Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom

Release Date: January 10, 2012
High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first.

Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.

Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.

And then ditched her.

Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together — stain by stain on her thrift-store dress — exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag's moving car...

But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love.


I absolutely loved this book. I really can't say it any other way. It was funny, it was sweet, it was sad, and it was just a really great read.

The book opens with the hilarious, and sadly true, first chapter titled: "Food, a cell phone, and my dignity. . . all things I do not have". As if that wasn't enough to make me want to read the entire book immediately, the opening paragraph tells of the book's heroine, Justina Griffith, waking up in a ditch the morning after her high school prom, with no recollection of how she got there. Oh yeah, and her thrift-store-acquired prom dress? It's covered in stains of various colors. Most of us would be thinking, please, PLEASE do not tell me where those stains came from. I don't even want to know. Hello? Prom??? Gross. However, as the book continues, Justina uses the stains (and a french fry-shaped bruise on her shin) to help her piece together her disaster of a night. And let me just tell you, those stains aren't from anything you'd guess...

I really loved Justina. I thought she was one of the most endearing characters I've come across in a long time. She was so real. I, however, had a love/hate relationship with Justina's love interest/best friend/prom date, Ian. As Justina had "flashbacks" from their friendship, I absolutely loved him. I thought he was such a good catch. But all evidence (as Justina wakes up in a ditch, dateless) instead points to scumbag. How can you argue with the facts??

I think after Justina remembers the entire night, it'd be pretty hard for Ian to redeem himself. This is one you'll just have to read for yourself to find out if Ian really is the jerk he appears to be at prom. And trust me, you want to read this. I would even go so far as to say that it's buy-worthy. So, set aside a $20 bill from your Christmas cash stash to use on January 10th. You can thank me later.

Happy Reading!

**I received this egalley from the publisher for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Predicteds by Christine Seifert (November Pick)

"We wanted to know what makes a good kid good and a bad kid bad. Can you blame us for that? We found an astoundingly, marvelously simple answer: The brain isn't so much a complicated machine as it is a crystal ball. If you look into it, you will see everything you want to know."
-Dr. Mark Miliken, senior researcher at Utopia Laboratories

Who will it be?
Will the head cheerleader get pregnant?
Is the student council president a secret drug addict?

The whole school is freaking out about PROFILE, an experimental program that can predict students' future behavior.

The only question Daphne wants answered is whether Jesse will ask her out...but he's a Predicted, and there's something about his future he's not telling her.


It's that time of month again... No, not that time, silly. It's time to review our book club pick. Did you get a chance to read it? What did you think?

I have to admit, it wasn't what I expected. I thought it would have a little more of a Dystopian feel to it, even though I'd heard that it wasn't really that kind of story. I still liked the story in the end, which is the important part, right?

I know I say this a lot, but how do people come up with these ideas?? It's so bizarre to think that, in reality, we probably aren't that far off from the concept of this book coming to pass. Children (ideal age is 14-15) are being "profiled" based on test results that determine whether or not they are going to commit a violent crime or give in to addictive behaviors. The ones that test positive for these behaviors are segregated from everyone else and treated as less than human.

To me, this book was more about human nature than anything else. Philosophers have argued that in general, "men in the mass are naturally and fundamentally selfish, quarrelsome, power hungry, cruel and perverse" (Thomas Hobbes theory of "State of Nature"). The Predicteds put that theory to the test.

So now I'm wondering, What are your thoughts about this book? Did it end the way you thought it would? What would you have done in Daphne's situation? In Jesse's?

I hope you enjoyed this book. Like I said, it wasn't what I was expecting, but I liked it just the same.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

 
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Holy. Mother. Of. Pearl.

I loved this book!

When I started reading, the first thought that came to mind was WEIRD. It really was strange at first. Juliette's thoughts were often in run-on sentences with very little punctuation and she had a bit of an obsession with counting. It didn't take long to get used to though and it tapered off throughout the book anyway.

One of the things I absolutely loved about this book was how quickly a potential love interest was introduced. I hate when I invest time in a book and it takes 100 pages to even hint at a love interest. Luckily, that wasn't the case this time. Another thing I love is short chapters. For me, short chapters equal just one more chapter thoughts when I read. Which, generally, turns into about 10 more chapters. Smaller chapters made this book SO MUCH HARDER to put down (That, along with the great romance, of course!). Which is saying something, since it was already pretty tough to close. :)

My only real complaint about this book is the ending. I felt like nothing really got resolved, and while the book was at a good stopping place, not a whole lot actually happened in the story. It was a bit like a great build-up to a whole-lotta-nothin'. I'm anxious for the next book in the series--which is about a year away still. How many times must I say I HATE WAITING!! I am the least patient person alive. Woe is me. Now go read this so I'm not alone in my torturous waiting.

P.S. I really can't end without mentioning the cover. Gorgeous!

P.P.S. Here's the book trailer , plus you can read the first chapter on Tahereh Mafi's site ( Click Here ) and go to Synopsis. There's a bubble that says "Read the First Chapter". Click there. You'll be glad you did.


Happy Reading!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Schedule

I don't normally do this, but this holiday season I'm going to take a mini-break.

Here's my official schedule:

  • Tuesday, November 22: Review-- Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Thursday, November 24: Off for Thanksgiving
  • Tuesday, November 29: Review-- The Predicteds by Christine Seifert (November Book Pick)
  • Thursday, December 1: Review-- The Maze Runner by James Dashner **PLUS(!!!) The drawing for my book giveaway. Still trying to reach 56 followers. HINT, HINT. :)
  • Thursday, December 29: Review-- December Book Pick
However, unofficially, reviews could possibly pop up every now and then in December. They'll just be sporadic if I post.

I'll be back "officially" on Tuesday, January 3, 2012.

I just wanted to let you all know so you didn't think I died. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Ask for LOTS OF BOOKS for Christmas. I am....  See you back here in 2012!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shattered Dreams by Ellie James

Release Date: December 6, 2011
Sixteen-year-old Trinity Monsour wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But that isn’t as easy as it seems. Trinity is different. She is special. She sees visions, and for those she’s seen, it’s already too late.
Trinity arrives on her aunt’s doorstep in New Orleans with virtually no knowledge of her mysterious heritage. She begins settling into life at a new school and even starts making friends. But all too quickly her dreams accelerate; twisted, terrifying visions of a girl locked in a dark room. And when the head cheerleader, Jessica, goes missing, Trinity knows she has no choice but to step forward with what she’s seen.
But people believe that Trinity has information about Jessica’s disappearance not because of a dream, but because she is involved. She is kind-of dating Jessica’s ex-boyfriend, Chase, and Jessica did pull a nasty prank on Trinity. Revenge seems like the likeliest scenario. 
Nothing prepares Trinity for the dark odyssey that ensues while searching for Jessica, including the surprising romance she finds with Chase, or the shocking truths she learns, not just about the girl who has gone missing, but the past that has been hidden from her.

Let me start by saying that, overall, I quite liked this book. There were quite a few loose ends by the end of the book, even for a series. But I did like the story. It was one of those slightly creepy ones--the kind I love.

My biggest and only real complaint is who Trinity ended up with in the end. I wanted it to be with another "certain someone". I'm actually really bummed about it, to tell the truth. However, my hope lies in the Goodreads description for the next book in this series (Midnight Dragonfly series) in which it alludes to a possible connection between the two. (YAAAAAAYY!!) For now, I suppose I'll twiddle my thumbs and anxiously await the next book. I hate waiting. :)

I thought the suspense in this book was fantastic. There were enough twists and turns and uncertainty to keep me guessing. It was one of those books where everyone is a suspect, and I thought that aspect of it was very well done.

My very favorite character, surprisingly, wasn't even a main character. There were two favorites actually. The first was Trinity's aunt Sara, who was fierce and loyal and protective, and I absolutely loved her. The second was Dylan, who you'll just have to find out about when you read the book. And trust me, you want to be reading this. Especially if you're a fan of creepy stories, like I am.

Happy Reading!

**I recieved this egalley from the publisher for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

My mother always told me, "Never judge a book by it's cover." I'm sure she meant that metaphorically, but it applies to my life in more ways than one. Unfortunately, I am often the victim of "cover lust". I see a book that's beautiful on the outside and assume that the inside will be just as beautiful. However, my experience with books (and people) has taught me that generally, the more breath-taking the outside, the more ghastly the inside.

(Don't be offended, all you beautiful readers. You have looks AND substance. :D )
(( Unlike this book. ))

Really? I feel like I've written this same review a lot lately--where I've liked one or more of the elements in the book but overall really didn't like the story. One thing I did like was that Haden (the main male character) could touch someone else while still looking at Theia and she would feel it. I thought this small part of the book had a lot of potential to add to the story, but the author chose not to really pursue anything with it.

Overall, I felt like I've read this same "type" of story, only done much better by other authors. Sad, but true. Kind of bummed that I bought it.... Live and learn, right?

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Where You Are (Between the Lines, #2) by Tammara Webber

Graham Douglas doesn’t do romantic relationships, but he was knocked for a loop when he met Emma Pierce on the set of his last film. As they grew closer, he did everything in his power to keep from falling for a girl being pursued by superstar Reid Alexander. Now home in New York, his life is once again under control, until Emma appears and shows him how not over her he is.

Emma Pierce is forsaking an up-and-coming Hollywood career to embark on a life she’s only dreamed of—the life of a regular girl. After spending months burying her feelings for the two night-and-day guys who vied for her heart while filming her last movie, a twist of fate puts her in a coffee shop in the middle of Manhattan with the one she still misses.

Brooke Cameron was a fresh-faced Texas girl when she arrived in LA. Now she’s a beach sitcom star turned conceited heiress on the big screen. Having just survived three months on location with her ex—Hollywood’s reigning golden boy—she’s older and wiser and has set her sights on her close friend Graham. The only thing standing in her way is the girl he can’t forget.

Reid Alexander can sum up his life in one word: boring. Between film projects, there’s little going on outside of interviews, photo shoots, and the premiere of the film he finished last fall. The next-to-last thing he expects is to get a second chance with Emma, the girl who rejected him. The last thing he expects is for his still-bitter-ex to be the one to offer it to him on a platter.
Author Recommendation: Mature Young Adults (language, drinking, sexual situations)

First of all, I'm sorry this is late this week. You'd think that having a four-day weekend would be conducive with getting lots of reading done, but alas, it is not. Not when you have two wild little children and house guests all weekend. Anyway, my reviews this week will be on Wednesday (obviously) and Friday (we hope).

So, some of you may be surprised to see that I read the second book in this series seeing as I gave the first book, Between the Lines, a bit of a scathing review earlier this year. However, since reviewing Between the Lines, the author, Tammara Webber, contacted me. We started a bit of a correspondence, and I quite like her. I told her that I would read the next in the series when it came out, so here we are.

To be honest, I actually really liked this book. (What's with the tone of surprise!?!?) I'm not sure if it's because I could recognize Tammara's "voice" in her writing, or if it was because my favorite part of the first book (Graham and Emma) were the largest part of this book. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say it was a combination. I probably wouldn't have ever read this book otherwise, and I'm very glad I did. While I still thought it was highly inappropriate for teenagers (Note the author's recommendation of appropriate audiences), I loved every second of the romance in it. I'm a sucker for a good love story.

By the time I finished the first book, Between the Lines, I hated Reid and felt sympathy for Brooke. This time around, it was the complete opposite, which I wasn't expecting. I never thought I'd be saying this, but I actually started to like Reid a little. Emphasis on "little". I think the final book in this series is about him, which I now look forward to reading next month when it's released. 

So, my NEW opinion: Read these, but only if you think you can handle them. They aren't for the faint of heart. There are mature elements in them, including strong language and sex. Consider yourself warned. :)

In case you've forgotten, I'm still working to get to 56 followers! If we make it to 56 followers, I'm going to give away a book of the winner's choice. If you don't recall this giveway, refresh your memory HERE. Please tell all your friends!! I'd much rather give a book to one of you than buy one for myself. Seriously. I love giving books away! And if you haven't entered, do it! Thanks.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Cross My Heart by Katie Klein

True love can blossom in unexpected places. This is Jaden pretending not to notice. . . .

Jaden McEntyre and Parker Whalen are a wrong fit from the start. Jaden is driven and focused, Harvard Med School within reach. Parker has a past-a reputation-and the rumors about his mysterious habits abound. So there's no reason why, when they're assigned to work together on a project in English, they should discover they have anything in common, or even like each other, and they definitely shouldn't be falling in love. 

As they bond over Edith Wharton's tragic novella, Ethan Frome, the "bad boy" vibe Parker plays begins to dissipate. Soon, Jaden finds herself shedding her own "good girl" image: sneaking around to be with him, confiding in him, and ultimately falling hard for this leather-wearing, motorcycle-driving loner who plays into the rebel stereotype.


Still, Jaden can't shake the feeling that there's more to Parker than he's letting on. He's hiding something from her, and discovering the truth means reconciling the Parker she's grown to love with the person he really is. Because it's possible that his life inside the classroom-everything Jaden knows-is one, massive lie.

Just reading the book description makes me want to read this all over again. My friend Stacy told me about this book and since I wasn't reading anything and was in the mood for a love story, I thought I'd give it a go. So, I started it one night, thinking I'd get a bit of reading done before going to sleep, and ended up sleep-deprived. I couldn't put it down. I started and finished it in one sitting, then, when I woke up the next morning (or more accurately, later the same morning), all I wanted to do was continue the story. I was so bummed that I was done reading it.

I'll admit that there were a few "rolling my eyes" moments when I first started reading about Jaden. The words "over-achiever" and "prude" came to mind. But as the story progressed, I really started to love her. Mostly I loved who she was when she was with Parker. She was more mellow and laid back. Less save-the-world, and more....fun.

I immediately liked Parker. It had to be that "jerk appeal" that drew me in. I'm hopeless, I know. But I liked him even when he started to shed that persona and reveal the smart, caring, wonderful Parker. That doesn't mean he didn't still have his secrets though.

There were things in the story that I never would have guessed. I think this book had one of my very favorite twists in a book ever. It was completely unexpected. Twists are always bad in books. You can always count on that. If something highly unexpected happens in a book, you can pretty much bank on it being some horrible turn in the story. I was really torn when this particular "change of events" happened, surprisingly. It completely changed how I looked at the entire story. I think that's why I wanted to read it again so badly.

This book is only available (as far as I know) in e-book format. Even if you don't have an e-reader, it's really worth buying and reading from your computer. The great news with that is that it's only $3.99 on Amazon. I love inexpensive books! Yes, this story wasn't very original at first, but I thought it evolved into something that was completely unique. At least from anything I've previously read. Completely worth buying. Plus, who doesn't love a love story??

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

November Book Club Pick

November's Book Club pick will be:

The Predicteds by Christine Seifert

Your future is not your own...

"We wanted to know what makes a good kid good and a bad kid bad. Can you blame us for that? We found an astoundingly, marvelously simple answer: The brain isn't so much a complicated machine as it is a crystal ball. If you look into it, you will see everything you want to know."
-Dr. Mark Miliken, senior researcher at Utopia Laboratories

Who will it be?

 Will the head cheerleader get pregnant?

 Is the student council president a secret drug addict?
The whole school is freaking out about PROFILE, an experimental program that can predict students' future behavior.

The only question Daphne wants answered is whether Jesse will ask her out...but he's a Predicted, and there's something about his future he's not telling her.


So I was at my local Sam's Club last week picking up some Halloween candy (among other things) when I stumbled across this book while perusing the novels--something I always do at Sam's Club because they generally have the best deals on books. Even better than Amazon, mostly. I was immediately intrigued by not only the cover but also by the very brief, somewhat vague blurb on the back of the book. Since it was only $6.50, I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. That afternoon, I read a bit more about it on Amazon and Goodreads, and I'm very intrigued. From what I've read about it, it's not as "Dystopian" as it sounds, which may work well for me since I'm quite picky about my Dystopian novels. I decided that I really wanted to read this for Book Club this month, so I hope you are all able to find a copy. Check your local stores. Some might carry it for cheaper than you're able to find it online. Hope you enjoy! The review for this book will be posted on Tuesday, November 29th. Can't wait to here what you all think!

Happy Reading!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (October Book Club Pick)

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

So, what did you all think of October's pick?

I am finding that I am a really big fan of fantasy, and although I didn't love this book, I really liked most of it. I loved the whole concept of this book. The idea of being "graced" with some heightened or extraordinary ability, and that trait manifesting itself at a young age, was a great story idea. I liked the story of Katsa and Po, from them practicing fighting (them kicking the crap out of each other) to the romance that developed between them.

I liked that the story flowed instead of dragging in parts (which, in fantasy, generally happens often!), which, to me, was evidence of exceptionally good writing. Like I said, fantasy often has too much lots of detail--to the point where it's overwhelming. This book wasn't like that at all. I was hooked from the start, and the story never "got old" for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, although I've heard that the second book is just a "companion" and doesn't have these characters. The final book in the set is also a "companion" with different characters, but it also ties all the books together.... So I'm told. So now I'm curious. Did you read Graceling? Did you like it? Why or why not?

Stay tuned for next month's book. Just FYI, it's not going to be Wither by Lauren DeStefano like I originally planned. I'm sorry if you've already read it, and if so, feel free to tell me what you thought of it! I will let you know on Tuesday, for sure, what November's book will be. I haven't quite decided yet, but when I do, you'll be the first to know!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.


During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Sigh.

This is what I do whenever I decide to pick up a Dystopian novel. And it's never a good sigh. It's a I've-read-this-same-exact-story-about-a-half-a-million-times-just-with-a-new-cover-and-a-new-author-name kind of sigh. So as I put off reading this for my local book club that I'm in. Until other members started gushing about how amazing it was.

Sigh.

Yes, still the bad one.

Most of my book club friends really like Dystopian. I, on the other hand, have a love/hate relationship with it. It's never "just okay" for me. It's either really good or really bad. No middle ground. This book was no exception.

Sigh. 

THIS IS A GOOD SIGH!

I do not have the words to describe to you how much I loved this book. I thought it was every level of amazing. Seriously. I thought the whole story was daring and bold and, well, just...amazing. Beatrice ("Tris") was such a well-written female protagonist. She was strong, in a quiet, reserved manner, and she was incredibly brave. I appreciated that the author made Tris's interactions with the other initiates realistic. I also liked that the author took risks, not just with the other characters, but also with Tris. I think the risks paid off. I can't imagine it's easy to put your main character through some of the things Tris endures, but that made Tris more genuine and believable. I applaud Veronica Roth for letting Tris get a little (or a lot) banged up.

Four. I think this may be my new favorite number. Or person. Mmmm... a new literary crush. Why do I love bad boys? I have no idea. But Four is a jerk. He's not sympathetic, he's been hardened by lifestyle, and I totally love him. I don't know why it worked for him, but boy, did it work. I liked that he tried to make people better by making them try harder. He was subtle but deliberate. I thought he was a perfect character opposite Tris.

This has officially tied The Goddess Test as my favorite book of the year. There were twists and turns in the story that I never saw coming. I loved every minute I spent reading this, and I was heartbroken when it was over. There are so many things I want to say, but I can't without giving anything away.  Just trust me when I tell you that you want to read this book immediately. It was incredible!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Steel by Carrie Vaughn

It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her.

This was the tip of a rapier.

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Isn't this the most beautiful cover? I love it. Really maybe one of my favorite covers ever.

That said, don't be fooled. The cover is the greatest thing about this book. The story dragged, and there was too much description where none was needed, and too little when it would have been helpful. The "romance" was pretty much non-existent, as was the "really fabulous pirate story."

I am still on my quest to find a awesome YA pirate novel. Romance preferable. Steel, unfortunately, just didn't do it for me. Overall, it was pretty "blah" in my opinion. Anyone have any Pirate-themed suggestions for me?? That aren't bodice-rippers? Help a sister out!!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Call me Ishmael.

Or don't.
Whatever. It's your call.

You know, in all my reading adventures, I have not once read Moby Dick. I hear it's awesome. Most classics just aren't my style. Crazy, right?

However... (sigh.)

Today is my birthday and since I am feeling all kinds of generous, I am going to give away a book. Any book you want. Or any book I can order from Amazon for $20 or less. And I won't buy any Erotica or other books that I deem inappropriate.

Pssh. Details.

In order for this giveaway to happen:

  1. I must reach 56 followers by November 30th.
For all of you that are addition-challenged (me), that would be 25 more followers.
If I do not reach this goal, then sucks for you-- I'll buy a book for myself. Maybe it'll be Moby Dick....  Happy birthday to me. :)

    
     2.  You MUST leave me a comment of what book you want.

     3.  Leave me your email address with your comment so I can contact you when you win.

***I'm sorry but this contest is for U.S. only.

Winner will be chosen at random on December 1, IF we reach the goal of 56 followers. So tell your friends!)

P.S. If we reach 56 sooner, I'll do the drawing early!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Pirate Ruse by Marcia Lynn McClure

An instant before the sea swallowed her, Cristabel Albay gasped her last breath. She was certain it would truly be her last breath… Yet, mere moments later, her head broke the surface of the sea and she exhaled the breath she had been holding—the one that had not been her last—gasping for another.

“Do you swim, woman?” the pirate Navarrone growled.

“Y-yes,” Cristabel stammered. Her thoughts were muddled—for panic was her only ally. Yet, she was cognizant enough to know that her life was still in danger—not from pirates perhaps—but from the sea.

“Then swim!” the pirate growled. “If you want to live to see another sunrise, then swim for The Merry Wench.”

…She glanced up to the Chichester where pirates and British sailors yet battled. The Screaming Witch was already sailing, and Cristabel would rather have died than be the victim of the atrocities that would have met her aboard it.

Yet, to abandon one pirate ship for another? It was madness! Still, she could not fathom drowning—for drowning terrified her more than any other fate of death. Her only hope in surviving was to do as the pirate ordered. …She had heard tales of The Blue Blade Navarrone—tales of mercy. …Perhaps he would take pity on her… Thus, with no other venue to follow, Christabel began to swim—to swim for The Merry Wench and whatever fate awaited her there.

I read and review Young Adult books, and I love them. But every once in a while, I really just want to read a romance novel. I'm not talking about any "bodice-ripping, heaving bosoms, yearning...you get the point" romance novels, but a "clean" romance novel. That's where Marcia Lynn McClure comes in. I seriously love her books. There are often (lots of) stolen kisses in darkened hallways or alleys, there is usually some kind of forbidden love, and there is always a strong willed heroine and a sexy man that should most definitely be off limits.
 
In this book, that sexy man just happens to be a pirate. Which leads me to the question, Why are there not more pirate books?? I love pirates. Holy cow, talk about your ultimate off-limits bad boy. What is it about pirates that I love so much? And don't say Johnny Depp, because I loved them long before him. He just kind of....cemented....my love for them. (haha) Which leads me to a new question, Why are there not more YOUNG ADULT pirate books? Someone please write a really awesome YA pirate book with romance. Actually, write two or three. Or if you know of any, please let me know!! Thanks.
 
Anyways.... (I digress), I have a TON of Marcia Lynn McClure books that I am slowly working my way through. They are always quick reads, and although they are usually a little cheesy at times, I haven't read one of her books that I didn't love. Who knew someone could write "clean" romance novels, right? Well, it can be done. And they are awesome! Although I must say, this is definitely my very favorite. If you want to start reading her books, start with this one. I loved everything about it. 
 
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Book Club

For those of you who have been "out of the loop", or just haven't heard about it yet, I have started a book club here on Reading for Refuge. Each month I've picked a book, and you have the whole month to read it. Since I post on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will post my review of the book club pick on the last Tuesday or Thursday of the month, depending on where it lands--example: October's review will be up on Thursday, October 27th since it's the last posting day of the month. Anyway, the purpose of having a book club is so we can read the same book at the same time and get feedback from everyone about the pick. It makes things a little more "interactive", I suppose. That's the plan anyway. 

Anyway, this month's pick is:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore 

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
 
I haven't read it yet, but I am going to start it here in a few days. I am so excited. I've heard great things about this book. Which is quite a relief since last month's pick was no good. (Sorry about that, by the way.) Anyway, enjoy and...
 
Happy Reading!


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

This is the THIRD book in the River of Time series. Read Waterfall and Cascade before reading this review.
Thanks!

When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in the third and final book in the River of Time series.
Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times. But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever—even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of one-third of the population. In the suspenseful conclusion of the River of Time series, every decision is about life … and death.

I won't lie--I think this was my favorite book in the series. But....it's not for the reasons you may think.

Now, please don't throw things at me or ban me from your blog lists here, all you die-hard Marcello fans--

I am totally head over heels in love with Lord Rodolfo Greco.
Seriously.

Lord Greco first makes an appearance in book two, Cascade, and I absolutely hated him. Until, of course, I didn't anymore. Obviously. When I finished reading book two, I was wondering if (hoping, actually) he'd make an even bigger appearance in this book, Torrent. Oh boy. I was NOT disappointed. Well, until I was. Darn it.

I love the River of Time series. And honestly, I was all for Gabi-Marcello. (Gello? G-E-L-L-O! I digress.) Until Lord Greco made an appearance. Again, please don't hate me for this, but I was seriously rooting for him. I didn't even really care if he ended up with Gabi, I just want him to end up with someone I can root for. Which leads me to do something I'm sure I won't be proud of later. Grovel.

Lisa T. Bergren,

I know you've found me on here before, so I'm hoping (fingers crossed) that you'll venture back to my lowly little book blog. If you are reading this, please, PLEASE, PLEASE give me some more of sexy Lord Greco. I will be the happiest reader alive if you do.

Thanks so much,
Megan

P.S. Please?

If you have not read this series yet, I highly recommend it. They are wonderfully written, really and truly. This is one of those series that can suck you in one night and before you know it, it's three in the morning and the book has ended and you are counting down the hours 'til your local bookstore opens so you can go buy the next one. Seriously? READ THESE. :) You won't regret it. Unless you only buy them one at a time and have to wait.... But you can't say I didn't warn you! They are addicting. Enjoy!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Slathbog's Gold by M.L. Forman

Do you have the courage, the wits, and the skill to claim a dragon's hoard? If so, apply within ...

The sign is small, tucked into the corner of Mr. Clutter's bookshop window: "Adventurers Wanted. Apply Within." No one but fifteen-year-old Alex Taylor even seems to notice it is there. And for Alex, who has wished for a change in his life, it is an irresistible invitation.

Upon entering Mr. Clutter's shop, Alex is swept away on an incredible adventure to a faraway land filled with heroic warriors, mysterious elves, and hard-working dwarves.
Alex becomes the eigth man in a band of adventurers seeking the lair of Slathbog the Red - and evil dragon with a legendary treasure. Along the way, Alex and his new friends must battle dangerous trolls and bandits, face undead wraiths, and seek the wisdom of the Oracle in her White Tower.
Alex's adventure takes him to distant and exotic lands where he learns about courage, integrity, honor, and, most importantly, friendship.

As far as Middle Grade books go, this one was one of my favorites. Keep in mind that this book is geared for a younger audience. There was no romance (darn.), not very much real danger, and minimal conflict. Everyone is smiley. Seriously. I can count on one hand how many times someone actually got mad in this book. However, for a middle-school aged boy or girl, this is just an exciting adventure.

I loved all of the characters. Really, there's not a single person that I recall not liking as I read this book. They were all quite unique and well written, and I really enjoyed the interactions between them all. I liked the themes throughout the book also. The biggest ones, for me, were integrity and honesty. They all live by the honor system. They split all they have among the group, and they don't keep any secrets among their little "band of adventurers". As I read, I kept thinking, "Do you know how easy it would be for a liar or thief among them to swindle them out of treasure?" But none of them ever did. I really liked that. As I enjoyed a great story, I had important values reinforced. I was impressed, since so many young people these days really need that.

If I had to describe this book to you, in a nutshell, I would say it's like Lord of the Rings for kids. I'd highly recommend it, whether you are young or old-- because either way, you'll enjoy it.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away... especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

So, who read it?

This was the September R4R book club pick. What did you think? Will you read the next one in the series? Who was your favorite character? Did you like the ending?

This book took a story from Greek mythology and put a modern spin on it. I would say that it was only *very* loosely based on the story of Hades and Persephone. My problem with this is I read a book earlier this year based on the same story. However, that book just happened to be my favorite book of 2011 (so far). This didn't come even close--it actually kind of tanked.

I have a confession.... This was my first time reading a Meg Cabot book. (Gasp!) And you call yourself a book lover?? I know, I know. While I liked the idea of the subject, I thought her writing style was hard to follow at times. Was it just me, or did some of the sentences seem like they were worded strangely? (Like that sentence! Ha!) Seriously though, I wasn't a fan that she'd hint at stuff CHAPTERS ahead of when we actually find out about what happened. I thought it was odd. Also, the entire book takes place over the course of about a day and a half. Also strange. That'd be one WILD AND CRAZY 36 hours. Really, I just felt like too much was crammed into too short of a timespan. This book was like a rapidly fraying rope--the end was all loose ends. Can't say I loved that either.

Pierce was a very flawed character. The book is centered on how "caring" she is, when in reality she's kind of rotten to the core. Her father is stuck with a 7-figure lawsuit because of Pierce, and she acts like it's no big deal. She causes trouble ("on accident")--people DIE because of her--and her parents are left cleaning up after her. She was actually quite a selfish character, and she acted like the victim the entire book. 

The main guy ("Hades") was named John. Really? JOHN?? Like a toilet? Don't get me wrong, I love the name John--for a grandpa or a baby or even a high-powered "suit". Not for a tall, dark, and handsome (teenage) Ruler of the Underworld. His name was John Hayden, actually, but I really wish the author would have just stuck with Hayden. (Love that name too. Much easier to picture a hot Hayden...) John was a complete jerk for 99% of the book and suddenly they (John and Pierce) realize they are madly in love with each other and hey, let's make out! Snore.

I was really disappointed in my first (and probably only) Meg Cabot experience. However, I am so glad I finally got the chance to read this book, and I'm even more glad I'm *done* reading it. Next month's book, Graceling by Kristin Cashore will be awesome though. I know this because I have very reliable sources. :D So, stick around. And let me know your thoughts on Abandon.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The False Princess by Eilis O' Neal


Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl. 
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever..

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

I actually read this book over Labor Day weekend, but it was the book we were reading for a book club that I'm in--Bookaholics Anonymous. Since we don't meet until the end of the month, I had to wait until now to post my review. I actually really enjoyed this book--which is a good thing since 1) it was my pick, and 2) I've been dying to read it all year. There were moments when the story went a little too fast and others where it dragged. Despite the erratic pacing, I couldn't put this down.
Can you even imagine?? Nalia spent the first sixteen years of her life thinking she was a princess. She was educated, trained, and treated like royalty. Then she found out that everything she ever knew about herself and her life was a lie. Nalia isn't even her real name. It's Sinda. When Sinda is turned out of the castle with next to nothing, she is shipped off to her only real living relative--an aunt who never even knew Sinda existed. Sinda tries to create a normal life for herself in her new town, but everyone only knows her as "the false princess", which ruins any chance she has at making friends. 
Sinda decides to go back to Vivaskari and make a life there on her own. Along the way, she meets an eccentric wizard, rekindles a friendship with Keirnan, and gets in the middle of a deadly plot. Sounds awesome, right? It was! I loved Sinda. I felt so terrible for her, but I thought she came into her own by the end of the book. I thought the suspense and intrigue were great, and the plot was well thought out, with just enough surprise to keep me hooked until the last page. 
Like I said, I really enjoyed this book. Definitely one to add to your To Be Read (TBR) pile. 
Happy Reading!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
DO NOT READ (YET) IF YOU HAVE NOT READ
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren.
THANKS!

Mom touched my underdress—a gown made six hundred years before—and her eyes widened as she rubbed the raw silk between thumb and forefinger. She turned and touched Lia’s gown. “Where did you get these clothes?”

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.

But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.

As you know, all week I have been seriously struggling. It's not for lack of good reading material. I've just been in a kind of funk. Apparently book club was what I needed to get me back on the wagon. Last night was our monthly book club meeting and talking about the book we read and books to come, something clicked and I got excited about reading again. So, yay for me.

I read the first book in this series, Waterfall, last month and really enjoyed it. It seems like there's not enough YA books set in the time period of knights and chivalry. I fell in love with Gabi and Marcello and even Luca in book one, but I really didn't like Gabi's sister, Lia. That changed in this book for me. She makes much more of an appearance in this book and I got to know (and like) her character more. She's just as fierce and lovable as Gabi--you just don't see much of that side of her in Waterfall.

I really enjoyed the storyline, again. I've been really impressed with Lisa T. Bergren's books so far. I think she's a fabulous storyteller with a particular talent for writing without a lot of fluff or unnecessary description. I was thinking about this last night while discussing our book club pick, The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal and I couldn't help but compare the two books. Lisa T. Bergren does a fantastic job of giving great descriptions without getting wordy, very unlike the writing style in The False Princess. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it on Tuesday.

If you haven't started this series yet, I recommend you get on it quick. I love this series. My snooze-fest all week was in no way related to my reading material, but more due to my hectic schedule I've been precariously trying to balance. So don't be scared that these books will put you to sleep. They most definitely will not! They'll leave you dying to read the next one....like I am now.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Success!

I have reached page 200 in the book I'm reading!!
Sadly, I'm still not even halfway through. :'(

Remember the good old days when page 200 in a book was 90% finished?


Sigh.


Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ZZzZzzZzzz....

This is going to be book reviewer sacrilege.
Just so you know.
So if that kind of thing bothers you, turn away.

You have been warned.







This has been me for almost a week.
I just can't seem to pick up a book without nodding off.
I really don't know what my deal is.
I guess I'm just not feelin' it.

I actually was reading quite a lot, but I can't put up reviews yet for any of the books I read, either due to it's release date (I can't post them until a month or less before the set release date) or because it's a book club pick and I have to wait until the end of the month.

So, now I have quite a few book reviews that will be posted in the coming months, but nothing for right now.
Genius.
I know.

Anyway, what are you reading?
Is it any good?
Can you stay awake while reading??
Inquiring minds want to know.

Happy Reading!

Or sleeping.
Whichever you prefer.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Let's Roll!: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage by Lisa Beamer with Ken Abraham

Lisa Beamer's recounting of her heroic husband's life, and how his sacrifice on September 11th has turned into a source of strength for her, is a tribute that will move and inspire readers all over the world. This bestselling book has also inspired a companion CD, Let's Roll!, filled with powerful, relevant performances. Proceeds from the CD go to the Todd M. Beamer Foundation, which helps children affected by September 11th.

I know my post is late this week (it was supposed to be yesterday), but this was a tough book for me to get through.

My oldest child was born on September 11th (not in 2001), and ever since then I've kind of shied away from anything and everything that has to do with the tragedy of that day. Not because I want to forget, but simply because I don't want sadness to overshadow my child's special day. This year, with it being the 10 year anniversary, there has been a lot of media coverage about "9/11". As I talked with a friend about it, she mentioned this book to me. I've never read books like this. Ever. Even before I got on my "Young Adult kick", I never read "true stories." But then as I debated about whether or not to read this, I had the thought that the better I understand what happened that day, the more prepared I will be to talk about it with my "9/11" child when the time comes. So, I put aside all my reservations and checked it out from the library.

Now, if you are not familiar United Flight 93 (I had actually forgotten about it), it was one of the four planes that was hijacked on September 11, 2001. The hijackers re-routed the flight that had originally been set for San Francisco and headed instead for Washington D.C.. The passengers aboard Flight 93 were able to use their cell phones and the phones available on the plane (Airfones) to contact loved ones. As they began to hear news of hijacked planes hitting the World Trade Center in New York and also one that had hit the Pentagon, the passengers decided to try to overtake the hijackers. The plane crashed in Pennsylvania and disintegrated.

Todd Beamer was on that flight. In the final 20 minutes or so of his life, he was on the phone with an Airfone operator named Lisa Jefferson. He spoke to her about what was happening aboard the plane, and also talked about his family and his faith. As news began to pour in aboard the plane about the other terrorist attacks, Todd Beamer, along with other passengers, was instrumental in formulating and carrying out a plan to overtake the plane from the hijackers. The last words Lisa Jefferson heard Todd Beamer say were, "Are you guys ready? Okay. Let's roll."

This book is by Todd Beamer's widow, Lisa Beamer. The book spans Todd and Lisa's childhoods, when they met, and the few short years they were married. Only, maybe, the last 100 pages or so are about Todd's final flight and the aftermath of that day. It was an inspiring book though. I would be curious to know about Lisa Beamer and her and Todd's children now, 10 years later. I'm kicking myself for not watching ANYTHING on September 11th this year.

One quote from the book that I really thought was inspiring:

"Slowly I began to understand that the plans God has for us don’t just include “good” things, but the whole array of human events … I remember my mom saying that many people look for miracles — things that in their human minds “fix” a difficult situation. Many miracles, however, are not a change to the normal course of human events; they’re found in God’s ability and desire to sustain and nurture people through even the worst situations. Somewhere along the way, I stopped demanding that God fix the problems in my life and started to be thankful for his presence as I endured them." (p. 68, emphasis added)

Anyway, I know that this isn't the type of book that I normally post about on R4R, but it was a great reminder that there were many people on that tragic day who had the choice to do SOMETHING, or do NOTHING. The people on United Flight 93, who are often overlooked or forgotten, chose to ACT and by doing so, most likely prevented an even greater loss of life that day. I am thankful for their courage and thankful for the faith of Lisa Beamer in the wake of a horrifying personal and national tragedy.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't Forget!

Just a reminder-- this month's book club pick is:

Here's what it's about:


Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away... especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

I read this last week. I really hope you all get a chance to read it. My review for it will be up Thursday, September 29th. If you read it, please comment after I post the review so you can let me know what you thought! I'm so excited about this. :)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school, that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE, the latest in chemical warfare in science; and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. So in truth, Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses, but its really a school for spies. Cammie Morgan is a second generation Gallagher Girl, and by her sophomore year she's already fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti.) But the one thing the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for is what to do when she falls for an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without his ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, shes beginning her most dangerous mission; she's falling in love.

I'm not gonna lie.
I almost shelved this book.
I really liked it, but I got some books from the library that I'd been on the wait list for that I wanted to get into right away and...blah blah blah.
Anyway, moral of the story is: I'm glad I didn't shelf it. I love Ally Carter. I loved Heist Society, I loved this, and I'm sure I'll love the rest of the Gallagher Girls series. Seriously? They are hardcore teenage spies. How could I not  love it??
Poor Cammie. How would it be to grow up with spies for parents and then live in an all-girls school for basically your entire life? Well I can tell you--it would SUCK. (Just FYI.) Cammie, who has been "the chameleon" her whole life--always blending in and going unnoticed--doesn't quite know how to act when she finally gets noticed. Not by just anyone, but by a boy. A very cute boy. A very cute, very normal, very non-spy boy named Josh.
What ensues is a humorous array of antics as Cammie, with the help and advice of her friends, tries to juggle her life as a spy-in-training at Gallagher Academy with her ultimate cover as a "normal girl" when she's with Josh.
I really enjoyed this book, and I can't wait to continue on with the series. I would say that this book is appropriate for any female ages 12 and up, and you should be able to find them at most local and school libraries.
Happy Reading!