant is now over. It just hurts to see that some people are accusing us of doing something wrong, when in actuality, it wasn't us at all.

In terms of myself personally, I have never requested anything from a publisher. I've been weary about entering giveaways from anyone, and in case I won something, I always ask that my address be deleted after something is sent. These are only some of the changes I have made since the Hale/Harris scandal. I have only ever sent in two ARC requests, which was one, before I really knew how to properly send one, and two, before all of these scandals were happening. Even though I want to send out more ARC requests, I am scared to, horrified, even. I don't want this happening to me.

I am a teen. I don't have the knowledge or safety that some of the older book bloggers have. I don't have a publicity contact from publishers or know when it is okay to send out information or not. I don't have the experience they have. Luckily, I have some great blogging friends to help me out. I also ask my parents every time I apply to a blog tour or otherwise if I can give out an address to send something to, and I only give this information to people that I trust. But it still scares me. This is my address. My information. 

The trust I have in anything has already been cut slim, and I don't know if that trust will ever be fully restored. I'm not really saying trust in publishing companies or close-blogger friends, but I'm worried that my information will no longer stay private, or that someone will use it for the wrong intentions. Thankfully, I have great blogging friends and authors and otherwise who delete my information after they send anything, so I don't have to worry as much about them. I wouldn't doubt their intentions or use in a million years. But trust is such a hard thing to build up, and it's even harder to do when you are a massive company and one, small blogger.

I honestly don't know what to think of this situation, and I am so very sorry if my writing reads like a bunch of separate conversations and just overall rambling. I'm still feeling very raw from this entire ordeal and I'm honestly not sure what to do about it.

I'm sorry to take over the blog with such a negative post after one of the best blog posts I have ever made (my Star Darlings Tour post, thanks Hannah!) but I felt these things needed to be said.

This post is short, by the way. There are so many other things that I want to talk about, but that I left out of this post because of the sheer length of them, but I will continue to have these conversations.

I can't let them convince me of anything. I can't let them take me away from something that I love. I will fight like heck to make sure that doesn't happen.

All my love,

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Star Darlings Blog Tour: Create Your Own Star Darling + GIVEAWAY!


I have SUCH an exciting post to share today! Thanks to Hannah @ Irish Banana Review/Blog Tours and Ms. Zissimos from Disney for allowing me to be a part of the Star Darlings Blog Tour!

What is Star Darlings?
" Star Darlings encourages girls to be bold about their hopes and dreams. Don’t keep them secret. Shout them from the rooftops! In fact, that’s what Star Darlings is all about: making wishes from the heart and that making them come true is within your power. It’s about making positive choices and learning that you make things possible. It’s about empowering girls, giving them hope, and inspiring them to find their inner star!" (From the Star Darlings Website!)

Have you ever wondered what happens to your birthday wish after you blow out the candle? Where does it go? How does it come true? Starworld is the brightest star in the galaxy, and it takes in all of the magical one-of-a-kind wishes and helps to make them come true! But, there is a problem - the humans aren't wishing anymore! The Star Darlings books, online shorts, dolls and activities follow 12 STAR-MAZING girls who are given an opportunity to save their planet, Starworld, from this devastating problem. With some training and guidance from their Principal, these girls will do anything they can to become wish-granters, along with saving the entire planet! 

But these Star Darlings face some inner problems of their own. They don't really know each other that well either. Will they be able to save their planet, and still get along? 

Today, I will creating my own Star Darlings to go on Wishworld missions with the REAL Star Darlings themselves! Isn't that exciting?!