Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review of The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: The Dead and the Gone (Last Survivors #2)
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Narrator: Robertson Dean
Published by: Listening Library         
Length: 7 sound discs (8 hr., 51 min.)
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars
Summary from Goodreads: Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event--an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.

With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

What's the key to surviving an apocalypse?  Luck and smart thinking!

I definitely think luck was on the Morales family side though I'm sure some would disagree with me.  Alex had to work hard to keep his family alive.  He made tough decisions and often sacrificed bits of himself just to provide for himself and his sisters.  While he didn't seem to plan anything, things would work out some of the time, but not always.  At times throughout the story Alex lost his head.  It would be incredibly hard going from a 17 year old boy that's having fun to now being head of the family and having to take care of his sisters.  I was hoping for a little more planning from him, but instead I got strength and an uncanny will to survive.

This story was so powerful in it's realism.  I feel like Susan Beth Pfeffer has an inner-eye that shows her exactly what would happen to New York should a meteor someday hit the moon.  This novel dealt with all aspects of this tragedy and how each person dealt with it differently.  It's not a light, candy-coated story, but it hits on both the good and the bad areas of human behavior.  There are tremendous losses and heartbreak, but sometimes the rays of hope would shine down.   

I had a hard time reading this novel as is.  I kept comparing it to the first book in the series and how organized Miranda's family was.  I think I would have enjoyed this story more if I had read it before Life as We Knew It (Last Survivors #1).  Where the first novel I was amazed by the survival skills and the planning, this novel took by storm the emotions and the tragedy.  Though both novels are both written about the same event they are completely different novels in the situations and the people. 

These books will not only captivate you while you read them, but also long after you've put them down.  They'll have you analyzing your thoughts and actions and trying to decide what you would have done. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review of Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Narrator: Aasne Vigesaa
Published by: Brilliance Corporation
Length: 11 Compact Discs / 13 hours
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Young, beautiful, and successful, Elena Michaels seems to have it all. Her happy, organized life follows a predictable pattern: filing stories for her job as a journalist, working out at the gym, living with her architect boyfriend, and lunching with her girlfriends from the office. And once a week, in the dead of night, she streaks through a downtown ravine, naked and furred, tearing at the throats of her animal prey.

Elena Michaels is a werewolf.

The man who made her one has been left behind, but his dark legacy has not. And though Elena struggles to maintain the normal life she's worked so hard to create, she cannot resist the call of the elite pack of werewolves from her past. Her feral instincts will lead her back to them and into a desperate war for survival that will test her own understanding of who, and what, she is.

I must admit that it took my a while to get into this book.  I think part of the reason was Elena.  While I admired her strength and spunk, I wasn't a huge fan of her need to pretend to be someone she's not.  I felt like she was putting on an act for her boyfriend and his family.  She was portraying herself as a person she knew he wanted her to be.  If you can't be yourself in a relationship than I don't think that is a real relationship.  She was so much more fun when she was smart-mouthed and feisty with her pack.   

The pack itself was quite interesting.  I really enjoyed hearing about each member and their relationship to Elena.  I fell for Clay hard, but then after hearing what he did, I held a little grudge.  If I was Elena I don't know if this would be something I could get over.  I don't want to give anything away but it was really interesting pulling pieces of Elena's history out and seeing how I would have reacted or handled the situation differently.  She led a difficult life and that definitely contributed to her choices. 

The plot kind of confused me a little.  I'm guessing this has to do with listening to the audio though.  I liked Aasne Vigesaa and thought she had a beautiful voice, I just think that I messed up the characters a lot because of how many there were.  I was confused on who was who and what each person wanted.  I don't think this would have happened if I read it, but the audio itself was really well done.  For me, there was just too many people and too much going on for me to keep it straight while listening to the story.

I am intrigued by this series now and I can't wait to find out what happens next and who I will meet. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Books Written In The Past 10 Years That I Hope People Are Still Reading In 30 Years
 
1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.  I will continue to read this series even after 30 years. 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  This was such a wonderful book and hope generations to come will like it as much as I did. 
The Help
3.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  This novel was powerful and heartbreaking.  I could see it becoming required reading in school districts in the future.
Between Shades of Gray
4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield.  This novel is modern day classic with a twist of the original classics added in.  A wonderful read. 
The Thirteenth Tale
5. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins.  I think this book will stick around, catching each generation by storm.  I don't see it's popularity dwindling anytime soon.
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
6.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  This book was talked about in many of my classes in graduate school and I think it is one people will continue to read and talk about with especially concerning ethical studies. 
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
7.  Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  Even if no one else is reading this book in 30 years, I will continue to read it.  Maybe I'll even make my children (whenever I have them) read this novel as well. 
Jellicoe Road
8.  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  This novel took me a while to get into but once I did, I fell in love with it.  It is a stunning story and the writing is beautiful. 
Cutting for Stone
9.  Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead.  The reason I picked this is because it is not only a gripping series but it is also very popular so I think it will have some staying power. 
Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, #6)
10.  The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward.  For me this series has its ups and downs but again it is a very popular series so that gives it longevity. 
Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3)

Friday, May 25, 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 relaxing at home.
From Goodreads
I've never been a huge boxing fan but I've always thought boxing movies were pretty inspirational, once you got past the fighting, blood, brain trauma and all that.  Ok, I'm lying.  I am not a fan of violence so even when it suppose to be inspirational I am usually cringing and peeking through my hands for half of the movie.  I don't know why I subject myself to them, but once again I did.
From moviesuggestions.net
The Fighter follows the career of Micky Ward and his struggles to make it to the top.  Micky has a lot of family issues which drove me nuts.  I wasn't a fan of his family, with the exception of his dad.  I thought they were crazy and not very supportive.  Mark Wahlberg did a great job playing Micky.  He brought to life the struggle of wanting to make it big, but having to deal with a certifiable family at the same time. 
There was a lot of swearing in this movie and it was quite vulgar.  I know the movie was based on Micky Ward's life and I guess I never knew just how messed up it was.  While I did think the movie was well done, this is not my kind of movie.  I know this is just my preference in movies, and if you like grittier, edgier, real life movies this one may be for you. 
Wanna see more?
  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review of Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published by: Hyperion Book CH         
Pages: 327
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Witches, Demons, and Vampires...oh my. That's what you get in a Rachel Hawkins’ novel along with a myriad of other supernatural creatures. One of the things I liked most about this book is that it doesn't involve only one type of supernatural creature. It involves them all.  What’s better than a war involving witches, demons, shapeshifters, fae, etc. all battling it out?

Spell Bound started off right where Demonglass, the second book in the series, ended. In fact, if you don't remember much from Demonglass I suggest you reread it because I was confused for the first couple of pages until I started to remember everything. Sophie is a main character you won’t soon forget.  The best thing about Sophie is that it doesn't matter what type of situation she is in she always has snark and will have you laughing. She is a very relatable character in that even when she is thrust into battle she is still scared and crying. Often times we have these stone faced, unemotional lead characters that are fierce and lethal. Sophie is definitely lethal but she also has a hard time grasping death and difficult situations.  I love that about Sophie.

This book has lots of action and the plot changes and twists a little more with each passing page. You never quite knew what was going to happen next and therefore it was a very gripping read. I enjoyed this novel even though I had a little problem with the ending. I know it had to end and I understand we can't always have these picture perfect endings, but I feel like one character in general definitely got the short straw. I don't want to give anything away and so I won't say anything more than I wouldn't have chosen the book to end the way it did.

After reading Spell Bound I feel a bit sad that the trilogy came to an end, but also satisfied.   

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review of Bluegrass State of Mind by Kathleen Brooks

Title: Bluegrass State of Mind
Author: Kathleen Brooks
Pages: 274
Source: Free from Amazon (Obtained February 18, 2012)
Format: ebook
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: McKenna Mason, a New York City attorney with a love of all things Prada, is on the run from a group of powerful, dangerous men. McKenna turns to a teenage crush, Will Ashton, for help in starting a new life in beautiful horse country. She finds that Will is now a handsome, successful race horse farm owner. As the old flame is ignited, complications are aplenty in the form of a nasty ex-wife, an ex-boyfriend intent on killing her, and a feisty race horse who refuses to race without a kiss. Can Will and McKenna cross the finish line together, and more importantly, alive?

Don't you love that feeling when a book just clicks?  Bluegrass State of Mind was that kind of book for me.  It was fun, cute, sexy and had just enough mystery and suspense to keep you hooked.   

McKenna Mason is the perfect type of main character.  She was a little feisty, but completely genuine.  She really wanted to do what was right even if it meant putting her life in danger.  I love characters who are willing to stand up for a cause because that is how I like my friends.  Her and Will have insta-chemistry.  The minute the meet you can feel the sparks flying, but their relationship is not easy.  Between the dreaded ex-wife and the homicidal ex-boyfriend let's just say they come with some baggage.  Oh I almost forgot to mention that Will is crazy sexy.  He's a retired NFL player who now runs a horse racing ranch.  You cannot read this novel and not fall in love with him a little bit.     

My favorite characteristic of Bluegrass State of Mind is that it was so sweet.  The people of this small town were quirky and had such unique personalities; you couldn't help but fall in love with the town.  This novel had the perfect southern small town feel for me and that made the story more real.  They one things that I though was a little curious was the crime McKenna witnessed and the aftermath of it.  I understand that it's a delicate situation, but I just feel that in real life it would have been handled differently.  But never fear Kathleen Brooks makes up for it with just the right touch of humor.  The court cases McKenna has to try will give you abs a workout.  They are too funny. 

If you are on the lookout for a great summer read, try Bluegrass State of Mind.  You'll get hooked. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Blogs/Sites You Read That AREN'T about Books :

I really enjoy cooking and fashion, but both areas I need a little help in.  Therefore, what a better place to look than the blogging community.  Below are some of my favorites.

Food Blogs:

1. This Week for Dinner.  The author of this blog posts a weekly menu and asks others for their menu as well.  She also posts info about food products and amazing recipes.

2. Skinnytaste.  I just discovered this blog through Pinterest and I have already made three of her recipes and I've loved every one of them.  The greatest thing is that they are all low calorie recipes!  Try the Skinny No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie.  It is AMAZING!

3. For the Love of Cooking.  I have followed this blog for a while and I love her recipes.  I have tried many and she always gives me great ideas to switch up some of the regular dinners.  Yesterday's post was Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple-Cinnamon Glaze.  Are you drooling yet?

 

Fashion Blogs:

4. November Grey.  I love this blog because the author throws together thrifted pieces with high end items so seamlessly.  She has great tutorials and also includes beauty tips and recipes. 

5. a fashion love affair.  I just love looking at her outfits.  They are so flippin cute. 

6. Sunset and 5th.  I love the cosmetics tips on this blog.  She varies her post about outfits, accessories, and skin care products.   

7. J's Everday Fashion.  The author is always showcasing the latest trends and will match her outfit to a model wearing the look.  It kind of reminds me of the show "The Look for Less" since most of her pieces are more affordable then the original outfit. 

8. Belle de Coutour.  This blog has the most variety of outfits I've seen.  She pieces together a lot of thrifted items, but also showcases style icons and other tips. 

 

Others sites I love:

9. Pinterest.  If you are not on this site you seriously need to sign up today.  It is so amazing! 

10. Etsy.  You can find everything on Etsy.  The greatest thing is that most items are homemade and not from a chain store! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review of Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Title: Pretty Crooked
Author: Elisa Ludwig
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books         
Pages: 368
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 2.5 stars
Summary from Goodreads: Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.


The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.

But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?

When life is unfair, what is the first thing you want to do?  Well if you are me then you'd probably start crying because you'd feel so sad and frustrated, but I'm sure most other people would answer that they'd get upset and want to set the wrong right. That is exactly what Willa decides to do when she realises the Glitterati are purposefully harassing the scholarship students.  This storyline is super cute.  Who doesn't want to swoop in and be a hero?  I know Willa's intentions were in the right place, but her execution was not thought out very well.   

I had a hard time believing Willa to be true.  She wanted to fit in and by doing that went against what she knew and her upbringing.  She started to overspending and she knew it was wrong but still did it anyways.  She liked being popular and all the "perks" that went with it.  I did like her, but she just seemed so spacey.  First she doesn't want to believe her new friends are not nice people even after seeing all this evidence and then when she finally does admit they are mean people she comes up with this crazy plan.  Did she really think stealing from her rich classmates and giving anonymous gifts to the scholarship kids was a great plan?  Seriously? 

During with Willa's "Robin Hooding", she somehow caught the attention of Valley Prep's resident hottie.  Aidan comes with a lot of mystery surrounding him.  I thought you'd find more out about him at the end, but that was not the case.  I'm guessing I'll have to wait until book 2 to figure him out some more.  Aidan seemed like a genuinely nice guy.  I love when we meet nice guys in books...they seem more real to me.  I wish we would have learned a little more about him and for the romance between him and Willa to be stepped up a notch.  There relationship was really mild and innocent with just a touch flirtation.    

Along with not finding out about Aidan, I felt that Pretty Crooked just kind of ends.  While it does wrap some things up, there is still a ton of loose ends.  I understand this is a series, but I'd like a little more resolution at the end of the book.  I know some people like big cliffhangers or for one storyline to be continuous completely throughout all of the series.  If that is your fancy, then this book if for you. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Review of All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: All These Things I've Done Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Narrator: Ilyana Kadushin
Published by: Macmillan Audio
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating:★★★★
Summary from Goodreads: In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Do you ever read reviews of a novel and think you are not going to like it, but actually end up really enjoying it?

That is exactly what happened with me for All These Things I've Done.  I wasn't really sure what this novel was going to be abou,t but I got it from my library and thought I'd give it a try.  I went on Goodreads to see what people were saying about this book and I almost returned it without listening to it.  I'm glad I decided to give it a go anyway, despite the not so stellar review.

Apparently I learned something about myself while listening to this book that I never realized before.  I love mafia or mafia-like stories.  I seriously think I'm destined to be a mob wife...heck maybe I'll even run one someday.  I love the scandal that goes along with the mafia and the crazy situation people get in when they have connections. 

Poor Anya.  She tries to live a good and religious life, but her family connections always come back to haunt her.  I thought Anya was a great character.  She thought through situations and always tried to do what was best for her family.  She was a great judge of character and knew when she had to fight and when to back down.  I do wish she would have gotten involved in the family business some more.  I have a feeling that if she would have just stepped up and taken some initiative things would have worked out more smoothly. 

The story itself was engaging with a new "situations" happening all the time.   There were deaths, shootings, poisonings, backstabbing, deceitfulness and jail time.  The romance, however, could have been a little more emphasized as I never really felt invested in it.  I wanted more from it; I never really bought that they were in love.  I wanted to feel the emotion more. 

The narrator, Ilyana Kadushin, was fabulous.  She has narrated many books, including the Twilight Series.  She kept me entertained and engaged throughout the entire story.  This is definitely a book to listen to!   

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top  Seven Ten Authors I Would Like To See On A Reality Show:

1. Simone Elkeles.  It would have to be a reality show where she'd get to ogle hotties and then discuss it.  She's hilarious and I would definitely tune in every week to watch her.

2, 3, and 4.  Kristin Cashore, Richelle Mead and Suzanne Collins.  I would love to see them on Survivor.  They write such fierce, lethal heroines that I want to see want they would come up with for themselves.   

5. Cecily von Ziegesar.  She writes about some of the most fashionable people around so I'd like to see what she'd create on Project Runway.

6 and 7. Sarah Addison Allen and Adriana Trigiani.  I'd love to see both of these authors on some reality cooking show.  They both have food in their books that sound delectable and I want to see how they make it.   

That's all I can think of today.  I can't wait to hear about your new reality show stars!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review of The Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone

Title: The Boy on Cinnamon Street
Author: Phoebe Stone
Published by: Scholastic Inc.         
Pages: 240
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: A story about a wounded girl and the boy who won't give up on her.

7th grader Louise should be the captain of her school's gymnastics team - but she isn't. She's fun and cute and should have lots of friends - but she doesn't. And there's a dreamy boy who has a crush on her - but somehow they never connect. Louise has everything going for her - so what is it that's holding her back?

The Boy on Cinnamon Street was a cute book that had a bit more depth than I originally thought. 

I went into this book thinking it was going to be a fun light read, and while it was fun the main character was also dealing with some serious events that had recently happened in her life.  You don't actually find out what those events were until the end of the book, but you can tell that something bad had definitely happened.  Thougout the novel there are clues as to what might have happened and you can tell that it really affected Louise and she is still struggling with it.  This part was a bit confusing for me as we didn't know what actually happened till near the end. 

Louise was a fun character despite her situation.  She was a little lost and sometimes just odd, but still very likable.  One day she finds a love note and her best friend and her think it's from the pizza delivery boy.  They spend the whole novel kind of stalking him and it is quite comical.  Of course nothing ever turns out like they expected and Louise gets a surprise all of her own. 

I really enjoyed the side characters in this story as well.  They were fun and funky, especially Louise's grandparents.  They added a new dimension to the story and helped us understand Louise a bit more.  I think my favorite character in the whole story was Louise's friend, Henderson.  He was so adorkable that you couldn't help but love him.  I'm kind of jealous of Louise and want to steal Henderson to be my new guy friend.  I need a super nice, sort of geeky, science fiction writer, loyal friend in my life....everyone does right?

While I did enjoy the story, I wasn't crazy about not knowing what was going on until the end.  That is a personal preference of mine as I usually like to not be confused when I read a book.  But if you are ok with a little mystery than I think you'll enjoy this one. 

Friday, May 11, 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 relaxing at home.
 
The other day when I was at the library I was looking through the movies and found the movie The Other Woman.  I remember hearing it was based on the book Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by
From Goodreads
If you plan on watching this movie make sure to bring a box of tissue.  It is very emotional due to the fact that Emilia, played by Natalie Portman, had just lost a baby.  She is struggling to overcome her loss while also becoming a part of her new family with her husband and stepson, Will.  
from covershut.com
There were parts of this movie where Emilia was mean and cold-hearted.  I understand she was dealing with a tremendous loss, but she often took out her anger and frustration on the wrong people.  She seemed to drift further away from her family and friends as time went on instead of healing or leaning on them for support.  
 
I ended up really enjoying the movie despite my swollen and red eyes.  It brought forth a lot of emotions and Natalie Portman was stunning in this movie.  She was extremely believable and I grieved for her loss.  I also really enjoyed Scott Cohen who played Emilia's husband, Jack.  I thought Jack was a wonderful parent (though maybe not the best husband to his first wife).  I loved that Jack supported his son and seemed to really care about making Will and Emilia become family too .   
 
Want to see more?
 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review of Father Mine: Zsadist and Bella's Story by J.R. Ward

Title: Father Mine: Zsadist and Bella's Story (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6.5)
Author: J.R. Ward
Published by: New American Library
Pages: 91
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Readers met and fell in love with Zsadist and Bella in J. R. Ward-s third New York Times bestselling novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Awakened. As a former blood slave, Zsadist bore the scars from a past filled with suffering and degradation until Bella came along and helped heal his emotional wounds. Now, though, with the birth of their child, the demons of his past have been resurrected, called forth by the innocent eyes of his beloved daughter, Nalla. Unless Bella and Nalla can bring him back with their love, he may be lost to them forever.

Can you go through a slump when reading about hot, fierce, deadly, and drop dead sexy vamps?  Apparently I have.  This book and the last book just were not up to par for me.  I'm sure it had something to do with Father Mine being a novella, but I really hope the rest of the series goes back to being as fabulous as the first couple books were.  I must admit that never really been a huge fan of novellas because I don't think you're given enough time to really get into the story or the characters.  That being said, I probably need to go into a novella with a different style of thinking than when starting a book.  Enough senseless rambling...on to the story.

In Father Mine, Bella and Zsadist are going through a rough time.  Zsadist can't quite connect with his child and in fact won't touch her.  His past is taking over his future and torturing him by making him think he isn't enough for his daughter.  This breaks my heart.  A child is so innocent with no prior judgement and to think that Zsadist is already scared of what Nalla's going to think of him is heartbreaking. 

As always I love the little tidbits we get about the "other" brothers in each story.  It's nice to get little flashes of their lives even when the book is not solely based on them.  One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is part of the ending.  I loved the scenes with the new doctor and what Zsadist endures for his daughter. 

Father Mine was a really short read that somehow still packed in action (of both kinds *blushes*), romance, and lots of love.  J.R. Ward creates these characters that you can't help but become attached to and it was nice seeing a little bit more of Zsadist. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review of Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler

Where It BeganTitle: Where It Began
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Published by: Simon Pulse
Pages: 384
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Gabby lived under the radar until her makeover. Way under. But when she started her senior year as a blonder, better-dressed version of herself, she struck gold: Billy Nash believed she was a the flawless girl she was pretending to be. The next eight months with Billy were bliss...Until the night Gabby woke up on the ground next to the remains of his BMW without a single memory of how she got there.

And Billy's nowhere to be found.

How much would you sacrifice to be popular?  That is a question I'm sure many high-schoolers face everyday.  It was an issue when I was in high school and I can only see it getting more serious in years to come.  Gabby seemed happy in her old "sub-regular" life, but then her mom gives her an intensive make over and now she's caught the eye of the High School Hottie.  Only months later she wakes up in a hospital with no recollection of getting trashed and crashing Billy's Beamer. 

I had a really hard time with this novel.   Gabby clung onto Billy so much and made him her universe.  I felt this devotion was very one sided and a little pathetic.  She kept calling herself a cow every time she felt clingy and would actually have to talk herself down from saying certain things because she thought if she told him her true feelings he'd ditch her.  I don't think this is a healthy relationship.  Billy's life also seemed a little too good to be true.  Sure he was on probation for a DUI, but he never seemed to meet with a probation officer or do any community service.  In fact, he and Gabby skipped school all the time and never got into trouble.  How flippin unfair is that.  I'm sure that if I skipped school in high school, I would have not only gotten detention, but also a truancy ticket and been grounded.  Oh the life of the obscenely rich and powerful.   

Without giving too much away there is something weird about the crash itself.  Gabby is found passed out outside the car with the keys still in her hand and no one else around.  You don't figure out exactly what happened the night of the crash until the end because Gabby literally doesn't remember anything.  Throughout Gabby's recovery and the aftermath Billy and his mom guide Gabby with the lawyers, social workers, therapist, etc.  This was very suspicious to me.  I understand they have money and are super connected but I just thought it was a bit shady. 

Another thing that bothered me was Gabby's parents.  They were not the best role models and I wish they would have just been happy with Gabby instead of trying to change her or just flat out ignore her.  I feel they should have thought more about their daughter's best interest instead of trying to impress others around them. 

This novel was very well written and I think it held an important message.  I liked that is wasn't the typical story of geeky girls gets a makeover and snags the football star.  There was more depth to it.  The novel deals with more complex issues of self-esteem, deceitfulness, and getting taken advantage of.  It was tough for me to read, as I mentioned before, but worth it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Books (may contain slight spoilers):
 
"Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul."-- Heathcliff, Emily Bronte-Wuthering Heights
"If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime, he couldn’t love you as much as I do in a single day."--Heathcliff, Emily Bronte- Wuthering Heights

"No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how."--Rhett, Margaret Mitchell- Gone with the Wind

Dimitri: "It won't happen to you. You're too . . ."
He groped for the right word, and I mentally substituted all sorts of possibilities. Goddess-like, scorching sexy. Giving up, he simply said, "It won't happen to you."--Rose, Richelle Mead -Vampire Academy

“If you ever think about betraying us just picture my face, because it’s the last time you’re ever going to see it”--Will repeating Francesca, Melina Marchetta –The Piper’s Son

“Because being part of him isn't just anything. It's kind of everything.”--Taylor, Melina Marchetta-Jellicoe Road 

"Albus Severus..you were named for the two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew."--Harry, J.K. Rowling-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

"Snapes patronus was a doe. The same as my mothers, because he loved her for nearly all his life, from the time when they were children. You should have realized. "He asked you to spare her life, didn't he?"--Harry, J.K. Rowling-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 
 
“Look after my heart - I've left it with you.”--Edward, Stephanie Meyer-Eclipse

“I decided as long as I'm going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly.”--Edward, Stephanie Meyer-Twilight

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review of Eve by Anna Carey

Title: Eve
Author: Anna Carey
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Published by: Harper Audio
Length: 6 hours and 30 minutes
Source: Won in a contest
Format: Audio
Rating:

Summary from Goodreads: Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust... and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

Do you ever find yourself having an internal struggle with the main character? 

This is exactly what happened for me with Eve.  I would get so exasperated with her and how naive she was, and then I'd have to remind myself how she was brought up and what her beliefs were up to the point when she left school.  There were times I literally wanted to shake her and tell her to grow up and then again I'd remind myself of her upbringing.  Eve wasn't a character I particularly liked or connected to.  For me she just felt to innocent and even though her reality was terrifying I thought that after a day or so it would have opened her eyes and changed her attitude.  I don't think the whole truth of reality and her decisions ever set in.   

I also felt she was careless.  She got a lot of people killed because of her naivety and because she couldn't fully grasp the intricacies of this world outside of what she's always known.  Maybe I'm being too harsh on Eve, but I never really connected with her enough to end up liking her.  I felt like she was constantly messing up and endangering those around and never really understtod the consequences of her actions.   

As for the story, it held my attention and kept me interested.  I wish there would have been more on how people are living outside the reign of the ruler and how the plague came about in the first place.  I'm thinking this will be a bigger part of the next books in the series as bits and pieces were mentioned in this novel. 

I think other people will really enjoy this book.  The issue for me was that I didn't like the main character and if I don't like the main character I have a hard time enjoying the book.  I think for others if they can connect with Eve or maybe not judge her as harshly as I did this will be a pleasurable read for them. 

Friday, May 4, 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 relaxing at home.
X-Men Comics
From www.comixunderground.com
I was never really into comic books either as a kid or now as an adult.  I didn't connected with the characters and thought the whole science fiction vibe just wasn't for me.  Then a couple years ago a friend of mine convinced me to watch the movie X-Men with her.  I loved it!  Sure the acting was sub-par and the cinematography was not the greatest, but I loved the concept behind the movie.  Each new movie that comes out in the X-Men series makes me more addicted to these mutant creatures.  I want to be one...where do I sign up?  Sorry I digress.  But seriously I was so excited when X-Men:  First Class came out and was it worth the wait; of course! 
I loved learning about how it all began.  Magneto and Professor X have quite a back story that we never really knew about until this movie.  Sometimes prequel movies can seem more confusing because they are happening before what you originally saw.  X-Men: First Class was not like that for me.  I missed some of the old characters but I followed the story line just fine. 
The whole time during the movie I kept focusing on one character who looked really familiar but I couldn't place her.  Who did it turn out to be but Jennifer Lawrence, better known to most as Katniss.  It was nice to see her as a different character, but I think I still prefer her as Katniss. 
 
Overall I really enjoyed this movie and I want more from this series!
 
Want to see more:
 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review of Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

Title: Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6)
Author: J.R. Ward
Published by: Signet Book
Pages: 560
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★

Summary from Goodreads: In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other?six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now, a dutiful twin must choose between two lives... Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood's bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished. As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself- she sees the emotionally scarred male behind all his noble responsibility. But while the war with the Lessening Society grows more grim, and tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, Phury must decide between duty and love.

Another one bites the dust. I'm starting to get a little worried that there won't be a Black Dagger Brother left for me as J.R. Ward keeps mating them off.  She must be waiting for Vishous to come to his senses, banish that ghost, and come sweep me off my feet.  A girl can dream right? 

In Lover Enshrined we get to see a whole different side of Phury.  What is more complex than a celibate primale...try one whose past demons haunt his every thought.  Phury kind of goes on a tale spin in this novel.  He can't seem to handle the pressure.  While he's trying to keep it together he ends up relying on the red smoke more than he should and neglects his first mate who sits next door and builds structures out of toothpicks and peas (no joke, yea I didn't get that part either).  Maybe I'm being cynical but his self-destruction got a little old to me.  I understand that addiction can easily take over a person's life, but I felt Phury didn't even want to try. 

The plot line for me was a little confusing and I found myself skimming over the 'lesser' parts.  They have never really interested me in the story.  Obviously they are a huge part of this series but for me they are just creepy, stalkerish beings.  Though their extremeness hit a whole new level in this book and they upset the brothers something fierce.  It's officially war time...watch out you baby powder smelling, pale skinned, bleached hair, impotent creepers.  Some big scary men are out for your blood. 

And of course no one can mention this book and not mention Qhuay.  I personally feel that Butch and Vishous should have been an item, even though I'm madly in lust with Vishous myself, but I have high hopes for Qhuay.  Hopefully I won't be disappointed and there will be a book for them in the future!   

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April Monthly Wrap-up

Wow another month of 2012 has come and gone.  April was crazy busy and I'm sure May will be even worse with the end of the semester rapidly approaching.  That being said let's see what went on at The Garden of Books in April.

Books I reviewed:

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin - 3 stars
On the Bright Side by S.R. Johannes - 2.5 stars
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood - 5 stars
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble - 3 stars
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth - 5 stars
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - 4 stars
Hounded by Kevin Hearne - 4 stars
Cinder by Marissa Meyer - 3.5 stars
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer - 4 stars
Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan - 3.5 stars
Socialpunk by Monica Leonelle - 4 stars

Progress on Challenges:
  1. Debut Author Challenge - 10/12
  2. Audiobook Challenge - 10/25
  3. YA Contemporary Challenge - 4/15
  4. TBR Pile Challenge - 9/20
  5. Why Buy the Cow Challenge - 3/12
Top Ten Lists:
  1. Top Ten Books To Read In A Day
  2. Top Ten Five Books That Were Totally Deceiving
  3. Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers 
  4. Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters In Books
Friday Night Date Night:

The Hunger Games
Monte Carlo
127 Hours

Overall it was a good month with lots of exciting events going on.  I hope everyone had a great April and I wish all a wonderful May.