Monday, December 31, 2012

Review of Mistletoe Mischief by Stacey Joy Netzel

Title: Mistletoe Mischief (Romancing Wisconsin Series, #1)
Author: Stacey Joy Netzel
Pages: 91
Source: Free from Amazon (Obtained on 12/19/12)
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Christmas in July at the zoo is the last place single parents Eric Riley and Marissa Wilder expect to find love. Thanks to some mistletoe mischief in the form of their two young daughters and Santa, they discover mistletoe rules were not made to be broken

Being from Wisconsin myself, when I came across a new series called Romancing Wisconsin I knew it was something I had to check out.

Mistletoe Mischief was a fun twist on the traditional holiday read;  the story took place in the summer while the zoo was celebrating Christmas in July.  This story still had the feeling of a holiday romance, but there was the added bonus of a campfire and smores which I personally think make any story better...and now I'm craving some.  (Think I can dig through the snow to find the fire pit?)

The sparks fly when Marissa and Eric meet, but because of the dreaded misunderstanding things don't get off to the best start.  Personally, I think a lot of romances have this plot line of a miscommunication lately.  Sure without this miscommunication there wouldn't have been a story, but in a novel/novella as short as this one the whole plot is based on this miscommunication.  I wish there would have been a little more substance to the the storygiving us something else to focus on.

While the plot wasnt my favorite, the characters were fun in this story.  Despite the short length, I felt you started to see into their personalities and who they would grow into.  While the romance was a bit insta-romance (or at least insta-infatuation), I was cheering for these two to make it.

If you're looking for a holiday read with a twist, Mistletoe Mischief may just be the book for you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review of Home for the Holidays by Christine Lynxwiler

Title: Home for the Holidays
Author: Christine Lynxwiler
Source: Obtained from Amazon for free (12/19/12)
Format: ebook
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: A heartwarming Christmas novella about true friendship, helping those in need, and falling in love. . .

What's a girl to do when she falls in love with her lifelong best friend? Small town librarian Lauren Forrester moves to St. Louis so that handsome contractor Jeffrey Warren can find a wife without having to deal with Lauren's moods. But when Jeffrey shows up on her doorstep to convince her to come home for a country Christmas, will the hardheaded pair lose their friendship or find something even more precious?

With the end of the holidays slowly approaching and the reality of five day work weeks in the forecast, I thought it was time to throw in a couple last holiday reads. 

This was a cute and light holiday story.  Lauren has been in love with her best friend for awhile, so when he starts showing serious interest in finding a wife she can't handle seeing him with other women and she flees.  While I don't necessarily see moving two hours away as a solution, I think what she did was realistic.  I understand her need to separate herself from Jeff so as not to ruin the friendship with her feelings.  Lauren was a very kind person with a big heart.  She was willing to help out those in need without anything in return.  I admired this quality in her and thought this was a great addition for a holiday read.

Jeff on the other hand, was a bit clueless.  He's had a hard past and is not willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I think he genuinely has a kind heart, but has a hard time looking past his own grief to use it to help others. 

As for the story there wasn't much sustenance to it.  I think if the main conflict would have been more the focus then I would have enjoyed it more.  The story was predictable and like a lot of novels out there would have been resolved earlier if only the main characters talked to each other instead of hid their feelings, but I guess the story would have been a lot shorter than. 

Do you enjoy reading seasonal stories?  If so, what are your favorites?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review of Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Title: Let It Snow
Authors: John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Published by: Speak
Pages: 352
Source: Library
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Three authors, three stories, and all the joy of the holiday season wrapped up in one book.

John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle each wrote a short story about one Christmas Eve.  I have to say that John Green's story was great.  As always his characters were realistic and a bit edgy.  The story had a little more mush than I'm used in his writing, but it fit the overall feel of the book.  Plus sometimes a little romance is just what is needed on these chilly winter nights. 

Maureen Johnson starts off the novel with her short story.  While at times I had a hard time believing everything was true, I was still invested in the story and the characters.  It was a great way to start off the novel because it truly felt like I was reading a Holiday romance...just not one that I may have expected in YA literature.

The final story by Lauren Myracle was my least favorite.  I had a hard time with the main character.  I though she was selfish, self-absorbed and just not a very nice person.  I understand the story was more about her growing as a person, but I never really ended up liking her.

The best thing about this book is that all the stories are connected in multiple ways.  It's not just one place or character that overlap, there are multiple characters and scenarios that are repeated in a new light in each story.  I'm not sure how these three authors worked it out, but it was genius!  I only wish there were more books like this out there.   

Monday, December 24, 2012

Review of Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks

Title: Bah, Humbug! A Romantic Comedy Novella
Author: Heather Horrocks
Published by: Word Garden Press
Pages: 96
Source: Obtained free from Amazon (12/19/12)
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from GoodreadsLexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller. For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block--until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman's body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show. From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood? Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

I'm a sucker for a good Christmas romance around the holiday season.  I don't feel like I'm in the spirit until I'm curled up with some tea and a Christmas story while it's gently snowing outside.  Luckily, mother nature corroborated this year and so at the last minutes I found some Christmas stories to help make this season magical for me. 

Bah, Humbug! was a fun holiday story.  Surprisingly, even though it was fairly short I felt like you got to know the main characters well.  Lexi is positive, determined and has written off love.  Being a decorator the holiday season is her time to shine.  She takes her job seriously and by creating the perfect atmosphere she feels she can spread good cheer.  That is until she meets Kyle Miller.  Kyle hates the holiday season and so when these two meet sparks fly.

While the story is a bit cheesy, I still enjoyed it.  It actually touched me in many ways.  There were some emotional parts where the characters were dealing with grief that brought tears to my eyes and other parts that touched my heart.  I have to admit though that the ending was a little much.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around the last couple of pages and while it didn't ruin the story, I think that it made it less powerful.

If you need a quick Holiday story to help you get in the spirit, Bah, Humbug! is a fun read, just ignore the ending.       

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review of Beutiful Demons by Sarra Cannon

Title: Beautiful Demons
Author: Sarra Cannon
Published by: Dead River Books
Pages: 136
Source: Obtained free from Amazon (on 6/20/2012)
Format: ebook
Rating: 2 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Harper Madison isn't like other girls. She has extraordinary powers, but her inability to control them has gotten her kicked from so many foster homes she's lost count. Shadowford Home is her last chance, and she hopes Peachville High will be the fresh start she needs. But when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, Harper discovers this small town has a big secret.

Beautiful Demons has all the elements to be a great book.  An orphaned girl with a strange ability, a new town with a secret to hide, the rebel boy trying to stay out of it all, and of course the eerily perfect cheerleaders who run the school.  With this novel being as short as it is, I think we missed out a lot on the connections and personality of the novel.

Harper was a great character at the beginning of the novel, but I have a hard time believing that she succumbed to the popularity contest and what it entailed as easy as she did.  She seemed stronger than that and out of all the characters in the story she seemed to have the most to fight for.  Everyone else in the town is a little freaky.  We don't get to learn much about everyone else, though they do seem a little off right from the start.      

There is a secret surrounding Shadowford and Peachville High.  Like Harper, we get to uncover bits and pieces as the novel proceeds without actually getting the whole story.  This frustrated me a bit because I have a hard time when I'm not given enough details to comprehend what is happening.  Even after finishing the novel, I don't understand everything that happened or the history and mystery that surrounds the town.

While I think Beautiful Demons had all the parts to become a great story, they didn't really fall into place for me.  Hopefully the next book in the series will explain more and everything will click into place.    

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review of The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

Title: The Ivy
Authors: Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 336
Source: Obtained free from Amazon (on 11/15/2012)
Format: ebook
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from GoodreadsCongratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?  Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with Gregory, the guy she loves to hate...Evan, the guy she'd love to forget...Clint, the guy she'd love to love...and Matt, the guy she really should love...all vying for her attention.  But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams.  Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?

Ivy League, sexy and completely there a better combination? 

Small-town, down-to-earth Callie gets the surprise of her life when she heads off to Harvard only to be dumped by her high school sweetheart.  Freshman year can be difficult, but it's been a roller-coaster ride for Callie.  While she can't always keep up with her designer clad roommates, she has caught the eye of a couple of eligible bachelors on campus.  Callie is your typical everyday girl.  She's cute and sweet, but does make mistakes.  At times, you want to shake her and other times hug her, but she does keep the story entertaining.

As for her posse of gentlemen, each one has some great traits to bring to the table.  This part almost seemed too easy.  Not only does Callie have one guy after her, but three.  Seriously, who is this girl?  If only life were that easy to have not only three guys, but three great guys after you while attending Harvard.  I guess it is fiction right? 

Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur being Harvard roommates themselves, brought to life the college campus.  Between the classes, high societies and elite clubs we get a glimpse into the life everyone dreams of.  While at times this felt a bit Gossip Girl-esque there was enough intrigue and creativity to make this story entertaining and bring a fresh twist to the familiar topics.  Plus these ladies and gentlemen did actually study...though not as much as I would imagine being at Harvard and all. 

If you're looking for some mind-candy during this Holiday season, The Ivy is a perfect choice.  Sit back and escape while enjoying your non-fat, no-whip, half cafe, peppermint mocha with soy of course. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review of The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Format: ARC ebook
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Low and behold, just when I thought The Iron Fey series had come to its end, Julie Kagawa surprises us with a spinoff series. While I didn't love The Iron Fey series, I did enjoy it and Julie Kagawa writes the most amazing world in the Nevernever that I've come across in a while. So did The Lost Prince live up to its predecessors?

I think it surpassed it, and mostly due to Ethan. What is not to love about this brooding, bad boy with a chip on his shoulder? Having been traumatized by the Fey kidnapping him when he was a young boy, stealing his sister away and finally them continuously haunting him, he's had enough and is finally going to do something about it. While Ethan comes across as the bad boy, he can't help but stand up not only for others, but also for what is right. He is truly a good soul who's had to harden his exterior to get by. So when Kenzie gets threated by the Fey he knows he has to protect her.

Kenzie is the type of character that grows on you. At first she is just there, but soon her strength and determination steal their way into your mind and water that seed that has been planted. While I figured out her secret way before it was revealed I still wish we could have seen into her life and personality a bit more. Hopefully she will be more of a focus in the next book.

While the characters were enjoyable, the world and creativity that Julie Kagawa paints is beyond compare. She's taken a small piece of The Iron Fey series and built not only a captivating story-line, but also one that is quite complex and gets you questioning what you believe. The depth and emotion she puts into this story seeps through the pages and into your mind.

If you enjoyed The Iron Fey series, or even if you didn't, I suggest you try The Lost Prince. Ethan and his gang of misfits just may be the spark you needed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Audio Review of Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2) by Moira Young

Title: Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)
Author: Moira Young
Narrator: Heather Lind
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio     
Length: 11 hours and 22 mins
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

Moira Young takes you on a wild ride with Rebel Heart.  Packed with action, deceit, and a bit of romance, it's the prefect recipe for a bestseller. 

Saba is a complicated lady.  Sure when the 'red hot' gets a rollin', she's undefeatable (I know this is not an official word but I think it describes Saba best) and a force to be reckoned with, but lately she seems to be losing a bit of herself.  Her past haunts her and her future seems bleak.  It doesn't help that Lugh is always on her case.  Seriously what is with him?  I haven't met a character I have disliked as much as I dislike him.  I think he's rude, degrading, and doesn't deserve the respect  he seems to be commanding from everyone around him.  Besides Lugh, all the rest of the characters come to life in Rebel Heart.  It shows a more vulnerable side to each of them and instead of always being the fierce fighters, we get to see their flaws making them that much more real.

What a twisted adventure Rebel Heart turned out to be.  You'll be guessing at every turn what is going to happen next, while constantly questioning who are the 'good guys' and who are the 'bad ones.'  While the story started out a little slow, it gradually built steam and became impossible to put down.  I just had to figure out not only people's actions but the motives behind these actions as well. 

Heather Lind was a wonderful narrator and I think listening to this novel would be so much easier than reading it because of all the dialect.  Moira Young writes phonetically as these characters would talk so I know that is hard for some people to read (me included).  Don't miss this wonderful series because of that though, just listen to the audio.  You will be amazed at how good it is as well as be highly entertained. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review of Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

Title: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble (Jolie Wilkins, #1)
Author: H.P. Mallory
Pages: 304
Source: Obtained Free from Amazon (7/3/12)
Format: ebooks
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Life isn't bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn't have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.

Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she's a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost's demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

Word of Jolie’s incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the underworld’s most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand.

Witches, Vampires and Werewolves...oh my.

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is a hilarious paranormal romance you won't want to miss.  H.P. Mallory created a heroine that jumps off the pages and has you silently (and sometimes not so silently) cheering along. 

Jolie Wilkins lived a happy, quiet life until a sexy warlock came along and discovered her true potential and the powers she possess as a witch.  Now she's a hot commodity in the paranormal world and everyone wants a piece of her.  Jolie kept me laughing and entertained throughout the entire novel.  Even though she was a witch and is whisked away into the underground world of the paranormal she is so real.  Jolie feels like the friend you've had since you were young and can't wait to spend some time with and catch up on all the good gossip.  And gossip she has with a great number of male creatures wanting more than just a piece of her.

With Jolie having such unique gifts, certain people in the community are hell bent on possessing her and her powers.  This seems to spark the idea of a war that has been brewing for awhile; Jolie was just that catalyst it needed.  While this book was packed with action, it also seemed to be the perfect setup to a series...that being said, it seemed quite a few things were left unresolved.  I kept waiting for a main conflict and then resolution, but it was all sort of intermixed with the introduction to this series. 

Besides that though, the story was great and very entertaining.  If you're looking for some laughs and something a little lighter this holiday season try Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review of Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Title: Jennifer Echols
Author: Jennifer Echols
Published by: MTV Books
Pages: 292
Source: Won
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all--the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug--of all people-- suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them?

Romantic teen drama at its finest. 

Who doesn't love the plot of the bad boy falling for the good girl?  Maybe it's the idea of opposites attract or of trying to reform a "lost cause" but I've always been attracted to the idea of a bad boy and Doug is my perfect kind of bad boy. 

The characters is this story seem a bit naive and at times clueless.  Zoey tries to be perfect, but her life is falling apart.  Instead of facing her issues she holds onto her perception of reality which ends up making her life that much more difficult.  As much as I liked the characters, I had trouble relating to them fully.  At times I connected instantly and then something would come up and I started to be unsure of their intentions.  Nothing is really as it seems in this novel including the characters. 

Besides the relationship drama, Zoey and her family were also going through an intense period.  Jennifer Echols didn't shy away from the difficult (and at times awkward) situations that happen too often in real life.  I thought this added a depth to the novel that is often missing in teen romance.  However, with so much happening in Zoey's life, I felt the novel was rushed at times.  Sometimes we seemed to go from one extreme to another without getting the time to process what had just happened.  This did keep the novel moving though, as it was impossible to put down because you just had to know what happened next and what it all means.

This was my first Jennifer Echols novel and definitely won't be my last. 

With all the wonderful "bad boy novels" out there, which is your favorite bad boy?

Friday, December 7, 2012

2013 Reading Challenges

I'm so excited because this year I think I am actually going to complete all of my 2012 Reading Challenges.  I have four books to go and I'm determined to do it!  Seeing as 2012 is coming to an end, I've decided to start planning my challenges for next year.  I think that this year I'm not going to plan out certain books to read, but just see what fits my mood at the time for each of the challenges.  That being said, here are the challenges that I've signed up for so far:

2013 Debut Author Challenge hosted by
2013 Audio Book Challenge hosted by Teresa's Reading Corner
Level: Married-Listen to more than 25 Audio Books
2013 Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge hosted by On a Book Bender and Reading the Paranormal.
Level: Coupon Clipper: 12 Books
2013 TBR PILE Reading Challenge hosted by 6 Wonderful Bloggers
Level: 21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
I'm excited for these challenges and hopefully I will be successful!  What reading challenges are you signing up for? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review of Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie ViguiƩ

Title: Crusade (Crusade, #1)
Authors: Nancy Holder and

While this book may have started off slow, the plot continues to build and thicken throughout.  The conflict grows intense and is interwoven between each of the characters leading up to an epic battle at the end with an unexpected twist.  The characters and the story made this one definitely worth sticking with, so if you are struggling with Crusade, don't give gets so much better.   

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review of Torrent by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Title: Torrent (River of Time, #3)
Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren
Published by: David C. Cook
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Gabriella and Evangelia Betarrini are just two normal American teenagers. Normal except for the fact that they time travel to fourteenth-century Italy, where they’ve lived in castles they’ve seen as crumbling ruins, become swept up in historic battles, and fallen in love with handsome knights willing to do anything to keep them alive.

They’ve returned to the present to save their father, just short of his tragic death, and now all four return to the place that holds the girls’ hearts, medieval Italy. But remaining there means facing great risk as the battle for territory wages on and the coming Black Plague looms. Can they convince their parents to stay and leave behind everything they’ve worked so hard to accomplish? And will the girls sacrifice their futures in an uncertain past? Or in facing death head-on, will they discover life as it was always meant to be lived?

I'm sure you've all heard it before and experienced it for yourself, but the end of a series is quite bit bittersweet for me.  I love that most of the endings get tied up all neat and tidy, but at the same time I know I'll miss the characters.  I absolutely loved Waterfall.  It was new and exciting, but for some reason Cascade and Torrent didn't live up to the first novel.  Sure they were fun and exciting, but that spark was missing for me.

Torrent is filled with battles, fights, capture, marriage and death.  It literally has it all.  I felt like we flew from one event to another without much downtime to spend with the characters and really get to know them.  There were a couple new characters that turned out to be real gems.  Lisa Tawn Bergren isn't afraid to introduced new characters throughout the series.  This gives readers soem fresh faces to focus on and even more characters to become attached too.

Another part of the book that was beautifully written was Gabi's struggle with her beliefs.  I felt this was very realistic as she questioned other's beliefs and tried to find her stance on God and religion in general.  I love that Father Tomas was so gentle and never pushed or prodded, only showed Gabi through his actions and beliefs.  He was a kind and gentle soul and I truly wish I could have met him.

I enjoyed this series and I'm happy with the way it ended. 

What other YA series do you love the endings for?