Friday, December 31, 2010

My Top 10 of 2010

I read so many good books this year (with some duds thrown in for good measure, of course). I wanted to compile a little list for all of you who are looking for some great reading material or are just curious about what my favorites were as I did my 100 in 2010 Reading Challenge. So, here they are. I wanted to to them in order, but I really couldn't rank them. They were all so good. (P.S. To save you a little time, click on the title of the book and read my review!)

  1. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer 
  2. Matched by Ally Condie 
  3. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher 
  4. The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller 
  5. The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima  **This is the 2nd book in a series. The first book is called The Demon King. I didn't give the first book a stellar review, but I totally take it back after reading this. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I even bought them both and plan on reading them again soon.
  6. Torment by Lauren Kate **Again, the 2nd book in a series. First is called Fallen. Liked the first, LOVED the second.
  7. Wings by Aprilynne Pike **To read my review of the second book in this series, click here. I love this series!!
  8. The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum  **Also the 2nd book in a series. The first is The Hourglass Door. I read this last year, so I don't have a review for it on my blog. I will tell you, I liked it, but I LOVED the second. That happened a lot this year.
  9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins  I am still debating about this book and it's been months since I read it. That's just how it is. Here are my reviews of the first 2 books: Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
  10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
What a fun year this has been! I won't lie-- this challenge was crazy hard at times. Especially having a newborn in my house these last few months. I am so glad I set this goal for myself this year and actually ACCOMPLISHED it! I hope you'll all stick around for 2011 to see what other good reads I can find!

Also, I signed up for a fun challenge for January that you are more than welcome to join me in doing. I am possibly the only person in America that has never read the Harry Potter books, so I am doing a "Potter-thon" hosted by Pure Imagination. I'm excited to read the entire series in January! Anyone want to get a crazy hair and do it with me??? :)

Happy New Year everyone!  (With 10 minutes to spare too!)

Need by Carrie Jones

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

I am still not quite sure how I felt about this book. I thought the phobia thing was weird. Kind of interesting to see what they meant, but bizarre that she knew them all and named them in alphabetical order in times of stress. Really? Who does that??

I actually loved her Grandma Betty though. She's a tiger ;)  (haha--You'll get this when you read it.)

I also really liked the story. The only real issue I had with it was the ending. I thought it was a little lame. However, this is a series, so there's a chance for redemption. Maybe the lame ending is a setup for a fantastic book #2. 

Favorite quote of the entire book:
"Megan. What an absolutely perfect name for Evil Announcement Girl. Megans always hate me. This Megan isn't about to break my record."

I'm sure you can put two and two together and figure out why this made me laugh out loud. :)

All in all, a good read. I'd recommend this, but it wouldn't be first on my list. 

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!
(P.S. I made it! This was book #100! Holy cow.)

Wish by Alexandra Bullen

For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone... until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.

With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again.

This is a book I've been wanting to read all year, but none of the libraries near me have it. So it surprised me when I was looking on Amazon last week at the free YA Kindle books and this was one of them. I was so excited! Of course I downloaded it right away.

Now, I have to know-- Why is it that rich people in California give their kids such weird names?? Read it and you'll know what I'm talking about. :)

The book opens on Olivia's first day of school in California. Her family had just moved from the east coast after the death of Olivia's twin sister, Violet. I've never been a twin (or lost one, obviously), but I imagine it would be a crippling blow. Olivia, who seems so lost in the beginning of the book without Violet, stumbles upon a dress shop and begins her roller coaster ride called healing.

I really liked the way this book was written. I don't want to give too much away, but this story could have been written in a way that I could have really disliked. But because of the route the author decided to take, I ended up loving it. The whole book I was wondering how it could possibly end well, but I was so happy with it. I felt like the story was resolved in a way that was best for all involved.

And her love interest.... What a great match! I loved the author's initial description of him. The boy with "burnt blond" hair. I've never heard that before. I thought it was clever.

Oh--One other thing. I hate when I read a book and the popular girls are always such beastly creatures. It's SO overdone. I loved that the "popular girl" Olivia befriends is actually a genuinely nice person. I kept waiting for this scary monster to rear it's ugly head, but it never really did. I loved that about the storyline.

This is such a great read. I highly recommend it!

Happy Reading!


Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick

Unfortunately, this is not a book you will be able to find for a while. This was a manuscript of a book my friend wrote that she gave me to read. In the past few months, I've been able to read some chapters from it and see how the story has developed. I am so glad that I was able to read the finished product! This book has been getting quite a bit of attention from publishers these past few weeks, so it's likely you'll be seeing this on the shelves in the coming year or two. I'm not going to say anything about it other than it was one of the most original stories I've ever read and I absolutely loved it. One of my favorite reads this year by far. :) A big thank you (again!) to Chantele Sedgwick for the immese honor of having a sneak peek at this fantastic book!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Torment by Lauren Kate

Hell on earth. That's what it's like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts - immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students -Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn't told her everything. He's hiding something - something dangerous. What if Daniel's version of the past isn't actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else? The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.

I remember not totally loving the first book in this series-- Fallen. It hooked me at the first and then was slow. This book was just the opposite. I had a hard time getting into it at first but then I couldn't put it down. I liked this book much better than the first, but it also left me (and Luce-- the main female character) with so many unanswered questions. I am anxious for the next installment, Passion, to be released this coming summer. I felt like I just got into the story and then it ended!

I liked Luce more this time around, and Daniel less.

Luce was more self-assured and assertive. I liked her spunk. You all know I hate "boo-hoo, woe is me" characters though. ;) Daniel--ugh. I understand his wanting to protect Luce, but it bothered me that he treated her like a child. Like he was constantly trying to show his dominance. I just thought that he was going about Luce's "protection" all wrong. He should have explained things to her.

Like I said, there were a lot of unanswered questions. The whole explaining-things-to-Luce problem was one of them. Daniel almost seemed like he wasn't allowed to tell her anything. He couldn't (or wouldn't) tell her about her past lives, he couldn't (or wouldn't) tell her why she was "locked up" at Shoreline. I want to know why she's so important. Why the fate of the world rests on her and Daniel. I want to know how they met, how it all started. There's so much I (and Luce) want to know that just wasn't in this book.

And is it bad that since Daniel was such a jerk in this one, I kind of want to root for Miles? I really liked him! (I'm not saying I will, just that if Daniel doesn't shape up in the next one, I may be forced to.)  :D

I think this is a series worth reading so far-- check them out!

Book 1: Fallen
Book 2 (this one): Torment
Book 3 (Summer 2011): Passion

Happy Reading! 


The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean

Michael McLean's touching Christmas tale has become a timeless classic. It tells the story of a nurse whose empty life is changed by her patient, John, who expands her understanding of Christmas. "The Forgotten Carols" are original songs from the perspective of characters such as the innkeeper who turned the young couple away or the shepherd who slept through the angel's announcement. Their personal accounts, until now, have been overlooked or ignored. Together, John and Constance discover what the world has forgotten about Christmas.


I remember people talking about "The Forgotten Carols" when I was growing up but I never knew what it was, or really even cared. But a few years ago, at Christmastime, my husband had gone out shopping and brought home the stage version on DVD. We watched it that night. I loved it. Now we watch it every Christmas. I also actually didn't know that it was a book until my mother-in-law and I were talking about the movie and she asked me if I wanted to borrow the book. The book is just as good. :) Here's an excerpt:

"Chapter 1: My Name is Constance



When her mother named her Constance, she had no intention of ever calling her Connie. Her mother once explained to her that Constance was a solid name, a name with substance and dignity, but "Connie" well, "Connie" was just fluff.


A lot of young girls growing up in her neighborhood would have welcomed a friendly, "Hi Connie" from her friends at school, or, at the very least, would have acknowledged the greeting with a smile. Not Constance. She corrected them resolutely. "My name is Constance." She would say, looking and sounding a bit life a stuffy old librarian with an attitude problem. "I am not a Connie."


She had that right. She was not then nor did she ever plan to be a "Connie."


It is possible to be obedient to a fault, Constance was. It never occurred to her that anything her parents ever said was not absolute truth. No advice, counsel, instruction, or observation made by her parents was ever challenged. She tried in every way to be her mother in miniature. This remarkable devotion was an enormous source of pride for her parents, through Constance never knew it. All she knew was that her parents were never wrong.


That wasn’t true of course. They were wrong on just about everything that had anyting to do with raising healthy, well-adjusted children, they didn’t teach their only child how to think or dream or feel or question or wonder or choose or discover anything for herself. They believed it was their job as parents to do all that for her – and she let them.


You’d have expected things to change when Constance turned fourteen. That was the year her parents assured her that her mother’s illness was only temporary. But that was a lie. Constance watched her mother stoically refuse to accept the truth about her condition – and the truth was, she was dying.


Typically when families receive such news, there’s an initial period of denial and anger and heartbreak, followed by a sincere search for tender ways to express deep feelings and say good-bye. But Constance received only her parents’ reassurance that everything was find and that recovery was just around the corner. In fact, the only thing that even came close to resembling tenderness during that time was something Constance overheard her mother say about the nurse who helped Dr. Burton. She mentioned to her husband one evening that the nurse seemed to be a rather competent woman. It was the nearest thing to a complement Constance had ever heard her mother give. And so it’s probably no surprise that a few years after her mother’s death, Constance went into nursing.


To fully appreciate what happened to Constance last Christmas, you need to know that she had been a nurse at the Fullerton Hospital her entire career. Although she could never be accused of being overly compassionate, she had never shirked her duties or failed to follow a doctor’s order to the letter. And she had never, ever questioned or challenged anyone in authority at the hospital. Needless to say, doctors loved her – and patients didn’t.

It was this absolute commitment to following the voice of authority that placed Constance in an extremely awkward position a few weeks before Christmas a year ago. The chief administrator of the hospital called her into his office with a special request ..."

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!
Happy Reading!

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

CLASSIFIED ADS: RESTAURANTS
SANGUINI'S:
A VERY RARE RESTAURANT IS HIRING A CHEF DE CUISINE. DINNERS ONLY.
APPLY IN PERSON BETWEEN 2:00 AND 4:00 PM.

Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses — or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything?

Can't say I liked this one. Quincie, although I like her name, I didn't care for. At all. I thought she was a weak main character in a mediocre storyline. The idea for this book was a good one, I thought, executed in a poor way. It most definitely had potential, but fell appallingly short. Don't bother picking this one up. It was a sad offering of a debut novel.

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!
If you are reading, or plan to read the Vampire Academy series, DO NOT READ THIS (yet)!
Thanks. :)
Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules.

She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir Princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardian to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose- for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back… and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your life is about saving others, who will save you?

If you've been following this blog lately, then you should know that I have absolutely loved this series. Rose may be one of my favorite butt-kicking heroines in a long time--possibly ever. I also now have a teeny tiny crush on a fictional character named Dimitri. Even Lissa grew on me once she found Christian and stopped acting so helpless. She definitely came into her own in the last two books. While I am sad that this is the final book in this series, I am pleased with how the story ended. Mostly...

I have been a die-hard Dimitri fan from the start, but I really wanted a good ending for Adrian. I didn't know what that could be, and obviously the author didn't either because he not only drew the short stick in the romance department, but he also got beat to a pulp with it. Poor guy. Let me say-- I didn't want him with Rose, but I wanted him to be with someone. I had the same reaction with his ending in this story that a lot of people had to the end of Gale's story in the Hunger Games series. (Which was-- "That's it?!?!? No explanation of what happened to him after??)

I also have to say this-- I figured out who the queen-killer was right away in this book. When I figure out who the bad guy is that early on in a book, I am very rarely wrong. The entire book, I was just waiting for someone to put the pieces together and call the real killer out. Oh, I'm so clever-- I figured it out before everyone!
......
Now, I don't do this often (ask any of my relatives) but I am going to admit it publicly...I was wrong. YES, you read that right. I said I was....WRONG! And totally surprised. It wasn't who I thought it was... but I kind of liked that. :)
Now, I wouldn't want to be wrong all the time of course, but it made the end of this series memorable for me because I was so shocked.

Two words: Loved. It.

Bravo, Richelle Mead.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Startling Joy by James Calvin Schaap


A gift. The baby. The pageant. The parties. The worship. The afterglow. The story. These are the elements of most every Christmas. In Startling Joy, award-winning author James Calvin Schaap takes a look at each of these elements through seven stories that show how imperfect people can find joy and grace in an imperfect world. His eyes turn on an outgoing bus driver, a passionate mother, a daughter reluctant to return to church, and even his own assumed-mediocre performance at a Christmas pageant. Along the way, readers see how the amazing message of Christmas can be found in the oddest of places. This heartwarming read is both moving and magical and will help readers usher in a joyful Christmas season even amidst the howling winds of winter.
 
I've read quite a few Christmas story collection this past week or so, and I have to say that so far, this is my least favorite.
 
I did like the final story in it though, which I would say is worth reading. (Just skip right to page 143)
He writes, "I am not a Picasso, a brutal misogynist who inflicted terror on nearly every female around him. Neither am I a Hemingway, a drunken lout given to baring his chest and knuckles at the drop of a hat. I adore Van Gogh, but I would not cut off my ear for anyone....(He goes on and on in a humorous way and then says...) I am, as most of you may have guessed already, unabashedly elitist."
 
He was asked to be the narrator in his church's Christmas presentation, since he had a "big voice" and a theater background. When it came time for the performance, everything went smoothly in the beginning. But as he was sitting in his seat, he was distracted by three teenage girls playing with a string and giggling, who just didn't seem to care that they were part of the retelling of a miraculous story. (Or that they were on stage and people could see and probably hear them.) As he continued his narration, he became more and more irritated and put all his frustration into his story. He says, "I knew they didn't care, and, in my mind, that killed the performance. I don't know that I can completely explain my anger. Perhaps those who have never worked at art will not understand. Those three girls wrested my attention so completely away from what I was saying that, in the process, they became my sole audience. I delivered my lines in a voice meant for them, even though they were behind me and probably never for a moment stopped chatting and playing with that loop of string." By the end of the performance, he says he was "relieved but seething." Many thanked him on his way out the door for what they said was a great performance. It didn't mean anything to him until a retired missionary-- a woman he describes as being well read in the story of the Nativity-- comes to him and tells him that he made the story new to her. He was astonished that it had had such an impact on someone who knew the story so well and felt awe as he reconsidered his experience. He says, "And that's when it hit me, this epiphany of Christmas. He came for those who need him, not because they are poor or slovenly or unable to care for themselves. He came for all those who need him, even some like me, the elitists, self-satisfied with the arrogance that insists they really need nothing at all. He came for me because I too--in my annoyance and pride-- am very much among the needy. A hundred times or more I've cried on stage. It is a technique that, with practice, one accomplishes quite easily. But alone, in my car,...I found myself suddenly in company with the Lord who came to earth, not for Christmas, not just for spoiled children, but for all of us, even me. He made me a blessing, even in my pride. He washed the sin of my human arrogance in his blood and through me made the story new, both to an old woman and a proud old actor. At that moment I felt something totally unpracticed pinch my eyes and choke my breath. I wasn't acting. The Lord of heaven and earth was acting upon me..."
 
And that, is the reason for the season.

I loved this story. I just saved you from actually having to pick it up from the library to read the last 10 pages. Although he tells it so much better than I did. Loved it.
Loved, loved.
The rest was mostly crap. :)
Happy Reading!

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

All teenagers have problems, but few of them can match those of Aislinn, who has the power to see faeries. Quite understandably, she wishes that she could share her friends' obliviousness and tries hard to avoid these invisible intruders. But one faery in particular refuses to leave her alone. Keenan the Summer King is convinced beyond all reasoning that Aislinn is the queen he has been seeking for nine centuries. What's a 21st-century girl to do when she's stalked by a suitor nobody else can see?
 
I absolutely love the cover of this book. Unfortunately, that's about all I love about it. 
 
This was one of the S.L.O.W.E.S.T. books I've read in a really long time. And it didn't even have a spectacular ending. I actually don't think it ever had a climax or any twists. It pretty much flat-lined. Period. And Aislinn, YOU ARE TOO YOUNG TO BE DOING SUCH DIRTY THINGS WITH SUCH DIRTY GUYS. (It doesn't go into detail, but you can totally put the pieces together of what happened by the description after) Just sayin... 
 
I wouldn't recommend this. Not for that-- just because I've simply read WAY better fairy books. If you really want a good fairy (faery...I say potato, you say potahto...blah blah blah) book, read Wings by Aprilynne Pike. Don't waste precious reading time on this bland ol' thing.

An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson

Micah Connors promised his mother he would be good in their new town. But with Christmas only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well. Can the towering officer be trusted not to tell what happened? Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will sidetrack him from spilling the day's events—or maybe his interest in Micah's widowed mother will do the trick. The last thing Dawn Connors needs is to hear her son is in trouble. She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill. 
 
Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town's holiday decorations, Annie is sure that unseen angels are building the crude stable—which means baby Jesus is coming, and he can make her better. Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll. But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds angels are closer than he ever would have believed.
 
I loved this story. My heart ached for Micah and Annie and especially their mother who was doing all she could to support her two children. I liked the Sheriff and his willingness to do good to those in need. And I loved the unlikely hero of this story. I certainly didn't guess it! This was truly a feel-good, make-you-want-to-serve-others kind of book. Perfect reading for Christmastime. :) 
 

Zanna's Gift by Orson Scott Card writing as Scott Richards

When the Pullman family lost their eldest son Ernie to an unexpected illness just before Christmas, 1938, it was devastating to all of them, but especially to young Suzanna, their four-year-old daughter who shared a special bond with her big brother. A strangely gifted child, Zanna loved to draw, but Ernie was the only one who was able to see the pictures in the curious patterns she made. And he did not live to see her last gift, a Christmas painting she had made just for him.This is the story of that gift, and how it inspired her and her whole family, generation to generation, to keep alive the spirit of imagination, hope, and love, for Christmases to come.

Zanna grew up to be a famous artist, but in the hearts of her children and grandchildren, her nieces and nephews, that first painting, the Gift, was truly her most important work. Christmas after Christmas, as the long decades pass up to the present day, Scott Richards allows us to share in the warmth of a family bound together by the transcendent miracle of love.

Zanna's life, told in Christmases, will inspire you to keep alive your own family traditions, to share those loving moments with your children and grandchildren for years to come.
 
I liked this book, but it was deceiving. It says it's "A Life in Christmases" but I really think it just started with a one and ended with one, and had a whole bunch of talk in the middle. Nevertheless, it was a good book. I love how it ended, which, for me, is the key in whether I recommend it or not. If I read a REALLY slow or boring book but it ends in a really good way, that's what I go away remembering-- how fantastic the end was. Sometimes it sucks getting there, but it's totally worth it. This was that kind of book for me. It really wasn't anything special, I just liked that Zanna's gift (Ernie's gift, and thus Ernie himself) lived on in the lives and hearts of all of his family members, even ones who had never met him.
 
This book is just shy of 150 pages and well worth an hour or two of your time this holiday season. Happy Reading!  

Christmas on Miracle Lane and Other Holiday Favorites by Kaye Jacobs Volk

Two days before Christmas, Evie's world is crumbing. She's annoyed with her husband, at odds with her teenage daughter, out of patience with her elderly mother, and drowning in a sea of stress. The wonderful spirit of Christmas is nowhere to be found as her mounting frustrations propel her out the door of her home and into a life-changing night of magic and discovery.

This is actually a collection of short stories--The Christmas Heart, Christmas on Miracle Lane, The Christmas Angel, and The Christmas Cradle. The only story out of them that I really thought was well, dumb, for lack of a better word, (....I need to buy myself a Thesaurus....) was the first story, The Christmas Heart. I really liked the rest of them. The storylines were all quite unique--The Christmas Angel was told from the point of view of tree ornaments. I thought that was clever. Anyway, more good ones, mostly! Happy Reading!

Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright

Where had it come from? Whose money was it? Was I to spend it? Save it? Pass it on to someone more needy? Above all else, why was I chosen? Certainly there were others, countless others, more needy than me...
Her reporter's intuition insisted that a remarkable story was on the verge of the front page.

Newspaper reporter Hope Jensen uncovers the remarkable secret behind the "Christmas Jars", glass jars filled with coins and bills anonymously left for people in need. But along the way, Hope discovers much more than the origin of the jars. When some unexpected news sets off a chain reaction of kindness, Hope's greatest Christmas Eve wish comes true.

My sister told me about this book over a year ago. I've actually had a post-it on my fridge with the title since last fall. Anyway, I wish I would have read it sooner, but I'm glad that I waited and read it during the holiday season. This is such a wonderful story of selflessness and sacrifice. I loved the entire Maxwell family, but Adam and Lauren were my very favorite-- they're the ones who started it all. This was another one of those really great stories that helped get me in the mood for the season. Read this! Even if you've read it before, it's a great book for this time of year.

 More Christmas books to come! :)

One Silent Night by Julie A. Warnick

December 24, 1914.

 Private Daniel Raye finds himself apart from his wife and young child as he fights a war with a German enemy that he does not understand, but discovers he cannot hate. Miserable, cold, and lonely, Daniel fills his heart with prayer throughout the day--for his family, for his country, and for his unknown enemy.

As the day of Christmas Eve turns to night, the gentle strains of a Christmas carol, sung in German, are overheard. What happens next is a Christmas miracle.

Based on a true story, One Silent Night speaks of a rare moment in history when hatred brought about by war is overcome for a brief interlude by the power of brotherly love.

I couldn't find an image for the book cover. Probably because this "book" is less than 30 pages long... (I'm still counting it though!!) It is such a neat story. I've heard talk of it before, but it seems too incredible to be true. It makes me wonder if we've lost these remarkable qualities somewhere along the way. It seems like people are so uncivil these days, so unfeeling, uncaring... It amazes me that in the midst of a World War, a cease-fire would be called for one day. In this case, it was long enough to remember their humanity and join together to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Maybe this holiday season, we could all keep that in mind. :)

Happy Holidays, and Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Patience is a Virtue... (So they say!)

I have 7 books left to read and 22 days to do it! I have quite a few reviews to do, and I'm going to try really hard to get to them this weekend. Be patient! I'm reading like a mad woman. :)

Happy Reading everyone!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other's countries in the name of better political alliances—and potential marriages. It's got the makings of a fairy tale—until a hapless servant named Eleanora is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.


Again, I've been lucky lately. I've read quite a few fantastic books in a row (with the exception of one or two books). This one was not a disappointment, which was nice since I had it on hold at the library for ages. As much as I loved Princess of the Midnight Ball, I loved this one even more. It was a much faster read. I loved the author's reinvention of the classic Cinderella story. There are no evil stepmothers or sisters. Only people who want to help. Eleanora (aka Ellen aka Lady Ella) who was once in High Society, has been reduced to a maid. She is disgruntled and seemingly vengeful as she destroys almost everything she touches. When a "godmother" seeks her out and promises to make her life better, Eleanora jumps at the chance to be a "Lady". Soon everyone but Poppy and two others have fallen under Lady Ella's enchantment and it's up to them to save Ella from a terrible fate.

I loved Poppy in this book. She has so much spirit and after reading about her and her sisters, it was fun "getting to know her better". Although this book is a completely different story, if you haven't read Princess of the Midnight Ball, I would recommend it before reading this. It makes quite a few references to it that may not be understood otherwise.

I loved almost all the characters in this book. I thought they were all well developed and gave so much more life to the story with all their different personalities. It made me laugh to read about all their varying reactions to the enchantment too. :)

Another great book from Jessica Day George. :) Happy Reading!

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?


You all know how I feel about werewolf books... cough,cough OVERDONE!, which is why I was a little surprised at how much I truly loved this book. It was so different from any other werewolf story I've come across. First of all, Calla is an alpha. Yes, a female alpha. There are Keepers and Searchers and Guardians-- and there are rules. Lots of them. No one rips out of their clothes to change to a wolf (Take that, Jacob Black). None of this gets explained right away though, so when the book began and Calla changed from wolf to human in front of the hiker she rescued, I was (naively) thinking, "Shouldn't she be a little embarrassed or trying to cover up or something? Maybe she just has an incredible body and isn't shy. Or she's overly confident. Who knows? Weird." (This was my actual thought process.)

This book is FULL of butt-kicking AND romance. Go figure, right? I thought it was so well done though. The love triangle between Ren and Calla and Shay had me so torn because they're both good guys. Usually, it's easy to hate one of them or to be fiercely attached to one or the other (Teams Edward and Peeta FOREVER!) but I found myself rooting for each of them at different times throughout the book. I'm curious to see how things progress in Wolfsbane, the second book in this series, due out next summer.

I loved this book, all except for the very end. I thought it was a little...rushed? And then it wasn't resolved very well. I get that it's supposed to be set up for a sequel, but it still felt like there was a giant build-up and then the conflict was too rushed and it just, well, ended. I guess the sequel will just have to be released ASAP so I can figure out what in the world happens! :)

Another great read! Don't bother trying to put this on hold at the library. This is one worth buying.

Happy Reading!

P.S. I don't do cover comments, but I have to say that this is by far my favorite cover of the entire year--maybe ever. So beautiful!

The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

Scarlet spends most of her time worrying about other people. Some are her friends, others are practically strangers, and then there are the ones no else even notices. Trying to fix their lives comes naturally to her. And pushing her own needs to the side is part of the deal. So when her older sister comes home unexpectedly married and pregnant, Scarlet has a new person to worry about. But all of her good intentions are shattered when the unthinkable happens: she falls for her sister’s husband. For the first time in a long time, Scarlet’s not fixing a problem, she’s at the center of one. And ignoring her feelings doesn’t seem to be an option...


Yes, this is as weird as it sounds. Actually, thinking about it, I think the person who recommended it to me said this, "I know it sounds weird, but I loved it. You should definitely read this." Let me say, I did NOT share her enthusiasm for this book. I actually thought it was tacky and a bit offensive. Shame on Scarlet for trying to make a move on her knocked-up sister's husband. Gross. I could totally see this happening somewhere in the world as I am writing this and it makes me sick. What a messed up world! And the fact that an author can't find something better to write about bothers me.

Anyway... Yuck. This was a stupid book. (For lack of a better word.) Don't bother.

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Haven Moore can't control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother's house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.


In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

My sister's first reaction to this book, based on the cover and title was, "You're reading another vampire book??" So let me say, no this is not a vampire book. It's actually about reincarnation. Crazy, I know. Who writes about reincarnation?? Let me tell you-- Kirsten Miller does, and she does an amazing job at it.

I loved this book. I honestly couldn't put it down. I never thought I'd get so tangled up in a story about people who have lived over and over and over, but it's an addicting book. I liked Haven's character-- she was just a teeny bit "damsel in distress-ish" which bugged me, but I overlooked it because, in her shoes, I would probably be a little wish-washy too. I liked that she took control and sought out answers instead of waiting for them to just reveal themselves.

Iain Morrow... I don't really know what to say about him. I was torn in a love/hate relationship with him throughout the entire book, which I think was the author's intention. I can't say how that love/hate relationship ended for me, because it would spoil the book. 

There were quite a few crazy twists in this book and the concept was so intriguing that by the time it was over, I was wishing I had the sequel. And there will for sure be a sequel on this one. It's totally set up to be a series, although it very easily could have been a stand alone book, had the author not added one line to the end of the book. Either way is fine with me-- although I am excited that there will be more!

This a must read! Enjoy! 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

!!SPOILER ALERT!!
IF YOU ARE READING, OR WANT TO READ THE VAMPIRE ACADEMY SERIES, DO NOT READ THIS!
Salvation has its price.

The words stunned Adrian for a moment, but he kept going. "You're lying. What you're describing is impossible. There's no way to save a Strigoi. When they're gone, they're gone. They're dead. Undead. Forever."

Robert's next words weren't directed at Adrian. They were spoken to me. "That which is dead doesn't always stay dead...."

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa Dragomir. It's graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives outside of the Academy’s cold iron gates to finally begin. But even with the intrigue and excitement of court life looming, Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri. He's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance, and now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he's silenced her...forever.

But Rose can't forget what she learned on her journey—whispers of a magic too impossible and terrifying to comprehend. A magic inextricably tied to Lissa that could hold the answer to all of Rose's prayers, but not without devastating consequences. Now Rose will have to decide what—and who—matters most to her. In the end, is true love really worth the price?

Fall in love with Rose and Dimitri all over again in Spirit Bound, the eagerly awaited fifth novel in Richelle Mead's enthralling Vampire Academy series.

I am still trying to figure out who in the world that's supposed to be on the cover. Dimitri is described as having long hair. Rose has almost black hair. The guy could be Christian, but Lissa has super blond hair. Who knows. It's a mystery. Maybe it's supposed to be Rose and Adrian? But that's too weird for me.

Anyway, on to the book. Loved it. Not a big surprise. :)

I am dying for the last one! I want to know how the Rose/Dimitri/Adrian and Lissa/Christian stories end.

I think I might have said this before, but READ THESE! haha

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

!!SPOILER ALERT!!
IF YOU ARE READING THE VAMPIRE ACADEMY SERIES OR WANT TO, DON'T READ THIS!
After the massacre at Vampire Academy, Rose Hathaway faces the most daunting task of her life and she knows that she must do it alone. With Mason departed for the other world, Rose must hunt down and kill Dimitri Belikov, the man she most loves. The fourth nail-biting episode of Richelle Mead's popular vampire series dramatically shows the fatal power of a promise.

Poor Dimitri... :( I loved him, and now I feel guilty because I still love him. I want there to be hope for him and Rose! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I read this book. I was trying to figure out how in the world this major mess would get fixed. With Rose halfway across the world, Lissa makes new friends and bad choices. When it comes down to life and death for Lissa, Rose is half out of her mind too. Then, at the end of the book, when you think things have finally gotten as resolved as they can, Rose gets a bombshell from her mom and a letter that changes everything.

I read one of these books and think "This one is my favorite!". Then I read the next one. :)

If you haven't started this series, get on it!

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

!!SPOILER ALERT!!
IF YOU ARE READING, OR WANT TO READ THE VAMPIRE ACADEMY SERIES, DO NOT READ THIS!!
For Rose Hathaway, everything seems out of kilter. Ever since she made her first Strigoi kills, a dark shadow has been creeping over her. Looming in the background, too, is another realization: If she follows her forbidden love for guardian Dimitri Belikov, she might lose her best friend forever. And these sleep-shaking worries couldn't have come at a worse time. The immortal unloving are prowling everywhere, famished for vengeance against her.

This book picks up a few weeks after Mason's death and Rose is still dealing with his loss. I have to say, when Mason died in Frostbite, I was shocked! I wasn't expecting it, so this book was weird-- I had to get used to him not being in it. Also, I was so happy about Rose and Dimitri at the end of the last book, and then it's back to them avoiding each other in this one. Although, I have to say, I was hooked from the first line in this book. Poor Rose. If only she could get out of Lissa's head. haha

By the end of this book, I was broken-hearted...yet again. Another GIGANTIC and morbid twist left me completely shocked. The more I read this series, the more I can't put them down. I just love Rose. She's so sassy, and she can definitely hold her own.

Luckily I had the next book in the series on hand as soon as I finished this, so I couldn't stop myself from immediately picking it up. It was THAT BIG of a cliffhanger-- the saddest one yet.

READ THIS SERIES!
It's like a giant rollercoaster of emotions, but in a good way. :)

My Ridiculous, Romantic Obessions by Becca Wilhite

Sarah Howard's first year at the university is everything and nothing she expected especially when a very cute boy named Ben in her Art History class starts to show interest in her.

Sarah feels like she's an average, normal, everyday girl. So, when Ben (to whom she secretly refers as Adonis because she thinks he could be a Greek god) begins to take interest in her, Sarah is in denial. For one thing, last year she was deeply crushed and humiliated by Jesse James a guy who she thought liked her.
She's determined not to get burned again. But in her heart of hearts, what she really wants is a Jane Austen kind of romance. Ridiculous, right? That kind of romance doesn t exist anymore . . . or does it? Sarah is smart and fun to be around and even pretty, despite her Medusa-like red curls. She even plays the guitar. (So does Ben!) Yes, Sarah is everything Ben has wanted. He's crazy for her, but Sarah is just not getting it. She's playing hard to get, and if she s not careful, she s going to lose a real hot gentleman -- her 21st-century Mr. Darcy.

I went to the library the other night to pick up a few books that I had on hold. After I got them, I figured I would roam around for a bit and look at books. I don't do this very often, but I didn't have my kids with me, so I decided to take advantage of it. I found this book. I loved it.

This was a really short book, maybe 200 pages? It was a cute story too. Sarah meets Ben -aka- "Adonis" (I laughed out loud when she called him that) and they become friends. Ben continually tries to make moves and Sarah just doesn't get it. He gives up and she realizes what she lost.

It's a classic story of "dumb" girl who doesn't believe a gorgeous guy would want her. There were a few bumps in the road that I didn't expect and that either broke my heart or made me laugh out loud, which made this book stand out for me. I really liked both Ben and Sarah's characters-- and Sarah's zany co-worker who is super smart but still says goofy, out-there things at random moments.

It's a clean, cute read, and even though it's not very long, it has a little bit of everything.
Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Wizard, the Witch and Two Girls from Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou

When mortal enemies Veronica Lopez and Heather Simms get hit by a bar code scanner while fighting over the last copy of Queen of Twilight, it takes them a moment to realize that they aren't in a New Jersey bookstore anymore. In fact, they're in the novel. Too bad they don't realize it until after they accidentally kill the book's heroine, Princess Arabelle, aka "The One." Only The One can restore light and peace to the land of Galma, long held in thrall to the evil Twilight Queen. Now Vero and Heather have no choice but to try to save Galma from the Twilight Queen. But can the two girls find their way to the end of the story and home again without destroying Galma or killing each other?

I happened across this book a couple of months ago at the library, and it sounded funny so I brought it home. It's been gathering dust, and been renewed a few times since then so I figured I should probably finally read it. I actually liked this book. (No, I'm not surprised.) It was a little slow but it had enough humor to keep me reading. I thought it was amusing to read a kinof-fantasy book kind of make fun of fantasy books. I guess not so much the books themselves, but the WAY they are written. Anyway, this was a cute book that I would recommend to just about anyone. :)

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this - she is dead. And alone in a vast, dark space. The only company Maddy has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things she lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that, with these artifacts, she can reexperience - and even change - moments from her life.

Her first kiss.

A trip to Disney World.

Her sister's wedding.

A disastrous sleepover.

In reliving these moments, Maddy learns illuminating and frightening truths about her life - and death.

I've been really lucky. I've read quite a few really good books in a row. That doesn't happen very often. This was another one of those books that I just really couldn't put down. I can't stop thinking about it. It was another concept that I really liked. How many times have you read a book and thought "I want to know more about this person's life. I wish I had some background info." I do it all the time. Since Maddy is dead, and revisiting moments in her life, you get to really see her grow up. She doesn't visit these moments in order. One moment she'll be 17 and the next memory will be when she's 8.

I loved reading about her relationship with her sister go from hate to love over the years. How she met Gabe. The Daddy-Daughter Dance. Buying baby shoes. Remembering her mom.

Then the moments leading up to her death.

This book sucked me in, and like I said, I can't stop thinking about it. This is one to definitely put on your to-read list.

Being Sixteen by Allyson Braithwaite Condie

Juliet Kendall has been looking forward to her sixteenth birthday for what feels like forever. At first, it seems like being sixteen will be as perfect as she dreamed---she has great friends, a cute almost-boyfriend, a spot on the varsity girls' basketball team, and even a car of her own. But, as the year goes on, she discovers that her sister Carly is hiding a secret, and realizes that, in fact, being sixteen may be her hardest year yet.

Being Sixteen is a coming-of-age story about two sisters and their different struggles. It addresses what it means to have a testimony, what it meant to be a friend and a sister, and what's involved in the dealing with and overcoming an eating disorder.

So, I haven't really been a fan of LDS fiction for a while now. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I just feel like I've read the same exact story about a million times told by so many different authors. It just got... old. So I stopped reading them.

This book was so completely different from any LDS fiction I've read. I actually really liked this book. I liked that it talked about REAL things. Real struggles that real girls have. As a member of the LDS church, I looked at age sixteen much as Juliet does. It was when I finally got to experience life. ;) Driving, dating, high school dances (and high school drama), etc. And much like Juliet also realizes, 16 wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.

I could also relate to Carly in this book and my heart broke for her and her family. What girl doesn't know what it's like to have body issues? I remember when I was in Jr. High... puberty hit and my body started changing. It sucked. I had gone from having a tiny little-girl body to having a more grown-up hourglass figure, and  although I was still thin, it bothered me. One day at lunch, a guy I had a huge crush on made a not-so-nice comment about my "curves". I was devastated. From that day on, for a very long time, I wouldn't eat around anyone. I never ate school lunch. I wouldn't eat meals with my family. I really didn't eat much ever. I don't remember what finally made me change. Maybe it was once I hit High School and really just didn't care anymore. Maybe it was that the girls all had "curves" like me by then. I don't know. But I am so glad I let all of my (major) body issues go. I don't know if I know a single person, men included, who look in the mirror and are 100% content with how they look.

I love that someone (Ally Condie rocks!) had the guts to address this issue that is so much bigger than we all think. It is SO HARD being a teenager. And yes, I know not everyone ends up with an eating disorder, but it's one of those ugly things that no one ever wants to talk about so it gets swept under the rug and everyone pretends it doesn't exist. Especially with Bulemia. I applaude Ally Condie for taking on the huge task in such a respectful way.

I think mothers, daughters, sisters-- women in general should read this book. And then let your body issues go. :)


Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...

Wow.
Can I just say wow?

I LOVED this book. I thought it was brilliantly written with intriguing characters. From the very first chapter, I didn't want to put this book down. It took me about a week to get through it-- but that's not because it has a slow storyline. It's just such a great, new, different concept-- a prison with a mind of its own. I wanted to process it all and make sure I didn't miss anything vital. And trust me. EVERYTHING is vital. Some parts were (I think) purposely predictable although there were quite a few things that I could never have guessed. I just... loved this book. If you like fantasy and you are sick-to-death of werewolves and vampires, this is the book for you.

I can't wait to read book two, Sapphique. It's sitting on my dresser begging to be picked up! :)

(Wow.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Parade of Shadows by Gloria Whelan

Sixteen-year-old Julia Hamilton is restless. Determined not to be left behind again—stuck in the cold house where her mother died ten years earlier, with only her dreams to keep her company—Julia begs her father to take her with him on his next expedition. When he unexpectedly agrees, Julia is intrigued. Will this be her chance at adventure and romance?

Traveling across the sands of the ancient world known as the Levant, Julia meets a French antiques collector, a British horticulturist, and a dashing young student—each harboring secrets as elusive as a mirage.

As she learns more about her companions and the dangerous world she's in, Julia must decide whom she can trust . . . and what she is willing to fight for.

Sounds intriguing, huh?? It was an interesting book, but slow and incredibly predictable. It is set in the early 1900s, starting in London, Julia joins her father on a trip through Syria where they come across all kinds of trouble. I knew from the moment strange things started happening, who the culprit was. So, like I said, it was a predictable book, but it was fascinating to see life through the eyes of someone who thought she led a strict, closed-off life and experience the change as she realizes she has much more freedom than most. All in all, it's a good read. I would recommend this. Just plan a week around reading it! :)

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Rose Hathaway's got serious guy trouble. Her gorgeous tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason has a huge crush on her, she keeps getting stuck in her best friend Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian.

Then a massive Strigoi attack puts St. Vladmir's on high alert, and the Academy crawls with Guardians-including the legendary Janine Hathaway...Rose's formidable, long-absent mother. The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks. This year, St. Vladmir's holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only provide the illusion of safety. When three students run away to strike back against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. Only this time, Rose-and her heart-are in more danger than she ever could have imagined.

I really liked this book. Even better than book one, Vampire Academy. I liked that it had more drama (for lack of a better word) and more trouble (again, for lack of a better word). I love, love, love Rose's kick-butt character. Let me tell you, she gets her "sass" from her mother, who you'll meet in this book. I liked Christian more in this book, and Dimitri less... until the end when Dimitri got major browine points. :) Anyway, a great sequel and I can't wait to read the next in this series!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

I know, I know... Vampires. WAY overdone. But, I have been watching The Vampire Diaries (thanks a lot for getting me hooked, Chaleese and Brittany...) and I liked that this vampire series was actually fairly close in theory. I like that it's a little less "Twilight" and a little more hardcore vampire.

I liked Rose more than I liked Lissa. Probably because Lissa was more the damsel in distress that I don't care for, and Rose was... fierce. Who knew someone with a gentle name like "Rose" would be so quick to beat you to a pulp, huh?

It was a bit slow-going at first, but once you get past Vampire 101, it picks up. And there is a pretty big twist at the end-- I usually can figure them out, but not this one. I love little surprises like that. :)

Dimitri--yum. Christian--yum. What would a vampire series be without devastatingly-hot-sounding guys?

There was some language in it, but it wasn't so much that it was very distracting. These are definitely worth checking out if you aren't vampired-out.

Happy Reading!

Matched by Ally Condie

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

I probably never would have heard of this book if it hadn't been for my friend Chantele. She is the one who recommends almost all of the books I read. :) Amazingly, I got my hands on a copy...This book isn't actually released yet, but I have connections. (haha) A family friend, Donja, is the manager of a bookstore, and when she came to visit me and my new little bambino, she surprised me and brought this (and a few other ARCs) for me. I was SO EXCITED.

Matched is up there of my list of favorite books I've read all year-- maybe ever. I LOVED this book. But the whole time I read, I was thinking how incredibly sad it all was. This Society that controls their entire lives-and most of them are so grateful. It makes me sick. Every decision, every move you make, every word you say, every expression on your face is monitored your whole life. Based on these things, Officials tell you what you can and cannot do, who your "perfect" match is, what line of work you are supposed to do. And then, when you turn 80, you die. Just like that. They schedule your entire life for you-- map it out. There are no accidents, no disease, no free-thinking. This Society took 100 of the "best" of everything and got rid of everything else. 100 poems, 100 songs, 100 art pieces. They believe that if you have too many choices, then it overwhelms you and you can't appreciate it. So, they tell you what to like. They monitor meals to ensure no obesity. You can't share food. Ever. Anyone who questions the Society, disappears. Only no one will remember that they ever existed. They make sure of that too.

I really liked Cassia. I loved to see her change throughout the book. Her thought processes shifted and she became more and more independent. She was a strong female character, and you all know that I love those. :) No damsels in distress here.

I loved Ky too. As his story unfolded, it broke my heart. What a horrible existence. I don't want to give anything away about him, but he reminded me of the saying, "In the world, but not of the world." He existed in the Society, but he didn't live like the rest of them. He did not "go quietly." (That will make more sense to you after you read it-- which you should do on November 30th when it comes out. Drop everything!)

And then there's poor Xander... I really liked his character too. I was torn. :( He was just so genuinely GOOD. I am curious to see what happens in the next book with his part in the story...

Read this book!! I really can't do it justice. I am dying for a sequel and this one hasn't even been released yet... That's how much I loved it. It's one of those books that will stay on your mind long after you read it. So, everyone go get yourselves a copy first thing on November 30th! (And then let me know what you think! This is a "discussion book".) 

Happy Reading! 

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like your best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...

Let me start out by saying that just because everyone KNOWS the "unwritten rule", doesn't mean people FOLLOW that rule...

Example:

Everyone has had a friend like Brianna (and if you haven't, consider yourself LUCKY!--unless YOU were the "Brianna"...). She's a beast. Seriously. (I hate that name too, by the way. It just adds to my dislike of her.)

Sarah has been Brianna's shadow for most of her life. Brianna is beautiful. She's the super popular, curves-in-all-the-right-places kind of girl that all the guys want. Sarah's not. Brianna is the kind of friend that thinks her friends NEED her and she treats Sarah that way. Like she's doing her a favor by being her friend. And poor, stupid Sarah puts up with it.

Granted, Brianna's home-life is REALLY awful. Her parents treat her so badly, and it almost made me feel bad for her. Except the whole "beast" thing. She really just isn't a nice person, so it was hard to find sympathy for her.

Ryan seems like a sweet little doormat. I do actually pity him, but I am a glad he and Sarah are "thrown together one night," as the blurb puts it.

All in all, this book was kind of a dud, but I could relate to Sarah. I had friends like Brianna when I was in school and I applaud Sarah's decision at the end of the book. I think she made the right choice.

I wouldn't recommend this book on purpose. :) It's rind of a last-resort book. I'm a little bummed I paid 10 dollars for it and am wasting space on my Kindle for it... Oh well.

Happy Reading!