Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father has never had enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn't exactly how she wanted to get his attention. Enter Chrysanthemum "Chrissy" Everstar, Tansy's fairy in shining, er, high heels. Chrissy is only a fair godmother, of course, so Tansy's three wishes don't exactly go according to plan. And if bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn't bad enough for Tansy, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. She'll need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief 's son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control. Janette Rallison pulls out all the stops in this fresh, fun-filled follow-up to the popular My Fair Godmother.

Just so you know, this is a "follow-up" book, not a sequel. So you don't really need to read My Fair Godmother before reading this. But trust me, you want to.

I loved this book. I dare say (gasp!) that I liked it much better than the first one. Even though I really liked My Fair Godmother, I just couldn't put this one, My Unfair Godmother down. I loved Tansy, I loved Hudson, I loved Tansy PLUS Hudson.... It was basically a giant love fest. (No, not that kind, you dirty, dirty readers.)

I honestly felt really bad for Tansy. Her dad left when she was young, and although he kept in touch, Tansy never quite resolved her angry feelings towards him. When Tansy's younger sister lands a huge part in a traveling stage production, and their mother decides to be her travel buddy, Tansy gets shipped off to her dad's house on the other side of the country. Enter Bo. (Although we'd really rather he didn't...) Thanks to Bo--Tansy's bad boy boyfriend, Tansy ends up on the wrong side of the law, accused of something she didn't do. Enter Hudson. Then turn around, walk back out, and enter again....Yum.

I digress.

How wonderful is it that Hudson just happens to be friends with Tansy's stepbrother, Nick? Then he can show up at their house and pretend to be there to see Nick...in theory. Unless an *unfair* godmother happens to show up with Robin Hood and his Merry Men in tow, wreaking havoc in the 21st century. Then said fairy transports not only Tansy, but her entire family back to Robin Hood's time. Makes dating nearly impossible.

This was such a great read. I've really liked most of Janette Rallison's books. I think she's a great writer and I've absolutely loved these "Godmother" books. Both books in this series(?) are worth buying. I don't know if there are plans for a third, but I certainly hope there is going to be one. It's set up for a third, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Fingers crossed!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder

Release Date: April 4, 2011
At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her.   For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity.   But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay?

We all know this story--we've read it a million times. Girl becomes friends with evil Miss Popular (which is basically the equivalent of selling your soul to the devil), girl gets on Miss Popular's bad side, girl's life gets destroyed by Miss Popular, girl gets revenge. Even though I knew how this story would end, I enjoyed every minute of reading it.

Amy Holder has a wonderfully refreshing, hysterical writing style. I was laughing from the first page on, and I didn't want to put it down. Even though revenge isn't really my cup of tea, I liked "The Lipstick Lawbreakers" club and the havoc they caused. I like to live vicariously through fictional characters... don't judge me... and April Bowers was someone completely different from me, which made it even more fun!

I was hoping the ending would have given me just a bit more to go on, but it ended a little abruptly. I wish there would have been an epilogue-- "The Aftermath". Who knows, maybe there will be a second book?? (Probably wishful thinking.)

Anyway, this is a quick, hysterical, sit-on-the-beach-and-enjoy-the-sunshine-and-a-good-book kind of read. It's perfect for the final few weeks of summer and maybe, just maybe, it'll give you some funny revenge ideas--you know, if that's your thing. And even if it's not, the cover is just too pretty to pass up! Enjoy!

Happy Reading!

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Populazzi by Elise Allen

Release Date: August 1, 2011
Cara has never been one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and always ready with the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi.
Now, junior year could change everything. Cara’s moving to a new school, and her best friend urges her to seize the moment—with the help of the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms into the perfect girlfriend for guys ever-higher on the tower, she’ll reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment, a straight climb up, but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

Maybe it's just me, but I wasn't anything like this in high school. I wasn't popular, but I wasn't a loser. I had friends, and I got along with most everyone (I think.). I really couldn't have cared less about where I ultimately fell in the high school "popularity tower". But in Populazzi, it mattered to Cara--or it mattered to Claudia, Cara's best friend.

How many times has the "best friend" been the mastermind of really terrible plans in the literary world? A lot. So to all you "best friends" out there, I apologize--this book is no different. What began as simple social climbing turns into a full body and personality makeover for Cara. The deeper into the experiment Cara gets, the more she wants out of the entire "Ladder" plan. Claudia (the best friend) continues to push Cara to keep up the charade, even when Cara begins doing things she never planned on or wanted to. Before the "experiment" is over, Cara hates herself. And she's not the only one...

I liked this book. I didn't love it, but I did like Cara's growth throughout the book. Toward the end of the book, she did some soul searching and figured out who she was and wanted to be, which redeemed her in my eyes. I'd say this is one to get from your local library, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone younger than high school age. There are drug and sexual references that I would say are for mature readers only.

Happy Reading!

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

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Passion by Lauren Kate

This is the THIRD book in the Fallen series.

Read Fallen and Torment before reading this review!!

Luce would die for Daniel.

And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .

Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.

Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.

Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.

I have a problem. (Just one, you ask??)

When I've been reading a series, I NEVER read the book description after the first book. I don't know why. I just figure if I liked the other books in the series, I don't need to know what the continuing story will contain before I read them. So, when I picked up this book, Passion, the third (out of 4) in the Fallen series, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't know that it would all be about Luce's past lives. I remember when I read book 2, Torment, I had so many questions. I wanted to know why Daniel couldn't tell Luce about their past and why the two of them were so important in the grand scheme of things. Well, in this book, I found out.

I think this book was my favorite in the series so far. In the first two books, it was always kind of a more dark and brooding love. Angsty. That's a great word for it. Like they were in love, but didn't really want to be. As I read about all the many lives Luce has lived and all the many times Daniel has watched her die, I was thinking, "No wonder!". Can you really blame Daniel for keeping Luce at arms-length when he's watched her burn to ash from just a kiss? Over and over again? It's really quite depressing, if you think about it.

I loved this book. I loved getting some of my nagging questions answered. I loved seeing new sides of Daniel and also Luce, who is still one of my favorite characters. She's still as fiery and full of life in this one as she is in the previous books. Maybe more so. I'm very excited for the concluding book, Rapture, to be released next year. There was quite a cliffhanger at the end of this book which will keep me anxiously awaiting spring.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Read If I Stay by Gayle Forman before reading this review!
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
If I could meet one author right now, you want to know who I'd choose? Gayle Forman. Do you want to know why?? Then read If I Stay and Where She Went. They totally knocked my socks off.

There aren't enough authors with guts (in my opinion). More often than not, I read a book and know exactly where a story is going to go. I hardly ever get surprised these days. Don't get me wrong, there are a plethora of incredible YA books. I just wish (sometimes) I could pick up a book and have it be devastating and raw and totally unpredictable. Enter Gayle Forman. I had no idea who she was until I started hearing buzz about If I Stay. And now I can't seem to stop craving her books.

Where She Went was just as heart-wrenching as it's predecessor, but in a different way. This book, told from Adam's point of view, occurs three years from when If I Stay ends. Mia walked out of Adam's life and he is crushed. Broken. Bloody. From the pain of it all came the lyrics and the songs that ended up launching Adam and his band Shooting Star into super-stardom. Celebrity apparently didn't agree with Adam well and as the book opens, he's basically a shell of his former (wonderful) self that we were introduced to in the first book.

The story progresses in much the same way the first did--alternating between the present and Adam's memories. I loved this book. I love the way the story is told, I love the language of the book, I love how it had the ability to tear me to pieces and then help me heal. I haven't read books like these in a very long time, it seems. I need more of them. I don't know why I shy away from a great deal of books that have real depth, but unless one comes highly recommended, it'll probably never see the light of day from me. I know I've said it before, but I'm shocked that I picked these up in the first place....and so glad I did.

Now it's your turn! Don't waste your time on the holds list at the library for these--just splurge and buy them. SO worth the money.

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Reading for Refuge Book Club!

I've decided to start a "book club" of sorts. Stay with me on this....

Every month I am going to list a specific book that I am going to read that month. At the end of the month, I will post my review of it. The books will be listed in the sidebar of Reading for Refuge so you will know what book is up for the month, and also what books I'll be reading soon. Then, if you decided to read it with me that month, you can leave a comment or email me what you thought of the book.

Also, if you have any recommendations of something I should read for one of the months' picks, leave a comment and let me know. I have books already picked, but that doesn't mean I won't change them if you have a better idea!

This could end up being totally lame. I don't know. I thought it might be a fun idea. I'll try it through the rest of the year, and if it bombs, I'll come up with some new and exciting, totally genius idea for 2012. :)

Until then, the first book I have picked will be our September read:

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.

I am seriously, ridiculously, flippin' excited to read this. If you've even glanced at my blog this year, you know that my very favorite theme of 2011 has been mythology. I don't think anyone can come close to comparing to Aimee Carter's retelling of the "Persephone story" in The Goddess Test (my current favorite read of the entire year), but this book sounded so good that I couldn't pass it up. I've never read any of Meg Cabot's stuff, so I am really looking forward to it. I hope you all get a chance to read this in September so you can share your thoughts on it at the end of the month.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one. Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved… and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know…and love itself.   Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bertarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds… until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

I hope you all saw my note last week after my review of Tris and Izzie that this book was FREE on Amazon. It may still be, but I haven't checked. My friend Stacy can attest to my mini-freak out when it was offered for free less than a week after I paid eight dollars for it. I called her to have her look it up and see if it was really free or if it just said that on mine since I had already bought it. Nope. Free. Argh!

So, I hope you all took advantage of that awesome deal. (Argh, argh, ARGH!)

I really liked this book. I didn't know if I'd "dig" the whole knights and chivalry and medieval-ness of it all. I was wrong. This book had action, adventure, and romance complete with forbidden love. I didn't want to put it down, couldn't put it down. When it was over, all I wanted to do was hop on Amazon, download the second book in the series, and hide in a closet with my Kindle so no one would disturb my reading. (I miraculously refrained.)

Gabi rocked. She fought right alongside all the guys, sword and all. She was independent and sassy and driven. She knew what she was going to do and she did it. Her sister, Lia, was pretty awesome too with her bow, but she's really not in the book much. In fact that may have been the only thing I liked about Lia--her mad archery skills. I thought she was quite the prissy little brat most of the time, to be honest. I'm glad it wasn't her story, or I probably wouldn't have even finished it. And I liked Gabi with Marcello. Blast you 700-year-age-difference!

I am anxious to read the next book in this series. I hope you all had a chance to read it too, and I hope you  liked it! If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, check Amazon. See if the Kindle version is still available for free. Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can download it and read it on your PC.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima


If you have not read The Demon King or The Exiled Queen,
(get reading them!)
don't read this review yet!!

Release Date: August 30, 2011
Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.
The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.
Isn't that the most beautiful cover?
(Bigger sigh...)
I can't believe I have to wait an entire year for the final book.
Just kidding. About the sobbing anyway...

I think it's pretty much common knowledge by now how much I love (love, love) this series. Let's be honest, I was a bit disappointed when I read The Demon King because I had heard so many people rave about it. I remember thinking Really? It's an alright book, but it's not THAT good. It's actually quite slow. Then I got to to last hundred pages and totally got it. All those people raving were right. Vindication! Those final pages were jam-packed with so much amazing-ness that I was heartbroken that I had to wait for the next book. Then, The Exiled Queen came out. My husband and family got me a Kindle for my birthday and The Exiled Queen was the first book I got on it. I had a 4-day-old brand new baby and I finished it before he was a week old. It was amazing from cover to cover (you know, figuratively speaking, since it was on my Kindle). Again I had the thought, Are you kidding me? Who decides that books in a series come out a year apart? I need his phone number so I can give him a stern talking to.
I digress.
As I read this book, the third installment of the Seven Realms series, I could literally feel the tone of the storyline changing. Shifting into something harder--more challenging, more heartbreaking, but also more hopeful. There were so many blows in this book, in quick succession, it almost knocked me out. I would wonder how things could get any worse, and BAM! It was always something. I was on the edge of my seat, practically falling off it at times actually, as I devoured this book. Funny, I didn't know I'd been so hungry...
One of my favorite characters, maybe ever, is Raisa. It's been quite the experience to witness her growth from child to adult, princess to queen. She didn't get very long to grow up, but she used the time she had well. If you asked me to describe Raisa, I'd tell you she has gumption.
As for Han, he's grown on me. I've liked him in all the books, but I was a little annoyed that he moved in on Raisa when I very much felt like she was meant for Amon. I do believe that my opinion on this particular matter changed during the course of this book. C'mon, can it be any more clear how much Han loves her?
I applaud Cinda Williams Chima. She's gutsy, she's fierce, and she's an amazing writer. I will most likely need bereavement leave when I finish the final book next year, but I love that her books have had that effect on me. And I know that when that time comes, she'll have something new for me to thoroughly enjoy.
If you ignored my "caution signs" at the beginning of this post, and read this review anyway without first reading the first two books, I hope you've gained enough insight into the series to want to read it immediately. It's probably my favorite series I've ever read, and trust me, I've read a lot of them!
Happy Reading!
**I received this egalley from the publisher for the purpose of review.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Release Date: October 11, 2011
A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.
Do you remember being in English class and having to write short stories during the writing section for the year? I don't know about you, but mine always sucked pretty hardcore. I always felt like my dialouge was stilted and awkward and my characters were about as deep as  a puddle. Even if my idea for the storyline was based on something stellar, I couldn't ever make the story in my head translate into awesomeness on paper.

This was how I would describe this book to you. An English class assignment gone terribly wrong. It wasn't that the story idea was bad-- I actually quite like that it was based on Tristan and Isolde. It was they way the storytelling was executed that I didn't care for. I thought the language was bland and uncomfortable. I thought the relationships were all very superficial and quite unbelieveable. I didn't feel any connection to the characters at all, which usually cements my opinion of a book. If I can't relate to the characters--if they can't feel REAL to me-- then it's likely I won't like the book. Period. I honestly felt like I was reading someone's high school paper. A paper that dragged on and on and on....

You have a couple of months to decide if you want to give this book a go. If you decide to chance it, may I recommend getting it from the library? Trust me on this one.

Happy Reading!

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

P.S. I have some awesome books being reviewed in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

Also, right now on Amazon, you can get Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren for FREE. It's the Kindle version, but you don't have to have a Kindle to read it. You can read it from your PC. 

I have read it, and my review will be up next Thursday. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

I loved this book. The end.

This was probably the saddest book I've ever read. I can't even tell you how many times I cried while reading it. I was honestly surprised by how much I loved it since I usually shy away from books like this.

Isn't it crazy how books can affect a person? Since reading this, I've had a mini reality check. This book was a reminder to me of how quickly life can change. You just never know what could happen.

I thought that Mia's point of view was an interesting part of the book and I love that she was a cello player. I think that's the first time I've seen that in a YA book......

....Okay, let's get serious here. I absolutely loved this book, but I am having an incredibly difficult time reviewing it. I don't want to give anything away! I want you, the reader, to be able to experience this book as I did--knowing very little about it. So I'm just going to stop right here. When you read it (YES, WHEN--not if), then we can chat about it. I'd love to know what you think!

Happy Reading!