Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

Chris Cannon Blog Tour_____________________________________________________________________

Going Down in FlamesFrom Goodreads:

If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.

Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.

Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.

Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.

At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can’t have.


This novel is a ton of fun–Cannon bring the world of dragons to life and I thoroughly enjoyed it; I mean, who doesn’t want to be a dragon?  While some of the pacing was a little fast in terms of the characters’ acceptance and abilities, the dragon world is one of intense mystery, and I found myself wishing to be a part of it as the novel unfolded.

Imagine being a teenager and finding out that, well, you’re not human.  Nope.  You’re actually a dragon, and your parents have been in hiding from the dragon realm, as well as hiding your true identity from you your whole life.  You know how teenagers tend to be a little over-dramatic and think the world is constantly crashing down on them?  Well, for Bryn, it is.  With her 16th birthday comes secrets and rigid, outdated laws that she now must abide by or risk her family’s well-being, but in turn she is also risking her own life as the outcast and utter “abomination” that stems from her own existence.

I have to give Bryn props, because she is a very strong character, and that’s what I like the most about her.  In the face of adversity, and there’s a lot of it, she’s strong-willed and doesn’t back down, a trait that makes her even more detrimental than her counterparts in a fight.  I really liked this about her, and although I found her to be just a little too accepting of the facts around her, such as the fact that she’s a dragon, I loved her spunk and the fact that she faces her fears and her tormentors head on.

This novel deals with much more than just a dragon story, though.  With it’s phenomenal themes concerning bullying, peer-pressure, family values, and doing the right thing even when it’s easier to go with the flow, it stands apart from other novels of its genre. Cannon has done a great job bringing this story to life, and I can’t wait to dive back in to this enticing world once the sequel releases.  Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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chris cannonAbout Chris Cannon

I love reading and writing snarky, kick-butt characters who take on the world and win.

My truths: You can never have too many books, shoes, or purses.

Coffee is the Elixir of Life.

There should be a National Nerf Bat Day where you are allowed to whack annoying people upside the head.

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Check out the rest of the stops on the TOUR:

June 30:

Addicted Readers – Excerpt

Booksniffer Book Reviews – Review

July 1:

Meredith & Jennifer’s Musings – Review

July 2:

Book Briefs – Review

Bookworm Dreams – Review

Mom With A Kindle – Excerpt

July 3:

Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance – Review

Seeing Night Reviews – Review

July 4:

WOrkS of FiCTioN – Spotlight

July 7:

Unabridged Bookshelf – Review

July 8:

Total Book Geek – Review

Donnie Darko Girl – Review

July 9:

A Book Vacation – – Review

A Dream Within A Dream – – Promo Post

The Book Beacon – – Review

Jump Into Books – – Promo Post*

July 10:

Gabic Reads – – Review

Rampant Readers – – Review

Jessabella Reads – – Promo Post

The Book Cookies – – Review

July 11:

Curling Up With A Good Book – – Promo Post

The Phantom Paragrapher – – Review


Liv ForeverFrom Goodreads: When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier—especially when Malcolm Astor, fellow artist and scion of one of the school’s original families, starts falling for her. Fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols warns her not to get involved with a “Wicky,” but things are finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy it.
But Liv’s bliss is cut short when she is viciously murdered. In death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that spans 150 years and many, many lives. Gabe, cursed with the ability to see their ghosts, turns out to be Liv’s only link to the world of the living.
Liv must rely on Gabe’s help to prove to Malcolm that she’s still present… lingering with the other spirits. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham before more lives are lost.


This a very well written story that, unfortunately, starts out just like all the other boarding school novels I’ve read lately. A scholarship student goes to a boarding school, isn’t liked by many, falls in love with the school hottie, and… is killed… finds out there is some bad mojo with the secret society within the school… realizes there are ghosts around… and basically fits the mold for the “boarding school” YA novel. It reminds me a little of a mash up of Poor Little Dead Girls, And We Stay, and Deceived.  Now don’t get me wrong, those are all good books, but I really wanted something different with this one, and even though these books are all different, there’s enough similarities that it just didn’t pique my interest all that much in the beginning.

Now, Liv, Forever focuses on Liv’s death, whereas the other novels I’ve read focus more so on attempted murders, so that was a nice change, especially as Liv’s ghost comes back to haunt Gabe as they try to figure out what happened.  And, while the first half of the novel fits the mold for this type of novel nicely, the last half of the book is where is begins to branch out and become a different story, which in turn caught my interest.  If you’ve never read a novel that takes place in a boarding school before, then I’d definitely recommend this as a good starting point.  I enjoyed the aspects of the ghosts, and I liked Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm as characters.  I also especially enjoyed the stories of each ghost’s death, told in first person, as if readers are drawn into the story to put the pieces together.  However, I felt the beginning dragged on a bit and it just seemed too much like déjà vu for me as a reader, especially with the similarities to novels that have come before it, so even though I enjoyed some aspects, it doesn’t stand out in my mind, personally, all that much.  Three stars.

3 starsSoho Teen has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Edelweiss, prior to its release on March 11, 2014, in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

And We StayFrom Goodreads: When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.

This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.


If you’re not ready for it, and maybe even if you are, this novel will jar your senses.  Written in third person limited, what jars readers is that it’s in present tense as opposed to past, like most third person narratives. Thus, the story is happening as you read it, making it read in a most discomforting manner, even though it makes perfect sense. I’ve read very few novels that employ this writing technique, and I think this is one of the reasons that it feels so off—it’s not done nearly enough for it so sound normal.  Because of this, it keeps readers on their toes, but I constantly found myself analyzing the writing style and, therefore, focusing less on the story itself, which was not my intention.  While parts of it flow very well, others become disjointed and choppy, and I really feel this has to do with it being in present tense.  And though I sometimes enjoyed it, most often I found myself wishing it was written in past tense so I could just melt into the story.
Writing style aside, I really felt for Emily in this novel; she made some choices that, on the outside seem normal, choices you and I would make, but that ultimately change her entire future due to the reaction of her (ex)boyfriend, Paul.  In all truth, no one could have known he would go off the deep end, and it isn’t her fault he makes the choices he does, but ultimately, one bad choice leads to another, and this is how we find Emily when the story begins.

Sent to boarding school to get away from is all, Emily is closed off and recluse, but pours her heart out through poetry–and the poems are quite good.  Though I’m not necessarily a fan of poetry, I really enjoyed how Hubbard joined both prose and poetry together to bring about the essence of this story, even though the present tense narration drove me a bit insane.  If you’re looking for something completely different, I highly suggest picking this one up.  Three stars.

3 stars

Random House Children’s and Delacorte BFYR have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on January 28, 2014.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

cover32563-mediumFrom Goodreads: When Elle’s father, a single parent and a big shot in corporate insurance, moves her to yet another boarding school for senior year, Elle is disgusted when nothing changes. Her night terrors don’t go away, and, soon, despite her father’s caring calls and visits, Elle starts to believe she’s losing her mind. She knows she’s being followed; a ribbon is tied around her doorknob, and there are those cigarette butts that keep turning up on the doormat, in violation of a strict smoking ban on campus. Then there’s Bryan, an intriguing boy Elle meets at a flea market and later finds out is a student at her school. Yet on campus, he pretends he doesn’t recognize her – until the day he divulges just how much danger she’s in. In her search for an answer to all the madness, Elle unravels the truth about her dad’s real identity, why someone has lied to her all her life, and the terrifying truth that she may be the only one who can save her from the one who’s following her now.


While the overall archetypes of a story set in a boarding school haven’t really changed in this novel, with the brooding yet protective hero, the shy and needy heroine, the distant parent, and the lackluster staff, Lindsey still adds her own twist to an age old story, bringing in a serial killer with a vendetta, the secret police, and pure, nice, caring friends for our heroine, Elle.

I won’t lie, it’s hard not to compare Lindsey’s novels with the vast majority that have been written using the same setting. If you read the synopsis, you might just think it’s going to be like all the others out there, but in truth, it’s really not. In the beginning, yes, I very much thought that this novel was just like others I’ve read. However, like I said previously, Lindsey adds in her own elements that help give the story a kick, like the fact that there really aren’t any “mean girls/boys” on campus. That was an added relief. In fact, our heroine, Elle, though shy, has great friends that rally around her and try to include her in everything, which was an awesome change from some of the books I’ve previously read where the hero/heroine is hated by the “fabulous” rich students all around him/her.

On top of that, the school isn’t exactly strict, and the students are able to move about more freely, going into town, owning cars, and interacting with the real world, which isn’t something I often see in novels dealing with boarding school. It actually made the characters seem more like college students with this added freedom, and I liked this aspect a lot, though sometimes it was confusing to me because I’m still trying to figure out the living arrangements.  The girls seemed to have their own apartment, complete with a kitchen, and they bought their own groceries, so that was a little weird for me, but not a deal breaker by any means.

The addition of a serial killer running around added a sense of fear to the entire novel as well. Though, on occasion, I wanted to smack Elle upside the head because she doesn’t seem very street smart. If I woke up every morning and there were tons of cigarette butts all over my doormat every day, I’d be worried of a stalker AND I’d tell authorities. It wouldn’t be something I just chalk up to chance. Likewise, I feel like most people recognize a cigarette’s glow in the evening, so it surprised me that Elle didn’t recognize what it was when she saw it stalking her, but… then again, she is really naive, so… it happens.

I figured out much of the plot before the constant reveals and revelations of the characters’ roles, but the one aspect I couldn’t figure out for a while was the “why” behind the serial killer’s choice. But, once that was explained, everything fit nicely into place, and the end definitely left me with a pounding heart for multiple reasons. Overall, this is a decent read with a twist, and if you’ve enjoyed any of the novels you’ve previously read set in boarding schools, then I suggest you give this one a try.  Three stars.

3 stars

F+W/Adams Media has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release on September 18, 2013.

et cetera
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