Sunday, January 31, 2010

Evermore Winner!

The Evermore contest is closed, and a winner has been chosen. Thanks to everyone who entered! Look for a new 100 Follower Contest coming soon, most likely next weekend.

And the winner is:

The Bookologist!!

Congratulations! I have emailed you. Please respond within 72 hours, or a new winner will be chosen.

The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
Publication Date/Version: February 2010/Paperback
Publisher: Razorbill
Age Group: 14 and up
Received From: Author (Thanks!)

As leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), Tessa's mission is twofold: pep preservation and relationship salvation. That's right, Tessa is a head cheerleader whose night job is catching cheating boyfriends in the act! Thank goodness her own relationship with Aiden is strawberry-smoothie purrfect - except for the fact that she's been concealing her nocturnal habits for, oh, two years.

Aiden suspects something's up, and his patience is wearing thin. But in the meantime, Tessa's far to busy to deal with her own romantic roadblocks. The Naughty List is at maximum capacity; because so far, every single suspect on it is 100% guilty.

When sultry Chloe Ferril transfers to Washington High, things only become more catastrophic. Tessa knows this predatory vixen won't stop hunting Aiden until her claws are planted firmly in his backside...

But Tessa's in for an even bigger shock when Aiden's name shows up on The Naughty List, and she's finally forced to confront the unthinkable: is her own boyfriend just as naughty as all the rest?

Tara's head cheerleader of her squad. But she's much more than that. She's the leader of S.O.S. - the Society of Smitten Kittens. It's their job to catch cheating boyfriends in the act. Tara's boyfriend, Aiden, however, is getting suspicious. see, that's the thing. Tara's never told Aiden about her secret past time. And she, of all people, knows that secrets drive relationships apart. Then along comes Chloe, the gorgeous girl who obviously wants Aiden. And then there's Christian, Chloe's hot brother. Things get even worse, especially when Tara finds out that Aiden's name is on The Naughty List.

Debut author Suzanne Young is definitely going to have a hit on her hands. The Naughty List is juicy, full of drama, and enthralling!

Tara is spunky and has a go-got-'em attitude. She fights for what she wants, and she always gets it. She has the perfect boyfriend, she's head cheerleader, and she created S.O.S. The Society of Smitten Kittens is such a fun idea! Honestly, I would love to be a part of it. What girl wouldn't want to sneak around, have awesome equipment, and delve into other people's lives? Young's idea is completely original.

The plot was fast and fun. There was always a new mission, or at least new drama.The SOS reports cracked me up, as well. Be warned, though, there is a lot of sexual content. That should be fairly obvious, however, based on the fact that they catch cheating boyfriends. I enjoyed the character in this story. Tara was always perky, maybe a little bit too much, but it always put me in a better mood. Aiden actually had a personality, although he was a bit of the dumb jock type. I especially enjoyed Christian, the confusing and attractive new guy. I was secretly rooting for him.

The ending wasn't what I expected, but it left just enough loose strings for anything to happen in the second novel. I'm definitely a fan of Ms. Young, and I can't wait to read To Catch a Cheater, the 2nd title in the Naughty List series.

Overall: Juicy! Crazy romantic tension. Spunky. Quick read.

My Advice: Go buy a copy. Girls will get a kick out of this, and the spying will appeal to everyone's inner adventurer.

Cover: I'm really liking it! The blinds/window gives off the impression of spying, and the lingerie-littered bed totally describes the book. In a good way. ;]

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In My Mailbox (24)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Amazon and book covers.

For Review:

A Note From an Old Aquaintance by Bill Walker
(PB/June 2009/iUniverse)

Brian Weller is a haunted man. It's been two years since the tragic accident that left his three-year-old son dead and his wife in an irreversible coma. A popular author of mega- selling thrillers, Brian's life has reached a crossroads: his new book is stalled, his wife's prognosis is dire, and he teeters on the brink of despair. Everything changes the morning an e- mail arrives from Boston artist Joanna Richman. Her heartfelt note brings back all the poignant memories: the night their eyes met, the fiery passion of their short- lived affair, and the agonizing moment he was forced to leave Joanna forever. Now, fifteen years later, the guilt and anger threaten to overwhelm him. Vowing to make things right, Brian arranges a book- signing tour that will take him back to Boston. He is eager to see Joanna again, but remains unsure where their reunion will lead. One thing is certain: the forces that tore their love asunder will stop at nothing to keep them apart. Filled with tender romance and taut suspense, A Note from an Old Acquaintance is an unforgettable story about fate, honor, and the power of true love.

I received this for review from Pump Up Your Book. This isn't normally what I would pick up, but I remember reading a really wonderful review by another blogger so I decided to give it a chance.

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
(HC/Releases April 2010/Simon Pulse)

Everyone knows the unwritten rule:
You don't like you best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying special attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two tiny details: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants to do is hurt her best friend. But when she is thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens between them. It's wonderful...and awful. Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...

Oh my gosh! This sounds unbelievable, and I can't wait to start reading it. I received this for review from 1 ARC Tours.

Merlin's Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton
(PB/Releases March 2010/Sourcebooks Fire)

Among the towering trees of magical Avalon, where humans dare not tread, lives Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake and apprentice to Merlin the mage. Her people, the Fey, are folk of the wood and avoid the violence and avarice of man. But the strife of King Arthur's realm threatens even Avalon's peace, and Merlin needs his apprentice to thwart the chaos devouring Camelot. And so Niviene must use her special talents to help save a kingdom and discover the treachery of men and the beauty of love. A mystical love story, now back in print, sure to become a modern teen classic.

Doesn't this sound awesome? This was originally published in 1995, but now it's being republished and marketed towards teens. I received this from Sourcebooks Fire (a new teen imprint that looks really promising!) as part of a tour.

Beautiful Dead: Jonas by Eden Maguire
(PB/Releases March 2010/Sourcebooks Fire)

Something strange is happening in Ellerton High. Phoenix is the fourth teenager to die within a year. His street fight stabbing follows the deaths of Jonas, Summer and Arizona in equally strange and sudden circumstances. Rumours of ghosts and strange happenings rip through the small community as it comes to terms with shock and loss. Darina, Phoenix's grief-stricken girlfriend, is on the verge. She can't escape her intense heartache, or the impossible apparitions of those that are meant to be dead. And all the while the sound of beating wings echo inside her head...And then one day Phoenix appears to Darina. Ecstatic to be reunited, he tells her about the Beautiful Dead. Souls in limbo, they have been chosen to return to the world to set right a wrong linked to their deaths and bring about justice. Beautiful, superhuman and powerful, they are marked by a 'death mark' -- a small tattoo of angel's wings. Phoenix tells her that the sound of invisible wings beating are the millions of souls in limbo, desperate to return to earth. Darina's mission is clear: she must help Jonas, Summer, Arizona, and impossibly, her beloved Phoenix, right the wrong linked to their deaths to set them free from limbo so that they can finally rest in peace. Will love conquer death? And if it does, can Darina set it free?

This series is popular in the UK, and it's now being published in the US! I received this from Sourcebooks Fire as part of a tour.

Shadow by Jenny Moss
(HC/Releases April 2010/Scholastic)

In a time of kings, queens, and conspiracy, it's impossible to know whom one can trust. . . .

In a kingdom far away and long ago, it was prophesied at her birth that the queen would die before her sixteenth birthday. So Shadow, an orphan girl the same age as the young queen, was given the duty to watch her every move. And as prophesies do tend to come true, the queen is poisoned days before her birthday. When the castle is thrown into chaos, Shadow escapes with a young knight, whom she believes was betrothed to the queen.

Unsure of why she is following Sir Kenway, but determined to escape as far as possible from the castle, her long-time prison, Shadow sets off on an adventure with the handsome knight who has been charged with protecting her. As mystery builds, and romantic tension does, too, Shadow begins to wonder what her role in the kingdom truly is. Soon, she learns, it is up to her to save her land.

I received this for review from Around The World Tours.

wtf by Peter Lerangis
(PB/November 2009/Simon Pulse)

On one Friday night these six will test their limits to the extreme. Some are driven by lust, others by greed. One just wants to have fun, and another desires to be free. If everything goes as planned, they all get what they want. But within twenty-four hours, bones will break, bodies will touch, hearts will race, guns will be drawn, and everything will go oh so very wrong...

I received this from Simon & Schuster for review. Why? I have no idea. I didn't even know they had my address... Oh well! Sounds like an exciting book.

I had a great week! What about you?

New Look!

As you can see, I've refurbished my blog. I would say that I was tired of the old look, except there wasn't an old look. It was just white and blank. I always knew that I needed a layout, I just never sat down and got one. So now, here it is. And I'm in love with it. Completely, totally in love with it. The sky background fits The Book Owl, and I'm happy with my new header. What do you think? If you don't like, I don't really care. ;]

Friday, January 29, 2010

Metamorphosis: Junior Year by Betsy Franco, drawings by Tom Franco

Metamorphosis: Junior Year by Betsy Franco, drawings by Tom Franco
Publication Date/Version: October 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Recevied From: Teens Read Too (Thanks!)

Life. Love. Death. Identity.

Ovid's got a lot on his mind, and he pours it all into the pages of a notebook. Inspired by his namesake, he wryly records his classmates' drama as a modern-day Roman mythology. There's Sophie and Caleb, the Psyche and Cupid of cyber-couples; poetic Paula, who pursues filmmaker Franny like Apollo chasing Daphne; and graphic-novelist Duwayne, a Proserpina shuttling between divorced parents. Meanwhile, Ovid hides his own Olympian struggles and a disturbing secret. As he plaintively puts it, "There better be some god of journals and blogs who cares what I'm saying, or I'm screwed."

Metamorphosis: Junior Year is a combination of drawings, poems, journal entries, and narration. Ovid, drawing inspiration from his namesake, relates his high school experiences to Roman mythology. Each person in his life becomes a mythological character. Through his poems we learn people's deepest secrets, ones that no one else knows. But Ovid's got a dark secret of his own.

Oh. My. Gosh. That's really all I have to say. Metamorphosis completely blew me away! At only 114 pages comprised of short journal entries and poems, I read this book in under an hour. It was impossible to put down.

Ovid has such a strong voice, and his writing is breathtaking. Well, Betsy Franco's writing is breathtaking, I guess. Since, you know, she is the author. But Ovid becomes a real person through these pages. It feels as though someone published their high school journey. He's easy to connect with, and I felt more about him and his friends in 114 pages than I have in other 400 page books. He's emotional, raw, honest, and edgy.

The poetry in this book is quite possibly one of the coolest things ever. Ovid reveals one of his friend's secret with each new poem. They have such insight and meaning to them! The poems were easily my favorite part of this book. The pictures were definitely odd, and I had a hard time understanding them. With some help from Ovid, though, I gained some perspective about the drawings. I can't say that I completely understand them, but I grasp the general idea. I think that's the whole point really. This book is what you make it. It all depends on how you perceive it.

I really liked this book when I first finished it. But now, looking back, I'm in love. I found such a honesty that I hadn't found before or after. This is just one of those books that will stay with you forever. I tried, but nothing in this review will give this book the justice it deserves.

Overall: One of the best books I've ever read. Quick. Raw. Completely honest. Edgy. Easy to connect to. I give props to every bit of this book.

My Advice: Go buy yourself a copy right now. I mean it. I'll be terribly furious if you don't. You cannot pass this one up.

Cover: Love it! It suits the novel perfectly. The drawing is cool, and the title looks awesome.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz

Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
Publication Date/Version: December 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Egmont
Age Group: 14 and up
Received From: Around The World Tours (Thanks!)

When a rumor starts circulating that Tara's boyfriend, Brent, has been sleeping with one of the guy cheerleaders, the innuendo doesn't just hurt Tara - it marks the beginning of the end for three lifelong friends. Tara's training for a marathon, and running from her fear of abandonment. Whitney Blaire seems to have everything, but an empty mansion and absentee parents leave her looking for meaning in all the wrong places. And Pinkie has a compulsive need to mother everyone to make up for the mom she's never stopped missing. Their friendship has endured despite their differences, but the school's latest gossip could destroy it all.

Then new-girl Riley arrives on the scene, and suddenly Tara starts to feel things she's never felt before for a girl. Is Tara gay - or does she just love Riley? Can her deepest friendships survive when all of the rules have changed?

Rumors are flying that Tara's boyfriend, Brent, cheated on her. With another guy. Scandalous, to say the least. Tara, Pinkie, and Whitney Blaire have always been an odd group of friends, but they've always been able to stick together. But with the addition of Riley, the sultry new girl, things aren't looking so good. Tara can't resist Riley, and she's incredibly confused by this attraction. Now she's questioning everything she's ever known about herself.

Of All the Stupid Things easily could have been fluff, but it developed into so much more. Told in alternating perspectives of the three best friends, this story has some major drama. The pacing was a bit too up-and-down, but the ups were so darn exciting that they made up for the lulls. The plot seemed believable. Emotions went crazy, as did the girls.

I liked the characters for the most part. Tara, the most central character, was a bit under emotional and tough, but that's why I connected with her. Whitney Blaire was way too over the top for me, with her crazy temper. Pinkie was so clingy. Honestly girl, stop worrying! She was incredibly annoying, but I still found myself sympathizing with her because you could tell she was the odd one out. Riley seemed like a bad person based on everyone else's reaction to her, but she really wasn't that bad. I liked her quite a bit by the end of the story.

The problems in this novel were created by the classic the-main-characters-just-won't-talk-and-get-it-over-with syndrome. you know the one. It's so obvious that all the characters have to do is talk it out, but they're stubborn and refuse to. I was very happy with the ending. It was happy, but not in a sickly sweet way. Everything wasn't perfect and magically fixed. It was realistic.

I've got to say, all of the GLBT books I've been reading lately have been awesome!

Overall: Juicy plot! Quick read. Fun and feisty.

My Advice: I would personally recommend buying this. I don't like to tell people that, though, because I don't want them to spend 17 bucks and hate a book!

Cover: I actually love this cover! It's simple, and the cherries are adorable. The title is fun, and I especially like the font and color of the author's name. The back cover looks really cool as well. It's completely covered in dark red cherries. Awesome cover!

Note: This book was originally set to be published in 2010, so it counts towards the 2010 Debut Author Challenge

*I read this as a part of the 2010 Debut Author Challenge and the 100+ Reading Challenge

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Random Magic Quote

Normally, I don't post quotes from books. This one, however, was simple too good to pass up. This passage, and the story behind, is definitely one of my favorite quotes ever. I actually got tears in my eyes while reading this. Read this slowly, savor each sentence, and the end will be wonderful.

"Deep in the heart of a city, a woman stood alone, at the top of a golden bridge which gleamed in the sun.
.....For once, after many, many years of sorrow, she smiled to herself. She, too, had found what she was seeking.
.....For what she'd asked him, in her real voice, a voice that only the heart could hear, was a simple question:
.....Have you ever once loved another human creature so much that her life was more precious to you than your own?
.....And his heart had replied in words just as plain:
....."Yes," it said, and the power of it nearly blinded her."

Page 282, Random Magic by Sasha Soren

Random Magic by Sasha Soren

Random Magic by Sasha Soren
Publication Date/Version: January 2010/Paperback
Publisher: Beach Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Other Shelf Tours (Thanks!)

When absent-minded Professor Random misplaces the main character from Alice in Wonderland, young Henry Witherspoon must book-jump to fetch Alice before chaos theory kicks in and the world vanishes. Along the way he meets Winnie Flapjack, a wit-cracking doodle witch with nothing to her name but a magic feather and a plan. Such as it is. Henry and Winnie brave the Dark Queen, whatwolves, pirates, Struths, and fluttersmoths, Priscilla and Charybdis, obnoxiously cheerful vampires, Baron Samedi, a nine-dimensional cat, and one perpetually inebriated Muse to rescue Alice and save the world by tea time.

Professor Random has somehow managed to misplace Alice. Yes, that one. Now poor Henry Witherspoon (I've been reading a lot of books that involve that name Witherspoon!) has to go off in search of her. When he gets to this new world, he meets Winnie Flapjack, a doodle-witch. Along their quest they brave numerous indescribable creatures and people, all while forming a quirky connection.

First off, I did not think I was going to be able to make it through this book at all. Based on the first 40 pages-ish, I was so ready to quit. But I made myself go on because it was for a tour. I'm so glad I did! The rest of the book was fun and completely, totally crazy!

Once you got past the rough beginning, it was nothing but a whirlwind of odd characters and wonky puzzles. Describing this book is really making me stretch my adjectives! Henry and Winnie are looking for Alice, though they get incredibly sidetracked along the way. Not sidetracked, I supposed, but it is a very long journey with a ton of twists. Here's how I felt: Okay, we're off to find Alice. Oh, but first let's look at this tree. Step over this fern. Ah, what do we have here? A fire horse? Let's ride that and see where we go! Alice? Oh right! Alice! You get the idea. ;] It wasn't a problem for me, as I felt that all of these random events were eventually leading to the discovery of Alice, which indeed they did. Some people may be irked by the constant stop-and-go, however.

Henry and Winnie were both very entertaining characters. Henry was a bit more dull, but I found his sense of humor to be quite funny. Winnie, the leader of this little expedition, had a knack for being overly curious. It did lead to some entertaining situations though. The two didn't have an intense romantic connection, but their attraction to each by the end of the book was inevitable. When you risk life and limb with someone, how could you not appreciate them?

Random Magic could have used a bit more editing. There was a great story in there, but it was hidden under a bit of grime. A fewer twists, more focus.

Note: I found that this book smelled like salt. Weird, since it's published by Beach Books. Just thought I'd point that out.

Overall: Completely quirky, insane, and original. Random Magic will appeal to those looking for something way out of the normal. Don't go in expecting a perfect plot, only a good time. You won't be disappointed.

My Advice: Borrow this. I really do recommend it, but I realize that it definitely won't be for everyone.

Cover: I'm basically the only one, but I really like it! I think it looks better in person actually. So yeah, it's obviously Nicole Kidman. And people have said it's too crazy and doesn't fit the story. But honestly, with a story like this? The cover could have been an orange elephant swimming in a pool of jello with a werewolf, all painted Picasso style, and it still would have fit. Anything goes.

*This was read as a part of the
100+ Reading Challenge

Wishlist Wednesday (6)

This post is inspired by Stargirlreads at Books Make Great Lovers. In Wishlist Wednesday, I'll showcase a book that may or may not be out yet that I would love to review and cannot wait to read! Links and descriptions are from Amazon. Here's what's on my wishlist this week:

Torn to Pieces
by Margot McDonnell

Seventeen-year-old Annie always thought her mother was kind of quirky. In fact, her mom’s taste in 70s-esque furniture and mysterious frequent business trips were just the tip of the quirky iceberg. When her mom doesn’t come home on time from one of her long jaunts, Anne isn’t too surprised. But when a day late turns into a few days late, Anne knows something is very wrong.She tries the hotel number that her mother left her, but it has been disconnected. Then a strange man keeps leaving messages on their answering machine, looking for a woman who doesn’t even live there. However, when Anne discovers a lengthy letter from her mother explaining why she has disappeared, the fabric of Anne’s relatively normal life is torn to pieces. Despite her shock, Anne must pull herself together and protect herself—from people who want to find and hurt her mother, and the strange new boy who may change everything.

Reasons I want to read this:
1. This is the coolest premise ever. It sounds freaking amazing.
2. I just read a really good review for it.
3. Have you read the description?!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (10)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading in which one grabs her current read, opens to a random page, and gives two "teaser" sentences from that page.

"Maybe that's why it seems at least possible that there was something between him and Sanchez. Sanchez has that broad muscular body that is often only seen in enhanced photographs. If Brent were interested in guys, Sanchez would be his type."

Context: The main character, Tara, is debating whether it's possible that her boyfriend cheated on her with another guy.

Page 32, Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz


Monday, January 25, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3)

This is a weekly meme hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog.

Books finished last week (January 18-24):
The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

Books I am currently reading:
Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz - This book has me quite intrigued. I'm not very far, but I really like it already. The alternating points of view adds a lot to the story!

This week has been hectic. I started We Were Here, but then The Secret Year showed up and I had to read that first because it was for a tour. I finished that and started on We Were Here again, but then Of All the Stupid Things came, and it's part of a tour too. So poor We Were Here is being a little neglected. I'll get around to it eventually.

Books I need to write reviews for:
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
Random Magic by Sasha Soren
Metamorphosis: Junior Year by Betsy Franco
The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
The Seven Rays by Jesscia Bendinger

Oi, I'm so bad about writing reviews as soon as I finish a book. By the end of this week, though, I should be much more caught up, as finals will be over and I'll have time to work on my blog.

Up Next:
Not Ordinarily Borrowable by Thomas Thurman
Reel Culture by Mimi O'Connor
Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman by Ogo Akubue-Ogbata

What are you reading?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I checked on my blog this morning, and I couldn't believe it, but I now have 100 followers! I wanted to give a big Thank You to everyone who follows and read my blog. You guys and your comments really do make my day. Now I'm off to celebrate with some metaphorical ice cream. =] I will definitely be having a 100 Follower Contest soon!

I don't even like sprinkles, but this looks so yummy.

A Pearl Among Princes by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

A Pearl Among Princes by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Publication Date/Version: September 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Middle Grade
Received From: Teens Read Too (Thank You!)

It's summer on Miramore, and that means one thing: The island will be full of princes in training. This year the rules have changed, and a "PIT" may even woo a servant girl - and whisk her away on his royal boat. Since that's the only way to leave Miramore, catching a pirate's fancy would let Gracepearl Coal chase her faraway destiny that haunts her dreams. If only her heart didn't belong to Mackree the stable boy! As the giggly girls of the island primp for the ball and the princes prepare for the tournament, Gracepearl is torn: Must she betray her true love to discover her destiny? And will she be charming enough to have that choice?

Gracepearl is a local at Miramore. Lately, she wants more than her simple island life. She's been having dreams about people who are in need of her help, but she can't leave the island. This year, however, she may have a chance to do just that. Princes have always come each summer to train at Miramore. But there's a twist this year: princes can now marry local girls. This gives Gracepearl an opportunity to leave the island. Can she leave her true love, an island boy named Mackree?

A Pearl Among Princes was wonderful! I expected fluff and romance, but there was so much more to the story. Gracepearl is a lovable character and easy to connect with. She's fun and level-headed. Her best friends are enjoyable too, each with their own separate personalities. And the princes - how fun! I loved hearing about each one, especially Prince Peter and Prince Richard. I was personally rooting for Peter, the pirate prince. Does it get better than that? I was thinking the looks of Orlando Bloom in Pirates (my abbreviation for Pirates of the Caribbean) and the attitude of Johnny Depp. So attractive! You'll have to read the book to find out who Grace ends up with, though.

The setting was quite quaint, one of those small towns that everyone wants to grow up in. It fit the story perfectly and worked as a great backdrop to the plot.

The overall plot was fun and somewhat serious. I thoroughly enjoyed the courtship scenes, as they were cute and darling! The boys were adorable. I also liked that the book had a more mysterious, serious side to it. Grace's friends are acting off, and it's never very clear as to why. Grace has also been having visions of people who need her help, but she's not sure what she can do. I enjoyed reading about Grace's presents, which were set up by her deceased mother. One is given to her every year, and each has a special meaning. The ending was completely unexpected, but it was great!

Overall: Wonderful story! It has adorable romances, a quaint island, and a touch of seriousness.

My Advice: I completely recommend this. Only to girls, however. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore. I know I'll be buying a finished copy for my shelves.

Cover: The cover is too girly for me, with the sparkles and puffy dress. The girl is pretty and looks similar to how I imagined Gracepearl, but there's something about her expression that creeps me out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In My Mailbox (23)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Amazon and book covers.

For Review:

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
(ARC/Released January 2010/Viking)

Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly.

Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

I received this for review from Around The World Tours. You can read my review here.

Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
(ARC/Released December 2009/Egmont)

When a rumor starts circulating that Tara's boyfriend Brent has been sleeping with one of the guy cheerleaders, the innuendo doesn't just hurt Tara. It marks the beginning of the end for an inseparable trio of friends. Tara's training for a marathon, but also running from her fear of abandonment after being deserted by her father. Whitney Blaire seems to have everything, but an empty mansion and absentee parents leave this beauty to look for meaning in all the wrong places. And Pinkie has a compulsive need to mother everyone to make up for the mom she's never stopped missing. This friendship that promised to last forever is starting to break under the pressure of the girls' differences.

And then new-girl Riley arrives in school with her long black hair, athletic body, and her blasé attitude, and suddenly Tara starts to feel things she's never felt before for a girl--and to reassess her feelings about Brent and what he may/may not have done. Is Tara gay--or does she just love Riley? And can her deepest friendships survive when all of the rules have changed?

I received this for review from Around The World Tours. Sounds juicy!

Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman by Ogo Akubue-Ogbata
(PB/September 2009/Priceless Books)

The story kicks off in the early 1950s when two orphan sisters are separated against their wish because their aunt cannot afford to feed two mouths. The first sister is weak and wilts away but the second, Nkiru, digs deep and keeps on walking.

In the wake of her country's independence from British rule, Nkiru meets an aspiring diplomat with radical political views and hopes that love will put her life back on course. However, love only complicates things. Her new husband asks for more than she knows how to give and the past is filled with shameful secrets that threaten to erupt.

The plot thickens as Nkiru climbs the ladder of life, fearing the sudden loss of all that she has toiled for (her children's love, her husband's trust and the successful business she built out of nothing) all because of a single fatal mistake. At the same time, Nigeria descends further into conflict and corruption as a single foundational flaw leads to a brutal war and lingering mistrust.

Eventually Nkiru finds the courage to confront the past and seek forgiveness for an unpardonable sin. This is the only path to peace - both for Nkiru and her beloved country, Nigeria.

Set in the politically charged colonial and post-independence Nigeria (as well as the vibrant capitals of Uganda, Sierra Leone and Britain), Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman is a novel that fearlessly chronicles the history of Africa's most populous and complex country whilst tackling big themes such as ethnic identity, racial discrimination, domestic violence, gender equality, endemic corruption, entrepreneurship and self actualisation, as well as universal themes such as love, mother-daughter relationships, betrayal and forgiveness.

I received this for review from Pump Up Your Book. The author was kind enough to sign it. Thanks!

A Shadow in the Dark by Ronica Stromberg
(PB/March 2009/Royal Fireworks Press)

When Kirsten moves out to the country, she's happy to learn from a neighbor boy that another girl lives in a nearby farmhouse. Kirsten sets out to meet the girl but is told by an old woman at the house that she lives there alone.

Kirsten befriends another neighbor's granddaughter, and soon, the two overhear the old woman scolding someone in her house. They see a shadowy figure at the front windows of her house. And dresses they discover hanging on her clothesline are too small to be hers. Is someone being held captive? Who is the girl the neighbor boy saw? And why doesn't she come out?

Living It Up to Live It Down by Ronica Stromberg
(PB/November 2009/Royal Fireworks Press)

As a new believer, Kirsten Hart is looking for a Christian friend she can lean on and learn from. What better friend that ninth-grader Sarah Miles, the pretty and popular daughter of a preacher? But Kirsten's heard the old saying, "The preacher's kids are always the worst," and this school year, Sarah is living up to it. Why won't she straighten out?

I received this book and the one listed above for review from Teens Read Too. These can be purchased here.

I had a good week. What about you?

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Publication Date/Version: January 2010/Hardcover
Publisher: Viking
Age Group: 12 and up
Received From: Around The World Tours (Thanks!)

Colt was with Julia for a year, but nobody else knew about it. Julia lived on Black Mountain Road in a mansion - with servants - and had a country-club boyfriend to complete the picture. But Colt definitely didn't come form Black Mountain, and no one would have understood why they were together. It never mattered to them, but when Julia dies in an accident right before her senior year, Colt is suddenly the only one who knows their secret. He tries to pretend that his life is the same as ever, but he's haunted by memories of Julia. It gets even worse after the journal she keeps about their romance falls into his hands. Colt searches every entry for answers: Did Julia really love him? Was he somehow to blame for her death? But the ultimate question - one nobody can answer - is how he's supposed to get over someone who was never really his to begin with.

Colt and Julia were together, but no one else knew. Colt lived in the poor area of town, while Julia lived on Black Mountain with the rest of the rich kids. To top it off, Julia already had a boyfriend. One night, Julia is killed in a car accident. Her brother finds her journal and gives it to Colt. Colt must now try to get over Julia and get on with the rest of his life.

My overall impression of this book was blah. I'd heard so many great reviews, raving about the book and all of its wonderfulness, so I expected it to blow me away. For me, it turned out to be flat and pretty boring. The story could have been exciting, but it wasn't, and the characters were hard to connect with.

Colt was an okay character, nothing too bad about him, but nothing great either. It makes reading hard when you don't enjoy the main character very much. I couldn't stand Julia. She was a stuck-up, spoiled brat. She kept saying should would break up with her boyfriend, but she never had the guts to. Like everyone else, she didn't want to be seen with a "poor kid." I was sick of her by the end of the story.

What initially intrigued me about The Secret Year was the plot. It seemed like a really awesome idea. I was left disappointed. The journal was interesting, but Julia mainly talked about her real boyfriend and how she was going to leave him. It drove me crazy. Colt and Julia's relationship was the most exciting part, but even that left me unsatisfied. I didn't get any emotions out of this story. For me, it wasn't worth the read.

Overall: Flat characters and plot. Blah.

My Advice: Skip it. If you must read it, get it from the library. I don't believe it's worth the money.

Cover: It's a pretty cool cover. I like the font and picture. It's a bit too dark for my tastes, but it works.

*This book was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge and the 2010 Debut Author Challenge

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday (5)

This post is inspired by Stargirlreads at Books Make Great Lovers. In Wishlist Wednesday, I'll showcase a book that may or may not be out yet that I would love to review and cannot wait to read! Links and descriptions are from Amazon. Here's what's on my wishlist this week:

Hearts at Stake
by Alyxandra Harvey

On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.

Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.

Reasons I want to read this:
1. I'm really drawn to the cover for some reason.
2. I'm in the mood for some more paranormal, vampire action. I'm hoping that this turns out to be something similar to City of Bones,with action and romance.
3. This doesn't seem like your average vampire read, or like a another wagon-jumper. Hearts at Stake seems unique.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (9)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading in which one grabs her current read, opens to a random page, and gives two "teaser" sentences from that page.

"I realized how alone I was. Just another random kid in their system. A half-Mexican ghost from Stockton who messed up his family. I'd spend this year with a bunch of other ghosts from other nowhere places until they said I could leave, and then I'd have to go haunt some other spot."

Pages 16-17, We Were Here by Matt de la Pena


Monday, January 18, 2010

Falling For Romeo by Jennifer Laurens

Falling For Romeo by Jennifer Laurens
Publication Date/Version: October 2007/Paperback
Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Around The World Tours

John can have any girl he wants. Jennifer's never been kissed.

Everybody thinks he's perfect. She's got issues with pride and jealousy.

They were best friends - once. Now, they're playing Romeo and Juliet. Virgin lips Jennifer must have her first kiss on stage with John, the guy every girl in school wants. The pressure and tension build along with each staged kiss. Both are shocked when feelings bloom. Can either tell which kisses are real and which are for show?

John and Jennifer used to be best friends. Now they hardly get along. They've been cast to play the leading roles in their school's production of Romeo and Juliet. And that means that they will have to share kisses on stage. Jennifer's never had her first kiss and is scared that everyone, including John, will be able to tell. John is hurt by Jennifer's sharp words. As they continue rehearsals, acting and real life becomes muddled, and neither one knows which kisses are real or fake.

Falling For Romeo dives right into the plot. There wasn't an introduction, rather the reader was placed right into the rehearsals. Jennifer is already having nervous feelings over John, but she doesn't want to admit it. I would have appreciated more background information, but it doesn't detract from the story all that much. The plot is basic, yet fun. John and Jenn are stubborn and won't reveal their true feelings for each other, though it's painfully obvious at times that they care for one another.

One unexpected element of this book was the point of view switches. You heard the story from both John's and Jenn's perspective. I didn't expect that, but I was pleasantly surprised. I really grew to like John. Everyone saw him as perfect, which he was in many ways, but it was never because he wanted to be better than everyone. It was never to make himself happy. He was always trying to please his dad, someone he never could. That aspect made it easy to appreciate why he tried so hard at everything and why he couldn't accept failure. Jennifer was less appealing, however. She was often whiny and inconsiderate of others. She couldn't simply push her pride aside for a few moments and put her emotions on her sleeve. Another character I especially enjoyed was Miss Tingey. Her class discussions always prompted heated debates between John and Jennifer at incredibly convenient times.

Falling For Romeo was fun and light, featuring plenty of literary references. Romeo and Juliet fans will obviously get a kick out of this.

Overall: Good characters, both primary and secondary. Exciting plot. Realistic.

My Advice: Pick up a copy at your local bookstore. Ms. Laurens is a great author who really understands teens and their emotions.

Cover: Well, it's not that great. The characters seem to fit the descriptions, but it doesn't have the "best-seller" cover look. I'm not a fan of the box around the words, or the different colored words for that matter.

*This book was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge

Personal vs. Review Reads

Today, and over the last couple of weeks actually, I've been stressing about what books to read. I have separate TBR Piles for review books and personal books. I haven't touched the personal book pile in months. My focus has been entirely on review books and I feel out of balance. I'm not sure what to do.

I have obligations to a couple of companies, such as ReaderView Kids and Teens Read Too. I try to review those books first because they depend on me to reviews the books I receive. If an author or publisher sends me a book, I don't feel as bad waiting longer to review it because they aren't dependent on me and my one review. They're getting reviews from other places.

What I'm basically trying to say is: how do you balance your personal and review reads? Is it 1 for 1, 1 personal for every 1 review? It's not that I don't enjoy review copies, because I do, but my personal pile is completely ridiculous. It's honestly quadrupled since I started blogging. There's a lot of books in there that I really want to read, but I feel bad neglecting my review books. Should I? Those who send me review copies understand that I have a life and can't focus only on reading. I'm torn. Any words of advice or book balancing tips?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2)

This is a weekly meme hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog.

Books completed last week (January 11-17):

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
Falling For Romeo by Jennifer Laurens

Books I am currently reading:

The Seven Rays by Jessica Bendinger - I'm really enjoying this so far! I happy with the fantasy plot so far. Hope the ending is good. I have under 100 pages to go, so I'm sure I'll finish this today.

Books I need to write reviews for:

Falling For Romeo by Jennifer Laurens
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
Random Magic by Sasha Soren
A Pearl Among Princes by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Metamorphosis: Junior Year by Betsy Franco
The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

I'm really bad about writing reviews as soon as I finish a book. I write the review when I feel like posting it, not as soon as I complete the book. I should probably work on that... I set up a review layout, but I'm going to make more of an effort to write reviews when a book is finished. It'll save me time and allow me to put up more posts.

Up Next:

Never Bite a Boy on the First Date by Tamara Summers
Reel Culture by Mimi O'Connor
Juggling Fire by Joanne Bell
Not Ordinarily Borrowable by Thomas Thurman

I'm not necessarily reading them it that order, but those are some of the books that I need to get read.

What are you reading?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Salt by Maurice Gee

Salt by Maurice Gee
Publication Date/Version: October 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Publisher (Thanks!)

Tarl has been captured and enslaved to work in Deep Salt, and Hari has vowed to rescue him. This is a forbidding task: no one returns from Deep Salt. But Hari was born and raised in Blood Burrow. He's tough and smart - and he can communicate with animals.

Pearl is fleeing am arranged marriage. She and her mysteriously gifted maid Tealeaf have escaped from the privileged world Pearl was born into, and they're being pursued.

When their paths cross, Hari and Pearl realize that they must discover the secrets of Deep Salt. It's not just a quest to save Tarl - their world is on the brink of unspeakable terror.

Hari's father, Tarl, has been capture by Company and sent to Deep Salt. Hari promises to rescue him from the endless mines of DS. Thing is, no one ever survives the mines. Whatever horrifying thing being collected in there causes the workers to die a sad, lonely death. Pearl escapes the city with her maid, Tealeaf, in order to escape a marriage she does not want. Pearl and Hari cross paths, realizing that they must join together in order to save their society from the horrors of Company and Deep Salt. And they have a weapon on their side: Pearl, Hari, and Tealeaf can silently talk to others and control their actions.

Salt is completely terrifying in an indescribable way. The substance being harvested in Deep Salt has such horrifying effects, and no one survives. People go crazy and want to die after being in the mine. Their skin falls off and their bones crack. It had not only physical, but also mental effects. Hari must save his father from this terrible fate.

I found Hari hard to connect with. He was so savage and had such animal-like instincts that it was often times hard to view him as a regular person. He seemed to be disturbed on a deep level. Pearl was, for me, a more enjoyable character. Although spoiled, she grew into a better person and let go of her old ways. Tealeaf had to be my favorite character, however, because she was mysterious and had unending knowledge about odd things. I enjoyed the jump between point of view - the story was told from both Pearl and Hari's perspective.

The overall plot was interesting and new. I liked the idea of a rescue mission, and having two stories at once made it that much more exciting. The story was incredibly dark, though. It left me disturbed, scared, and unsure. For this reason, I'm a little wary. The writing style struck me as odd, making it hard to get into the book. I'm glad I read this book, as it was a completely different experience, but it probably wasn't enough to carry me onto the sequel.

Overall: Incredibly dark and terrifying. Quick plot. Cool powers. Good point of view switching.

My Advice: Pick up a copy at your library. I recommend this to teens and adults looking for something to scare the wits out of them. Not in a jump-out-and-scare-you kind of way, but in a dark, twisted kind of way.

Cover: Fairly good cover. Simple, but striking.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In My Mailbox (22)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Amazon and book covers.

For Review:

Reel Culture by Mimi O'Connor
(PB/November 2009/Zest Books)

Anyone ever tell you they're gonna make you an offer you can't refuse? Or that they're mad as hell and not going to take this anymore? Wouldn't it be nice to know where those expressions came from? Classic movies have influenced everything: your favorite TV shows, jokes, and even song lyrics. But if you don't know what comes from where, you are in the pop culture dark. Reel Culture is the quintessential cinematic cheat sheet.

I received this for review from ReaderViews Kids. Thanks!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets by Danette Haworth
(ARC/Releases June 2010/Walker & Company)

At The Meriwether, Florida's famous antebellum hotel off of Hope Springs, nothing is quite as it seems. Secret staircases give way to servants' quarters and Prohibition-era speakeasies make for the perfect hide-and-seek spot. Allie Jo Jackson knows every nook and cranny of The Meriwether - she's lived there her whole life - and nothing surprises her, until the first time she spots the enigmatic and beautiful Tara emerging from the springs. Tara's shimmery skin, long flowing hair, and strange penchant for late moonlight swims disguise a mysterious secret - and once Allie Jo and her friend Chase discover Tara's secret, nothing will ever be the same.

Sounds wonderful! I received this from the author/publisher to review for Teens Read Too. I also received a handful of bookmarks for Danette Haworth's previous book, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. Thanks!

Falling For Romeo by Jennifer Laurens
(PB/October 2007/Grove Creek Publishing)

John can have any girl he wants. Jennifer's never been kissed. Everybody thinks he's perfect. She's got issues with pride and jealousy. They were best friends - once. Now, they're playing Romeo and Juliet. Virgin lips Jennifer must have her first kiss on stage with John, the guy every girl in school wants. The pressure and tension build along with every staged kiss. Both are shocked when feelings bloom. Can either tell which kisses are real and which are for show?

I received this for review from Around The World Tours. It looks wonderful. Thanks!

I had a good week! What about you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Award Time!

The lovely Kaylyn of Darling Reviews has passed on the Happy 101 award to me. Thanks so much!

Here are the rules it comes with:
List 10 things that make you happy.
Try and do at least one of them today.
Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day.
Link back to the person that tagged you.

Things that make me happy:
1. Finishing a book because I get to choose a new one!
2. Insightful comments and new followers.
3. Hugs - real ones, not one arm hugs. Those are terrible.
4. Getting mail!
5. Chocolate milk
6. Laughing until my stomach cramps, tears are running down my cheeks, and I can't breathe.
7. Watching endless amounts of Lost.
8. Hanging out with my family, as well as my best friend's family. I've got two awesome families!
9. Wearing a pretty outfit. It makes me feel good about myself, and you always get compliments.
10. Random acts of kindness. I love when people I don't know very well give me hugs, strike up a conversation, or simply smile.

I would like to pass this award onto:
1. Juju at Tales of Whimsy
2. Jessica at Reading is Sexy
3. Jenny at Wondrous Reviews
4. Steph Su at Steph Su Reads
5. Misty at Book Rat
6. Morgan at BLT
7. Aimee at my fluttering heart
8. Becky at The Bookette
9. Chelsea at The Page Flipper
10. Elie at Ellz Readz

Monday, January 11, 2010

Music Mix

As I've posted my review for The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz just yesterday, I'd like to share my favorite playlist with all of you. The novel was focused on music, so I'd like to give everyone a taste of my musical favorites. Here it goes:

Fireflies by Owl City
Breakdown by Jack Johnson
Great DJ by The Ting Tings
Love Song by Sara Bareilles
Lake Michigan by Rogue Wave
You Picked Me by A Fine Frenzy
Breathless by Corinne Bailey Rae
Vanilla Twilight by Owl City
Viva la Vida by Cold Play
Love Story by Taylor Swift
Misery Business by Paramore
All 'Cause of You by The 88
Fort Knox by Goldfish
Black and Gold (Marcussen Album Version) by Sam Sparro
Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
I Run to You by Lady Antebellum
If I Had Eyes by Jack Johnson
Sink or Swim by Tyronne Wells
Belle by Jack Johnson
Our Song by Taylor Swift

I will forever be a die-hard fan of Jack Johnson (!!!!) and Corinne Bailey Rae. I love anything and everything by those two artists. They, to me, are musical geniuses. A Fine Frenzy is amazing as well. She has such wonderful vocals. My favorite single tracks on the playlist are All 'Cause of You, Black and Gold, I Run to You, and Sink or Swim. I love any type of music that has a heavy beat or loud bass.

See anything you recognize up there? If you haven't heard of some of the songs or artists/groups, check them out! You just might find a new favorite. =]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Awards

I love showing off the awards I've received from other bloggers, but I don't want the images cluttering up my sidebar. I have decided, therefore, to create a post in which I'll list the awards I've received, along with their images and descriptions. It will be updated each time I receive an award. Awards are listed in chronological order according to the date received. As you can see, I'm a little rusty on what some of them are awarded for.

1. The Lemonade Award - My First!
Adrienne from An Addicted Book Reader has given me my first award! Thanks so much Adrienne. :)

The Lemonade Award is a feel good award that shows great attitude or gratitude.

I received the Super Scribbler Award from Adele at Persnickety Snark. Thanks so much!

This award is given to those who, well, scribble superbly, I suppose.

Thanks so much to La Coccinelle at The Ladybug Reads for the One Lovely Blog Award!

This award is given to blog that you have recently discovered.

The lovely Lorelei of Tattooed Books and Becky of The Bookette passed on the Honest Scrap award to me. Thanks so much!

The Honest Scrap award is dedicated to bloggers who write truthfully from the heart. You're then supposed to pass off the award to a handful of other deserving bloggers, and post ten honest statements about yourself

The lovely Morgan at BLT nominated me for this award. Thanks Morgan!

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when your relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside.

6. Happy 101 Award
The lovely Kaylyn of Darling Reviews has passed on the Happy 101 award to me. Thanks so much!

Here are the rules it comes with: List 10 things that make you happy. Try and do at least one of them today. Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day. Link back to the person that tagged you.

The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz

The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz
Publication Date/Version: December 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: ReaderView Kids (Thanks!)

Summer is here and Allie is exactly where she wants to be: working full-time at the ultra-cool Bob & Bob Records in Berkeley. Here Allie can spend her days bantering with the street people, talking the talk with the staff, shepherding the uncool bridge-and-tunnel shoppers - all the while blissfully surrounded by music, music, music. It's the perfect setup for her to develop her secret identity as The Vinyl Princess. Her very first zine is about ready to print and her new blog,, is up and running. From the safety of her favorite place on earth, Allie's poised to launch a vinyl revolution - or at least reach some fellow music geeks out there.

They are out there...aren't they?

Allie, a self-professed music junkie is right where she wants to be: working at Bob & Bob Records in Berkeley. It's the perfect place to start her new music blog and zine. At the store she can chat up the customers and staff, feeding her love for music. The area where she works, however, is under danger. Criminals have been going around robbing innocent stores. Is Bob & Bob Records next?

For me, The Vinyl Princess was just blah. I'd heard such good reviews, so I expected a lot out of it. Even if I had gone in with low expectations, I still don't believe I would have liked it. I found it hard to relate to any part of the story, actually. Allie's character was fine. She obviously loved music, which is great and all, but that doesn't leave her open to a very wide range of readers. I mean, she was obsessed. I enjoy music, but I don't want to read an entire book about it. Maybe I shouldn't have picked it up in the first place. The characters I found to be interesting were all secondary. Her mom, Ravi, and the invisible roommate. Honestly, one of the characters I liked the most was mentioned maybe three times! At least she had fun characteristics and seemed mysterious.

Allie's dating life was okay, with a couple love interests here and there. There was a slight twist to one of them, but it just feel flat. The only romance I was interested in was her mom's. Really? I was more interested in the hardly mentioned secondary characters than Allie. -sigh-

The plot, similar to everything else, was flat. Like a Sprite can left on the counter for 2 weeks. It might have been interesting, with the robberies and all, but even that wasn't as dramatic as I expected it to be. This book was not for me.

Overall: Flat plot, main character, and love interests. I was more interested in the barely there secondary characters. Not easy to relate to.

My Advice: Skip it. Unless you love music. Then maybe you'll be able to get through it. Maybe.

Cover: I think I'm the only one who doesn't like it. Obviously, it describes the book, but it's too messy and...thrown-together for my tastes.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling
Publication Date/Version: November 2009/Paperback
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Author (Thanks!)

Claire Voyante has been having strange visions ever since she can remember. But the similarity between her name and her talents is purely coincidental. The name is French, and unlike the psychics on TV, she can't solve crimes or talk to the dead. Whenever Claire follows her hunches, she comes up empty - or ends up in pretty awkward situations.

But that all changes on Claire's fifteenth birthday, when her grandmother Kiki - former socialite, fashion icon, and now permanent fixture at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel - gives her something a little more extraordinary than one of her old cocktail dresses: a strange cameo, made of onyx and ivory, on a gold chain. And it's not long before Claire's world becomes a whole lot clearer. And a whole lot more dangerous.

New friends, old grudges, strange jewelry, and some creepy black-and-white dreams - if Claire can just survive sophomore year in high school, she might be able to get through anything.

Claire Voyante is kind of psychic. She has some odd hunches, but they never turn into anything. Then, on her fifteenth birthday, her grandmother gives her a cameo and everything changes for the weirder. Her dreams are intensified, but Claire still doesn't know what to make of them. Will she be able to figure out what they mean before her or one of her new friends gets hurt?

Dream Girl was one of those odd novels that doesn't try to be anything other than what it is. It doesn't attempt to appeal to mass markets with cussing, drugs, and sex, but instead keeps it clean with some good psychic fun. It was rather quirky, but it wasn't one of those books that was trying to go mainstream by being extra odd. Do you understand what I'm saying? It often seems that nowadays, things have to be odd or out there in order to be cool. They have to be much too unique. Dream Girl is unique, but I never felt as though it were trying to be. -sigh- So hard to explain. The novel is best related to Kiki Strike, one of the best reads ever. They're both fun and feature odd elements, claiming to be absolutely nothing they aren't.

Claire was a fun character, as was the entire cast. I found every character to be interesting, each with their own fun traits. There was no lack of character development; I knew just enough about each primary and secondary character. I enjoyed them all.

The plot was rather cool, with Claire using her psychic powers to figure out how to do, well, she doesn't know what. That's the point really. Claire has to figure out what her visions are pointing her to. This isn't the paranormal kind of psychic powers that are often featured today, but more of an average teenager with an added bonus. I found, however, that in the middle of the book the plot fell flat. Just like Claire, we didn't know what her visions meant, so we were strung along just like her, not knowing where anything was going. For that reason, I often felt lost and a little disappointed. The ending was interesting - I need to find a new word to use! - and made me a bit happier with the overall storyline. I especially loved how the romantic connection turned out.

Dream Girl was not without flaws, but this first taste is definitely enough to get me to read the sequel.

Overall: Quirky. Kiki Strike-esque. Up and down plot. Good characters.

My Advice: Pick up a copy at your local library.

Cover: Cool cover! I think it shows off the book's odd side. The girl, however, isn't how I pictured Claire. That's my problem, though, I guess.

In My Mailbox (21)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Amazon and book covers.

From Paperback Swap:

The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones
(HC/September 2009/Walker & Company)

Between hookups, makeups, and breakups, there isn't a day at Lapeer High School without drama turning to trauma turning to tears.

And tears are just as essential as air for Cassandra Gray. She and her family are vampires who thirst for human sorrow, and the energy that they soak in from a good crying jag can keep them fueled up for days.

Anytime a friend needs a should to cry on, Cass is there. Anytime a boyfriend gets too secure, she breaks his heart. Cass's work as a school peer counselor and hospital volunteer also provides the perfect cover and access to her family's energy source. But she is getting tired of all the lies and manipulation - especially now that she's actually fallen in love with a human. Can she bear to betray her family for a chance at happiness and a life lived with joy?

Doesn't this sound so dark and heavy? Such an interesting concept. I haven't read any reviews, so hopefully it's good.

Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Neminger
(HC/March 2009/Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Seventeen-year-old Samar -- a.k.a. Sam -- has never known much about her Indian heritage. Her mom has deliberately kept Sam away from her old-fashioned family. It's never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a really cute but demanding boyfriend.

But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam's house, and he turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam isn't sure what to do, until a girl at school calls her a coconut -- brown on the outside, white on the inside. That decides it: Why shouldn't Sam get to know her family? What is her mom so afraid of? Then some boys attack her uncle, shouting, "Go back home, Osama!" and Sam realizes she could be in danger -- and also discovers how dangerous ignorance can be. Sam will need all her smarts and savvy to try to bridge two worlds and make them both her own.

I've always wanted to read this after seeing it as part of a book reviewing program. It will be really interesting to see this subject from someone else's point of view.

Elphame's Choice by P.C. Cast
(PB/September 2009/Harlequin Teen)

I was marked from birth as belonging to the Goddess Epona--but that didn't make my life easy. Because of my "blessings," I was set apart, worshipped, unable to make real connections with others. Then came the Feeling, and with it a glimpse of my destiny. It led me to the MacCallen castle of legend, deserted since the terrible Fomorian war.

I followed the wordless call to breathe new life into a place long dead, but I didn't realize there were dark remnants of the war lingering in the nearby forest--victims and survivors who remained hidden. Others marked as different, powerful. Feared.

My choice was now twofold. I could keep to the happiness and safety of my newfound home, or I could choose a path that led to something more terrible, more dangerous, more thrilling than anything I'd ever expected.

And in that future I might never be alone again. . .

Sounds exciting! Plus, it came out on my birthday.

No books for review this week, but that's perfectly okay. I have so many books to catch up on! My TBR pile of review books alone is ridiculous. Lots of reviews coming up. How did you do this week?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Resolutions!

Well, we're off to a new year, 2010. Hopefully it's full of good and wonderful things and plenty of good books! This year I'd like to make a few resolutions for my blog. Here they are:

- Post more often! During school I tend to fall behind on posting. I've just discovered the wonders of scheduled posting, so I'm making the most of this feature*. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with school and sports. *This post is scheduled! hehe

- Reply to comments! I receive a lot of lovely comments from readers and I would love to start responding back to you guys. If you leave me comments, check back. I'll try to come up with interesting replies.

- Have more author interviews and guest posts! I know lots of people enjoy reading these, so I'll be asking authors whose books I've enjoyed to join me on my blog. Working together on posts with authors is really fun, and I get to know some great people. We'll both benefit from this.

That's all that I can think of for now. Do you have any resolutions?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (8)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading in which one grabs her current read, opens to a random page, and gives two "teaser" sentences from that page.

"The horse reared up, its broad iron hooves thudding fire out of the earth below. Its red-gold hide snaked with rippling muscle, as the animal kicked its heels up into the air behind them, then reared up and tossed its head savagely, casting a shower of tiny sparks that lit the air like the embers of a retreating forest fire."

It might help you to know that this horse being mentioned is a fire horse. Now the passage makes a bit more sense, huh?


Page 71, Random Magic by Sasha Soren
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