Friday, November 28, 2014

Books to watch (11/24/14)

I haven't done one of these in a while, so let me slowly ease back into it!

Books to watch is a feature where I share with you two or more books I've read recently that absolutely need a spot on your reading list! See, I don't post all my reviews on this blog. Many sit over at BookLikes, just waiting for the right reader to discover their new favorite book. It's my hope that doing this feature will add some amazing new books to your radar! 

So, are you ready for some book candy? Let's go!

My first pick definitely goes to The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill.
When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

Meanwhile, across the enchanted forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King, who is haunted by her mother’s last wordsto her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” When Áine’s and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to stop the war that’s about to boil over between their two kingdoms?
Why you should read this: 
It's a wonderful story, plain and simple. Full of adventure, and lessons that young readers will take to heart. There are both a male and female protagonist. Plus they are the type of characters who are so easy to understand that you'll become immersed before you know it.

Want more raving? Check out my review.

Nest by Esther Ehrlich definitely takes the second spot!
For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.

Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.

Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.
Why you should read this:
Chirp is an irresistibly sweet character. I see readers of all ages falling for her, and probably being reminded a bit of themselves at her age. This story is the perfect mixture of sad, hopeful, and honest. If you're a fan of books that make you a bit teary-eyed, this one needs a spot on your reading list.

Looking for more? Check out my review.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

When I first came across the synopsis for The Daylight Marriage I was immediately intrigued. With a recommendation from Stephen King about it being a page turner I clearly had to add this to my TBR and now I'm anxiously awaiting it's release in May 2015. 

“A page-turning exploration of unexpressed love and unnecessary loss. Riveting and heartbreaking.” —Geraldine Brooks

Hannah was the kind of woman who turned heads. Tall and graceful, naturally pretty, often impulsive, always spirited, the upper-class girl who picked, of all men, Lovell--the introverted climate scientist, the practical one who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.

But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She’s become withdrawn and directionless. His work affords him a convenient distraction. The children can sense the tension, which they’ve learned to mostly ignore. Until, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes. And Lovell, for the first time, is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory--and the eyes of his children. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife--and to their lives together--readers follow Hannah through that single day when the smallest of decisions takes her to places she never intended to go.

With the intensity of The Lovely Bones, the balance of wit and heartbreak of The Descendants,and the emotional acuity of Anne Tyler’s work, The Daylight Marriage is at its heart a novel about what happens when our intuitions override our logic, with a page-turning plot that doesn’t reveal its secrets until the very end.

“In The Daylight Marriage, there are two mysteries--the whereabouts of a missing woman and the vagaries of the human heart. Heidi Pitlor explores both of these enigmas with equal mastery, merging a shocking crime story with an incisive portrait of a failed marriage. The result is a novel that is fast-moving, emotionally complex, and ultimately heartbreaking.” —Tom Perrotta
“Hypnotically readable--I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The structure is brilliant, and I turned the pages with increasing dread. This book is terrific.” —Stephen King

Now that you know what I'm excited for, share out! What are you eagerly waiting for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Audio Book Review: Rebel by Amy Tintera

Media Type: Audio Book
Title: Rebel
    * Series: Reboot #2
Author: Amy Tintera
Narrator: Khristine Hvam, Mike Chamberlain
Publisher: Harper Teen
Format: MP3 Download
Length: 7 hours and 59 minutes
Source: Audible
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of the first book in the series!

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
The sequel to the action-packed Reboot is a can't-miss thrill ride, perfect for fans of James Patterson, Veronica Roth, and Marie Lu.After coming back from death as Reboots and being trained by HARC as soldiers, Wren and Callum have finally escaped north, where they hope to find a life of freedom. But when they arrive at the Reboot Reservation, it isn't what they expected. Under the rule of a bloodthirsty leader, Micah, the Reboots are about to wage an all-out war on the humans. Although Wren's instincts are telling her to set off into the wilderness on their own and leave the battle far behind, Callum is unwilling to let his human family be murdered. When Micah commits the ultimate betrayal, the choice is made for them. But Micah has also made a fatal mistake . . . he's underestimated Wren and Callum.The explosive finale to the Reboot duology is full of riveting action and steamy love scenes as Wren and Callum become rebels against their own kind.
If you'll recall, I rather liked Reboot, the first book in this series. It was one of those books that you have to suspend disbelief to enjoy, but it was a fun ride. When Rebel popped up on my recommendations in Audible, I was excited! Khristine Hvam narrates both of these, and she's one of my all time favorite narrators. I was definitely ready to drop back into a world filled with reboots. Ready to see what atrocities HARC would commit now. I guess I was just ready for some action.

Talking solely about the audio book aspect of this, the first miss for me was that there are two narrators this time around. Mike Chamberlain takes on the voice of Callum, our male protagnoist, and I wasn't a fan of him at all. His voice is flat. It never changes, despite switching characters or having certain emotional cues. He drove me crazy. Of course every other chapter it would switch to Wren's perspective, and therefore to Khristine Hvam's wonderful voice, and all was well with the world. I wish they would have left her as the sole narrator. I could have done without an actual male voice for Callum.

Where the first book blew me away with its action and originality, Rebel just felt like it was rehashing a lot of the same things. The big cliffhanger at the end of Reboot left you wondering where Wren and Callum would go next. We find that out right at the beginning of this book, and I was less than impressed. Micah was an okay villain. His plot to bring about devastation and change a decent plot tool. The problem was that I didn't feel like anything new was being done. The first book had daring escapes, shoot outs and secrets. This one just felt lackluster compared to that.

What I will say is that Amy Tintera does her readers a solid by answering any and all questions that might have been left lingering. Everything I wondered about came to fruition in this book. I couldn't help but smile as Wren and Callum were closer than ever, and Wren's emotions finally started to turn into something almost human. Do I feel like there was a bit too much romance here? No. It balances out nicely with everything else. Actually, I would have almost liked to see a little more action. I missed my kick-ass Wren. I really did.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review: A Second Bite at the Apple by Dana Bate

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: A Second Bite at the Apple
Author: Dana Bate
Publisher: Kensington Books
Pages: ebook, 344
Release Date: November 25, 2014
Source: Publisher/Netgalley
Genre: Adult Fiction/Women's Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of second chance stories

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food. Not with eating it--though she does that too--but with writing about the wonders of the gastronomic world, from obscure fruit hybrids to organic farming techniques. Since food journalism jobs are more coveted than Cronuts®, Sydney pays her bills working for one of TV's biggest egomaniacs--until she's left scrambling for shifts at a local farmers' market.

Stacking muffins for the Wild Yeast Bakery isn't going to win her any James Beard awards. But soon Sydney is writing the market's weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of putting her love life into deep freeze, she's even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a crisp--along with her relationship and her reputation...

I'm not sure why this book didn't grab me. Sydney is a solid character, I just wasn't really into her story. The whole local food movement is an interesting concept and I enjoyed the balance of personalities of the supporting characters. The overbearing "saving the world" date, the tempestuous boss, the charming man she shouldn't like and the very blunt bff. The supporting characters were interesting and helped create context for Sydney's story. 

I have to say, the whole moral dilemma of journalism seems like it's been done a lot in books and shows. What constitutes good reporting versus a cover up. At what point is someone legally obligated to address an issue? I think this story did a good job addressing some of those questions and dealt with the aftermath in a logical way. 

All in all is was a solid book with great character development and interesting plot points, it just didn't resonate with me. I hope you enjoy it!

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.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Funday: Harry Potter Season!

Happy Sunday my lovely bookworms! Harry Potter Season has officially started in my household (yes, HP gets it's own season, don't judge!). This weekend I marathon watched the last 4 movies, although I've seen every movies multiple times they never seem to get old.

HP season is the beginning of the holidays for me. Rum cake baking, Christmas card making and HP watching season is my favorite of the year. When we get back from Thanksgiving travels it will be decorating time! This is our second year in the house but the first year we're decorating and I'm pretty excited.

What are your favorite holiday movies? Any favorite holiday books? I would love some recommendations for fun Christmas themed books to check out.

homemade Christmas cards

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood

Media Type: Ebook 
Title: The Killer Next Door
Series: Blackwell Files Book 4
Author: Alex Marwood
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 400
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Source: Publisher/Netgalley
Genre: Psychological Thriller

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of psychological stories with an in depth look at a killer's mind.

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
Alex Marwood’s debut novel, The Wicked Girls, earned her lavish praise from the likes of Stephen King, Laura Lippman, and Erin Kelly, and was shortlisted for an Edgar Award. Now Marwood’s back with a brilliant, tightly paced thriller that will keep you up at night and make you ask yourself: just how well do you know your neighbors?

Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be renting rooms in a dodgy old building for cash—no credit check, no lease. It’s the kind of place you end up when you you’ve run out of other options. The six residents mostly keep to themselves, but one unbearably hot summer night, a terrible accident pushes them into an uneasy alliance. What they don’t know is that one of them is a killer. He’s already chosen his next victim, and he’ll do anything to protect his secret.

Wow. That is all I can come up with at the moment. The Killer Next Door is not what I expected, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wouldn't necessarily categorize this as a thriller but I don't know what other genre would be appropriate given the nature of the book. There weren't a lot of surprises or tension that I would expect, but the story was beautifully crafted.

Each member of this group jumps off of the page. This cast of characters becomes friends through a series of unfortunate events. We see the world from all of their perspectives and Marwood transitions between them seamlessly. This book is definitely plot driven with each of the six characters having their own story to tell.

While the killer is revealed early on, it did not detract from the mystery of his character. We are taken to unexpected places as he describes what goes through his mind. The details made my skin crawl, but I couldn't stop reading. The depth of craziness built into the Lover comes across very strong, but you almost feel sorry for him. The ending was not really a surprise, but it was satisfying.

All in all I highly recommend this if you have any interest in a killer's point of view. The rest of the characters are equally well written with deep backgrounds and secrets of their own, making this novel one that will appreciated for years to come.

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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: The Tree of Water by Elizabeth Haydon

It's time for another book spotlight and giveaway! I'm pretty excited about this spotlight because Elizabeth Haydon is a new author on my radar, and she writes my favorite genre: Fantasy. The Tree of Water is the fourth book in the series and, just based on the cover and synopsis, I've already added the whole set to my reading list. Perhaps you will too!

Amazon | B&N
The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon’s acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.

As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.

As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…

Please enjoy a book excerpt below, and then make sure to scroll to the end to enter for a chance to win a copy of The Tree of Water!

The human boys had an expression back in the faraway city of Vaarn where I was born. It went like this: 

Curiosity killed the cat 

Satisfaction brought him back 

I am a curious person. I was just as curious back in my early days in Vaarn as I am now, perhaps even more so, because my curiosity had not yet been given a chance to be satisfied. 

The first time I heard this expression, I was very excited. I thought it meant that my curiosity could make me feel like I was dying, but it would let up if I discovered the answer to whatever was making me curious. 

I told my mother about the rhyme. She was not impressed. In fact, she looked at me as if I had just set my own hair on fire on purpose. She patted my chin, which was woefully free of any sign of the beard that should have been growing there. 

“That’s very nice,” she said, returning to her chores. “But just in case nobody told you, you are not a cat, Ven. Unlike you, cats have whiskers.” 

My pride stung for days afterward. 

But it didn’t stop my curiosity from growing as fast as my beard should have been. 

My name is Charles Magnus Ven Polypheme, Ven for short. Unlike the human boys in Vaarn, I am of the race of the Nain. Nain are somewhat shorter than humans, and grumpier. They live almost four times as long as humans, and tend to be much less curious, and much less adventurous. They hate to travel, don’t swim, and generally do not like other people. Especially those who are not Nain. 

I clearly am not a good example of my race. 

First, I am very tall for a Nain, sixty-eight Knuckles high when I was last measured on the morning of my fiftieth birthday. I’ve already mentioned my uncontrollable curiosity, which brings along with it a desire for adventure. I have been blessed, or cursed, with quite a lot of that recently. 

But as for the curiosity, while I’ve had a lot of satisfaction for the questions it has asked me, it doesn’t seem to matter. As soon as one burning question is answered, another one springs to mind immediately. As a result, I am frequently in trouble. 

So now I am about to lay my head on a chopping block, on purpose, and a man with a very sharp knife is standing over me, ready to make slashes in my neck. 

I’m wondering if in fact instead of being a live Nain, I am about to end up as a dead, formerly curious cat. 

Because now I have three whiskers of my own.

One winner will receive a copy of The Tree of Water from the publisher. U.S. and Canada only please. Must be willing to provide mailing address upon winning. Good luck!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book Review: Zoey and the Nice Guy by Carter Ashby

Media Type: Ebook 
Title: Zoey and the Nice Guy
Series: Big Girl Panties Book 1
Author: Carter Ashby
Publisher: Self
Pages: ebook, 231
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Source: Netgalley
Content Screening: Excessive language, sex and mild violence

Genre: Romance/New Adult

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of a feisty lead and some hot sex scenes

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes

For Zoey Odell, the definition of family is her two best friends, Maya and Addy. So when Maya makes the decision to leave her abusive husband, Zoey is only too happy to lavish her with support and a temporary home. Unfortunately, taking in her best friend also means seeing more of that no good do-gooder, Kellen Bradley. 
For Kellen, the definition of family has just been shattered. After finding out that his brother is an abusive monster, he can’t help but question himself and his parents. The one thing he knows for certain is that he’ll do anything to take care of his sister-in-law and her children. For them, he would walk into gunfire, pass through the flames of hell…even go head-to-head with Zoey Odell. 
Zoey has no intention of letting him in, but Kellen is done taking her crap. Life has just gotten real and he’s more than ready to shed his nice-guy image. When he finally stands up to her, Zoey starts seeing him in a new light. As the attraction turns mutual, she finds it more and more difficult to hide behind her carefully formed walls. And Kellen is finding himself more and more driven to tear those walls down.

As you can tell from the synopsis the book focuses on some serious topics, but Zoey's constant sarcasm and wit keep the story light and funny. I love stories that focus on relationships outside of a "typical" family and the bond between Maya, Addy and Zoey really made this a great read for me. I've known most of my current friends since high school (or before) and those life long friendships can be just as complicated as a  romantic relationship sometimes.

The chemistry between Kellan and Zoey was hot, hot, hot. The back and forth banter isn't for everyone, but I absolutely loved it. There was so much passion and stubbornness in Zoey's character that Kellan had to hold his ground with her or risk being walked all over. I like the growth that both characters experience, and the insights into their childhood give context to their current behaviors. Everyone has some growing up to do.

All in all this was a solid, quick read that I enjoyed a lot. Highly recommended.

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, November 17, 2014

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Hotwire by Cindy M. Hogan

Today's spotlight is on the newest release in the Christy Spy series. After reading Hogan's Watched series I knew I'd be a fan for life. If you love great characters and a fast pace thriller, I highly recommend checking out Hotwire!

Nineteen-year-old spy Christy Hadden can't wait for her latest assignment for Division 57 posing as a student at a prestigious New York City academy and car thief extraordinaire. It’s easy enough. Infiltrate the car-theft ring and retrieve a stolen car. No problem. 

The best part of the mission is her attractive handler, Jeremy. The worst part? The sociopath masquerading as the academy's most popular guy. The very one she’s supposed to get close to. 

But soon she realizes the thieves are much more than they seem. Her simple spying mission becomes more dangerous than anyone imagined and retrieving the car is the least of her worries. If the organization discovers her true identity, they won't hesitate to kill her, and if she fails, others will suffer the same fate. 

If that doesn't intrigue you, I don't know what will! Car thieves, a hot handler and your life on the line: I can't wait! This recently released mystery/thiller is available to add on Amazon, Goodreads, and Booklikes so add it today.

About Cindy M. Hogan

cindy author pic color
Cindy M Hogan is the bestselling and award winning author of the Watched trilogy, a YA suspense series with a dash of romance. She has since branched off to write a mystery, Gravediggers, that won Best YA novel of 2013, a contemporary romance, Confessions of a 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips, and the first in a spy series, Adrenaline Rush, the 2nd of which, Hotwire, is due out in Oct. 2014.
She graduated with a BA in education and is inspired by the unpredictable teenagers she teaches. More than anything she loves the time she has with her own teenage daughters and wishes she could freeze them at this fun age. If she's not reading or writing, you'll find her snuggled up with the love of her life watching a great movie or planning their next party. Most of all, she loves to laugh.
Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review: Havoc by Steven F. Freeman

Media Type: Ebook 
Title: Havoc
Series: Blackwell Files Book 4
Author: Steven F. Freeman
Publisher: Self
Pages: Ebook; 371
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Source: Author
Genre: Thriller/Mystery

HDB Rating: 2 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of the series

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes

Technology So Valuable It Could Change Your Life…Or End it When Cryptologist Alton Blackwell takes his girlfriend, FBI Agent Mallory Wilson, on a surprise trip to Italy, the couple expects the vacation of a lifetime, but their pleasure is short-lived. Intent on selling Vidulum Inc.’s proprietary technology to the highest bidder, a rogue employee of the high-tech company arranges a clandestine meeting at one of Rome’s most famous tourist attractions. Rather than collecting a huge payday, however, the company turncoat encounters a lethal surprise. When Alton and Mallory rush to assist the dying scientist, they find themselves pulled into the subsequent murder investigation. 
Foreign and domestic agents, corporate spies, intellectual-property thieves, and shadowy underworld figures race to acquire the technical files stored on the dead employee’s missing cellphone and reap the billions of dollars and technological superiority now at stake. 
Despite their efforts to leave the tragedy behind and continue their vacation, Alton and Mallory soon learn their own lives are in danger. They are left with no choice but to join forces with the Roman police in an effort to crack the case. While diving into the investigation, the discovery of another man in Mallory’s past disrupts Alton’s plan to move his relationship with her to a new level. 
As they encounter unexpected twists at a breakneck pace, Alton and Mallory must summon all their intellectual powers to reveal the truth behind the Vidulum employee’s death and track down the missing technological plans before a life-threatening end game can be set in motion.
I wanted to like this book, I really did. The synopsis drew me in and I was hoping to be taken on an adventure. European travels, murder, mystery, romance: all things I love in a novel. Unfortunately Havoc did not resonate well with me.

Freeman was very detailed in the location descriptions and made it easy to follow the path of Mallory and Alton as they traversed through Europe which I appreciated. I got a sense of timing and some brief descriptions of the various fountains, monuments and museums they visited on their vacation. I didn't see the final plot twist coming so the mystery was well built.

Full disclosure: I haven't read the first 3 books in the series so perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I had more character background. Alton seemed a bit whiny and insecure about his relationship which, given the brief glimpses of their past, seemed silly. I didn't particularly like the dialogue between the characters as the conversations seemed forced and overly detailed. There were no inferences in the way Alton and Mallory communicated, every detail was stated matter-of-factly which seemed unnatural for a couple that had been friends for years and traveling together.

All in all this was not my cup of tea, but if you're a fan of the series, or of the genre you may enjoy it!
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, November 14, 2014

Photographic Ramblings

I stumbled upon this amazing website called Unsplash in my wanderings about the web. Every 10 days they put up 10 free stock photos that you can do with what you like. This gorgeous forest was put up by Kim Daniel and I instantly fell in love with it. Isn't it lovely? I think I have wanderlust, but it just calls to me.

Anyway I realized that I do so much reading, and so much writing about that reading, that sometimes I forget to just step back and take some time to ramble about other things :). Like the fact that my husband and I took our anniversary photos this weekend, in a beautiful wooded area in our city. It's in the middle of this huge park and, even though our city is really busy, when you're in the nature center you can't hear the cars. You can't hear the city. All you hear is nature, and it's gorgeous.

I know I could never actually move away from Southern California. My grandmother always says that everyone finds their place, and this is mine. Still, it's nice to know that there's a little haven nearby to escape to. Even if it's only a temporary one. Sometimes it's necessary to get away from the bustle and just be with the woods. Perhaps next time I'll take a book with me. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Double Graphic Novel Review: Zita the Spacegirl + Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Title: Zita the Spacegirl
Author: Ben Hatke
Illustrator: Ben Hatke
Publisher: First Second
Pages: Paperback; 192
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Source: Library
Recommended Age Group: 8+
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Zita’s life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye.

When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest.

Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at.
I. Loved. This. LOVED IT!

First off, the illustrations are absolutely wonderful. They're simple, yet vibrant, and they pull you into the story easily. Zita is so darn cute! In fact every character depicted in these pages has their own little flair. I love when the illustrations create voices in my head for each character. These did just that! It makes following along with this rag-tag group of adventurers that much more fun. I couldn't get enough!

Oh, and what a story. Zita is brave, and kind. She shows readers that doing the right thing isn't always easy. That friendship is important, and can be found in the unlikeliest of places.That being brave doesn't mean you're not scared, but that you persevere even though you are. I ate it up. Every panel, every piece of this story. It was all so perfect. I'd put this into the hands of a young reader in a heartbeat.

Adorable robots, misfit mice, and all manner of amazing creatures populate this world. It's hard not to be smitten. It really is. So very much love for this first installment of Zita! I need the rest as soon as humanly possible, and you can bet your behind that I'll be buying these. If you haven't already read this, add it to your list. It's worth it!

Title: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl
   *Series: Zita the Spacegirl #2
Author: Ben Hatke
Illustrator: Ben Hatke
Publisher: First Second
Pages: Paperback; 224
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Source: Library
Recommended Age Group: 8+
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Ben Hatke brings back our intrepid space heroine for another delightful sci-fi/fantasy adventure. Zita is determined to find her way home to earth, following the events of the first book. But things are never simple, and certainly never easy, in space.

Zita's exploits from her first adventure have made her an intergalactic megastar! But she's about to find out that fame doesn't come without a price. And who can you trust when your true self is being eclipsed by your public persona, and you've got a robot doppelganger wreaking havoc . . . while wearing your face?

Still, if anyone can find their way through this intractible mess of mistaken identity and alien invaders, it's the indomitable Zita, in Legends of Zita the Spacegirl.
Ah, Zita. How I missed you! Remember how much I raved about the first graphic novel in this series? Well, prepare yourself my friends. I plan to do just as much gushing about Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. Things could get a little fanatic.

First off, reading this second book only solidifies my love for Ben Hatke's illustrations! His characters are just so bright and vivid! Of course all of our friends from the first book are back. Strong Strong with his lovable demeanor, Piper with his schemes and such, every character was just as wonderful as the first time I met them. Plus, there were new characters to meet! I giggled my way through the argument between an alien with multiple arms and an alien with multiple eyes over who was more equipped to pilot a spacecraft. Each and every panel is so packed with gorgeous visuals! This book is definitely a treat for the eyes, and I loved it.

I also loved that Zita was back! I've been waiting to get my hands on this second installment, to see where her adventures would take her next. This time Zita was dealing with new issues. Fame versus friendship. Responsibility to her fans. What's a girl to do when she's suddenly an intergalactic superstar? I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Zita is an amazing role model for young readers. Her bravery, her kindness, everything about her is completely addictive. I'm not even the target audience, and yet I'm in love.

Insert a happy sigh right here, because that's how I feel about this story. I have to give so much love to Ben Hatke for sharing Zita with us. The ending promises more amazing adventures around the corner. Now I just need to find the third book so I can find out what happens next!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Review: Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations With Your Favorite Literary Characters

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations With Your Favorite Literary Characters
Author: Malory Ortberg
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Source: Publisher
Genre: Satire / Humor

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love Classics and satire!
Hilariously imagined text conversations—the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange—from classic and modern literary figures, from Scarlett O’Hara to Jessica Wakefield

Mallory Ortberg, the co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, presents this whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters. Everyone knows that if Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she’d constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totaled her car. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.

I'm just going to leave this example right over here. You can click it to make it bigger if you'd like. In fact, I'd recommend it! What if Captain Ahab had a phone to text with? What if his mad pursuit of the white whale was captured forever in a "convo"? Well, go ahead. Click and find out!

So this book was a ton of fun to read! I've always loved Mallory Ortberg's irreverent humor, and it translates in such an amazing way to Texts From Jane Eyre. If you ever wondered what your favorite literary characters would sound like via text, this a book for you. I giggled my way through pages of classic stories redone as text messages. I think my favorite was definitely Virginia Wolff's very long, very ranting text. I'll leave it for you to discover what she writes!

For those of you who don't read too many classics, some of your other favorite literary characters make cameos as well. In fact, if you've ever seen any of Mallory Ortberg's text conversations on Tumblr and laughed, this book is for you. It contains much more of the same, through the flying fingers of Ron Weasley, Scarlett O'Hara, and even Plato. I'm not sure what else I can say! It's a fun, quick read, and a great way to pass a few hours. Enjoy!

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.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cover Reveal: Behind the Stars by Leigh Talbert Moore

Nothing like starting off a new week with a fabulous new book! I am a huge fan of the Dragonfly series and am looking forward to this new series!

Leigh Talbert Moore
Action - Adventure Romance
Prentiss Puckett is certain of three things
  1. Graduation is two weeks away.
  1. Summer only gets hotter in south Mississippi.
  1. She’s getting a job with air-conditioning.
She did not expect to be kidnapped walking to work. And she never expected to become a hero.
Red Dawn meets LOST in this New Adult action-adventure romance from Amazon bestselling author Leigh Talbert Moore.
Behind the Stars will be LIVE 12.31.14!
Captive (Behind the Stars #1) - Out NOW!
Exclusive Excerpt
A cramp stabbing my ribs brought me back to the Here and Now. I was late, and last day or not, Dr. Green would fuss. “My assistants must be punctual,” he’d say. “It’s difficult being the only vet in a farming community.” I exhaled slowly as a bead of sweat tickled a path down the middle of my back, and I tried to keep the dirt out of my Keds. Back when the 911 service came through, most of these roads got numbers or real names besides “Shortcut to the Creek” or “Road Where the Broke-down House Used to Be.” But there were still a few like this one, “Old School Road,” that you only knew what to do with if you grew up in our little town of less than a thousand people. It didn’t matter, though. Strangers never stopped in Dabb Creek. That should’ve been my first warning. If I hadn’t been so focused on being late, I might’ve paid more attention to the strange man standing on the shoulder looking lost. Bad manners or not, I didn’t have time to give directions or to explain how far it was back to town. It wasn’t until I was up on him that I realized he was watching me, studying the pace of my feet. Then I saw the body on the ground. I skipped like a rabbit to the other side of the road, a scream forming in my mouth, but another man sprung up behind me. A rough cloth clamped over my mouth, and in two breaths, everything went dark. © 2014, Leigh T. Moore  
Learning to Spy (Behind the Stars #2) - Out NOW!
Exclusive Excerpt
The guards moved among us, placing dentist-office Dixie cups of what looked like water in front of everyone. A separate guard came to where I sat on the floor, clutching my knees. She lightly took my arm. “Please return to the table.” Her voice was smooth. “You’ve had a shock. Have some water.” I wasn’t about to drink anything they gave us. It was Day One all over again, only this time, it was Guyana. We were all being served the Kool-Aid. Next stop, mass graves. Stupidly, my friends and fellow prisoners had no such qualms. Didn’t anybody watch the History channel? I stared as they all took shaky sips without hesitation. “Just take a small sip.” The female guard was still with me. “It’ll calm you.” My throat constricted. My whole body was on revolt. Shaking my head, I didn’t meet her eyes. I only stared at the white cup of water. Braxton was at my side, and he drained his. What the hell made him do that? Did he want to die? Seconds ticked past and nothing happened. Nobody passed out. Nobody did anything strange—except forget what we’d just witnessed here. Braxton picked up his fork to finish his lunch. They all did. Like one of us had not just been taken out “swiftly and finally.” Only he had, and I was reeling from the shock. © 2014, Leigh T. Moore  
Harvest Moon (Behind the Stars #3) - Release Date: Nov. 23
Jackson (Behind the Stars #4) - Release Date: Dec. 7
Into the Woods (Behind the Stars #5) - Release Date: Dec. 21
If I Fly (Behind the Stars #6) - Release Date: Dec. 28
  "WOW, where do I begin.... Leigh has done it again. This time she has written something that I can't even imagine what is going to happen. I am completely enthralled with this book." --Goodreads Review "Light and suspenseful, keeping the reader unsure of what is real." --Somertime Book Blog "I was intrigued by the reference to LOST so I started this the day I received it... The action starts almost immediately to grab you and invest you in the story. I understand the LOST reference--we are as lost as the main character, Prentiss..." --Goodreads Review "An amazing series, and I definitely recommend reading them all. You will not be able to put these books down." --Carver's Book Cravings    
About the Author
Leigh Talbert Moore
Leigh Talbert Moore is the author of the popular young adult romantic comedy The Truth About Faking, its companion, The Truth About Letting Go, which is a Top 5 Finalist in the 2013 “Best Indie Book Awards,” sponsored by The Kindle Book Review; the romantic-suspense novel Rouge, which was a Quarter Finalist in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards; and the Dragonfly series, a new contemporary YA to new adult romantic saga. A southern expat and beach bum (and ex-journalist and editor), Leigh lives with her husband and two young children in a landlocked location. To compensate, she conjures new worlds, characters, and situations while playing chauffeur, chaperon, group activity leader, and referee.  
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