Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's Not The Fault in Our Stars, the Fault is in My Stupidity

Book:  The Fault in Our Stars
Author:  John Green
Publisher:  Dutton Books
Source:  Purchased on my Nook
My grade:  Can you really grade a novel like this?  An A+ seems so trite and meaningless.

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely   rewritten.

Initial reaction
::wiping tears and snot off my face from ugly crying::

Cover story
This cover is perfection.  As is the book that lies within.  You really can judge the book by it’s cover this time.  And why don’t all books have covers this great???

What’s the Story?
By now, everyone out there knows about this book and you’re probably wondering what took me so long to get around to it.  I’ll tell you in one word:

CANCER

I don’t do cancer books.  Why?  See my initial reaction.  But the girls at school have all been horrified by my refusal to read this book, so I caved.  Also, I knew I’d want to see the movie and I had to prepare myself.

This book was amazing and if you haven’t read it, don’t wait any longer.  In other words, don’t be dumb and stubborn like me.  Will you ugly cry too?  Probably.  But some stories are just worth it.

I don’t need to continue to wax poetic about this book.  I’ll just say that this is the book that John Green was born to write.  And now I’ll move on to my soundtrack.

Soundtrack

I stole some of these from the actual movie soundtrack, but just a couple.  You will notice that the Swedish rap song is decidedly missing.  This is a good thing.

Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson


Unfold by Jason Mraz


Heaven by Moonlight & Caterpillars



Not About Angels by Birdy


A Thousand Years by Christina Perry


The Final Grade

Just go read this.  And then go see the movie on June 6th.  And buy a case of Kleenex before you start.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Giant catch-up post #1

I think that everyone knows by now that I am really, really behind on reviews for this blog.  I have been reading, I'm just having a hard time sitting down to write reviews.  Mostly because my 6 year old has decided to re-grow her umbilical cord.  But anyway........

What I want to do for a couple of days is give you some very short reviews of some of the books I've been reading that I really enjoyed.  So, without further ado, here is the first one:

Books that you should read right away


It’s Rainbow Rowell.  I don’t really need to say anything else, but if you have not read this book, drop everything that you’re doing, feed your kids cereal for dinner and sit down and read this book.  I really liked Eleanor and Park, but I ADORED Fangirl.  One of my favorite reads of 2013, this book needs to go on your bucket list, people!






Marni Bates has won me over!  This little set of novels, the Smith High series, was just great!  You can read one without reading the others, but it’s nice to read them all in order.  I didn’t really think I would like Notable because it was about Chelsea, the mean girl.  But this may have been my favorite one!  It had this crazy story line that reminded me a lot of Bridget Jones:  The Edge of Reason.  Plus, this light-hearted fun novel is what saved me from my Allegiant depression.  Just sayin’………




This is one of the loveliest books I’ve ever read.  Ever.  It is a re-telling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and I love the way the author was able to capture the feeling of an Austen novel while still making the story her own.  I could not put this book down.  It was a beautiful, heart-wrenching story that made me smile and cry and it dealt with all those topics Austen addresses so well like class and prejudice.  Just go read it, ‘kay?



This book did not have some grand plot, but what it did have is a truthful and sometimes heart-wrenching look at growing up and first love.  There were some bad reviews for this one, but personally, I think that Lauren Myracle beautifully captured that rush and naiveté of first love.  I felt the butterflies in my stomach with Wren!  The characters were immature at times, but that’s what 18 year olds are like, right?   I sure was.  I just thought this book was very touching.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wild Cards are now my favorite type......

Book:  Wild Cards
Author:  Simone Elkeles
Publisher:  Walker Books for Young Readers (Bloomsbury)
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
Date:  Now available
My grade:  A+ with extra credit for swoon

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?
Initial reaction
I am now and forever a Simone Elkeles believer!!

Cover story
Everyone who reads this blog knows how I feel about kissing covers.  Blech!  I like the colors and I like the models, but I hate the kissing pose.  If I were reading a real copy of this book, I would have to put War and Peace or something on the outside of it.  Just sayin’……

What’s the Story?

So, Derek is sort of a bad boy sort and gets kicked out of his private school.  His dad is in the Navy and is currently on a submarine.  So Derek is stuck with his very ditzy, very young and apparently newly pregnant stepmom.  Who has decided to go back home to Chicago.  What she fails to tell Derek is that she has been estranged from her father for about 10 years and she left behind a younger sister who is now Derek’s age.  See where this is going?

I’m not sure how she did it, but Simone Elkeles made me feel something for every damn character in this book.  I even felt some pain for the distant father and the snooty grandmother.  For reals.  Any author that can make you sympathize with every character in the book is gooooooood.  And believe me when I tell you that Simone Elkeles is good!

At first I was afraid that this was going to be a Catching Jordan 2.0, but it wasn’t like that at all.  For one thing, there are many more issues being dealt with in this novel.  Deaths of parents, people running away, broken relationships.  This book was a lot more serious.  Yet, I never felt bogged down in angst or anything.  It was just enough serious stuff to make for good tension in the novel without feeling like I was reading a tragedy.  Or a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Now, let’s face it.  One of the reasons people love Simone Elkeles is because girlfriend knows how to write steamy.  Holy cold showers!  This one was steamy.  I think I could actually see steam rising from my Nook as I read it!  It wasn’t as explicit as an adult romance novel, but I would definitely steer older teens to this one.  I’m pretty sure this is one of the reasons that Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction have become hot items in my library since they first came in to my library a few weeks ago.  Yeah, Simone Elkeles has it going on in the romance department.

But this story was so multi-faceted with all the different family and relationship dynamics going on that it would have been fabulous even without the hottie bad boy. (But don’t ever take out the hottie bad boy please, Simone, kay?)  It’s always wonderful to see families heal and reconnect and I was in love with the whole family by the time this was finished.

There was also a really cool twist at the end that I loved and even though the ending seemed a little far-fetched, it wasn’t nearly as much of a stretch as say, a half-vampire mutant baby, so I was ok with it.  By that point, I just wanted to see some happily ever afters, ya know?

I loved this book and I think I’m going to have to follow the advice of the girls who come into my library and check out Elkeles’ first series of books.  But I should probably go buy a small fire extinguisher first.

The Soundtrack

Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars


Beautiful Disaster by Jon McLaughlin


Better Man by James Morrison


Come Home by One Republic ft. Sara Bareilles


Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran


The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A+.  I’m going to go all fangirl now whenever I see a new Simone Elkeles novel!





Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This Book Stole Another Little Piece of My Heart

Book:  Another Little Piece of My Heart
Author:  Tracey Martin
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
Date:  Available now
My grade:  A+

What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?

Initial reaction
Can I just pretend I haven’t read this so I can start all over from the beginning and experience it again for the first time????

Cover story
It’s ok.  I don’t love it or hate it.  I DID however, like the title!  In fact, this Janis Joplin song is what caught my eye on this one.  I love Janis and I like the way the author used the title from a sixties musician when it was a story about kids who are musicians that like sixties music…..wow.  Talk about your run-on sentence.  But still.  The title worked in so many ways for this one.  I think a nice psychedelic cover would have been cool also, but what do I know?  I don’t get paid the big bucks to make these covers……

What’s the story?
The first thing that attracted me to this book was the Janis Joplin title.  But when I read the description and saw that it was a Jane Austen retelling, I was sold!  This is loosely based on Persuasion, Jane Austen’s final completed novel.

I loved this book.  I seriously loved it.  I read it over a week ago and I still keep thinking about it.  So here’s the story:  Claire is sort of the black sheep of her family. (Totally identified with that one!)  Her parents are very wealthy and they run in some high class society circles.  Claire, however, does not buy into all of that.  She makes friends with Jared, whose mom is divorced and they live in a small house and they are not wealthy.  Eventually, Claire and Jared start dating.  They bond over music (The Beatles!!!) and he teaches her how to play guitar.  But Claire’s parents keep pressuring her.  And when Claire’s mother is dying of cancer, Claire gives in and breaks up with Jared to make her dying mother happy.  He takes off for the summer and the next time she hears from him, it is through a hit song on the radio.  One that he wrote.  About a rich girl who broke his heart because she thought she was better than him.

Great setup, right?  And it was well-executed.  I felt Claire’s pain acutely in the beginning of the novel.  And when she runs into him unexpectedly in New Hampshire after graduation, things really start to get fun!  Now the tables have turned and Claire’s family is in financial trouble while Jared is making tons of money on his heartbreak song.  What follows is a hilarious, if sometimes frustrating, comedy of manners with lots of near-misses and dumb decisions until everything comes together at the end.

Now, I know that there are going to be people who will give this a negative review because they will be upset that Claire and Jared didn’t just come right out and talk to each other.  Do you remember when you were a teenager?  Or not even just a teenager?  When you had been hurt by someone you love?  Did you open yourself up and spill all the truth or did you play around the edges?  Because that’s what a lot of us do.  It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and give advice, but I can remember well doing exactly what Claire and Jared do.  And it must be pretty commonplace or else there wouldn’t be so, so many stories that make use of this trope.  Even the Bard uses it.  Just think of all the misconceptions and issues that arise in Much Ado About Nothing because of people not being straightforward!  So to the naysayers, I just want to point out that if it was okay with Shakespeare, I think it’s ok with me. : )

On a side note, I have not been able to find this book as an actual book, only as an e-book.  Am I missing something here?  Because that is very disappointing!  I want this book for my library, dammit!

In spite of my occasional frustration with the characters, I loved this book.  It was a cute, sweet little story that was so much fun to read!  The characters reminded me a lot of myself and my friends in high school, so that made it even better.  If you like music and you like Jane Austen and you like comedies of manners, you can’t go wrong with Another Little Piece of My Heart. Just be prepared because this book left me with a raging book hangover and it was hard to extract myself from the story!

The Soundtrack

Well, Janis Joplin, duh!  What’s really cool is that Tracey Martin put her own soundtrack at the end of the book!  I’m only taking a couple of her songs though.

Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin


Piece of My Heart by Erma Franklin (Aretha’s sister who actually performed the original of this song!)



Thinking of You by Katy Perry


You’re the First, the Last, My Everything by Joshua Radin


1234 by The Plain White T’s


Love Comes Tumbling Down by Matt Nathanson


Here, There and Everywhere by The Beatles


The Final Grade


My final grade for this one is an A+.  I loved this book. I can’t stop thinking about the story and I think this may be one of my favorites for the year.  


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Offering Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kimberly Derting’s fabulous book, The Offering!  I will be posting my review of the book later this week, but for today, I have a playlist for you!  Created by none other than Kimberly Derting!  Woo hoo!!  Enjoy the playlist and make sure you read this series!  I LOVE it!

1. Let The Rain by Sara Bareilles

This line says it all: “And if I were fearless, then I'd speak my truth.”


2. The Lion The Beast The Beat by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

I love the overall feel of this song, and the lyrics:

“It's time to meet your maker;
Make the road your undertaker.”

3. Don’t Lose Yourself by Laura Veirs and The Saltbreakers

This song reminds me of Charlie’s struggle with Sabara. The opening lines are:

“I felt my vocal chords weakening;
I felt my concave thoughts;
I felt my voluntary blindness;
For staring straight into the sun.”


4.  The Divide by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

To me this just gives an overall feel of Charlie’s journey in THE OFFERING.


5. Whispers in the Dark by Mumford & Sons

I can’t help thinking of Aron and Brooklynn when I hear this song.


6.  This is War by Thirty Seconds To Mars

This song was a pretty obvious fit for a book about a war brewing:

“To the edge of the earth;
It's a brave new world;
From the last to the first.”


7.  Devil’s Backbone by The Civil Wars

There’s a pretty gruesome scene in the aftermath of a village’s slaughter, and this song captures the feel I was going for.


 8.  Kings and Queens by Thirty Seconds To Mars

Another song that fits the overall feel of the battle scenes.

“We were the kings and queens of promise. We were the victims of ourselves.”

9.  Save My Life by ZZ Ward

This is totally meant to be a love song, but I hear it as Charlie’s anthem to Sabara in the final act:

“Save my life, set me free,
These lonely nights are haunting me,
Cut me out from the cold,
This young heart is getting old”

10.  Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce

And then, of course, Beyonce reminding us that, yes, girls indeed do run the world ;)



You can listen to the entire Spotify playlist on playlist.net:  http://playlists.net/the-offering


The Offering by Kimberly Derting
True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy.
Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks.
When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom.
But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.

Barnes and Nobleamazon blogBook Depository blog

Praise for The Offering
“This was a truly epic ending to the series.” –Crystal Perkins, Goodreads Review
“The final book in Kimberly Derting’s Pledge trilogy is a thrilling conclusion. I was immediately swept up into it and powered right through. It was pretty much what I wanted with a few surprises along the way.” –Krys at Bibliopunkk Reads
 add to goodreads
Pledge Trilogy

kimberly dertingAuthor Kimberly Derting
Kimberly Derting is the author of the BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING (coming April 2014 from HarperTeen). She lives in the Seattle area, with her husband and three children, who often find the outrageous things they say either in the pages of her books or posted on Twitter or Facebook for the entire world to see.

Social Media Website Social Media Blog Social Media Facebook Social Media Twitter Social Media Pinterest Social Media Goodreads Social Media Google +
 Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 1/21/14


Tour Schedule
January 2nd
January 3rd
January 4th
Cuzinlogic – Interview
paranormal book club – Spotlight
Little Bookworm Reviews – Review
January 6th
Frankie’s Bookshelf – Review
Loving Lit – Review
A Dream Within A Dream – Review
Dear, Restless Reader – Review
A Backwards Story – Spotlight
Once Upon a YA Book – Spotlight
January 7th
Ali’s Books – Spotlight
Ex Libris – Review
Just a Booklover – Review
Into the Mystic – Playlist
The Young Folks – Review
January 8th
Reader Girls – Review
Lena Sledge’s Blog – Character Interview
Writer’s Alley – Spotlight
Walking on Bookshelves – Review
Proud Book Nerd – Review
Dee’s Reads – Interview
January 9th
manda-rae reads a lot – Review
Tressa’s Wishful Endings – Interview
Book Jems – Review
Spiced Latte Reads – Review
BookHounds YA – Interview
January 10th
Bonnie Gets A Say – Interview
Addicted Readers - Review
The Cover Contessa – Interview
Fic Fare – Review
January 11th
Townsend House – Review
January 13th
Library of a Book Witch – Review
Mythical Books – Interview
Whatever You Can Still Betray – Spotilght
Scribbler’s Sojourn - Spotlight
January 14th
Colorimetry – Review + Interview
Bloggin’ ’bout Books – Review
Once Upon a Moonlight Review… – Spotlight
Pika Pages – Spotlight
January 15th
Reading In Twilight – Interview
Howling Books and Design – Spotlight
Coffee and Characters – Review
January 16th
Crossroad Readers – Interview
Between Printed Pages – Spotlight
Crossroad Reviews – Review
Amethyst Daydreams – Spotlight
January 17th
Christy’s Cozy Corners – Spotlight
Rex Robot Reviews – Spotlight
Good Choice Reading – Review

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bite-sized Reviews

Yes, this is a new blog post!  I hope no one has a heart attack when they see it!

I’m trying desperately to catch up with my reviews, so I’m going to group together some books that I enjoyed, but I’m just not fangirling over.  I would rate all of these books as a solid B.  They were good reads, but they didn’t make me want to run around telling random strangers in the bookstore to read them.

Book:  Undercurrent
Author:  Paul Blackwell
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss

In this suspenseful teen thriller with a touch of the otherworldly, a boy goes over a waterfall and wakes up to find himself in a twisted version of the life he knew. Why did his best friend try to kill him? Why are his parents acting like he’s a sports star all of a sudden? Worst of all, what happened to his older brother? Filled with mind-bending suspense and unsettling thrills, Undercurrent is a grippingly paced teen debut that will pull you under and never let go. In this suspenseful teen thriller with a touch of the otherworldly, a boy goes over a waterfall and wakes up to find himself in a twisted version of the life he knew. Why did his best friend try to kill him? Why are his parents acting like he’s a sports star all of a sudden? Worst of all, what happened to his older brother? Filled with mind-bending suspense and unsettling thrills, Undercurrent is a grippingly paced teen debut that will pull you under and never let go.

This book started out very strong with the whole parallel universe theme, but after a while, it started to wear on me that Callum couldn’t figure out that he was in a parallel universe.  The ending made me want to throw the book across the room because NOTHING got explained or sorted out.  Rumor has it that there is a sequel, so if that is the case, the ending is forgivable, but if this is a stand alone, that ending made me furious.

This book had lots of good ideas, but sometimes the execution seemed poor.  Ok, really, it was the fact that Callum was so damn clueless that made this novel lose momentum in places.  This is the 3rd parallel universe book that I’ve read this year and this one falls right in the middle.  The Theory of Everything was by far the worst, but I think Parallel did a better job.  Still, this was a decent read, just not a spectacular one.

Book: VIII
Author:  H.M. Castor
Publisher:  Templar
Date:  Now available
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss

Destined for greatness... tormented by demons.

VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is plagued by the ghosts of his family's violent past and once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII.

I don’t normally like historical fiction that much and this book didn’t really change my mind about it.  I think that this book would probably be well received by historical fiction fans, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.  I found myself being angry with Henry for most of the novel.  I liked  him at first, but then he just turned into a big jerk, which is what happened in real life as well, right?


Still, it was sort of interesting to see how everything could have played out in the court of Henry VIII, so that was fun.  I think the real problem here is that the second half of the book was rushed.  I felt that I started to understand young Henry, but then the second half of the book crammed in 7 of his wives.  Whoa! 

I think this book started out solid, but in the end, it just didn’t do a lot for me.  But on a side note, it does have a cool cover!

Book:  False Sight
Author:  Dan Krokos
Publisher:  Hyperion
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley

All Miranda wants is a normal life. She's determined to move past the horrible truth of her origin as a clone so she can enjoy time with her boyfriend, Peter, and the rest of her friends at school. But Miranda quickly learns that there's no such thing as normal - not for a girl who was raised to be a weapon. When one of her teammates turns rogue, it begins a war that puts the world in jeopardy. Now Miranda must follow her instincts - not her heart - in order to save everything she's fought so hard to keep. with the image of a terrible future seared into her mind, what will she have to sacrifice to protect the people she loves?

Dan Krokos's sequel to the tour de force False Memory is a mind-blowing thriller with high-octane action that will leave readers begging for the final book in this bold and powerful trilogy.

I really enjoyed the first book and I really enjoyed this sequel as well.  This whole idea of the kids being clones who are trained warriors is pretty cool and it’s pretty unique as far as what I read goes.  The book was fairly action-packed and there were some really interesting elements added into this one that I never saw coming.  I’m looking forward to the next installment.

The reason that this book remains a B for me and not an A is that I am having a hard time really caring about the characters.  This book is more like one of those big action films that everyone likes.  There’s a lot of stuff going on and people shooting at each other and things blowing up, but there’s not a lot of depth to the characters.  Still, it’s an entertaining book to read and who doesn’t like blowing stuff up?

Book:  Second Impact
Author:  David Klass and Perri Klass
Publisher:  Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley

About a boy who sustains serious head injuries while playing football, told in alternating voices by a brother-sister writing team.

There are parts of this book that I liked and parts that I didn’t.  Actually, that’s not true.  I pretty much enjoyed this book until the very end. 

Here’s what I liked:  1.  The alternating points of view from a boy and a girl  2.  The blog style of telling the story.  It felt fresh and different.  3.  The issue, head injuries in football, was very timely and very serious.

I think the book did a good job of addressing the read difficulties of the issues surrounding high school football.  I liked the voices of both of the characters and I think the story felt real.  So what did I not like?

The ending.  I can’t tell you, obviously, but the ending was so anti-climactic that when I shut the book, I wondered what the point of the book even was.  It pretty much deflated the whole read for me.

** Well, that's it for my bite-sized reviews.  I will be back soon with a full review complete with soundtrack, because I've read a few that DESERVE soundtracks.  Hope you enjoyed these short and sweet reviews.  I'd love to hear from some of you.  **



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!



Welcome to my stop on the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!  I am giving away a copy of 2 scary books to the winner!  You can win a copy of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson and a copy of Crossing Over by Anna Kendall.  Just enter the rafflecopter below and then go check out the other blogs on the hop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway