Monthly Archives: March 2012

Monument 14 – Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14
By Emmy Laybourne
Available June 2012

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you hurdle down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

This Blonde’s Review:
They didn’t understand how fast the world could change. They didn’t realize how short life could be.

After a massive hail storm strikes on the way to school Alex, Dean, and several other students find that life can change in an instant. One minute he’s on the bus to school, the next it’s crashing and people are dying. Luckily the other bus drives straight into a chain store and is in good condition to save the children who survived the first bus crash. This leads to one adult and several students from elementary, middle, and high school stuck in a store with no idea what is going on. When the one adult leaves for help the students soon find themselves alone.

In an uncertain world with limited information from the outside, teenagers have to decide the best way to take care of themselves and the small children left in their care. Should they risk going outside or rely on what little news they can get?

This book isn’t about the disasters that are happening in the outside world. It would have been interesting to read but this isn’t about the world. This is about the 14 kids who have found shelter in a department store without anyone to help them. They have limited news of what’s going on in the world, all they can do is survive.

Throw a group of random children and teens together and you’ll find interesting dynamics. You’ll have strong characters who are able to take the lead and organize, whether they want to or not. There will also be the fun guys who want to be in charge but are more likely to abuse whatever substances they can find than take care of the people around them. Fear, doubt, desire, and chaos will show the colors of the people around you.

I enjoy reading about the disasters that we heard mentions of, but I also enjoyed reading about it from the point of view of people who don’t know what’s going on. These are people trying to survive without any idea if there’s anything left for them to hope for. The ending threw me a little since I didn’t see it coming but in some ways that was better than a happily ever after.

If you enjoy reading about the world gone to hell and people trying to survive you’ll enjoy this one. It’s not about the world, it’s about a small group of people and the things they do to get by.


First Comes Love – Katie Kacvinsky

First Comes Love
By Katie Kacvinsky
Available May 2012

Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl always searching for what’s next, seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving and besides, opposites attract.

What starts as friendship, turns into admiration, respect and caring, until finally these two lone souls find they are truly in love with each other.

But staying in love is not as easy as falling in love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they’re going to have to work at it. And learn that sometimes love means having to say you’re sorry.

This Blonde’s Review:
Gray doesn’t want to be a part of the world around him. He exists and gets by, but nothing more. Dylan refuses to settle down, she looks for beauty in the things that are overlooked. They’re opposites in every way, but something about the other draws them in. Gray finds Dylan annoying but can’t seem to turn her down when she decides they’re friends. Before he knows what’s happening Gray starts to watch for Dylan and want her around.

As their friendship turns into love they Gray has to step outside of himself and start to live again. He has to face his past and the way it has shaped who is has turned into. Does he want to be the guy who isn’t really alive, or does he want to move on with his life? Is a life with Dylan worth the pain and struggle of trying to get his life back?

Love comes first, but what follows isn’t easy. Gray isn’t the only one who has to decide what he wants out of his life. As he gets his life back on track he finds out love isn’t the solution to everything. Learning to live again means new problems, including Dylan’s unwillingness to give him what he wants most.

I really enjoyed the other book I’ve read by this author and was eager to find out about the her next book. The description had me uncertain if I’d enjoy it but I decided to give it a shot. Honestly, this book was just okay in my opinion. I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time to read, but I also didn’t find myself caught up in it and hoping friends would read it so we could discuss it.

I enjoyed watching Gray learn to live again. I liked that Dylan wasn’t a typical girl and didn’t follow the usual paths girls in YA travel. This book was unlike others in such great ways. I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop and watching things not go as hoped. I loved that Katie Kacvinsky was willing to make her characters learn to live without having to rely on each other.

Otherwise, I may have read this book at the wrong time for me since as much as I liked things in theory, I didn’t feel for either of the characters. I know it isn’t that the author isn’t good enough because I know she is. This story wasn’t high energy or adventure. It’s a story of love and growing up.

If you enjoy reading about life and love without all of the improbable and impossible adventure, then Gray and Dylan’s story is one you will enjoy reading. It’s not perfect, there are problems and incompatibilities, but their lives are never going to be the same after knowing each other.


Win your copy of Fear by Michael Grant

You said you wanted it, so I’m going to give it to one of you.

I’m giving away a copy of Fear by Michael Grant!





Night is falling in the FAYZ. Even though it’s been nearly a year since everyone over the age of fifteen disappeared, the sun has continued to shine on the kids of Perdido Beach. Now, though, the gaiaphage has blotted out the sun and plunged the FAYZ into perpetual gloom. Divided and dispirited, the survivors face their greatest enemy yet – the darkness of their own minds…





I’m really excited to give you the chance to win Fear by Michael Grant. I’ve really enjoyed this series and can’t wait to read the sixth book. I’m sure you feel the same way about Fear, so I want to make sure one of you can get your hands on a copy of Fear as soon as it comes out.


The contest will run until midnight MST on March 30th. I’ll announce the winner on March 31st.

Entries are simple, all you have to do is comment!
No forced blog or twitter follows. Just a comment. Tell me you want to win or something random about yourself. It doesn’t matter, just comment!

If you tweet the giveaway and leave a comment with the link I’ll count that as an extra entry. I know I love being able to double my chances, so of course I’ll give you that chance too. Be sure to link the contest and mention @ThisBlondeReads.

If you leave your twitter or blog info in your comment I’ll be sure to link your blog and mention you on twitter as well. That isn’t a contest requirement though.

Good luck! And be sure to spread the word.


Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Contest, Giveaways


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The Selection – Kiera Cass

The Selection
By Kiera Cass
The Selection – Book One
Available April 2012

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

This Blonde’s Review:

Imagine a world where America has collapsed and through several events that are unclear we find ourselves in a society where we have accepted a caste system. People were classified based on what their ancestors could do or what they could afford to give the new leaders. In this world the man determines your class, since a woman can marry up or rarely down.

America Singer is a Five. They’re limited to careers in the Arts, something people aren’t willing to pay for regularly. America is in love with Aspen, a Six. His family is in a harder situation than she is but she loves him and hopes to marry him. They keep their relationship a secret, in part because America’s mother would not approve.

When America receives a form to participate in the Selection she doesn’t want to fill it out. She has no desire to go to the palace and try to win the Prince, even if she did have a shot of getting chosen in the lottery. When Aspen and her family manage to convince her to fill out the form she goes for it, never expecting to be chosen.

Since there wouldn’t be a story if she wasn’t, America is obviously the girl chosen from her district. She goes hoping she can last long enough for her family to get the compensation they’ll receive, but she won’t do anything more than be herself. After a potentially disastrous first meeting with Prince Maxon, America soon finds herself liking Maxon more than she expected and offers him her friendship.

America spends her weeks at the palace enjoying the friendships she is making and fighting her conflicting feelings. Being in the palace gives America first hand experience with things she never knew at home, making her start to question the things she knows and what she doesn’t.This led to some interesting questions for me as well that I hope the author will do something great with in the next book.

America isn’t perfect, but she has a few classic character flaws. She refuses to accept that she’s pretty while everything the author uses to describe her makes her sound like a knockout. And she’s obsessed with a boy who is the LOVE OF HER LIFE. Ugh. Spare me those girls. But moving past those flaws she’s still an enjoyable character. She wants to be herself and won’t be made into something she’s not by the competition. She does her best to encourage the people around her, even the girls who are assigned to her as maids.

This book was compared to the Hunger Games meets the Bachelor, but that wasn’t what I got out of it. I don’t see any comparisons to the Hunger Games since girls who are eliminated are not injured, they’re actually in a better position from when they started. The danger and the emotions aren’t there. It is a lot like the bachelor with the competing girls though. This book makes me think this series may be more like the Delirium series than Hunger Games, but the Delirium series had more danger in either book than this one has shown so far.

I have strong opinions about which guy America should end up with but considering the complications the author threw at us towards the end of the story, I’m not sure where she’ll end up. I look forward to reading the next book in this story to find out if the potential in this series grows into something more.

I did think the author should have explained the caste system a little better. I’ve seen other reviews where it was criticized as pointless since people weren’t punished for having opinions and thoughts that didn’t fit what their betters wanted. I didn’t remember seeing anything that led me to the conclusion that it should have been that way. My belief was that the system limited their career choices, which would clearly limit income as well since typically a maid or small time performer wouldn’t be the type of high earner to afford the nicest homes, especially if the whole family was limited to the same career field. The need for earlier income would also limit education, as stated in the books, so the lower castes would have lower education and potential as well. That type of system would prevent people from hoping for anything more than possibly marrying up. I hope that in the next book we will learn more about how the country has been set up and what their classification system limitations are.

There were a few other minor things that I wished the author had explained better but they weren’t big enough to keep me from enjoying the story. I didn’t expect to enjoy this one and debating signing up for the tour, but I’m glad I gave it a shot. I could see this series going somewhere if the second book can build more on the world they live in. I know I’ll be ready to read the next book as soon as it’s out to see where the author takes this story.

America’s story is like Cinderella who doesn’t want the prince. She’s being lifted out of her poor life but she’d much rather get back to the chimney if she can have the boy she wants! But maybe there is more to the world than she ever knew. If that sounds like something that would interest you then you should get a copy of this one next month!

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Being Friends With Boys – Terra Elan McVoy

Being Friends With Boys
By Terra Elan McVoy
Available May 2012

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl’s perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys’ band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free…until it isn’t any more.

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl…and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char…being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

This Blonde’s Review:
Char has been one of the guys forever. Just one of the guys, nothing more. Then all at once life gets complicated.

Oliver, Trip, and Charlotte are great friends who are part of a band. Charlotte writes the songs and manages the band. Trip writes the music to go with her songs and Oliver is lead singer. When the guys surprise her and tell her that Trip is no longer in the band she doesn’t know what to think.

When Charlotte meets the guys auditioning for the bad she quickly falls for the new guy. She’s also getting to know a guy in her class that everyone warns her to stay away from, a guy who is more than the rumors make him out to be. Char’s friendships are affected by these guys more than she realized. But how can she choose?

Despite Trip not being in the band, Charlotte is still very involved. Soon she’s more involved than she ever was before. As her life is changing and her friendships with the guys around her get more complicated, she has to figure out what sh really wants. Does she want to be the sidekick or is she ready to step out of the shadows and claim what she wants?

Charlotte’s life changed practically overnight. She went from being one of the guys to having complicated overtones to her friendships she didn’t understand. Was she supposed to stay one of the guys forever? Or could she stay friends while finally being seen as the girl she is? Will the changes help or hurt the band?

I loved watching Charlotte attempt to deal with all the new complications in her life. She doesn’t understand why her friendships aren’t as simple as they always seemed to be. Why does it feel like there is more being said than she understands? As she gains new friends and feels like she’s losing the old, Charlotte has to decide what really matters to her. She has to decide who she needs in her life.

I didn’t understand some of the people she wanted in her life or why she wanted them there. Of all the guys in her life there was one I thought was the obvious relationship choice and another I really liked for her. I couldn’t help but hope she’d end up with the boy who was there for her more than all the rest. I won’t say who she does end up, but I’m sure you’ll be happy to see her so happy.

As one of the guys turns into a girl, she’ll learn who her real friends are. She’ll also learn what she really wants from her life and what she really wants from the band.

If you enjoy stories about girls figuring out complicated friendships with guys and figuring out where her heart lies, then you’ll enjoy Charlotte’s story. I know I enjoyed it and I am looking forward to reading another of Terra Elan McVoy’s books.


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