Saturday, June 30, 2012

All Male Review Giveaway Hop--Win a SIGNED copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

So I'm super excited to be participating in the All Male Review Giveaway Hop.  I love reading YA books from either male authors or from male character's POVs.  I have an awesome prize too for one lucky winner...ready...wait for it...a SIGNED copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green!
The Fault in Our Stars

Giveaway Rules:

The contest runs until Saturday, July 7, 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 some others who are participating in the HOP!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Friday Night Date Night: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
I just finished listening to this audio and while it wasn't one of my favorites, I still wanted to see the movie and I am happy that I did. The acting was amazing as was to be expected with veterans such as Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, but it was actually new comer Thomas Horn who stole the show for me. He had a tough role to play and did it superbly.
This movie paired down much of the story as most movies do. I did, however, feel that the book was more about the connections people had, and the movie itself is more about Oskar's mission to find a hidden message from his father who died in the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. The movie was an emotional journey and be ready with lots of Kleenex because I cried throughout the last 20 minutes of the movie.  You will feel such a connection to Oskar and his story that you can’t help but get attached. 

The one thing I felt that was lacking in the movie was the story of Oskar's grandparents. I enjoyed that section in the book, so I was sad to see that their whole story didn't make the cut.

While I did enjoy this movie, it was a hard one to watch but definitely worth it. 

Want to see more?


Review of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches Author: Deborah Harkness
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Published by: Penguin Audio
Length: 20 sound discs (24 hr.)
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Magical, mystical and utterly captivating. A Discovery of Witches is one novel you won't want to miss.

Both Deborah Harkness's words and Jennifer Ikeda voice are spellbinding with beauty and wonder. While this novel is set in modern day Oxford and New York, there is a sense that you are transported back in time to a different world. It may be that Matthew is a centuries old vampire and he gives the novel a timeless feel, but either way you will definitely be transported out of your current location and into this fantastic world.

Even though the title is A Discovery of Witches you will meet many different paranormal characters. Since there are so many characters there is not much character development beyond Diana, Matthew and a few others. However, the world that these characters live in is rich with detail and originality. The buildings themselves are described in great detail, especially Sarah and Em's house which has a mind of its own. The house actually builds more rooms when it knows there will be more visitors. Don't we all wish we had houses like that?

What I really loved about this novel is I felt it covered an area or genre in adult literature that was missing. Sure there are many paranormal romances, but this novel felt more like literary fiction that had paranormal elements than a paranormal book. It was intriguing to take what I normally read about in young adult literature or the fore-mentioned paranormal romances and bring it into adult fiction. I think that Deborah Harkness fill that gap wonderfully.

The audio of this novel was amazing. I had a hard time turning it off and would sit for hours at night just listening to it. It was engaging and the cadence of Jennifer Ikeda voice was perfect. While I did really enjoy this audio it was a long one at 20 cds so make sure you set aside some time or you'll find the dishes not being done and the laundry piling up just get in one more chapter.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review of Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Title: Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls #6)
Author: Ally Carter
Narrator: Renée Raudman
Published by: Brilliance Audio
Length: 7 sound discs (7 hr., 47 min.)
Source: Library
Rating: 5 stars

Summary of Goodreads: The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan—an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an Alpine convent and discovers that months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie's summer vacation are the bruises on her body and dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.

Seriously, how do you get into Gallagher Academy? I want to go to spy school.

Out of Sight, Out of Time was a great addition to an already wonderful series. I tend to get into a slump on the middle of most long series, but not with this one. It was packed with action and adventure, twists and turns, and of course sweet romance. The novel was more serious than the previous books. This time people are not only trying to capture Cammie, they are trying to kill her and anyone who stands in their way.

Cammie doesn't remember anything from the previous summer and often has these lapses of time where she's not sure where she was or what she was doing. If I was Cammie, I think I would have been very frustrated. She was, but I think I probably would have demanded some type of treatment to get my memory back. I believe she should have been more fiery, but that is not really her personality it’s just me projecting myself onto her. The best thing about these books is the relationship that Cammie and her friends have. They are always there for each other, to the point of dying for one another. I love how they always know what each other are thinking and can often communicate with just looks. That’s what best friends are about.

I have listened to all the books in this series and they are probably some of my favorite audios. The narrator is great and the books work really well on audio. They are so gripping that you want to drive around in the car just so you can listen to one more chapter. If you are thinking about trying out audio books or just looking for some new ones this a great series to listen to.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Four Characters Who Remind Me Of Myself Or Someone I Know In Real Life
1.  D. J. from The Dairy Queen Series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.  I have a very tomboyish friend that when I first read these books and met D.J. made me automatically think of her.
Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen, #1)
2. Willa from Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig.  I went to high school with a girl who reminds me so much of Willa.  She always kind of kept to herself until she met a new crowd and then started wearing the "cool" clothes and way overspending then she got in big trouble with her parents.  
Pretty Crooked
3. Marley from Marley & Me by John Grogan.  We had a very lovable but very mischievous dog who always seemed to be getting into trouble of some kind. 
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog
4. Cara from Populazzi by Elise Allen.  I knew many people in high school who tried too hard to be popular and move up that social ladder.  
That's all I got.  Either I'm really bad at matching real life people with characters from books, or I just have some very unique friends. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review of Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Published by: Hachette Audio
Length: 6 hours, 32 minutes
Source: Own
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Original and completely fun.

Why We Broke Up was definitely one of my favorite reads this year.  The concept of the story being a letter from Min as she explains each item she is giving back to Ed was phenomenal. We are reliving their relationship and the reasons they broke up through Min's memories and get to see both the high points and the low points.  I have not read any book like this before and it's originality and creativity were a wonderful change.  The writing was captivating and I had a hard time turning off this audio.  The narrator was excellent and I really felt as if I was listening to Min as she was pouring out her heart in this letter. 

Min is one of those characters that you can't help but like.  She's creative and individualistic.  Of course when the "artsy" girl gets the popular guy you can't help but cheer, but their relationship is not as it always seems.  The one thing I wasn't found of with Min is that she tends to forget all about her friends when she starts seeing Ed.  I don't think she was actually a very good friend.  I also felt she was a bit naive, but I forgive her for both of these because it was the first time she feel in love.   

I, however, wish I got to know more of the characters in this novel.  I think the author could have had more character development in the supporting characters.  You will come to know Ed and Min personally, but there were so many other characters that I wish would have received more depth. 

I did listen to this audio, but I also own the book.  While I do recommend this audio, I also think you should look at the book or the pdf that comes with the audio book because the illustrations are amazing.  I love that you get to see an illustration of every item that is in the box of stuff that Min is giving back to Ed.  The illustrator, Maira Kalman, did a fantastic job.   

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Title: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Narrators: Jeff Woodman, Barbara Caruso, and Richard Ferrone
Published by: Recorded Books
Length: 10 sound discs (11 hr.)
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is a precocious Francophile who idolizes Stephen Hawking and plays the tambourine extremely well. He's also a boy struggling to come to terms with his father's death in the World Trade Center attacks. As he searches New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he left behind, Oskar discovers much more than he could have imagined.

I really wanted to love this book and I defiantly tried, but I just didn't.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book and I liked it, but I wasn't blown away like I thought I'd be. 

This may have something to do with the audio or it may not.  I was often confused while listening to the audio and I felt like things were repeated often.  I'm not sure if this occurred in the book or if I was missing something by listening to it instead of reading it.  The narrators were good and evoked many emotions.  Their voices really seemed to fit each character and helped me to picture them easier.  I was just often confused as the story seemed to jump back and forth. 

I did really enjoy the story.  It was so much more than it says for the description of the book.  Sure it involved the story of Oskar and his search for truth, but there was also the story of his grandparents and of each of the "Blacks" he visited.  I really enjoyed meeting each character and hearing a little bit about them.  I felt there were so many connections between people that were explored in this novel and that made Oskar grow as a person and come closer to finding his own truth. 

The characters were interesting and they all seemed to grow and yet at the same time they also seemed to settle.  (Does that even make sense?)  There were some heart-wrenching moments that invoked deep emotions and there were also some laugh-out-loud moments.  I never knew quite what to expect out of the characters but they were fun to get to know.

Usually I'm a huge audio fan, so I was sad that this one didn't work out for me as well as I hoped.  Maybe someday I'll "re-read" the book and see if my opinions change. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Title: Jessica's Guide Dating on the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt             
Pages: 351
Source: Obtained free (on December 30, 2011) from Amazon
Format: ebook
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: The undead can really screw up your senior year . . .

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica Packwood's senior year "get-a-life" plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth--and he's her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess.

But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war--and save Lucius's soul from eternal destruction.

What would be your reaction if you find out not only that someone else is a vampire but you are too? 

It seems lately in YA literature that characters just accept the paranormal like we do colored hair, tattoos or piercings.  It is not a shock to them, more they expect it and accept it.  I find this a little unbelievable (in YA lit...not the colored hair, tattoos and piercings which I all like).  If someone told me they were a vampire I would think they were crazy.  This was my favorite thing about Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.  It takes Jessica a long time and a lot of proof--given multiple times--for her to actually believe that Lucius is a vampire and that she is too.  I think that proves how down to earth and real Jessica is. 

At first Lucius is kind of a jerk and very pretentious.  The one thing I did love about him is that he had a great appreciation for the generously proportioned female form.  He kept telling Jessica that she was beautiful and not overweight.  I loved the way he seemed mesmerized by her curves.  He was a true gentleman in that way.  I think it also showed his true nature when he tried to blend into society for her.  He tried to change himself so the shock and surprise would be easier on her, even though it was harder on him.  That goes a long way in my book! 

The story itself was good, but I was hoping for a little more action, both physical and romantically.  While I do enjoy reading about the situations of everyday life (well at least everyday that involves a vampire) I wish there would have been more nail biting, sitting on the edge of your chair, scenes.  I also felt the ending was a little rushed.  They rest of the book took it's time getting to each point in the novel but the end felt too fast to me.

Overall I enjoyed this novel and I can't wait to see what is in store for Jessica and Lucius in the next novel.   

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List
1.  Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore.  I loved Graceling and Fire so I'm really excited to read this book.  I hope there are return visits from some of my favorite characters from the earlier books. 
Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)
2. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen.  Allen is one of my favorite adult writers.  She flawlessly adds a touch of magic to her novels and gives a charm to her characters that you won't soon forget.   
The Girl Who Chased the Moon
3. The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead.  My whole goal in reading these novels is for Adrian to find love.  He deserves it. 
The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2)
4.  Sunrise at Sunset by Jaz Primo.  For Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge we are reading this book for a June Read-a-long.  I just got it today and I hope it's good. 
Sunrise at Sunset (Sunset Vampire, #1)
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I can't seem to get enough of John Green lately so I'm excited to read his latest novel.  I've heard amazing things about it. 
The Fault in Our Stars
6. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks.  It has probably been at least five years since I've read a Nicholas Sparks book, but I want to read this one before I see the movie.  Has anyone seen the movie yet?  How was it? 
The Lucky One
7.  A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger.  I love how real Kody Keplinger's novels are.  The characters, the story, the setting, everything just screams that this could totally be happening right now. 
A Midsummer's Nightmare
8. Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles #2) by Kevin Hearne.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the magical/mythical characters in the Hounded and I can't wait to see what adventures Atticus and Oberon get into next. 
Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles, #2)
9. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.  I saw this novel all around the blogosphere yesterday and I heard some really great things about it, so requested it from the library right away. 
Something Like Normal
10. Risky Shot (Bluegrass #2) by Kathleen Brooks.  I fell in love with the southern charm of the first novel and I'm sure the second novel will be just as sweet.   
Risky Shot (Bluegrass, #2)

What's on your summer TBR pile?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 504
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Format: ebook
Rating: 4 stars
Summary from Goodreads:  Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

 Vampires, Undead, romance, hatred and blood...This book has it all.

I must admit that I had a really hard time getting into this book.  It wasn't until 150 pages or so that the tempo started picking up for me.  I didn't really like the story up until that point, but other bloggers had warned me about so the slow start, so I knew it was going to get better.

Allie is one of those characters that grows throughout the story.  I felt like I really got to know her through all the trials she's been through and I liked the type of person she turned out to be.  She had a hard life before the start of this novel and then during it things got infinitely more complicated.  She was a strong individual and I think her inner strength is what made her a survivor. 

There is a lot of action and adventure crammed into The Immortal Rules.  As slow as the first part went, the last part really flew.  I almost wish that we would have got to spend some more time with Allie as a vampire and the predicaments she got into.  The part of the story covered in this book alone could be a trilogy by itself, that is how much action happens.  There are sword fights, gun shots, blood and death.  But never fear, because there are also sweet moments and a bit of romance. 

While I'm not much for cliffhangers I'm happy about the ending of this book.  Some loose ends were tied up, but there are still enough mysteries left to hook you for the next book.   

Friday, June 15, 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.

I am not much of a comic book reader, yet when these comic book heroes are staring in movies I'm all about it.  That is why I knew I had to see The Avengers in the theaters.  Was it worth the $10 ticket, $6 ICEE and $3.50 Twizzlers?  Definitely! 

The Avengers brings together a group a super heroes to save the earth.  What happens when you get big-ego super-heroes with a save-the-world complex together?  Complete chaos.  It was great!  I loved Stark's (Iron Man) witty comments.  I laughed so hard as he bickered with the other heroes.  Thor and Captain America were kind-hearted, sweet, and incredibly good looking.  Together the Avengers were one kick-butt team ready to take on the world of evil.  I, however, want to know how I can be one of those token humans on the team.  Seriously how did they get that job among the heroes?

I still don't think I completely understand the plot, but the action and humor totally make up for it.  Even if you are not a fan of comics, I highly suggest you see this movie. 

Want to see more?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review of Virals by Kathy Reichs

Title: Virals
Author: Kathy Reichs
Narrator: Cristin Milioti
Published by: Penguin Audio
Length: 8 sound discs (9 hr., 30 min.)
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends they're a pack. They are Virals

Virals is like no other book I've ever listened to.  I'm glad I didn't really know what the book was about when I checked it out from the library because Virals is not the typical type of book I read and I probabaly wouldn't have picked it up.  However, I ended up really enjoying it. 

The Virals are a group of friends who end up catching an experimental virus that gives them special powers.  I love this idea; it's kind of a Heros and X-Men mix.  At first Tory and her friends' new abilities were kind of freaky, but as they learned to control their new powers and use them for good I was more on board.  The scenes were really funny as each person dealt with their changing bodies and emotions in different ways. 

Tory and her friends were also great characters.  They each had their own vibe, but meshed really well as a group.  I did, however, wish there was a little more character development.  While I liked these characters, I never felt like I really got to know them or understand them.

The best thing about this novel was definitely the mystery that the Virals had to solve.  There are twists and turns in the plot and you're never quite sure who are the bad guys and who are the good guys.  I was a bit shocked when we found out who was responsible.

The narration of this book was done really well.  It was easy to follow and flowed really well.  I loved how the audio indicated the change from when the Virals were in their normal mode and when they went into their paranormal mode.  It always nice when an audio does something a bit extra to help the readers/listeners out. 

Virals definitely taught me it is worth trying a book outside your normal comfort just might be pleasantly surprised. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

 Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Published by: Poppy/Little Brown
Pages: 236
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. She’s stuck at JFK, late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s in seat 18C. Hadley’s in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

Do you believe in love at first sight?  When asked this question I always respond that no I don't believe in love at first sight, but I'm open to the possibility of love at first "meet." 

Jennifer E. Smith takes this common concept of love at first sight and puts an interesting twist on it.  I loved the story itself.  For some reason the thought of two people meeting at an airport and falling in love throughout their flight is just inspiring.  Hey, maybe I should hang out at airports more often!

Hadley was a little sullen at first.  I think Oliver really brought out the good side of her and got her out of her "funk."   She's had a rough time since her father left and I think that not dealing with those emotions has made her a little bitter.  Oliver on the other hand seems fun loving and carefree when you first meet him.  Jennifer E. Smith picked the perfect balence of characters with these two.  They make a great pair and though their journey together was short they made a lasting impression on each other and me.  I really liked Oliver.  He was so cute and adorable that you can't help but fall in love with him. 

The writing was done well and very captivating.  The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was super cute and definitely a great summer read. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Six Books I'd Recommend As Good Beach Reads
1. The Gallagher Girls Series by Ally Carter.  These books are light, fun, and about girls training to be spies.  I'm quite jealous of their school and all the cool things they get to do.
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls, #1)
2. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.  This book is just too cute.  Make sure to set a timer to reapply that SPF because you won't want to put this book down.   
Lola and the Boy Next Door
3. Sleeping Tigers by Holly Robinson.  While this may not be considered a typical beach read, it is captivating and inspirational.  It's definitely a book you should read this summer.   
Sleeping Tigers
4. The O'Malley Series by Dee Henderson.  Full of action and romance, these books will hook you from page one. 
The Protector (O'Malley #4)
5. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.  You're on a beach, they're stranded on a beach; it's perfect.  Plus you'll be laughing so much that everyone flock to you to find out what's so funny. 
Beauty Queens
6. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg.  If your feeling lonely without that summer romance, this book will get you out of that funk.   
The Lonely Hearts Club
I can't wait to hear about your beach reads.  I'm definitely in the mood for some summer fictional romance.