Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 114

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

1. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I know some people are tired of the Shadowhunter world (which I definitely understand) but Clockwork Princess was just a fantastic ending to The Infernal Devices trilogy. I really couldn't ask for a better book.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
It took me forever to read this novel, but I'm so glad I finally did! John Green continues to amaze me and I am very much looking forward to the movie.

3. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
I read both of Ruta Sepetys's books this year and they were amazing. I think I liked Out of the Easy better due to the wonderful atmosphere of New Orleans and the array of side characters that brought the story to life.

4. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Even though I was disappointed by Just One Year (review forthcoming), I stand by my original opinion of Just One Day, which I really enjoyed.

5. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
I would really love to reread this book because it was that good. It's very literary for those of you who don't like fluff and I completely understand why it won the Printz award.

6. Prodigy by Marie Lu
Normally book #2 of a trilogy or series falls prey to the Middle Book Syndrome but I liked Prodigy even more than Legend! I can't wait to finish off the series.

7. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
What a great dystopian novel! I can't wait to finish this trilogy either.

8. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
I haven't read a Sarah Dessen book in long time but I was so impressed by her latest work. I want to live in Colby!

9. If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
This book surprised me but it was wonderful. Very thought-provoking and the story just flowed so naturally. Laura Nowlin has a great voice.

10. The Language Inside by Holly Thompson
Not a fan of verse or poetry, but Holly Thompson drew me in with her beautiful writing.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Christmas Cookie Collection by Lori Wilde

The Christmas Cookie CollectionSummary:
Four delightful novellas featuring characters from Lori Wilde's New York Times bestselling book The First Love Cookie Club. First published as e-originals, they are now available in one volume and in print for the first time. (from GoodReads)

For some reason I keep getting all these romance novels in the mail, most of them by author Lori Wilde. I'm not really a big fan of straight romance, but I finally decided to read this Christmas themed novel in order to get into the holiday spirit.

What was different about this book was that it had four novellas about four different characters, all involving romance and Christmas. The characters are pretty much all friends or acquaintances and all live in the town of Twilight, Texas. This is the corniest town around, because they have a legend that if you throw a penny in the fountain, you will be reunited with your first sweetheart. A cute concept but  if I lived there I would probably get tired of all the couples on vacation because Twilight is a popular tourist destination for honeymoons and Valentine's Day.

What I didn't like was that most of the relationships weren't that well developed, but that's obviously because each story is about 100 pages. The story I liked best was about a woman whose husband found out she had a baby thirty years before, and then her daughter ends up in Twilight. That story was actually pretty interesting. The others were cute but really weren't anything special.

If you like romance novels I'm sure you'd enjoy this one, especially if you're looking for something holiday themed.

Rating: 6 out of 10.
FTC: sent from publisher.

2013/Avon/384 pages

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 113

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

Since it's Christmas Eve and a very busy day so I'm going to make a quick list! I hope everyone enjoys Christmas and the holidays!

1. Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton

2. Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

3. Double Down by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

4. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

5. Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

7. Past Perfect by Leila Sales - I've already read this book but I really want to read it again!

8. The Story of Us by Deb Caletti

9. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

10. Champion by Marie Lu

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin

Official Book Club Selection is Kathy Griffin unplugged, uncensored, and unafraid to dish about what really happens on the road, away from the cameras, and at the star party after the show. (It's also her big chance to score that coveted book club endorsement she's always wanted. Are you there, Oprah? It's me, Kathy.)

Kathy Griffin has won Emmys for her reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, been nominated for a Grammy, worked and walked every red carpet known to man, and rung in the New Year with Anderson Cooper. But the legions of fans who pack Kathy's sold-out comedy shows have heard only part of her remarkable story. Writing with her trademark wit, the feisty comic settles a few old scores, celebrates the friends and mentors who helped her claw her way to the top, and shares insider gossip about celebrity behavior–the good, the bad, and the very ugly. She recounts the crazy ups and downs of her own career and introduces us to some of the supertalented people she encountered before they got famous (or, in some cases, after fame went to their heads). Word to the wise: If you've ever crossed Kathy Griffin at some point in your life, check the index for your name.

Along the way, Kathy reveals intimate details about her life before and after she made the big time. She opens up about everything from growing up with a dysfunctional family in suburban Illinois to bombing as a young comedian in L.A., from her well-publicized plastic surgery disasters to her highly publicized divorce, and more. Only in this book will you learn how the dinner table is the best training ground for a career in stand-up, how speaking your mind can bite you on the ass and buy you a house, and which people in Kathy's life have taught her the most valuable lessons–both inside and outside the entertainment industry. And as if all that wasn't enough, there are also dozens of exclusive and somewhat embarrassing photos from Kathy's own collection–featuring the diva of the D List herself, with her old nose as well as her new one, plus celebrity friends, foes, frenemies, and hangers-on for you to gawk at.

Refreshingly candid, unflinchingly honest, and full of hilarious "Did she really say that?" moments, Official Book Club Selection will make you laugh until you cry, or just puke up a little bit. (From GoodReads)

Kathy Griffin is one of my favorite celebrities. I think she's hilarious and I absolutely love her reality TV show My Life on the D-List. She always gets put into crazy situations and comes up with the funniest things to say and do in response.

Her book is similar to the show. I recognized some of the stories and events because I had seen them on tv. But there was a lot of new information, particularly about her childhood and how she started out in show business. Some of the stuff is not pretty, especially about her oldest brother Kenny. But it's all super interesting and of course Kathy adds her humor to all the stories.

What I loved about Official Book Club Selection is that I could hear Kathy's voice throughout the entire narration. I'm sure she had a ghostwriter to help her, but I could tell that a lot of it was Kathy's writing too. I enjoyed getting all the celebrity gossip and on her relationships with certain actors. I never knew Kathy was close to Brooke Shields or Jerry Seinfeld. The only thing I didn't like was a whole chapter dedicated between her and Steve Wozniak. I flew through the whole book but that chapter ground the reading to a halt.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Kathy Griffin. She's really crude and brash so if that's not your cup of tea then don't read this book - you probably won't like it. But for people who know and like Kathy, make sure you pick up this book if you haven't already!

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.
FTC: bought

2009/Ballatine Books/348 pages.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 166

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

13409664Bones meets Fringe in a big, dark, scary, brilliantly-plotted urban thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end.

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother's job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone's skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn't trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn't figure it all out soon—she'll be next. (From GoodReads)

Well I love the tv show Bones so I was hooked on the first sentence. This sounds so spooky and a little like The Body Finder Series. Nearly Gone will be released March 25, 2014.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 112

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten New to Me Authors of 2013

1. Neal Shusterman - I read both Unwind and UnWholly this year and they are amazing sci fi books. I can't wait to finish the trilogy with UnSouled.

2. Ruta Sepetys - I can't believe I went so long without reading a book by Sepetys. She is a fantastic writer and I loved both Out of the Easy and Between Shades of Gray.

3. Kasie West - I thought that The Distance Between Us was the cutest book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I want to read Pivot Point which is a vastly different concept.

4. Holly Thompson - I'm really not a fan of novels in verse, but The Language Inside was beautifully written.

5. John Corey Whaley - Where Things Come Back has to be my favorite title of the year and the boo was just as good!

6. Amy McNamara - Lovely, Dark and Deep perfectly describes Amy McNamara's debut novel, which was a fascinating look at depression.

7. Elizabeth Wein - This is another author I can't believe I waited this long to read. It was hard to get into Code Name Verity but the second part of the book is excellent.

8. Megan Shepherd - I really enjoyed The Madman's Daughter even though I never read The Island of Dr. Moreau, the classic novel on which this book was based. I'm really excited to see what happens next in the sequel.

9. Kerstin Gier - I've been wait to read Ruby Red for so long and it did not disappoint!

10. Laura Nowlin - If He Had Been With Me was surprisingly good and I'm so glad I picked it up!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Blast: Forsaken by Sophia Sharp

I'm so excited to announce the release of Forsaken by Sophia Sharp. This paranormal romance was just published yesterday and is a perfect gift for this holiday season. Read below for more information, including an excerpt. Enter your name into the international giveaway for a chance to win one of ten copies! Good luck!!

Nora Colburn was perfectly content in life. A junior in high school, she had good friends, a great family, and did well in school.  Nothing particularly exciting ever happened where she lived, and everything was stable.

But that all drastically changes when a new student arrives at Nora’s school. Wild rumors swirl about his past, and Nora becomes determined to find out the truth.

As she gets to know the mysterious student, he shares with her an ancient secret... one that may yet put both of them in grave danger.

And for the first time in her life, Nora is exposed to a completely unfamiliar world. She is swept away on an exhilarating journey that takes her to a place where romance and great destiny may yet await... and where supernatural powers run wild. 

Book Excerpt:

Hunter cut off with a strangled sound, and in an instant, he was at the door. “They’re coming,” he hissed over his shoulder.

“What? Already? You said we’d have until nightfall!”

“I was wrong.” He shut the door quickly and rushed to the opposite wall. “You need to hide.” He pulled back a board to reveal a small cubby in the wall. “Quickly!”

Nora ran without arguing.

“Get in,” he told her, “and don’t make a sound.” Nora nodded. Her pulse raced, and a jolt of adrenaline kicked through her. A mixture of fear and dread came over her as she pushed herself into the wall. There wasn’t much space, and splinters and rough pieces of wood pierced her skin and got caught on her clothing. She wedged herself farther in.  Hunter replaced the board.

Light scattered in from cracks along the wall.  Nora pressed an eye to one of them. She could see the entire space between her and the entrance door. Hunter stood facing the door with his back to her. His feet were wide in a predatory stance.

Anxious minutes passed. Only Nora’s ragged breaths broke the silence, and they sounded as loud as hammers to her ears.

Slowly, the door started to move. Hunter tensed.

It creaked all the way open, and a tall figure stepped into the entrance. Nora’s breath caught. It was the same man from the dream, the same one she saw at the school.

“Where’s your friend?” the man asked Hunter crudely. He spoke with a harsh accent.

If it were possible, Hunter tensed even more. The man took a step forward. He wore the same long coat from before, the same dark hat. He and Hunter were approximately the same height. Leisurely, he started to take off his coat. Hunter still hadn’t moved.

The man dropped his coat in a pile at his side, and Nora saw that he was much thicker than Hunter. Bigger, more developed.


“Don’t try to hide her. I can smell her stench from here. I know she is with you.”

“You will not have her.” Hunter’s voice held a steely edge.

The man laughed. “Oh? Is that so?  And you think you’re going to stop me?” He laughed again. “You have broken the ancient creed by bringing her into our world. You will answer for your crime.  As will she.”

“You will not have her,” Hunter repeated, his voice filled with a deathly calm.

The man waved dismissively and took a step toward Hunter. “You cannot stop me,” he said. “And I don’t intend to take only her. You’ll be coming along, as well.”

“No,” Hunter growled.

“Oh, yes, I will take you both.” The man stood only a pace away from Hunter, now. “You cannot imagine what they will do to you. You will be bound in chains, locked away to never again see the dark of night or feel the cool rays of the moon. You will grow weak and feeble, forever barred from taking blood. You will never feed again.

“Your body will go first. Your muscles will wither to nothingness.  Your bones will crumble. You will become a shadow of what you once were. A shadow of what you could have been.
“But they will keep your mind sharp. Make no mistake, you will know you are suffering. An antidote will be administered, and it will stave off the madness that accompanies your deprivation. You will languish in misery, forever conscious of your mistake. That will be your sentence.  To suffer, until the end of time.”

The man took one last step, until he was nose-to-nose with Hunter. And he spoke just loudly enough for Nora to hear.  “But that pales in comparison to what they will do to her.”

Hunter snarled.

“Yes, her. Your precious human.” He spat the word. Then he raised his voice. “I know you are here, little one. Listen well to what I have to say.”

He returned his attention to Hunter. “She will suffer for your sin. A human mind and body is much weaker than that of our kind, and for that reason…she will be converted. And sentenced to suffer eternally alongside you.

“You know of the savage bloodlust that overtakes a new member of our race, do you not? Oh, but I think you do. You were once one of them, were you not? You were born a human.” Again, he spat the word. “A despicable thing. A despicable creature to risk so much for, wouldn’t you say?”

Hunter didn’t say a word, and the man continued. “I will give you one chance. One chance now, to repent. Give her up freely, and the punishment for your treason will be less severe. You will be bound for one century, before your freedom is returned.” He put a hand on Hunter’s shoulder. “You know you cannot win. Is she worth an eternity in hell?”

Nora caught a furtive movement at the door. The other hunter. “No!” she screamed. It was a trap.

On Nora’s cry, both newcomers looked in her direction. Hunter curled back from the man’s hand and smashed an elbow into his face. The thick man stumbled back.

Then he laughed cruelly and flung himself at Hunter.


Author Bio:

I've been writing stories for as long as I can remember. Actually, that's a bit of a lie. I've been writing since the third grade, when a wonderful teacher asked everyone in class to write a fairy tale, and ended up picking mine as his favorite. He didn't tell the other kids, of course - but confided it in my parents. He said I have a natural knack for writing (his exact words! and I remember them to this day), and should never stop. So, I've kept going..

I've mostly been keeping it to myself, though. I've never really thought about becoming an "author," or a "writer" (quotations because those goals are still so far away!), so never had the need to share with anyone or publicize my stories. But, I'm just finishing up my second year in college, and have really started to think about careers and life goals and such other mysterious things. And while my friends were all busy trying to get internships for the summer this year, I just kept to myself with my writing hobby. I don't have an interest in going out and working professionally in the "real world" -- I want to keep writing forever, and I want to have time to do it. The only way I see myself having that time, though, is by becoming a published author.

So there you have it. That's the abbreviated history of one Sophia Sharp. I've been working on a few young adult paranormal/fantasy novels for the past few months, and I'm putting them all up as soon as they're done! Why young adult? Because it's what I love to read. And why paranormal/fantasy? Because that genre gives the greatest opportunities for creating a magical, romantic, quixotic world that I can fall in love with.

Buy the Book!




Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move - four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading. (from GoodReads)

I thought that What Happened to Goodbye was really cute! Not my favorite Dessen book by any means, but a good read nonetheless.

It's hard not to compare this novel to The Moon and More because I read them almost one after the other. I definitely liked The Moon and More because I just wanted to live in Colby with Emaline and her crazy family. This book was slightly different because it takes place during the school year (most of Dessen's novels are set during the summer). It's really funny because Mclean does go to Colby and North Reddemine and some other locations that are featured in TM&M. I love how old characters pop up unexpectantly - like Jason who's a minor character in What Happened to Goodbye was also in The Truth About Forever.

I thought the restaurant aspect of this novel was the best part. I love the hustle and bustle and seeing Mclean and her dad try to save a failing business was really interesting. There's a great cast of characters, like Opal, Deb and Dave who add a lot of life and spark to What Happened to Goodbye.

The things that need improvement: I wish Mclean had a stronger voice. She was the typical narrator but was kind of bland. I think that's because she's so used to trying on these different personas and names that she didn't have an original personality. Also the romance between Dave and Mclean was pretty lackluster. He's an awesome character but definitely seemed more like a friend than lover.

The relationship between Mclean and her mom was definitely compelling. There's a lot of tension there in the beginning because Mclean blames her mom for her parents' divorce. Her mom did cheat on her dad... As someone with divorced parents, I could definitely understand Mclean's perspective. It was nice to see her and mom get a little closer though.

Not my favorite Dessen book but not my least favorite either. It's a great read regardless though.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library

2011/Viking Juvenile/402 pages.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 165

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers who like to make lists about books.

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it. (from GoodReads)
First off, I love seeing a WOC on the cover of a YA book!!! Also this sounds so spooky! Of Metal and Wishes will be released August 5, 2014.

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars).

The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous

But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far. (from GoodReads)

I thought that Going Vintage had a really cute premise and for the most part was a light and fun novel. I definitely enjoyed it, though there were definitely things I didn't like.

I thought the theme of "vintage" was adorable and especially appropriate because Mallory's father deals with antiques. Old things are cool, so I definitely understood Mallory's fascination with the early 60s. There were some good messages about the Internet and how things can go wrong when you're online. I think it's good that everyone take some time away from their cell phones and technology. There's no need to be connected 24/7 and I think Mallory learned that valuable lesson.

I really liked Oliver as a love interest; he was a great character and good for Mallory. I liked how the ending was not super traditional and that Mallory sees he value in being single, especially just after breaking up with a long-time boyfriend.

The one part I didn't like was the break-up between Mallory and her boyfriend Jeremy. He's obsessed with the online game Second Life, in which you pretty much live another life on the computer. Mallory accidently finds emails between Jeremy and his online "wife" who lives states away. Instead of having a discussion about this (which would have been super interesting - emotional vs. physical cheating is kind of a gray area for some people) she runs out of his house, refuses to talk with him and breaks up with him on a social networking site. I actually felt pretty bad for Jeremy because I don't think he knew what was going on at first. He obviously wasn't the greatest boyfriend but I think he at least deserved an explanation of how it's not okay to get emotionally and romantically attached to someone who isn't your girlfriend. That first scene kind of showed me Mallory's maturity level.

Other than my nitpicking I still enjoyed the book. There's a lot going on - Mallory has two parents, a sister, grandmother and friends who all get their own storylines - but it was a fun ride. There were some legitimately funny parts too.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Bloomsbury/320 pages.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 111

Top Ten Tuesday was started by for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR List

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
This was just released by I have yet to read it! Especially now that Divergent will be a movie in a few months, I want to know how the trilogy ends!

2. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Just One Day was such an amazing book and I've been dying to find out what happens next since I finished.

3. Double Down by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
I'm getting my dad this book for Christmas, so I will definitely get a chance to read it too! I'm sneaky I know. It's about the 2012 presidential election and obviously I've been waiting awhile to read it.

4. Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
Ugh I still can't believe I haven't read this yet!!! What is wrong with me?!

5. The Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton
Same with this book! This is one of my favorite trilogies and I really dropped the ball on finishing it.

6. Champion by Marie Lu
I thought Prodigy was even better than Legend which is why I'm super excited for Champion.

7. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
I absolutely adore Leila Sales and her writing is hilarious. Cannot wait to read this!

8. Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
I really loved Ruby Red and I can't wait to get this sequel from the library.

9. Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
This won't be released until the end of January but I plan on reading it right when it comes out. I was really left hanging after The Madman's Daughter.

10. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
It seems as though everyone but me has read this. Over Winter Break I need to get this and read it!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book vs. Movie: Catching Fire

Ok so by now everyone should have seen Catching Fire and if you haven't you need to get there ASAP. I saw the movie right when it was released and it was amazing!!! What a great experience. I'm going to list the things that I liked and didn't like (are they any??) so beware of minor spoilers.

The pacing was fantastic. Pretty much every important scene in the book was hit in the movie and nothing was really changed. Even some of the lines were direct quotes! There is one scene in particular that was cut that some people might be annoyed about but overall they screenwriters did an excellent job.

The casting and acting were superb. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson and every other actor continue to do a great job. The new additions, which included Sam Clafin, Jena Malone and Philip Seymour Hoffman, really embodied their characters and I can't wait to see them in Mockingjay.

I just can't wait to see what they do with Mockingjay, especially because they're splitting it into two movies. I was kind of annoyed when I found out about that because we'll have to wait even longer to see the whole series finished and it's most likely a money-making ploy. I wasn't the biggest fan of Mockingjay so I'm nervous but I'm sure they'll do a great job.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer. (from GoodReads)

I haven't read a Sarah Dessen novel in such a long time (over 4 years) and I forgot how much I enjoy her books! For some reason I just sucked right into The Moon and More and couldn't put it down.

What I loved most about this book is that I wanted to live in it. The small beach town of Colby is very appealing. I love the beach in general and the tight-knit community just seems like a nice way to live. The way Dessen describes it, it's like a real place. Colby as been featured in a few other of her books (Keeping the Moon and Along for the Ride) and some of the characters in those books make small appearances! But I felt like Colby was actually a character in The Moon and More because there's the theme of small town vs. city life and the differences between them.

I also loved loved loved Emaline's family. She works for her grandmother's realty company so she spends a lot of time with them and I could see the love between them all (even though they could be super annoying). Seeing Emaline develop a relationship with her real father and half-brother was one of the best parts of the book. This novel really drives home the idea that there are all different types of family (Emaline has a "father" and a "dad" for goodness sake).

The romance was probably the weakest part of the novel and I think that was the point. In the beginning Emaline is dating her long-time boyfriend Luke but then moves on to the new Theo, who is from New York City and is supposed to be very sophisticated. Let me just say this: I did not like Theo at all, and I'm pretty sure the readers weren't supposed to. He's definitely not as sophisticated as described and quite frankly he's pretty annoying as a character. Even so, it was nice seeing a non-traditional love story featured in YA.

This book made me super nostalgic for summer and the beach, especially as it's snowing outside right now. I also loved that Emaline was going to East University for college. Pretty sure Dessen is referring to East Carolina University since the book takes place in North Carolina. Two of my uncles went there which is why I'm familiar with it. In addition, Emaline gets some flak for not going to Columbia. She got a full ride to a decent school (East) and a person would be crazy not to take that. Good job Emaline. Anyway, this is definitely one of my favorite Dessen books, which means you should go read it.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Viking Juvenile/435 pages.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 164

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released.

The Last Forever by Deb Caletti

17974924Endings and beginnings sit so close to each other that it’s sometimes impossible to tell which is which.

Nothing lasts forever, and no one gets that more than Tessa. After her mother died, it’s all she can do to keep her friends, her boyfriend, her happiness from slipping away. And then there’s her dad. He’s stuck in his own daze, and it’s so hard to feel like a family when their house no longer seems like a home.

Her father’s solution? An impromptu road trip that lands them in a small coastal town at Tessa’s grandmother’s. Despite all the warmth and beauty there, Tessa can’t help but feel even more lost.

Enter Henry Lark. He understands the relationships that matter. And more importantly, he understands her. A secret stands between them, but Tessa’s willing to do anything to bring them together—because Henry may just be her one chance at forever. (from GoodReads)

I love Deb Caletti because she's such a good writer and I always get sucked into her stories. Can't wait to see what happens in this book. The Last Forever will be released April 1, 2014.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 110

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten 2014 Releases I'm Dying to Read

1. Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita
This is definitely the number one book I'm looking forward to reading. It's a companion novel to Sleepaway Girls and I can't wait to be back at Camp Whispering Pines!

2. Vengeance by Megan Miranda
I read Fracture awhile ago, but I'm still curious what happens in the sequel. I love the spookiness of this series!

3. Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
I really loved The Madman's Daughter and I can't wait to see what happens next to Juliet!

4. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
For some reason I thought this was already released but it's not coming out until May! How will I survive?

5. Panic by Lauren Oliver
This reminds me of The Hunger Games, but I know Lauren Oliver will make the story great.

6. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
The last book in The Mortal Instruments Series! I can't believe it.

7. The Last Forever by Deb Caletti
I love Deb Caletti so I will happily read anything she writes.

8. A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
This book is about the 1918 Spanish Influenza, a subject I don't know much about.

9. Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook
This seems sad but that there will be a lot of secrets and mystery.

10. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hooked by Liz Fichera

When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile... (from GoodReads)

Review:I really loved the concept of Hooked. It featured things you don't usually see in YA: golf and Native Americans. I loved having a WOC as our protagonist and learning more about the sport of golf. This combination (along with the romance) got me hooked on Hooked.

It's easy to dive right into this novel because the character's voices are so well-written. The narration switches between Fred and Ryan, so we get both of their perspectives which are pretty different, especially at the beginning. It's easy to root for Fred and hard to like Ryan, but that changes as the book progresses. I loved seeing Ryan's character development and how he became a better person. I just wish Ryan and Fred's lovely relationship had developed that much too. They fell in love pretty quickly and I would have liked to see them be friends longer before they the romance angle was added in.

The author appears to making this a series because the sequel is about Fred's friend Sam and Ryan's younger sister. I'm not sure if I'm going to check it out yet but I would like to see how Fred and Ryan are doing in the future.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: received from publisher

2013/Harlequin Teen/363 pages.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Lair by Emily McKay

In the battle against the vampiric Ticks, humanity was slowly but certainly headed for extinction. For months, twin sisters Lily and Mel had been "quarantined” with thousands of other young people being harvested for their blood—food for the Ticks. Finally escaping with a few friends, the twins are separated—and must continue the fight on their own . . .

After making it to a resistance base camp in Utah, Lily learned to survive at all costs. But when a Tick attack decimates the fighters, Lily and her pregnant friend, McKenna, decide to make the hard trek north to Canada—and safety.

Meanwhile, Mel is being taught how to survive by the very vampire that turned her. Living without her sister is hard, but dealing with the fact that her autism was cured by the vampire bite is an even bigger challenge.

But when a monstrous betrayal places Lily in mortal danger, Mel must set out to find her, save her, and begin to unravel the empire of destruction that the Ticks have built. (from GoodReads)

I feel like this trilogy is really underappreciated. It's kind of one of those hidden gems and gets lost among the plethora of paranormal and vampire novels that are flooding the market. I know vampires are pretty passé right now but The Farm and The Lair surprisingly breathe new life into this genre.

What makes The Farm Trilogy so interesting is that it combines paranormal and post-apocalyptic elements to create a new type of story. And not only are there vampires, but there are ticks, which are vampire/zombie hybrids and are pretty frightening when you think about it. When you start the books you'll be overwhelmed by all the new terminology and all the different plots going on, but it all weaves together so wonderfully and you get a great story out of all it.

The Lair is similar to its predecessor in that it changes points-of-view between Lily, Mel and Carter. What confused me slightly was that the narration for Mel and Carter is first person while Lily's chapters are third-person. No idea why that is. Regardless, I enjoyed getting the different perspectives especially since at some points all three are own their own. So we get even more story!

Another qualm I had about the novel was I'm not sure what year it's supposed to be. I'm guessing around 2012-2013? I only say this because the author makes some really current references, like the Seal Team 6 killing Osama bin Laden and One Direction. I'm not sure if they fit on the timeline or not. But it's obviously not a huge deal in the big picture.

The Lair is full of twists, turns, action, fear, sadness and hope. Some of the twists I predicted and some I did not expect at all. I enjoyed being surprised at those points. Honestly, I think Emily McKay is just telling a really good story and I can't wait to see what happens next. I hope she writes the last book quickly; I don't know if I'll be able to wait another year!

Rating: 10 out 10.
FTC: sent copy from publisher

2013/Berkley Trade/432 pages

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 163

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released soon.

The Taking by Kimberly Derting

17838475A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own? (from GoodReads)

This sounds so creepy! I know Kimberly Derting will do the plot justice because she's so good at writing the spooky Body Finder series. The Taking will be released April 29, 2014.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 109

Top Ten Tuesday was started by Breaking the Spine for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to Reluctant Readers

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is one of those books that anyone can enjoy - my dad and brother even like this series! A lot of people that don't read frequently have picked up The Hunger Games which shows how universal these books are!

2. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is a fantastic writer and her books really draw you in, which is good for those that don't like to read.

3. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
This book is so funny, you don't even realize you're reading.

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Even though it was written in the 1920s, the language is pretty easy to understand and the themes are timeless. This is my sister's favorite book and she doesn't like to read.

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent is very exciting and fast-paced. And since it's about to be made into a movie, there's extra incentive to get a reluctant reader to pick it up.

6. Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan
For those that like something scary, Lois Duncan's novels are perfect. They're super short too.

7. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
If you haven't seen the movie yet (or even if you have) this book is a great recommendation. It's a fun read and everyone loves the drama that comes with secret affairs.

8. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
This a cute romantic contemporary novel. Plus it's set in New York City - can't get much better than that.

9. Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
For those looking for an interesting beach read.

10. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
For those that want some light historical fiction. This series is like Gossip Girl set in the turn of the century.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be. (from GoodReads)

I love London so of course I'm going to pick up a book that is set here! Plus, romance and cute boys? Sign me up! I thought Meant to Be was a cute and fun story that anyone can enjoy.

Obviously I was first drawn in by the wonderful city of London. Since I've been there before, it was nice to revisit all the famous landmarks and tourist attractions that I saw. I would love to go back and I did for a time while reading Meant to Be.

Julia is an interesting protagonist, in that she's not the most likeable. She gets better in the end, but throughout the book she is set on finding her "meant to be" aka her soulmate. Julia uses her parents' supposedly perfect marriage as her guide to finding a boyfriend. This is problematic since her father died when she was about eight, so the memories of her family are definitely colored. Luckily she learns that no relationship or person is perfect and that will help her in the long-run.

Even though Jason could be pretty immature, I still enjoyed reading about him and seeing his and Julia's relationship develop. In the beginning they hated each other, but London brings them together. I was flying through the pages to see what would happen next.

Some of the aspects were a tad unrealistic. The students had way too many "cultural hours" (aka free time) on this trip and they each had their own hotel rooms! It is explained that their teacher knows the owner of this hotel but still. I loved that Julia is a swimmer (as am I) but would someone who won States in two events really go on a trip in the middle of her swim season (even though most swim seasons are finished by Spring Break, which is when this trip takes place)? I'm obviously nitpicking, but those were some things I was thinking about while reading.

Regardless, I still really enjoyed Meant to Be. The romance is cute, London is awesome and there's even some life lessons thrown in there. If you're looking for something light, make sure you check this out.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/Delacorte/304 pages.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 162

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released soon.

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

18465577A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them. (from GoodReads)

I can't say no to a modern day retelling of Peter Pan! Second Star will be released May 13, 2014.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 108

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

1. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis - I'm not sure what happened with this cover. The one for Across the Universe is absolutely gorgeous, with so many colors and the silhouettes. This is pretty ugly.

2. All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin - This is the paperback cover (and the sequels are designed in the same vein). I'm just not a fan. It looks too futuristic, like the cover is trying too hard.

3. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowing - So boring! Especially after the beautifully illustrated HP covers.

4. The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore - Not really a fan of the purple rose.

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver - I don't like this redesigned cover as much as the original. The face of a girl staring at the camera is always used - it's so boring!

6. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - The original wasn't amazing but I seriously don't like this one. Why is she wearing eyeliner?!? There was definitely no makeup in this post-apocalyptic world.

7. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - This doesn't match the first two in the trilogy so I'm not quite sure what to make it. I would definitely redesign to fit with the others.

8. Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer - The model's pose is so awkward and I'm not a fan of the green or the huge moon.
Wolfsbane (Nightshade, #2) 
9. Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill - I'm currently reading Meant To Be and the cover doesn't capture the awesomeness of London. How can you not have a picture of a double decker or something?!

10. Sever by Lauren DeStefano - I hate the background; it looks like a green screen. The model is posed too perfectly. I don't understand how the cover for Wither is so neat while this looks incredibly staged.

Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3)