Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: Forgotten

Media Type: Book
Title: Forgotten
Author: Cat Patrick
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: Hardcover; 304
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Source: Publisher/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Nothing to report!

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.

Wow. That's all I can start out with, is wow. I am utterly stunned by how original, how beautiful, and how amazingly captivating Forgotten was. I promise to do my best to explain without any spoilers, but let me just say that this is a book you need to keep your eye on. Trust me.

London Lane has an interesting problem. Every night when she goes to sleep, her memories disappear and she starts the next day with a blank slate. Sounds pretty awful right? Well that's what I thought too, but London handles her situation with the utmost grace and strength. I fell in love with her right from the start. Using a notebook and a specially programmed phone, London keeps her life on track the best way she knows how. It was fascinating to watch her go through her daily life.

Now if you're thinking that London is just like any other person who might have something like amnesia, let me guarantee you that you're wrong. See she may forget the past, but what is really captivating about her life is that she sees the future. It's not always clear, it's not always happy, but it's there. London lives her life in the future, because she cannot seem to remember her past. People who are unimportant flit by, but the people she knows will stick are always there to be remembered when she wakes up in the morning. The downside to seeing the future is that she can't change it. Or can she? Are you salivating over the prospect yet? As you should be! This added so much more to the story, especially when the mystery (that I won't spoil for you) comes into play. Did I mention this book is amazing?

In terms of the hot guy and romance that is promised in the synopsis, I was really pleased with how it all worked out. Instead of just throwing London into a new relationship with some unspoken connection, the two of them really do grow together. Cat Patrick also throws in some information that makes you feel really good about their match. On top of that, Luke is to die for. He's sweet, funny, sensitive, basically perfect. However he's not so perfect that he is unbelievable. Luke is the guy we all want in our lives. Flawed, but flawed perfectly. I think I might be in love too.

There are so many elements of this book that I'd love to shout from the rooftops, but I'll have to leave it here. Anything else would be a spoiler, and you all know my policy on spoilers. So therefore, you'll have to trust me when I say that Forgotten is well worth your time! If you want a story that is truly original, go and get a copy of this book. You won't be sorry.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Book Review: Flying Blind (The Dragon Diaries #1)

Media Type: Book
Title: Flying Blind
Author: Deborah Cooke
Publisher: New American Library
Pages: Paperback; 336
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Source: Publisher/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Mild violence

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

Zoë Sorensson is perfectly normal, except she's been told she's destined for great things. Zoë's the one female dragon shapeshifter of her kind. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr and her powers are AWOL, so she's sent to a Pyr boot camp.

Zoë quickly realizes that she has to master her powers yesterday, because the Pyr are in danger and boot camp is a trap. The Mages want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line-unless Zoë and her friends can work together and save their own kind.

First off, let it be known that I am dragon obsessed. Second only to zombies, dragons top my list as one of the most interesting and richly described mythological beings of all time. What does this have to do with anything? Well this means that every book I go into with dragons is a treat for me, but also that I'm rather picky about my dragon lore. I want to either be wowed with new developments, or at least have a story that sticks to what has been created in the past. So going into Flying Blind I was really excited! What would the pages hold for me? I opened the book, and dove in.

Let me be the first to say that Deborah Cooke has hit the nail on the head with her dragon lore! I know that this new YA series is a spin off of her original "Dragonfire" series, and so I should have known it would be amazing. Cooke not only paints the reader a gorgeous portrayal of dragon kind with the Pyr, but she also gives them a rich and detailed history about them as well. Add in a few bad guys and some fight scenes, and I was hooked. Learning with Zoë was seriously fantastic. I felt myself frustrated when she was, excited when she was, all the while uncovering history with her. As I read I found myself immersed in the world that revolved around Zoë. Just in terms of setting and back story, I was already in love with this book.

In terms of characters, Flying Blind has quite a few different personality types to offer. First up is Zoë, the main character. She's fiesty and a bit overzealous sometimes. At 15 years old she is supposed to be developing her Wyrven powers. Unfortunately... it's slow going. I loved the original voice that Zoë had, and swooned over the fact that she wasn't a lovesick puppy dog at any point in the book. Jealous yes, angsty and depressed no In fact, as the Wyrven to be, Zoë kicks some behind! Round out her character with a good old fashioned love interest, her best friend/crush, and a few other Pyr, and you have a great cast! Besides Zoë I'd have to say that my favorite character was definitely Liam. He's a sweetheart, and when you're a dragon that is a little tough to pull off sometimes.

The only reason that I am giving this book a slightly lower rating is that it is exhausting to read. I don't mean that the writing is poor, it's truly amazing, and you've seen how much I love the characters. So let me explain. At the beginning of the story I was allowed to meet Zoë and she was truly what dragged me in. Her wit, her inner pondering, it was all great! Things were moving along at a nice pace, and I was throughly enjoying being in her world. Then as the book neared the middle, it got a little slow. I thought it was understandable, since important information was being revealed. However then, towards the end, I felt bombarded with fight scene after fight scene and problem after problem that needed to be solved. It was all a bit overwhelming. Don't get me wrong, I love action. However presented in this fashion, it kind of broke my connection with the book. By the time that I finally got to the end of the book, I was a bit torn as to what to write in my review. Overall I enjoyed the read, but I always strive to be honest with my readers. I've sat back though and I'm ready to give the bottom line.

Flying Blind is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise saturated market. The simple fact that Zoë is so strong and calculating makes her different than a lot of other MC's her age, and that makes her intriguing in my book. Add in some great dragon lore, and you have a series that I can fully get behind. I know that my issue with this book is my own opinion, and honestly I'm sure that it only happened because there was so much important information to fit in this first installment. Therefore I'm extremely excited for the next book! I can't wait to see what happens next.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: The Sext Crime

Media Type: Book
Title: CYA 2: The Sext Crime
Author: Jason Ancona
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Paperback; 280
Release Date: February 27, 2011
Source: Author
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Do awesome dance moves count?

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

SNAP--a girl sexts racy pics of herself.
She thought the fun shots would stay between her and her boyfriend.

SNAP--an anonymous hacker hijacks her photos.
If she doesn't obey, she'll be exposed.

SNAP--the Covert Youth Agency takes the girl's case.
The agents jump headfirst into Operation: Sext Crime. Their new client has less than a week to surrender to the hacker's ultimatum. Or else the naughty photos go "wide."

SEND--a squad of goons are closing in on C.Y.A. members.
Agent identities may be unmasked.

REPLY ALL--end communication.
It's not safe.

WARNING--this book contains NO explicit sexual content.
Material suitable for ages 12 and above. May contain some humor.

Pi, Lightman and Tollhouse are back for another installment of Jason Ancona's hilarious and brilliant series! If you haven't yet put these books on your TBR list, I intend to change your mind before the end of this review. Trust me, they are too good to pass up. Do you love hilarity? Are you amused by witty sarcastic banter? Does the idea of adorably awkward teenage interactions make you smile? This is a series for you.

The Sext Crime brings back all the fantastic characters. There's Pi (Peter) the math whiz and adorable nerd. He's smitten with Vera, who he's too afraid to talk to. Then there's Lightman. Or Delilah, but don't call her that or she'll probably hit you. Hard. She's a bit of a tomboy, and computer hacker extraordinaire. Rounding it out is Tollhouse, the sweetest and probably silliest guy you'll ever meet. He's witty, loves a good conversation, and fights with Lightman on an almost constant basis. Point being, this motley crew of kids fits together perfectly, and they will pull you in to the C.Y.A. I guarantee it.

This second book had me enamored with each page that went by. I liked the first C.Y.A. book, The Case of Tangled Love, but I think that it is here that the characters really come into their own. I could see the real bond between the three of them. More than friendship even, since they are connected to something so secretive. However what was added to this story that I loved, was an extra element of depth. See, in this story each of the characters goes their own way and is learning who they really are. Sure there's still that bond of friendship, but it's nice to see that they each have their own personalities that can stand apart too. I'm going to change my like to a LOVE for this one.

Wondering what I mean? Too bad, you'll have to read. I shan't spoil it for you. What I can say is that the plot in The Sext Crime is fantastically written! If you are a fan of mysteries, this will be on that draws you in. The use of technology in this book creates really familiar territory for teens, and I know even I was nodding along with agreement, even when I couldn't figure out the mystery. Along the way you'll also be treated to witty banter between the characters, hilarious situations, and a few laugh out loud moments. I'm probably rambling, but that just goes to show you how much I love these characters. They make me laugh, and isn't that what we all need sometimes?

I'll wrap it up here, since you're probably reeling from me trying to explain so much in so little space. Suffice it to say that Jason Ancona remains one of my favorite hidden gem writers! His writing is always a little different, but I'm not afraid to say it just keeps getting better and better. I know I'm a rambler, but I can guarantee you that if you give The Sext Crime a shot, you'll find something to love. I'm a C.Y.A. fan and I'm proud of it.

Click the banner for more stops along this tour!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Meeting Amalie Howard & a giveaway!

Amalie Howard is stopping by today to promote her debut novel, Bloodspell on an epic blog tour! I'm lucky enough to have a special bio to post in her honor. She even brought a giveaway with her, you lucky people you. Spoiled, that's what we are. As a book blogger, I love to learn more about authors so this was great for me! Take a look!

My Twitter handle says that I’m a “writer, mother, dreamer, jedi, superhero, evil genius, and part-time lunatic.” That’s me in a nutshell.

I write books for young adults because I have a thirteen-year-old girl with braces and scrunchies prancing around inside of me – imagine having to give her a time-out for an inner-tantrum? No thank you! That’s the mother in me coming out. With three kids under six, time-outs are a necessity for what I call ‘saving mommy’s sanity.’ Anyway, I let my inner-child express herself via my writing. That way, we’re both happy.

I’ve always been a dreamer, all the way back to high school when I’d get caught red-handed for staring out the window lost in some reverie that was way more thrilling than algebra. The shame of getting caught was worth it though—even for thirty seconds of riding on a unicorn on top of the clouds. Did I mention that I had a wild imagination?

Moving on, I secretly am a jedi (waves hand in jedi mind-trick motion). See? Convinced, you are.

My inner superhero is probably the Phoenix, because she embodies life and passion. I’m fascinated by this character because she is so consumed by her own state of being, neither good nor bad. In some ways, she makes me think of Victoria, the protagonist in my novel, Bloodspell, who stands on a similar precarious edge of choice and consequence.

I don’t exactly consider myself to be an evil genius. I’m not evil and I’m no genius. But I do tend to do the evil laugh and sit drumming my fingertips together while practicing ominous eyebrow lifts, so I guess that counts. Plus, Megamind is my hero.

Lastly, I say that I am a part-time lunatic. I definitely don’t mean that in the mental sense, I’m thinking more of being wild, foolish and impulsive. I think we all need to allow ourselves to give vent to our eccentric idiosyncrasies once in a while. For example, I love dancing in my living room or screaming Katy Perry or Queen lyrics in my car. Letting loose is liberating, although I do recommend doing it when no one else is around!

Isn't she fabulous? 
I bet you're loving this book now right? Well you're in luck, it's giveaway time!

Open to U.S. residents only, one copy of Bloodspell is up for grabs!

To enter, fill out the form! Don't forget to leave a comment for Amalie as well!

Giveaway ends June 6, 2011.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

My (Current) Top 5 Books of 2011!

So I was chatting with one of my fellow bookish friends, who doesn't blog, and she asked me what my top 5 books so far are. I blanked. I mean, wow. I've read almost 100 books so far this year, and I've loved a lot of them! Asking me to pick 5...well it's like trying to pick your favorite flavor of ice cream. They're all so good! However she challenged me, and I never turn down a challenge, so here goes.

Keep in mind, this is for now! Who knows what the next few months of reading will bring!

In no particular order:

With or Without You by Brian Farrey

What I loved about Brian's book was how honest and raw it is, while still being sweet at the same time. The relationship between Evan and Erik is amazing! It's great to see them grow and change together, and I loved that everything didn't always work out exactly perfect. In real life, that's always the case isn't it?

My Review

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

What do I say about this book? Well first of all I'm in love with Noah. He's such a sweet and lost boy! Also, this is one of the few books I've read this year that made me sob. Yes, sob. Hard. The bevy of emotions you'll feel while reading this is insane, but so worth it. Grab a box of tissues.

My Review

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Action! That's what is in this book. Complete with a kick butt heroine and her entourage, this book features Gods and Goddesses that made me want to cheer out loud. Want a story that will keep you reading until way past your bedtime? That's this one!

My Review

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Love zombies? Love romance? How would you like a book that has the two of them together? Well you're in luck! This book is a completely new take on zombie kind, and I love every minute of it. Oh sure, there's brains and gore. However there is also love and heartache. It's amazing!

My Review

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Okay look, I don't know what to say about this book except OMFG READ IT NOW! The story is completely engrossing, the characters are vivid and well-written, and it has not one, but TWO hot guys. Oh yes. So you get to take a side and defend the man that you fall in love with. Original, amazing, I don't know what else I can say.

Goodreads Page

What do all of these have in common?
They are absolutely stunning and well worth your time. I wish I could've done a top 10, because I would've added in Geoff Herbach's Stupid Fast, Alyssa Sheinmel's The Lucky Kind, and so many more! When I fall in love with a book, I fall hard. It just so happens that the books above held onto my heart the entire time that's passed since I read them :).

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ten Reasons to read The Chosen & a Giveaway!

Today Andrea Buginsky, author of The Chosen, is here to share a bit about why you should read her book! Also, we have a giveaway for you! All you have to do is collect answers to trivia questions at the stops, enter them into the form provided below, and you're entered to win a .PDF copy of the book. Easy peasy.

Ten Reasons You Should Read “The Chosen”

1. It’s a great story with heart-felt characters.
2. It has some lessons you can learn for your own life.
3. If you like fantasy, “The Chosen” will introduce you to a brand-new fantasy world with lots of imaginative creatures.
4. If you need an escape for a few hours, “The Chosen” can take you away to a whole new world.
5. If you’re looking for a new fantasy story, “The Chosen” can provide you with that.
6. If you’re looking for a new author to check out, I’m brand new to the book world.
7. If you ever felt like an outsider, “The Chosen” can help you see that you will find your place in
the world.
8. If you want to meet a female hero, you can meet Halli in “The Chosen.”
9. I believe it will be a great new fantasy series for children of different ages.
10. It’s a book that can be enjoyed by both the young and young-at-heart.


Thanks for coming by Andrea!

If you are interested in this book, and you should be by now, go ahead and take a crack at entering! My trivia question is as follows: Name two reasons you should read The Chosen.

Easy right! Click the link below, answer this question, and any others that you might have found the answers to, and enter to win.

You can click the banner below for more stops and more chances to win.


Book Review: She Loves You, She Loves You Not

Media Type: Book
Title: She Loves You, She Loves You Not
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: Hardcover; 288
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Source: Publisher/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Sexual situations; Language

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

Seventeen-year-old Alyssa thought she knew who she was. She had her family, her best friends, and most importantly, she had Sarah. Sarah, her girlfriend, with whom she dreamed with about the day they could move far away and live out and proud and accepted for themselves, instead of having to hide their relationship.

Alyssa never thought she would have to make that move by herself, but disowned by her father and cut off from everyone she loves, she is forced to move hundreds of miles away to live with Carly, a mother she barely knows, in a town where everyone immediately dismisses her as 'Carly's girl.' Struggling to forget her past and come to terms with her future, will Alyssa be able to build a new life for herself and believe in love again? Or will she be forced to relive the mistakes that have cost her everything and everyone she cared about?

This compelling novel about coming out, finding love, and discovering your place in the world will speak to anyone who has known the joy and pain of first love and the struggle to start over again.

Alyssa is a 17-year-old girl who, like most girls her age, is trying to find her place in the world. She seems to be doing well. Getting good grades, having friends, pleasing her parents, it seems like Alyssa has the perfect life. Unfortunately she has a secret, and that secret is about to blow up in her face. She Loves You, She Loves You Not was a truly realistic and beautiful read for me. I'll do my best to explain to you what made it so amazing.

First of all, the characters in this book are utterly fantastic. From Alyssa's homophobic father, to her adorably understanding younger brother, each one of them has a unique personality that sets them apart. I thought it was interesting that the family Julie Anne Peters builds for Alyssa is so real. I've read many a book where characters are out and proud, with no problems. Although I'd love to believe that is true for most children, I know it's not. Alyssa's family is composed of a more realistic combination of parents. Her father simply cannot know she is a lesbian, because that is unacceptable, where her stepmother and brother are much more understanding. The secret relationship between Sarah and Alyssa made perfect sense to me, and even as it neared impending doom, I knew it had to be that way.

However, what struck me most about this book, and kept me reading on well into the evening until I finished it, was the kinship that I felt with Alyssa. It doesn't matter who you are, or what your sexual preferences may be, anyone who has loved and lost can understand what she is going through. For that matter, anyone who has ever been deeply wounded can relate as well. What is really refreshing though is that Alyssa doesn't dwell on the past. Instead, she uses those memories as a cleanser, to try to close that chapter of her life and start over again. Throughout the book Alyssa is coming to terms with the fact that her life isn't what she thought it once was, and she's going to need to build a new one for herself. It is that raw honesty, the broken girl within, that made me fall for She Loves You, She Loves You Not.

In terms of story line, this book is pretty equal to most other coming of age stories. As Alyssa navigates her new life, away from her family and friends, she struggles and learns. There is the new love interest who comes on the scene, that helps her break out of the shell she has built for herself. Then there is Carly, who is Alyssa's biggest hurdle yet. Not knowing your mother, and then being compared to her by people you barely know, isn't easy. She learns to forge a name for herself, learns to be strong, and most of all learns that it is completely okay to be herself. Although this type of story has been done before, I'll definitely say that Peters hit the nail on the head with the people who surround Alyssa. We all have hurdles to jump, why shouldn't she?

Despite the fact that this wasn't a book that had the "wow" factor for me, I did really enjoy reading it. As I mentioned above, the characters are beautifully written and I dare any reader coming in not to see some part of themselves in Alyssa. She's a multi-faceted character who the reader gets to watch grow into her own. It's a lovely experience, and I'm glad I was along for the ride. Overall I'd give this book a strong recommendation! If you are a lover of contemporary fiction, of coming of age stories, or even just appreciate a good solid story line, this is one for you.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mai Heritage - The Second Path!

Hey all! Are you ready for some more Mai goodness with The Nine Lives of Chloe King?

So I'm still not sure if the clues I'm getting are the same ones all you playing from home are.

Today I was sent this very pretty kitty, and asked to answer three key questions about its origin in order to be able to move ahead. This was a tricky one! I spent quite a bit of time on Google, but I got it!

I was then directed to this video and asked to share it with you, my awesome followers. It contains more background into the Mai and their heritage. Apparently this information is very important as we continue our journey together!

Fascinating right? I made sure to declare my commitment! I'm going to fully admit that this game, and this show, have me hooked! June 14th cannot come fast enough!

Now then, if you aren't playing yet (and why aren't you gosh darnit?) you can join all of the fun at this link here: http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/nine-lives-chloe-king/nine-paths

Grand prize is a visit to the set!

Thanks for listening to the rambling and good luck on your journey as well!

Tens List with Steven Watkins - Vacation Destinations

Steve Watkins, author of the upcoming What Comes After, is here today to share some favorite vacation destinations! He's on a blog tour promoting his newest book, and you can find all the stops by clicking the banner at the bottom of the page. In the meantime though, please enjoy this simply fabulous tens list!

1. Lamu, an island off the coast of northern Kenya, not far from Somalia, with blindingly white beaches and mango groves but watch out for bandits with their pangas.

2. The Jomsom Trail, starting in Pokhara, in western Nepal and trekking through to the Anapurna base camp, eating nothing for a week except dal, bot, and subsee. 

3. The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachussetts. The honeymoon suite. With Janet, of course. Only this time we’re sticking around for that Arlo Guthrie concert at the church they converted into a home and then a concert hall in “Alice’s Restaurant.” 

4. The Lake District in England, on a bike, stopping to hike Ska Fel, visiting Beatrice Potter’s house, continuing on up into Scotland, camping next to Loch Lomond in a pounding rain storm, taking the ferry across the next day, biking on to Edinburgh to find this girl I met on the plane over from America who lives there and invited me…. 

5. Big Sur, driving up Coast Highway, when the fog billows up the cliffs from the Pacific and visibility drops to zero, and you have to pull off, but fortunately there’s a little campground, and two girls camping in the site next to yours. They’re cooking over an open fire, you have no food, but you do have your guitar, and they actually say yes when you wander over and offer to sing for your supper. They have baked beans and veggie dogs. You have John Prine and “Christmas in Prison.” 

6. In Maui at the top of Haleakala at sunset, or on bikes the next day, coasting down, down, down, thirty miles down, wearing out those hand brakes to avoid pitching over onto the lava rocks, but what a great ride! And in the afternoon: parasailing off the side of the volcano. 

7. In a hidden villa in Florence with Janet, with a balcony and big windows and a bidet, but then off to one of the big cathedrals for our friends’ wedding, and from there out into the Tuscan countryside, to Machiavelli’s old estate and vineyard for dinner and reception. 

8. Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail for a week at a time for several summers running back in the 60s and 70s with our church group, with my mom and dad leading the hikes. 

9. That hotel we stayed at for a week in Nanning, Guangxi province in China, when we adopted Lili and hung out with the six other families also adopting, and everybody was so sweet and loving, and we all lived intensely in the moment (and spent a lot of time in that wacky swimming pool they had there). 

10. Lake Turkana, in northern Kenya, waylaid there when one of the Landrovers broke down en route to Southern Sudan with supplies and vehicles from Mombassa for an International Voluntary Services aid project. Crocodiles, bilharzia, goat sacrifices by the locals for relief from the crippling drought, huge lake flounder, those Baptist missionaries in their bright red Jeep Cherokee, all manner of weirdness. Who wouldn’t want to go back there?

All fantastic places wouldn't you say? I kind of want to go on vacation with Steve now....

After her veterinarian dad dies, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight must leave her beloved Maine to live on a North Carolina farm with her hardbitten aunt and a cousin she barely knows. Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, immediately clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistreats the livestock, spends Iris’s small inheritance, and thinks nothing of striking Iris for the smallest offense. Things come to a head when Iris sets two young goats free to save them from slaughter, and an enraged Aunt Sue orders her brutish son, Book, to beat Iris senseless - a horrific act that lands Book and his mother in jail. Sent to live with an offbeat foster family and their "dooking" ferrets, Iris must find a way to take care of the animals back at the farm, even if it means confronting Aunt Sue. Powerful and deeply moving, this compelling novel affirms the redemptive power of animals and the resilience of the human spirit.

Favorite Books with Cat Patrick

Lucky day! Cat Patrick is here to share a bit about herself in honor of her newest book, Forgotten. The best part? She's here to share her favorite books! For bibliophiles like us, what could be better?

Hubby and I try hard not to spoil our girls. In our house, you don’t get a treat for riding quietly in the basket at Target—unless you consider paper towels a treat, which under certain circumstances, I guess they are—and the soft lovie at the check stand is cute to pet while Mommy pays but we always need to tell him “bye, bye, see you later!” before we go.

But all logic and reason flies out the window at the bookstore.

I love buying books. I love seeing my girls’ eyes light up when they crack open a new one for the first time. I love the smell of fresh cut pages and the creak of the spine. I love reading dedications and acknowledgements and noticing publishers and discovering someone else’s voice. Jumping into their story. I love adding books to my (embarrassingly disorganized) shelf.

And I love recommending my favorites to friends and family. Here’s what I’ve recommended lately:

To my neighbor when she was lamenting about dieting: Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things. I love Mackler’s approachable, funny and touching story of a girl who feels like the odd man out in her family. As the runt of the litter myself—blessed with “curves” no less—I could wholeheartedly relate…the story stuck with me long after reading.

To my speed-reading babysitter on date night: Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss. I enjoyed this one for its tour du Paris, for making me wish I’d had an experience like Anna’s when I was younger, and for the way it made me remember my first love. It’s a quick and completely satisfying read.

To my sister, who asked for a “great” book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. These are two beautifully written and important novels for very different reasons. The Book Thief is a new take on a familiar history and 13 Reasons Why is about a girl with no future because of suicide. Both novels focus on heavy topics, and yet both leave you feeling hopeful. No easy task.

I wouldn’t necessarily read them back to back though.

In between, you might want to try the book I recommended to my YA-loving friend, Matched, by Ally Condie. I was sucked into this novel from the first page, fully enchanted by the futuristic story of a girl living in a society where nothing’s left to chance…not even who you love. It made me feel claustrophobic and giddy and nervous and overjoyed and…so, so excited for the next in the series.

Also recently, I’ve pointed friends and family toward the Fade/Wake/Gone series by Lisa McMann, Shiver/Linger/Forever by Maggie Stiefvater and of course, The Hunger Games trilogy (Team Peeta! No wait, Team Gale!).

My “of the moment” adult series recommendation is totally out of left field: Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles. I will admit that I’ve never read The Hobbit and I’m not usually one to go frolicking with lutes, but I loved these tomes. And guess what? The paper used for the second one, The Wise Man’s Fear, not only smells good but it feels silky smooth, too.

Sort of like the soft lovie at the checkout stand.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: The Summer of May

Media Type: Book
Title: The Summer of May
Author: Cecilia Galante
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Source: GalleyGrab
Intended Reading Group:
Middle Grade/Young Adult

Content Screening:
Nothing to report.

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

Galante's bittersweet story of a troubled 13-year-old stars spunky Maeve (May) O’Toole, who holds a lot of grudges. May’s most recent target is her English teacher, “Movado the Avocado,” who she blames for having to repeat English in summer school. Spending her mornings prepping and painting the classroom wall she defaced during the school year and doing writing assignments for her teacher, May has a lot of time to think. She broods about all the things that make her mad and about all the people who have abandoned her: her old group of friends; her father, who now works double shifts and is hardly ever home; and her grandmother, who spends her days in bed. But mostly May thinks about the mother she will never see again. The summer takes some unexpected turns as May discovers previously unseen sides of Miss Movado and learns that they have something profound in common. Brimming with emotion and insight into adolescent rage, Galante’s prose investigates the impact of loss and the importance of making amends.

Unlike any of the other middle grade novels that I have ever read, The Summer of May is not a "sunshine and rainbows" kind of book. Quite the opposite really. This is a tough read, filled with real life emotion that cuts down into your heart as you read. I'll be honest when I say that I literally cried while I read this.

May is a 13-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to feel whole again. Navigating the trials of middle school, she tends to use anger as her defense mechanism against anything (or anyone) who she doesn't agree with. She doesn't enjoy the feelings that bubble up inside her and burst to the surface, but it is the one way that she knows how to deal. Angry words help to mask the hurt that she feels inside. This story is a look at how these feelings affect a person, as well as the people around them.

May isn't the only character in this book who is learning something either. Amidst her tumultuous inner battle, Galante sets up other characters who are fighting the same sort of battle. Although they are much older than her, these characters show May that she isn't the only one who doesn't know quite how to deal with how she feels. Each character chooses their own defense mechanism, but they all have the anger and hurt beneath their surface. It isn't until May starts to spend more time with Mrs. Movado that she starts to make progress towards understanding what is inside her.

At the heart of this book is really a message of forgiveness, and of making amends. This is a topic that is so rarely dealt with in tween/teen books, but I wish it was out there more often. As summer wanes on, May learns to look into herself through the use of writing and poetry. She learns to find the things that are buried deep inside her and come to terms with them. Most importantly of all she learns to forgive, and to ask for forgiveness, in an effort to heal herself from the inside out. If you're thinking that this sounds like a topic from a much older story, I would have agreed at one point. However now that I've finished reading this book I'm not sure I can look at middle grade literature the same again.

Excellently written and brimming with honest emotions, The Summer of May is one of the most surprising and heartfelt books that I have read this year. I applaud Cecilia Galante for so carefully and sincerely dealing with such a tough topic. This is a book that I will recommend to tweens, teens and even adults a hundred times over. Dealing with the importance of family, the power of words, and the idea of forgiveness, I don't think it matters who is reading this book. Everyone can benefit from the messages between these pages. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tens List with Alissa Grosso

Alissa Grosso is here today, and I'm excited! She's on a tour promoting her newest book, Popular, which I'm pretty psyched about, I shan't lie.

Anyway since I only ask the important questions, I asked Alissa to share with us her Top 10 Snack Foods. Ready to see what she picked? I'll be the first to say I'd share a snack fridge with her any day!

Alissa Grosso's Top 10 Snack Foods

First off, I would like to say that FINALLY someone is asking me the important questions! Also, I would like to point that being asked to name my Top Ten Snack Foods is sort of like being asked to name my top ten authors. How can I possibly pick just 10? Well, I have done my best and narrowed down the field to these top 10 choices:

10. Hershey's Moose Tracks Ice Cream - Hershey's (no relation to the candy maker) makes some of the best ice cream, and it's a shame that it isn't more widely available. Their moose tracks flavor is a perfect blend of fudge and chocolate peanut butter cup goodness.

9. 100 Grand Bars - They really should change the name of these candy bars to Millionaire Bars, because they are so good. For those who have never tried these little logs of caramel covered in chocolate and crisped rice cereal, you are definitely missing out.

8. Tortilla Chips - So simple, yet so tasty. Also they are sort of healthy for you. After all, their made out of corn, which is a vegetable. The best ones, of course, are the homemade ones served fresh at nice Mexican restaurants. And whether they are fresh or from the bag all tortilla chips go great with my favorite condiment, Tabasco Green.

7. Hummus - Here's another snack that almost doesn't qualify due to it's healthy nature. I especially like hummus with a Wheat Thin type of cracker and the best varieties of hummus are those that include roasted red peppers or artichokes. 

6. Utz Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips - Salt and vinegar flavored potato chips remind me of fresh French fries from the boardwalk or a fair that are doused with malt vinegar. I'll eat pretty much any variety of salt and vinegar chips, but Utz's version is probably my favorite.

5. Apricot Fruit Roll or Fruit Leather - Another healthy snack. See, I'm practically a health food nut! I've tried other flavors of fruit leather, and they're all right, but they can't hold a candle to the apricot ones. I don't know what it is about this fruit that lends itself so well fruit leather creation, but whatever it is these snacks have just the right amount of sweetness.

4. Milky Way Midnight - Milky Way candy bars are pretty good, but do you know what makes them even better? Dark chocolate. Milky Way Midnight bars taste like some sort of decadent, elegant dessert. It's hard to believe these are candy bars you can buy at your local drug store alongside something as pedestrian as a Kit Kat Bar.

3. Gruyere Cheese and Crackers - Speaking of elegant, gruyere cheese is a pretty hoity toity as snack foods go, but it's so delicious I had to include it on this list. Truth be told, I don't even need the crackers, but I guess it's traditional to eat cheese with crackers. Gruyere, for those who have never had the pleasure of sampling it is somewhere between parmesan and Swiss cheese in both taste and texture, and it is entirely addictive. So, watch out!

2. Homemade Sugar Cookies - I saved these for my number two spot partly for sentimental reasons and partly because they are so yummy. Sugar cookies were something we used to make with Mom around the holidays when I was a kid and I can recall spending a long time picking out the perfect cookie cutter. I still have a great time making sugar cookies, and well, let's face it, eating them is pretty fun too!

1. Cadbury Cream Eggs - Scarcity, made me choose Cadbury Cream Eggs as my top snack food. No, there isn't a shortage of these egg-shaped candies, but as fans know, they are only available during the Easter season. Of course, the Easter season as retailers define it usually begins shortly after Christmas, but that still leaves about 8 months of the year when Cadbury Cream Eggs cannot be found. The milk chocolate shell with the gooey fondant center may not make for the neatest food to eat, but you can't pick your snack foods based on whether or not they will be messy. Besides, this candy is seriously scrumptious.

Join me on a mysterious adventure!

Morning everyone! (Or afternoon as the case may be.) I'm here to share some awesome info with you and explain why I might be jumping up and down giddily the next few days and attacking you with blog posts asking for help.

See I'm participating in the ABC Family Nine Paths Game, that promotes their new show, The Nine Lives of Chloe King. The show sounds and looks amazing, so imagine my surprise and awe when they asked me to help promote it!

To start our journey, we received a mysterious box:

Upon opening said box, I found lots of goodies to help me on my way (and yes that is an Ipad 2 squee!)

Now I'm not sure what most of those goodies are for yet, since I've only just solved the first clue, but I'll keep you up to date as I move along, and you can play too for a chance to win a visit to the set! Just go here:

Here is the first scroll we received, to peak your interest and start you on your way:
(click it to make it bigger)

Before I leave you, I have some secret information only for your ears. Ready? You can win one of a limited quantity of Circle Charms for your very own! All you have to do is visit the link below and type in the word "Circle". It's a giveaway that you can ONLY enter if you have the code word. Lucky you!

(the place to put the code is on the right hand side of the page, ENJOY!)

I look forward to sharing the rest of the journey with you, and I hope you're all as excited as I am! This is going to be fantastic!

Monday, May 23, 2011

An Interview with Alyssa from She Loves You, She Loves You Not...

I'm lucky to have Julie Anne Peters stopping by with a character interview! Her new book, She Loves You, She Loves You Not... is utterly fantastic and I had the awesome opportunity to interview Alyssa, the main character. I love her answers! Take a look!

1) Welcome Alyssa! Let's start with something fun. You receive a free trip to anywhere in the world you want to go. Where do you choose? 

Wow. Anywhere? Canada. (Answer deeply influenced by Finn’s birthplace J.)

2) How would you describe yourself in just three words? 

Out Proud Lesbian

3) How would you describe Carly? 

God, I don’t know. One minute she’s cool and the next she’s the most selfish, self-centered person I know.

4) Are you glad that Sarah happened, or if you could go back and undo it would you? 

I learned a lot about myself through what I call the “Sarah betrayal.” I know now how resilient I can be, and that time and distance helps heal a broken heart. Even though I learned what I want and don’t want in a relationship, Finn shows up and… well, you know the story from there.

5) Something a little lighter. Who would you say your all time celebrity crush is?

God, this is embarrassing. Chris Colfer from Glee. In my defense, he seems to be a sweet and gentle person inside—besides having a voice to die for. Keira Knightly’s is h-h-hot. So is Sandra Bullock. I had a huge crush on Shane—Katherine Moennig—from The L Word, but then I read she was married, and I was, like, bleh L.

6) What is one guilty pleasure that you have?

Losing myself in music. I could lie around for days plugged into my nano.

7) Finally, and thanks for playing along, what is one hope that you have for the future?

Stability. Love. A home that feels like home. I’m taking poetic license to combine all three into one hope.

Special Subscriber Giveaway!

Just a heads up! There is a special giveaway on my newsletter this week! If you would like to enter, all you have to do is subscribe and click the link. You can subscribe to it by clicking the button to the left, and see the most recent issue by clicking here.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review: Unearthly

Media Type: Book
Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: Hardcover; 435
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Nothing of note.

HDB Rating:
3 Keys to My Heart

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees...

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

How do I start this review? I suppose I'll begin with the characters. I liked Clara. I thought she was very much an average teenage girl who is trying to understand her place in the world. Unfortunately for her, she has the added problem of trying to understand where her angel half fits in as well. Her friendships with Angela and Wendy were cute and believable. Tucker was a sweetheart. Then there's Christian. Perfect, flawless Christian. He was the one character that I really couldn't connect with. I think Cynthia Hand built some fantastic characters, but I feel as though Christian was just too perfect for his own good. Maybe this is setting him up for the next book, I wish I knew!

In terms of writing, I thought that Unearthly moved along at a very nice pace, and that the writing flowed. I immensely enjoyed the fact that although Hand offers her readers a lot of descriptions, none of them go overboard. She allows you to settle yourself into the scene before taking off again, and I loved that! The best part for me was the romance aspect of the book. I liked that Clara is torn, and that she shows her true colors when she is around Tucker. The inner battle between her angel side and her human side really shows through her time with Tucker, and it makes her so much more deep as a character. This was my favorite part of the book, hands down. If not for Tucker, I would not have been nearly as involved in this book.

The ending is what frustrated me most, and I'm not talking about just the last chapter. The whole end of the book spirals slowly and leaves the reader hanging on a string. I'm not one to be upset about cliffhangers. In fact, I rather love them! However this book just didn't feel finished. By the end of Unearthly my mouth was hanging open and I wanted to cry. There were just too many unfinished story lines, so many things that weren't tied up. It felt like someone handed me half a book and walked away. Perhaps it's just me, and it may well be, but I was a little upset about that. I know this is a series, but I still felt a little cheated.

I'm being honest when I say that my opinion of this book was probably influenced by the fact that it was so over hyped before I read it, and that I had too high of expectations. That's not to say that Unearthly isn't a good read. It truly is! It's sweet, and well-written. However there are a lot of books about angels out there, and that makes it easy to fall into a set of rules that make every book seem like every other book. I liked Clara, I liked her story, I just didn't feel like it was anything that I hadn't read before. Add in the feeling of an unfinished storyline, and I just couldn't fall in love as much as I wanted to. I do recommend you give it a try though. Unearthly is the type of read that will leave you a little frustrated at the end, but hopefully wanting more.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: OyMG

Media Type: Book
Title: OyMG
Author: Amy Fellner Dominy
Publisher: Walker & Company
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Source: Author/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moly.

Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?

Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself.

What first interested me about Amy Fellner Dominy's book was its ties to speech and debate. I'll admit it. I was the girl in high school who joined the club, lived at mock trial, spent her days arguing for or against anything they asked me to! I loved the high stress atmosphere and the good natured competition that came along with it. So when I saw that OyMG was about Ellie's life as an orator, I knew I was in. Plain and simple. Little did I know that I'd be sucked in ever further. This book is so much more than it seems to be!

From the beginning I was drawn in by Ellie's wit and ability to talk her way through anything that came her way. She is the perfect mixture of sweet, sensible, and downright fierce when it comes to competition. I loved how she was so driven to accomplish her goal of getting into the school she wanted. Despite her age, Ellie knew what she wanted and she was going for it. I so respected her for that. Then when Devon comes on the scene, things get cute and I was even more invested. Ellie is my kind of girl!

However I was only in love with Ellie at that point. The story was fun and sweet, but that's all it felt like to me. An enjoyable read. Until the second half of the book that is. Enter Devon's grandmother and her antiquated views. Without spoiling anything, I'll let you know that she drove me mad. I know that is what Dominy intended, but wow. Anyhow Ellie's struggle from that point on is what really really made me like this book. I saw the two halves of her life at war. The portion of her that knows what is right, warring with the part of her that is so goal driven. It was amazing. To see that struggle down on paper made me smile, because there are so many people out there who need to know that prejudice still exists, even today.

Lest I let Ellie overshadow the other characters, I'll fully admit that they are all fantastic! By far Ellie's zeydeh (grandfather) was my absolute favorite. Spouting Yiddish sayings, keeping Ellie thinking about the "right" path, he was such a vivid character. I think people from all religions and backgrounds will find a little of their own grandfather in him, and I loved him for that. He definitely made this book that much more fun for me to read.

I really enjoyed reading OyMG. I can't put my finger on what kept it from being a five rating for me, it could be as simple as the time I read it. However I can say that it was a book I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend! Ellie's wit, her zeydeh's humor, a little bit of romance, it all blends into a book that is a fun and meaningful read. I say give it a shot! Ellie might argue her way right into your heart. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A big hello!

Well hello there new followers! Welcome welcome welcome!

I realize if you've just started following me you probably haven't seen a post where I actually write. Okay, well, that's a little confusing. I WRITE all my posts! However sometimes I like to get a little candid now and then :). Yeah I'm random.

Anyway welcome and thanks for following! Feel free to comment or not, and enjoy the giveaways! If you ever do comment I'll go visit your blog too if you have one!

I'm rambling I realize. It's late, bed time! However the whole point of this was to say HI!

I hope I keep you entertained!

*insert random dance moves here*


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