Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop

Hello everyone.  Spring is here!  It is getting warmer, the flowers are blooming, and what sounds better than a romantic fling to sweep you off your feet.  While not everyone can have an actual fling, everyone can at least read about one! 

That's why for the Spring Fling Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Eve's Fan Garden and am giving away one book of your choice.  The only stipulation is that there has got to be a little romance in it.  It doesn't have to be catagorized as a romance, but there needs to be some sort of romantic relationship going on (or possible from the description of the book). 

Giveaway Rules:

Pick one book of choice that involves some sort of romance
The contest runs until Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 11:59pm (CST)

You must be 13 years of age or older to enter

You must fill out this FORM!

This contest is open to participants both from the US and internationally
Once the email is sent to the winner they will have three days to respond or a new winner will be chosen

**I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items. (I haven't had any lost or damaged and I really hope that none will be)

Here are the other participants:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blog Tour & Review of Socialpunk by Monica Leonelle + Giveaway

Title: Socialpunk
Author: Monica Leonelle
Pages: 180
Source: Author
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★★

Summary from the Author: Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

Socialpunk is edgy, fun, and hard to put down.

I must admit that at first I was confused.  I wasn't sure what was real or what was not in this world that Monica Leonelle created.  Things got scrambled and it took me a while to orient myself.  But never fear, because as the story progressed we learned more information and things started clearing and that is when this book hooked me. 

Ima is the type of character that you may not like at first, but she grows on you.  She starts to find her backbone and really come into her own as a character.  She's lived a hard life and when things get tough she knows that it is either time flight or fight.  Ima's name ends up getting changed a couple of times throughout the story.  At first I didn't really like this, but by the end I concluded that each name represented a different part of who she was.  I don't know if the author intended this or if it was just my conclusion, but it made sense to me.   

As for the other characters I enjoyed them as well, but didn't get to know them as well as Ima.  Hopefully in the next two books we will get to dig deeper into the other characters and connect with them more.  There isn't a love triangle per say, but it seems like all the men like Ima, expect the one she wants.  Poor girl! 

While, this book is short it is jam-packed with action.  There was a lot happening on each page and I wish that we could have dove a little deeper into each scenario and situation to really get an impact on how the characters felt and handled each situation. 

The ending leaves you not with a cliffhanger, but with a need to know more.  It's the peak of action and I can't help but wonder how Ima will proceed and who will join her in battle!

Don't forget about the generous giveaway from the author of Socialpunk, Monica Leonelle!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Night Date Night

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie review (mostly movies that were adapted from books). Hopefully some of these reviews will help you decide what to watch on your date night or a night of relaxing at home.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
When I first heard that James Franco was starring in 127 Hours I was intrigued.  As much as I like James Franco, I wasn't sure how he'd tackle this incredible story of strength, willpower and determination.  Was I a bit nervous, sure but I'm happy to say I really enjoyed seeing a more serious James Franco.

This story is such a powerful one.  Can you imagine being trapped in the desert with your arm crushed by a rock and no hope of getting out?  Or what about cutting off your own arm with a dull pocket knife just to possibly survive?  Throughout the story I was blown away by the inventiveness and self-preservation skills that Aron Ralston had.  I'm pretty sure I would have given up and waited for death to come. 

This movie really made me think about the power that a person possesses that they don't even know they have.  It is an incredible thought that when it comes down to it we may have the strength to survive and overcome obstacles no matter how large or unmovable they seem. 

While I did enjoy the movie I have to admit that I couldn't watch the last 15 minutes or so of it.  I had to ask my sister and brother-in-law to tell me when it was over.  I sat just like a little kid, with my fingers in my ears and over my eyes.  I'm not much for blood or any kind of pain so I knew that I couldn't handle the ending.  So fair warning, if you have a queasy stomach you may want to cover your eyes. 

This movie is so completely worth watching.  It will definitely make you think about your own will-power and a sense of self preservation.

Want to see more?

*Pictures courtesy of goodreads and*

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review of Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

Title: Jenny Pox
Author: J.L. Bryan
Pages: 216
Source: Free from Amazon (Obtained December 27, 2011)
Format: ebook
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Eighteen-year-old Jenny Morton has a horrific secret: her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague, the "Jenny pox." She lives by a single rule: Never touch anyone. A lifetime of avoiding any physical contact with others has made her isolated and painfully lonely in her small rural town.

Then she meets the one boy she can touch. Jenny feels herself falling for Seth...but if she's going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the deadly pox inside her to confront his ruthless and manipulative girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.

Are you scared of catching the Jenny Pox?  It's similar to the chicken pox, only it's deadly. 

This is one of those books that I easily slipped into.  It was intriguing and held my attention from page one.  Jenny is a complex character; she really wants to be normal but she can't touch anyone for fear of killing them.  So of course, who does she fall for but the town's golden boy and her arch-enemy's boyfriend.  Miraculously while Jenny kills with her touch, Seth can heal with his so he is the only person Jenny can touch.  I really wanted Jenny to be liked and appreciated by others, and I truly liked Seth but I just wish he wasn't the "it" boy.  What is wrong with a cute, slightly geeky guy?  Why can't main characters fall for one of those boys, instead of the star football player? *sorry for the off-subject rant*

I think that as a child Jenny isolated herself and soon everyone else isolated her as well.  I understand that Jenny needed to isolate herself in fear that she'd really hurt someone, but I can see how people would think she was standoffish at first.  I feel someone in the community or school should have reached out to her or at least tried harder to get to know her.  

As for the other characters no one really stood out for me besides, Jenny's arch-enemy, Ashleigh.  While Jenny may kill with her touch, Ashleigh is the deadly one.  She does some really horrible things in Jenny Pox.  I had a really hard time stomaching her character.  She was vicious, cruel, cold and manipulative.  I couldn't believe someone could act the way she did and do such hurtfull things and still be ok with herself at night. 

The ending of this book was explosive.  It was chaotic, crazy, and even days after finishing it I'm still trying to sort it out in my head.  I'm a little confused as to what happened and a little appalled at certain people's actions.  I think I need some time to digest what happened before going on to the book.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review of Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: Life as We Knew It
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Narrator: Emily Bauer
Published by: Listening Library
Length: 7 sound discs (9 hr.)
Source: Library
Format: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads: When Miranda first hears the warnings that a meteor is headed on a collision path with the moon, they just sound like an excuse for extra homework assignments. But her disbelief turns to fear in a split second as the entire world witnesses a lunar impact that knocks the moon closer in orbit, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate.

Everything else in Miranda’s life fades away as supermarkets run out of food, gas goes up to more than ten dollars a gallon, and school is closed indefinitely. But what Miranda and her family don’t realize is that the worst is yet to come.

Simply stunning.  This book was so much more than anything I expected and it blew me away.

One crazy night a meteor hits the moon and now the earth is completely changed.  Immediately tsunamis and earthquakes devastate the population.  The electricity goes out and nothing is the same.  This had to be such a scary experience.  I am completely impressed with how Miranda's mom handled the situation.  She took the children out of school, took money out of the bank, and bought all the food and supplies she possibly could.  I don't know how I personally would have handled things, but Miranda's mom made sure her family was supplied for.

Throughout the novel Miranda and her family had to make tough decisions.  There were times when they had to be selfish and protect just themselves because literally their lives depended on it.  The entire time I listened to this book I kept trying to put myself in the same situation and ask how I would react.  I'd love to say I would think critically and evaluate every situation, but who knows what would happen.  A national disaster like this would make even sane people go crazy. 

I don't know that a book has ever made me evaluate myself as much as this Life As We Knew It did.  You will constantly be asking yourself what you would do about this or that and it's interesting to see what Susan Beth Pfeffer chose each of the characters to do.  I loved the range of characters in this novel and that fact that each person handles the crisis a little differently.  This book also made me realize how much I take for granted or not only take for granted by rarely even think of. 

The one thing I wasn't too fond of was Miranda's attitude at times.  She kept believing that this was all going to blow over and nothing bad would happen.  She didn't really understand the impact the disaster had on everything.  She often complained about not getting enough to eat and made some very childish decisions.  I understand that she was young, but I think most people would grasp the seriousness of a situation faster than Miranda was willing to.  It was almost as if she was in denial and I really wanted to slap her at times.  I felt that everyone else in the family understood the sacrifices and yet she fought with all she had against everything.  I thought she was selfish in a time when selfishness could end up killing people you love.

As with the story, I really enjoyed the narrator of this book.  The story is told as entries in Miranda's diary and the narrator gave such emotion to each day.  I felt really connected to the story and I think this was because of how engaging the narrator was. 
I was pleasantly surprised with this story and I can't wait to read more of Susan Beth Pfeffer.          

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters In Books
1. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  She was feisty and spunky.  She kept everyone on her toes and brought some sunshine to people's lives.   

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

2.  Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  Sean was the strong and silent type, but when he did open his mouth it was worth listening too.  He was confident and self-assured, but not cocky.  If you haven't read this book yet, you must do it soon or better yet listen to the audio.  It was really wonderful.

The Scorpio Races

3. Alex Fuentes from Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.  He's the first Fuentes brother; just trust me on this one when I say he's delicious...or don't trust me and find out for yourself. 

Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1)

4. Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  She fierce and can fight better than any man.  She is a force to be reckoned with, but uses all of her power for good. 

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

5. Eric Northman from The Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampires series.  You cannot get better than this Nordic vampire god.  If you know of a hotter vamp, please let me know...I want to see if they are up to the challenge.

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)

6. Taylor Markham from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  She isn't a beauty queen or a renowned fighter, in fact she's a little broken inside, but she's real. 

Jellicoe Road

7. Bridget, Lena, Carmen and Tibby from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares.  I feel like I grew up with these 4 ladies.  Again these girls were not perfect, but they were lively and fun. 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, #1)

8. Anne Boleyn from The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.  I loved how scandalous she was.  Sometimes it's fun to live vicariously through others...until they get beheaded. 

The Other Boleyn Girl

9. Hermione from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.  When I first read these books Hermione reminded me so much of myself.  You have to love any character that reminds you of yourself. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

10. Aibileen from The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I love this lady.  She is quite amazing.  

The Help

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Published by: Macmillan Audio
Length: 8 sound discs (540 min.)
Source: Libaray
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Revamped fairy tales?  Whether you love them or hate them, they seem to be the big trend right now in YA literature and Marissa Meyer joins the gang with Cinder.

While I'm not a huge fan of science fiction, I do enjoy it every once it a while.  While Cinder was a cyborg, the story went beyond who she was mechanically.  It was a story of not fitting in or being accepted by your family.  It's a story of finding someone who likes you and understands you, but at the same time may not know the real you.  It's the story of Cinderella with a whole new twist. 

One of the great things about this novel is that Marissa Meyer made all of her characters seem real, whether they were cyborg, android, human or lunar.  Cinder is the type of character that everyone can relate to.  Who hasn't felt a little different or left out at times?  While Cinder doesn't have the perfect life she makes the best out of it and every situation she is put in.  She's got enough spirit to be a feisty at times, but she also knows when to back down.  I really disliked her stepmother/guardian and I think she put Cinder in really difficult situations.  She twisted reality and always blamed Cinder.   

The relationship between Cinder and Prince Kai is innocent and fun.  Of course he's the almighty prince and he thinks Cinder is a mechanic, but they seemed to click.  He begins to fall for her without knowing who she really is or her history.  Throw into the mix a spiteful stepmother/guardian, a jealous lunar queen, a deadly disease, and a missing lunar princess and the plot gets more exciting by the minute. 

While I did enjoy the story I found myself drifting off at times.  I'm not sure if that had to do with the story or that I just wasn't engaged enough in the audio.  Rebecca Soler did a good job as a narrator so I'm guessing that the science-fiction parts of the story are what lost my interest.  While this is a retelling of a classic fairy tale and I knew the general plot, I often felt it was predictable.  I wanted a couple of more twists and surprises.   

Cinder is a enjoyable read and as with all fairy tale retellings, it was fun to see how the author changed this well known classic tale. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What's your favorite revamped fairy tale?

It seems like a current trend in YA literature to revamp our beloved fairy tales.  With books like Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Entwined by Heather Dixon, and Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright and David Leslie Johnson we have a plethora to choose from.

Personally my favorite fairy tale is Sleepy Beauty.  I have loved it since I was a little girl and even thought about naming one of my future children Aurora.  Therefore, I was excited and apprehensive when I learned that Sleepy Beauty was being retold and revamped into a novel called A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan.  I had no need to worry...I absolutely loved the story.
A Long, Long Sleep
What about you? So far what is your favorite revamped fairy tale?  + Are there any fairy tales that haven't been retold that you wish were?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review of Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Title: Hounded
Author: Kevin Hearne
Published by: Random House Publishing Group
Pages: 239
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

I had so much fun reading this for the Kiss Me I'm Irish: Hounded Read Along.  It was a great experience and made me think about Hounded in different ways than I normally would have.  If you haven't had the chance to participate in a read along go out and sign up for one.  They are such a great experience.

Out of all the paranormal and fantasy books I've read I have never read one about an ancient Druid.  It was fascinating learning all the magic that Atticus could do and all the knowledge he has.  I thought vampires lived forever, but apparently they have nothing on druids.  Hounded was fresh and original + I loved how Kevin Hearne incorporated the gods interacting with the human race.  There were so many mythical creatures in the novel that it had a little bit of something for everyone.
Let's start with Atticus....Yumm!!!  Not only is he super knowledgeable, he can fight and look hot doing it + he's really nice to old Irish widows.  If that is not great husband material I don't know what is.  Atticus was an incredibly interesting character.  He really knew how to read people and how the world worked.  He was cautious and most of the time kept his wits about him.  The best thing about him is that I genuinely believe he was a great guy + he has the coolest dog in the world.  After reading about Oberon you will be insanely jealous and want an Oberon all for yourself. 

While there wasn't much romance, that didn't take away from the book for me.  The fighting scenes were interesting as brute force wasn't always the successor; there was a lot of scheming and cunning knowledge involved.  Sometimes it seemed to be about who you knew and who could help you, than who has the biggest sword.  It was always interesting who would show up to either help in the battle or who was working against Atticus. 

The one thing that I really loved about the story was how connected Atticus was to the earth.  He had so much respect for it and I'd like to think that along with it being his source of power he has also realized (due to his vast time spent on it) how important the earth is and how badly it's been treated in the past.  Overall this was a great read that I think all ages would really enjoy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Today I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers

I'm excited for this week because even though I've been blogging for about a year and a half, I'm always discovering things I didn't know.

1. Carefully pick a name for your blog.  Once people know your blog name it is hard to change it and you will be stuck with it so make sure you like it.

2. Enjoy reading and talking about what you read.  Will you win some free books...possibly.  Will you receive some ARCs...hopefully, but that is not what blogging is about.  Ultimately it comes down to a love of books and reading, and wanting to share that love with others.

3. Find a groove that fits you.  Sometimes memes can get overwhelming.  They are great for bringing traffic to your blog but often times when people start off blogging they join all the memes and don't have any days left to write reviews.  Find memes you enjoy and are a good fit for your blog. 

4. Proof read your posts.  (I'm sure I'm shooting myself in the foot with this one and now because I said that there are sure to be multiple mistakes in this post).  I often find grammatical mistakes as well as just using the wrong word.  I get so excited typing out my post and then I go back and reread it and see a bunch of mistakes. 

5. Comment on other people's posts.  The best way to get people to visit your site is to comment on other people's blog posts.  I try and return the favor as much as possible and if you become a regular commenter on someones site you will get noticed.

6. Be courteous.  Sometimes you have to write a bad review.  For me these are so hard to write.  I feel bad because I know how much a writer's work means to them.  Don't attack the author just because the book wasn't the right feel for you.  Explain why in your opinion you didn't like certain aspects of the story or the characters, and tell the truth.  You don't need to lie about liking a book, but just be respectful that other people may like it.

7. Join social networking sites.  This is something I'm not very good at and I know I need to work on.  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.  Sign up and spend some time networking. 

8. Read what you like to read.  The great thing about blogging is that there are blogs out there for every genre.  There are bloggers of every age reviewing different genres and "typical" age categories.  Don't read a certain book because everyone is reading it, read a book because you want to read it.  Look to people who seem to enjoy the same books you do and then if they liked it, maybe you will too.  There are too many books out there to read them all, so read what you enjoy.

9. Be organized.  This is another thing I need to work on.  Set aside some time each week to work on things for your blog.  It may be writing up your reviews or maintenance issues.  Make sure you have the time to not only read the books, but also time to put into blogging.  It is a hobby and you don't want to turn it into work, but like any hobby it takes time and sometimes patience.

10. Be yourself.  People may give you a lot of advice.  Some of it will be great advice and some of it may not work for you.  Everything in this post are things I found helpful or wish I would have known when starting a blog, but ultimately listen to yourself and what you want.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review of An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Narrator: Jeff Woodman
Published by: Brilliance Audio
Length: 6 sound discs (ca. 7 hr.)
Source: Library
Format: Audiobook
Rating: ★★★★
Summary from Goodreads: When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun ? but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Who it the world dates 19 girls before they themselves are 19 and all of the girls just happen to be named Katherine?  The situation of Colin dating all these Katherines is a little surreal but still quite funny.  My sister herself went through a stage of dating only guys whose names started with "J," and we thought that was a crazy coincidence.  I really can't understand how this geeky, child prodigy not only dated 19 girls, but they all had the same name with the exact same spelling.  I mean Colin only had one friend so how in the world did he get so many girlfriends. 

Colin is the type of guy I feel would always correct my grammar.  He's a nice guy and very smart, but really doesn't have the social skills to fit in.  After being dumped for the 19th time by the latest Katherine, Colin and his only friend, Hassan take a rode trip and end up in the middle of nowhere trying to figure things out.  The gem of this novel is the characters.  Each one is a bit quirky and doesn't really fit into main stream society.  They all have great personalities and are so unique you can't help but love them.

The other thing that John Green does really well is dialogue.  You will be laughing so hard at times you'll be giving your abs a workout.  When not laughing you'll be contemplating Colin's words and thoughts.  It's a crazy idea trying to come up with a theorem to predict the future of relationships, but Colin's determined to figure it out and along the way he discovers a lot about himself and love in general.  With the help of a few local towns-people this is a summer Colin will never forget.  

This book was wonderful and the narrator was great.  He had the perfect tone for Colin and portrayed just the right amount of snarkiness to keep the listeners engaged.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review of The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Author: Emily M. Danforth
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 480
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★★

Summary from Goodreads: When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief she’ll never have to tell them that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief soon turns to heartbreak, as Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and not making waves, and Cam becomes an expert at this—especially at avoiding any questions about her sexuality.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. To Cam’s surprise, she and Coley become best friends—while Cam secretly dreams of something more. Just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, her secret is exposed. Ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not quite sure who that is.

Unbelievable poignant and beautifully written.  The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a novel that will stick with you long after you've finished reading it.

I'm having a hard time finding the words to do this novel justice.  It's pure and completely real.  The characters are your everyday friends.  They are the people you see at the grocery store and the ones you see driving down main street.  Cameron is a young girl who may start off questioning her sexuality but soon realizes that there is no question, she's attracted to girls.  The story tracks Cameron's life from her first kiss, to the death of her parents, her first love, to her extremely religious Aunt finding out about her sexual preference.  Soon she is sent to a religious school to be "fixed." 

There are definitely ups and downs to Cameron's life and friends come and go.  Cameron is a person who stays true to herself, which I really admire.  She is often confused and hasn't dealt with the guilt of her parent's death, but still lives her life.  There are people in Cameron's life who I think are amazing people and I can't wait for you to meet them.  There are also some people who I think need to be given a good slap upside the head or worse.  I'm not much for intolerance or ignorance so there were parts of this novel that were simply hard to digest. 

This novel brought out the full spectrum of emotions.  There are times when you are laughing and smiling and others when you feel downright confused and upset.  It really gives testament to Emily M. Danforth's ability as an author to bring your emotions into overdrive and have you not only read about but actually experience the range of feelings this story will bring out. 

Emily M. Danforth graces us with an outstanding debut and I eagerly anticipate what she will come up with next.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Night Date Night

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie review (mostly movies that were adapted from books). Hopefully some of these reviews will help you decide what to watch on your date night or a night of chillin with the girls.
I have to admit when I rented Monte Carlo I had no idea it was actually based on a book, but now that I've read the summary I'll definitely be adding it to my TBR pile.  Headhunters by Jules Bass is about 4 women who are vacationing in Monte Carlo and pose as 4 of the riches women in the world.  The movie version of this story instead took three girls who are on a trip to Paris that is definitely lacking in adventure until Grace (Selena Gomez) is mistaken for a wealthy socialite.  Their adventure starts when they traveled to Monte Carlo under the guise of misidentify for week of glamor, flirting and fun. 
Monte Carlo
Overall I thought this movie was super cute and uplifting.  I'm not a huge Selena Gomez fan but I liked her character Grace a lot.  She was down to earth and yet she dreamed big.  It seemed like she wanted more out of life and would work hard to get it.  It was also interesting to see Leighton Meester as a normal person with a budget instead of Blair Waldorf.  Selena, Leighton and Katie Cassidy had great chemistry and kept the story lively and bubbly. 
Though I'm sure this movie will never win an Oscar, it was still one of those movies that is just cute and sweet.  I'm sure if it was 10 years ago Monte Carlo would have been in my DVD player on constant replay. 
Want to see more?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review of Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

Dreaming Anastasia (Dreaming Anastasia, #1)Title: Dreaming Anastasia
Author: Joy Preble
Published by: Kindle Edition
Source: Free from Amazon (Obtained February 3, 2011)                  
Format: ebook

Summary from Goodreads: Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

I'd heard of the story of Anastasia Romanov before reading this book, but didn't know much about it.  After learning more about the massacre of her family and the rumors of her possible escape, one can not help but get intrigued. 

Joy Preble takes the story of Anastasia and give it some more depth.  Instead of just escaping the massacre Anastasia is actually taken by a witch in thoughts it would save her family from being murdered.  Along with Anastasia's kidnapping a prophecy is discovered that only a decedent of the Romano bloodline can be the one to save Anastasia and set her free.  This twist was really interesting and I think it added not only a fantasy component but also made the story more real by including a common girl who has to save the day. 

I enjoyed Anna as a character.  I thought she was feisty and wasn't quick to believe a stranger.  Even after weird events happened, it still took some convincing for her to believe she was connected to Anastasia.  I thought this part was very believable.  I think most people would have a hard time believing they were suppose to save someone, who has been thought to be dead for 100 years, from a fairy tale witch.  One of the things I did have a hard time with is Anna being able to skip school and gallivanting around town with a boy she had just met.  As protective as her parents sounded, I think she would have been more than grounded.

Well the story was enjoyable, it took awhile for me to get into it.  About midway through the action picked up and I became a little more invested in the story.  There were some plot twists I was expecting and also a couple I wasn't.  I wish I could have connected more with the characters.  They seemed a bit distant and not approachable.  Well I may not have loved the characters I liked their drive and determination to save Anastasia. 

Beware, the ending may take you by surprise.  While I wasn't expecting the ending I did understand it and I'm intrigued to see what will happen next.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Today I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Five Books That Were Totally Deceiving (those covers or titles that don't fit the books, a book that was totally different than its summary, or those books you thought were going to be fluff that turned out to be more serious etc etc.)

1. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen.  This cover did not fit the story for me.  The cover is light and fun and the story is more serious. 

Someone Like You

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green.  Both the cover and the description of this book led me to think I was getting a totally different story than I was.  I ended up loving it, but it was definitely not what I expected.

Looking for Alaska

3. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares.  The earlier novels in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series were fun and spirited books.  Sure, there were some serious underlying issues but they never seemed the focus of the books.  Sisterhood Everlasting changed to tone of the series.  It was more serious and more grown up just like the girls.  It was the perfect way to end the series. 

Sisterhood Everlasting (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, #5)

4. Lost Voices by Sarah Porter.  I thought this was going to be a fun mermaid book.  Instead I got something totally different.  Sure there were mermaids, but everything was a lot darker and a bit rougher than what I thought it would be. 

Lost Voices

5. The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen.  I watched the T.V. show Rizzoli and Isle first and I loved it so I thought I'd give the books a try.  Sure some of the story line is the same but it is missing that charisma between Rizzoli and Isles.  In fact, Dr. Isles isn't even in the first book. 

The Surgeon (Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles, #1)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review of Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Title: Born Wicked
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Published by: Putnam Juvenile                     
Pages: 330
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover

Summary from Goodreads: Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship - or an early grave.

Do you believe in magic?  I've always been intrigued with witches since I was young.  Soon, probably while watching an episode of Charmed, I've wondered if it is possible that people with powers really exist.  I don't know if they are witches, heroes, or superhuman, but it makes me question the possibility.  I haven't decided anything for sure and will probably need tons of proof, but I think it could be possible.

That being said, I've always devoured any reading dealing with Witchcraft.  When I first heard about Born Wicked I got really excited.  Historical and witchcraft...what could be better?  I'm happy to tell you that Born Wicked not only lived up to be expectations but far surpassed them. 

Cate is the type of character you instantly feel something for.  It may be understanding, pity or even dislike, but the most important thing is that she makes you feel.  She's led a difficult life and throughout the story she has to make life-changing decisions that not only affect her but others around her as well.  Jessica Spotswood did an amazing job getting the reader to feel the emotional turmoil Cate has to go through.  She's put in these challenging situations where she has to sacrifice so much and it can't help but break your heart a little.

Some of these characters and secrets in this novel will shock you and horrify you.  I felt at every chapter there was a new challenge or twist to the plot.  While there is some mystery, there is also some steamy romance.  Finn stole more heart from the minute he was introduced.  While there was a bit of a love triangle (though I don't think it added much to the story), there was no choice in my mind.  Any man who is that fiercely protective of his mother and sister has my vote. 

The ending left me breathless.  While, it's not necessarily a cliffhanger I'm still anxious and excited to know what happens next.   

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review of On the Bright Side by S.R. Johannes

Title: On the Bright Side
Author: S.R. Johannes
Published by: Coleman & Stott
Pages: 285
Source: Author
Format: ebook
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven.

Note to self: Don't text while crossing the street. It's a crappy way to die and Gabby knows that first hand.  Once Gabby left the earthly plane she traveled to Cirrus and became a Bright in Training (aka Angel).  There was a lot of explanation in this book of how everything in Cirrus worked.  It was interesting to see the different take on Heaven and Angels that S.R. Johannes had.  She created this fictional place to resemble a working city with a very futuristic view.  It was interesting learning about the new gadgets and I actually coveted some of them.  Maybe S.R. Johannes can hook up with Apple and we could get some of these awesome toys!

While Gabby is training to become a Bright she has to guide and protect her number one enemy, Angela, who is after Gabby's old crush.  Gabby is pretty immature throughout most of the book and plays harmful pranks on Angela.  It actually crossed over to the point where I thought Gabby was cruel and let her anger take over her emotions and rule her behavior.  She always seemed to be breaking the rules and didn't care who she brought down with her. 

Gabby does end up trying to redeem herself, but I'm not sure I bought it.  I felt she changed her behavior really fast for it to be truly believable.  I know it was extremely hard for her dealing with the situation she was put in, but I wish she would have handled it better.  The end threw a big twist at the readers.  It was something that I was not expecting, but it tied up the story nicely and almost gave an reason for Gabby's bad behavior. 

This book is based for younger readers and may be a reason why I had a hard time with Gabby's immaturity.  It was a easy read and the idea behind Brights and Cirrus was quite interesting.  I'll be interested to see what more adventures Gabby will go on now that she's handled the worse. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Night Date Night

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie review (mostly movies that were adapted from books). Hopefully some of these reviews will help you decide what to watch on your date night or a night of chillin with the girls.

It has been about a month since I have done Friday Night Date Night so I thought I'd come back with a bang.  So you might have guessed it but this week's movie is....THE HUNGER GAMES! 
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
I never did a formal review of The Hunger Games on my blog so for a short overview when I first read it I had super mixed feelings.  I loved it's originality and Suzanne Collins writing was so captivating I couldn't put it down.  However, I had a small problem with the violence and the fact that this book is often classified under Young Adult/Children's instead of Teen or older. 

I am not a mother and therefore have a while before I have to decide what is appropriate for my children to read or not, but the thought that I was a bit horrified by the situations in the novel scared me at what the younger crowds reading this book took away from it.  We actually discussed it for my young adult book club and the adults in it were talking about the political aspects and the tweens in it told us they didn't see anything political about it and that we should stop over analyzing it and just take it as a good story.  Hmmm...I wonder what they will think of the story in ten years.

Nevertheless, I still did enjoy the book and read the entire series.  When the trailer for The Hunger Games came out I got a little tingly and decided that I wanted to re-read the books.  I didn't re-read them but I did listen to them on audio.  They were fantastic on audio!  Anyway after rereading them I got super excited for the movie. 
Did I like the movie...OF COURSE!  I thought the casting was ridiculously good.  I mean could Stanley Tucci get anymore fabulous as Caesar Flickerman? And I loved Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.  Seriously he was perfect.  I really enjoyed all of the characters and thought the acting was quite good.  And the costumes were so amazing.  I wish I could have been an extra as a capitol citizen.  Judianna Makovsky blew me away...this chicka should win the gold for best costume design.  Simply stunning.   
The Hunger Games Cast
Were there things I wasn't fond of?  Of course.  I felt that if you hadn't read the books you missed out on a lot of important information.  My sister and brother-in-law went the the movie and when they got back they kept asking me to explain things.  Finally I just gave them the books and now they are both devouring them.  There are also a couple of scenes that I wish the director would have made more significant (or included) in the movie such as the gift of bread from district 11, Katniss's conflicting feelings over Peeta and the significance of Peeta giving her the bread when she was starving.  I also felt at times that the movie made Peeta look weak and needy.  I didn't get that feeling from the book so I didn't really understand why I felt that way when watching the movie.  Plus the camera angles and movements made me a little nauseous at times. 

Overall I loved it and I think it is one of those movies you need to see multiple times just to take everything in. 

What did you all think?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

An Interview with Justin Ordonez, Author of Sykosa.

Please enjoy this interview with Justin Ordoñez, author of the YA novel (for 18+ readers), Sykosa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
1. Who or What is a Sykosa?
Sykosa is a sixteen year old junior in high school. She’s the main character of a novel I’ve written by the same name. For a quick rundown, she attends a prestigious preparatory academy, is part of the school’s coolest clique, “the Queens,” and she has started dating the boy she’s secretly been crushing on for a year, Tom. It’s taken a year to start dating him because A) there was this SUPER HUGE thing that happened during her sophomore year, and it delayed things and made being intimate with Tom difficult, and B) she kinda starts seeing stars around him and loses the ability to behave in any type of serious manner.

2. Why is Sykosa different from other novels?
It’s different because youth driven literature has become full of metaphors for danger that seem to have split into either science fiction or fantasy. (Before I go any further, I like both genres, so I’m not being a snob!) Sometimes, it feels like instead of dealing with real problems, it’s easier to have kids use magic. And instead of facing real contemporary issues, kids should fight aliens or something. These metaphors are meant to represent real life, but I fear they’ve slightly crossed over into a bit of denial about contemporary Americanism, which is a hard topic to write about since our country is in an identity crisis, and has been for about 11 years. Sykosa is an attempt to counter-act this trend. When I was young, I read books about young people that blew me away like One Fat Summer and The Outsiders. These books felt real, and it felt like I could slip into them at any moment. The writing was gritty, it was unapologetic, it was brilliant. I just don’t see many of those around, and I wanted to write one, and I wanted to write one with a female protagonist.

3. Why did you chose cross-gender writing?
Toward the end of the my high school education, I was allowed to split my school day from my normal, traditional education and a newer style, self-directed educational program. I took an English class where my English teacher, someone who I’m still friends with to this day, gave me only one assignment for an entire semester, and it was, “Perform a deep self-evaluation of yourself and your writing and come up with one goal for what you’re going to improve on.” At the time, I was seriously into writing, and had taken to writing a few books per year, but most of them were in the first person, and they were just me talking about myself. The issue was that I had been in a serious car accident the year prior and I had injured a friend in it. (He fully recovered, but never forgave me). I had tried to write a first person story about myself many times since the accident, but I was constantly failing because I was dealing with some lingering self-loathing and guilt. As a way to get away from it, I decided I wanted to work on a story I had been thinking about for a while, but that I never started writing for one super scary reason.

The main character was a teenage girl.

Odd as it might sound, I was intimidated by the fact that the main character was a woman. So I faced my fear and said my goal would be to write women better, and I proceeded to work with several teachers and several female students to help me craft a female character that was realistic, yet met my vision of her as well. This challenge stuck with me into my adult life, and it eventually found its ultimate form in Sykosa.

4. How will I know I’m a fan of Sykosa?
I’m glad you asked! has tons of stuff to help you determine if this book is right for you. Below you’ll see some humorous diagrams I’ve made, but at the website you can read an excerpt of the book, watch the book trailer, read character profiles and really get a solid understanding of Sykosa’s world.

5. What kind of stuff influenced you to write Sykosa?
The primary motivators for Sykosa were Buffy The Vampire Slayer and It by Stephen King. It so happened, in 2001, I moved in with a woman I was dating. She was a fan of Buffy, so I had to watch it and became a fan myself. While most people were probably drawn to the vampire killing, it was the last thing I was interested in. I thought Whedon created an interesting cast of personalities and analyzing them was something I enjoyed. At the time, I was reading It. What I liked about It was the small town, insular feel to the novel, and how the inhabitants of this town were able to show a “front” of values, but were secretly hiding and allowing evil to proliferate all around them. From these two things came Sykosa, a girl who does not have any super powers, nor does she kill any vampires, but she did have a traumatic event happen in her life, and she’s struggling to deal with it, and its made no easier by the fact that her small, insular parochial school has decided to ignore the incident.

6. What is your most favorite and least favorite part of Sykosa?
The most favorite part is easy. It’s Sykosa’s best friend Niko, who just gets my blood pumping every time I have to write her. I love Sykosa, she’s definitely the main character and the story would never work without her, but I could sing Niko’s praises all day and all night. She’s such an interesting young woman and to see how she’s developed over the years as I’ve written the story has been a real treat.

When someone first reads Sykosa and then decides to talk to me about it, I’m secretly waiting to hear them mention Niko. It’s never the first thing they say, it’s never the last, it’s always sandwiched somewhere in the middle, “By the way, this Niko—I love her!”

My least favorite part… Wow, that’s hard to answer, isn’t it? In the middle of the book, there’s a section called an Interlude, which is a story structure that Stephen King used in It, and that I borrowed as an homage to it. There’s a section where Sykosa, Niko and her mother are driving in a car together. I swear, I rewrote it fifty times—maybe more—and it’s never read right to me. It just never has.

7. What kind of writing schedule do you keep?
Let’s put it this way: I recently heard a story that there are “cat writers” and “ox writers.” I’m an ox writer. I put in the time, every day, whether I’m feeling it or not, whether its terrible or not, even if I know I’ll just end up deleting it, I push through it and I do it anyway, and somewhere along the way, it ends up coming together as a story.

8. What’s the coolest story you have from writing Sykosa?
Sykosa is interesting in the sense that it took me a long time to finish it. The first couple years I was writing it, I was really just writing stories about the characters, feeling everyone out, figuring out how they fit together, but there was no plot holding it together or pushing anything forward. In 2003, I seriously debated quitting, as it had been the hardest piece of writing I had ever taken on, and to be honest, I was somewhat used to overcoming challenges easily and without a lot of adversity. And while I usually worked on the book on my bus ride to and from work, this one beautiful, sunny day, I decided not to. I sat on the bus and kept the binder of writing closed on my lap. When the bus stopped at Pioneer Square, a homeless black woman sat next to me. She noticed the book, then said to me, “So you’re writing a novel?” I couldn’t tell how she knew that, but I said, “Yes, I am.” She asked me what it was about, but I’m terrible at talking about my work, so I gave her the gist, “teenage girl” “high school” “likes her boyfriend” etc, etc. The conversation lasted one stop, when the bus opened its doors, the woman reached out with her hand, put it on my own (which was clinging to the book like I was protecting it or something) and she said, “Justin, I want you to know, God blesses this book. He blesses it, and you can’t quit.”

I had never mentioned to her that I was quitting it.

I started working on it after she left the bus, and I never spoke or saw her again.

True story.

9. Do you have any tips for people who are struggling with writing or want to take it up?
I do. First off, keep struggling. It’s a worthwhile struggle. There’s a lot of be gained from writing. And for those who want to take it up and for those who are already writing, I can’t stress this enough: Draft. And by the I mean, write in drafts, don’t sit in a chair and challenge yourself to make it perfect now, write it perfect now, but instead write in drafts. If something only gets 5% better, that’s fine, cause it’s just one draft of what will be many, and eventually, that 5%, that 3%, that 7%—it adds up and you end up with a really good story. But, if you try to knock it out of the park every time you step up to the plate, you’ll swing the bat a whole lot, and you’ll be tired and exhausted when you’re done, but you won’t have a ton to show for it. That’s when most people quit. They think, “I can’t do this” or, “I don’t have the talent.” They don’t understand they’re doing it wrong, that’s all.

10. When you’re not writing, you’re…
Singing karaoke. I go once a week with some close friends of mine. It’s a fantastic release, also you get feedback from an audience, which you sometimes miss from writing, and you can forget how exciting it is to share your work with others. My favorite song to sing right now is Gaga’s “You and I.” Gaga has got a great voice that she can make raspy if she needs to, and I’ve got a voice that can match the raspier songs, so I think I do her proud. Otherwise I’m singing the Killers, Kings of Leon, Oasis or Lauryn Hill.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Sykosa eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Sykosa for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
  4. BONUS: Leave a comment on this post*
Leave a comment, win $100:
One random tour commenter will win a $100 Amazon gift card. Just leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win. For a full list of participating blogs, check out the official tour page. You can enter on just my blog or on all of them. Get out there and network!

About the book: YA fiction for the 18+ crowd. Sykosa is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the lives of her friends. Set at her best friend’s cottage, for what will be a weekend of unsupervised badness, Sykosa will have to finally confront the major players and issues from this event, as well as decide if she wants to lose her virginity to Tom, her first boyfriend, and the boy who saved her from danger. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Sykosa is Justin Ordoñez’s life’s work. He hopes to one day settle down with a nerdy, somewhat introverted woman and own 1 to 4 dogs. Visit Justin on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.