BLOG TOUR {Excerpt & Giveaway}: The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard

Welcome to our blog tour stop for The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard, hosted by Shane at Itching for Books. You can follow the tour here. And don't forget to check out the giveaway at the end of this post! Thanks for stopping by! :D

Title: The Forgotten Ones
Author: Laura Howard
Release Date: May 15, 2013
Pages: 177, Paperback

Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.

"'Allison?' His voice was soft and serious, sounding warning bells in my mind.
'Mm-hmm?' I was afraid to look at him, afraid of the way he said my name, so I kept looking at the sky.
'I want to know why you never date,' he said
I opened my mouth, but I couldn't come up with an appropriate answer so I closed it.
'You could have anyone you wanted. Why is it you're always alone?' I could feel his eyes on me as I stared into the star-studded night.
'Anyone I wanted? That's a little excessive.'
'Come on, I'm being serious.'
I sighed, trying to think of the right response, one he would understand. 'I guess I'm just always busy.'
He chuckled. 'Everyone is busy. You have to give me a better reason than that.'
My mouth felt like cotton. Why did I have such a hard time forming coherent sentences when he was looking at me like that? I licked my lips and looked over at him. He stared directly into my eyes, the question still hanging between us.
'I want to take care of my mother. It's all I want. So, I need to make that happen.' I curled my fingers into fists and pulled my shoulders back, looking back up at the stars. I'd had this conversation countless times with Nicole over the years.
'I know you do,' he said softly. I glanced back at him, surprised he wasn't telling me that what I wanted was ridiculous. 'But... who will take care of you?'
'I will take care of me.' I shook my head sadly. 'My whole life everyone has had to take care of me. My grandparents, my aunt and uncle. They all sacrificed so much for me.'
'You act like it's your fault, but it's not.'
Now I was back in familiar territory. 'My mother was normal before I was born, Ethan. When I came along she began her descent into schizoprenia. You don't think that's connected?'
He shifted in his seat. 'I just know sometimes things happen, things that can't be explained. But you still deserved to be happy.'
I glanced over at him before looking down at my hands. I uncurled my fingers. 'I am happy. I'm enrolling in grad school, working and saving the money I make at the store. It's what I want.'
'But what about friends? What about fun?'
'My idea of fun is just different from yours, I guess. I don't need to be with a lot of people to be happy.' I hoped he would pick up the double entendre of my answer.
Ethan signed and turned his body to face mine. He reached up and lightly traced a finger down my cheek. A shiver ran through my body. I turned my face away and focused my attention on finishing my ice cream. There were people everywhere. I didn't want anything that happened between me and Ethan to be the subject of town gossip.
'Thanks for coming tonight,' Ethan said, unaffected. He reached down and picked up my left hand, interlacing his strong fingers with mine. 'It seems like I've been trying to get you to go out with me forever.'
I stared down at our joined hands, too shocked to move. 'Ethan, you've never had a lack of dates. I'd even say you've had more than your fair share.'
He ducked his head and laughed. 'You think I'm a jerk, don't you?'
'I looked at him and smiled. 'No. I don't, actually. What you did today, for my grandparents... that was really great. Thank you.'
'You're welcome. It was no big deal.' He squeezed my hand and jumped down from the tailgate. 'I'm going to take you home now, while you still think I'm so great .'"

About the Author

Laura   Howard
Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.


Top Ten Tuesday (16) - April 30th

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten list is "Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book"

Nicole's Top Five:
Male POV



Special Abilities

Historical Settings

Ashley's Top Five:

Dystopian Societies

Alternating POVs



Boarding Schools

REVIEW #88: Don't Turn Around (Persefone #1) by Michelle Gagnon

Title: Don't Turn Around
Series: Persefone #1
Author: Michelle Gagnon
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: August, 28, 2012
Pages: 320, Hardcover

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.


"If you've found this, then you’re already one of us. This won’t be an easy thread to follow. Because of the people we're up against, you’ll have to work for it. We’ll always leave bread crumbs, but they might get swept away, or be too hard to track. But we're trusting that even if you only find this entry, you’ll pass it along. Because the one thing we have going for us is numbers. There are more of us. And if we work together, we can stop them. 

I don’t like talking about myself, but I don’t have a choice anymore. I was taken by them. Experimented on. And I’m not the only one. They're preying on everyone outside the system, the kids no one cares about. 

Well, I care. And I am going to fight them. We're building an army, both here and in the real world. We're going to beat them at their own game. Even if you think you’re safe, even if you’re one of those people with parents and a social security number and a warm place to sleep, you need to listen. Today, they're coming for us. Tomorrow, it might be you. So I’m asking for your help. I’m asking you to open your eyes, your ears. See what’s happening in every major city across the country. Kids are vanishing. Kids are dying. And the cops and the government are part of it. 

Follow me and we can save them. We’ll lead them back into the light. 

My name used to be Noa. But you can call me PER5EF0NE"

So I am hoping that quote will convince you how awesome this book is and make my job a little easier. I really found Don’t Turn Around to be an exciting , heart-racing action-adventure that didn’t disappoint. It doesn’t hurt that I have a fascination with hacking and wish I had that talent (can I admit that on the internet?). 

Noa wakes up on a cold bed in what looks like a makeshift hospital. There are guards on her, a big scar running down the center of her chest and she can’t remember the last few weeks of her life. She’ll soon learn that she was involuntarily experimented on by a corrupt underground organization looking to find a cure for PEMA. Let’s just say she’s not happy and is going to figure out what happened the only way she knows how - through shear computing force. 

Peter is a hacker on a mission - righting wrongs in the world where he can. But he doesn’t realize the importance of the site he’s stumbled upon until minutes later his door is broken down and very dangerous looking guys threaten him to mind his own business and leave with his computer. More pissed off  than scared, Peter calls on his merry band of hackers and starts digging for answers. But he doesn’t realize the magnanimity of what he’s discovered until it’s too late to back out. 

Fate or chance (who cares) brings Noa and Peter together and after realizing that they are both running from, and simultaneously investigating, the same bag guy, they decide to stick together. Soon they discover what was done to Noa and what else is being done to hundreds of other kids across the country, without anyone knowing or caring. Horrified and enraged, they make it their mission to stop it. 

This book has all the good elements of your run-of-the-mill action-thriller where someone escapes or someone discovers a corrupt organization and then vows to bring it down if the bad guys don’t silence them first. There is plenty of ambush and escape, large threats and subtle warnings, keeping a steady feel of danger and anticipation throughout the story. Better yet, there is some interesting science sprinkled in, an alliance of hackers who can accomplish some mighty awesome take-downs, and some pretty badass characters.

Years of taking care of herself has hardened Noa into a fierce and capable young woman but still likeable  in all her vulnerability and innocence. Peter has lived a life of luxury but has it far from perfect with parents who wish he had been the one to die instead of his brother. Both characters are strong but flawed and a little broken and, unknowingly at first, give each other strength and comfort. 

It you are looking for a good adventure that starts strong and never waivers, this is your book. Don’t Turn Around had my full attention and was full of suspense and intrigue from the very first words until the last page.


REVIEW #87: Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison

Title: Notes from Ghost Town
Author: Kate Ellison
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Pages: 336, Hardcover

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.


"But maybe the heart is an organ on constant-ready, always waiting to try again, always open to the next best thing."
Olivia realizes she's in love with her best friend and finally gets that wishful kiss. But when she opens her eyes again the world is gray and void of color. In a fit of panic and confusion, she pushes Stern away from her, to which he responds with a hasty apology and quick departure. Olivia never gets to tell Stern that she wanted that kiss because a week later he is dead. Worse yet, her mother is in jail for murdering him in an episode of schizophrenia. 

Then Stern's ghost appears to Olivia. She's convinced she must be going crazy, just like her mother. But he tells her things that she didn't know herself, convincing her that he must be real. He confesses that her mother didn't kill him but his memories before death are scattered and incomplete so he can't say who did. Together they uncover the events surrounding his murder but as Olivia gets closer to the truth, she gets farther from everyone else. Her friends and family pass off her suspicions as paranoia, convinced that it's just a matter of time before her mind breaks. 

I found the synopsis of this book to be a bit deceiving, specifically the “heartbreaking mystery of mental illness”. Mental Illness was present in the book and a real threat for the main character, but it felt distant rather than impending and her mind was sane and reasonable throughout the story. I did find this book to be a psychological thriller or a book where the main character struggles with insanity and readers need to distinguish reality from fiction. Mental illness is just a tool in the plot and doesn’t play a significant role, at least that’s how it felt to me.

The plot had two real goals. The first is for Olivia to solve the mystery of Stern’s murder, which she does so with help of his ghost. The murder mystery was pretty simple and cliché and I guessed the culprit before or around page 100 if I remember correctly (which never happens). I was still interested because I wasn’t sure of the motive but that became obvious before the big revealing as well. The overly perceptive will definitely pick up on it early and I expect the book to lose some of its appeal at that time.  

The second plot goal is for Olivia to find closure over her feelings for Stern. She never gets to tell him she loved him and can’t accept that he was taken from her so early and right as she realizes her true feelings. When Stern's ghost appears, she doesn’t want to tell him right away because she’s afraid that kiss won’t be among his fragmented memories and since he took it back right after it happened she questions if he feels the same. This unspoken love is what probably elicited the most emotion from me because I can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose someone you love before their time and right after your relationship takes that next step. And then to get them back but not really. Like a terrible reminder of what you can't have but a second chance nevertheless. It’s an unimaginable thought and I can totally understand the struggle Olivia went through. But I was also a little frustrated that she doubted his feelings and waited as long as she did to tell him after he reappeared. 

One thing I didn’t understand at all was the color blindness. I think it was intended to enhance the feeling of mental instability but I think the book could have done without it because it didn’t really work in that regard. There wasn’t a good explanation given as to the cause or resolution which made it feel like a lackluster element, especially since I never really questioned Olivia’s sanity. Again, maybe it was me. 

I did like Olivia and I think under different circumstances she could have better proven her strength, like a different book could have made her shine more than she did. She was very capable and aware of herself. It’s not like she did stupid things and didn’t realize it. She knew the attention she was getting and the consequences of her behavior. I really really appreciated this characteristic in her since so many YA leads seem oblivious.

Oo another frustrating point that I must mention (not with the book) was when her parents and friends just brushed aside her suspicions as crazy talk. I cannot imagine my mother ever not being on my side. Or my best friend for that matter. ESPECIALLY if they have no real cause not to be. It’s not like she cried wolf time and time again. Instead they chose not to trust her because her mother was sick and there was a “good chance” she would go crazy too. That doesn’t mean she is already crazy! She didn’t do anything to deserve that reaction from them and I wanted to scream at all of them for not hearing her out. 

Wrap Up
So in summary, I definitely felt some emotion but I never really got excited and couldn’t relate and wasn’t moved by some of the major trigger points. This is the real reason why this book ended up just being an average read for me. I think it has everything to do with what I was looking for in a book at the moment and Notes from Ghost Town didn't really have it.

"Order is what we make happen - an instinct hammered into our lizard brains to help us stay upright, even when everything around us is chaotic, tilting, trying to buck us off its back, back into bottomless Nowhere, back into the Gray Space."


Stacking the Shelves (17) - April 27th

Stacking the Shelves - hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews features books that you bought, borrowed, rented from the library, received for review, etc.

This is what's on my shelf for upcoming reads:

What books are stacking your shelves??

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