Sunday, July 29, 2012

Giveaway of 1 Preorder Copy of Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Onyx (Lux, #2)

I'm giving away a preorder copy (through Book Depository) of Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This is kind of my thank you to fellow bloggers because it's through them that I discovered so many great books. Because I loved the first book in this series, Obsidian . My Review of Obsidian

This giveaway is open internationally anywhere that Book Depository delivers. You must follow me by GFC or Twitter and be 13 + years old. I'm not making either option mandatory on Rafflecopter because Google has decided that it will not allow people who use WordPress to use GFC anymore. Please leave the name(s) you use to follow my blog if it's not obvious in the entry details by commenting below. If I can't tell because you enter your blog name "I Love Books", but follow under say "Jane", the entry will be disqualified. So please post below, or in the entry if possible, any discrepancies of your usernames.

Also, if you're a new follower and you post your blog in the comments, I will follow back. I check Twitter at least once a day, so if you follow me there I will follow you back. Thanks.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh, and finally. This is why I chose to give away a preorder of Onyx: Jennifer L. Armentrout on Bloggers

Onyx (Lux, #2)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kick the Puppy Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Keep Holding On

Goodreads Summary:

A romantic and empowering book about bullying

Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

My Review:

Like many very short people, I was bullied. Which made my dad upset enough to teach me his rules: 1. If you're smaller than the person you're fighting you can fight dirty. 2. The degree to which the other person outweighs or is taller than you determines how dirty you can fight. 3. If it's a boy and you're a girl, you can always fight dirty. So, as I would go to a new school, my reputation would not follow and I would have to get into a fight. Only once did I get caught. Which resulted in my dad sitting in the principal's office doing mostly this:  laughing at the boy's father while saying, "Your son" and raising his hand and then saying "My daughter" and lowering his hand. And laughing again. This was his response to any question posed by anyone. The boy's father was so disgusted and embarrassed that he stomped out. As we left, we could hear the principal laughing in his office. And that was that as far as bullying for a while. Now, this was a few decades ago and the world has changed. But being bullied as a child shaped how I responded to it as a teacher- which is that I did my best to stamp it out whenever I saw it. Without waiting for a student to come to me, telling me it had gone too far.

The author says that as a child she was bullied, too. So, I don't know if it's just transferring real life to fiction or that the world has changed, but some things about this book just seemed off. First, Noelle's best friend pretty much seems oblivious to Noelle's being bullied. I really don't see how that is possible. Second, the best friend sees her wearing the same clothes, shoes, etc. for over a year. No warm jacket even. And does nothing. Really? No, "Gee, my grandma/aunt/cousin bought me these clothes for my birthday/Easter/Christmas etc. They haven't seen me in years and bought the wrong size. And they were on clearance/from a store in another state, etc. and they can't be returned." Simple for a friend that has her own credit card. And on and on.

More bad stuff about this book and a potential spoiler.... Noelle's best friend was the victim of date rape by her long term boyfriend. Now, initially in the book Noelle is being bullied, but it's not at the level we see at the end. Meaning, yes it's horrible but not anywhere close to being raped. I'm sorry. And the whole rape issue is pretty much blown off and not dealt with until the end. More bad stuff...there's an incident that gets Noelle to start being more assertive and asking for help. That incident, although possible and plausible in real life, seems contrived in this book. One of those, "Oops, I need a plot device so, here it is" type things.

Look, I feel bad coming down on a book about the issue of bullying. And it's not horrible, I guess. It's just really sloppily written. I did feel for the main character. And I did feel like overall the author did a decent job in developing the secondary characters. But I wish I had read a better book.

Overall Rating: 2 1/2 to 3 stars

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

Goodreads Summary:
An all-day scavenger hunt in the name of eternal small-town glory

With only a week until graduation, there's one last thing Mary and her friends must do together: participate in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. And Mary is determined to win.

Mary lost her spot at Georgetown to self-professed "it" bully Jake Barbone, and she's not about to lose again. But everyone is racing for the finish line with complicated motives, and the team's all-night adventure becomes all-night drama as shifting alliances, flared tempers, and crushing crushes take over. As the items and points pile up, Mary and her team must reinvent their strategy--and themselves--in order to win.

My Review:  

The concept of this book reminds me of one of my favorite movies from my teen years- "Some Kind of Wonderful": (Here's the trailer)

Theme music: This song plays in the background of "Some Kind of Wonderful" during the party scene, but it's also kind of appropriate for the book.  

Basically, both this book and the movie are about the main character's desire to recreate and redefine themselves through a single and, hopefully, pivotal event.  In the movie, the boy wants to take the most beautiful girl in school out on a date. In this book, Mary wants to win the scavenger contest. Tellingly, Mary names her scavenger hunt group, the "Also-Rans"- in part because their group is composed of high school second string types. Mary lost out to Jake for Georgetown; she also lost a student council race to be Vice-President. But I think she mostly wants to win because she is going off to college in a few months and if Mary doesn't change herself now, she'll go off to Georgetown the same person. The kind of person who stands in the sidelines, who doesn't take know, basically the kind of person who has a mountain of regrets about the things they let slip away undone versus regretting the choices the made. 

One of the good things about this book is that even though the timeline of the book is less than 24 hours, so much happens to the characters. The characters grow and change a lot- which does feel a little contrived- because do you really see this in real life? But, it's a book, it's not real life. In a way, who wants to read a book where personal growth is handled in "real time"? To follow a character over the course of a year and hear about what they ate for breakfast, complaining about their math homework, arguing with their mom about taking out the trash, etc. With little "lightbulb" moments occurring every so often- that sounds like a recipe for a 900 book page of boring. So, I think that as a reader you have to suspend disbelief a little for the sake of reading a, well, readable book.

I don't want to give away the ending, but it wasn't what I expected. In a good way, though. I thought it was realistic and consistent with the story. I also like that this book surprised me. I thought it was going to be a simple comedic type book about a scavenger hunt- and it was that. But what it also was is a group of friends in a pressure filled situation who are trapped together in a car- and how that tension leads to them to make uncomfortable disclosures about themselves and their relationships. In case you want to check out the movie, "Some Kind of Wonderful".

Overall Rating: 3 stars  
Genre Rating: 3 1/2 school lockers    
Author's Website
Author's Twitter 

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

Feature and Follow (7)

Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read every Friday. Complete Rules and Instructions are here: Feature and Follow Rules 

Summer Reading. What was your favorite book that you were REQUIRED to read when you were in school?

Wow, it's been so long since I've been in school.... The first would be Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. It's not my favorite Shakespeare play- not even close- but reading it in the 6th grade made me feel that I could read any book in the world. Also, it started a kind of family tradition thing of going to see Shakespeare's plays on stage- I think we've seen most of them except some of the obscure ones that are rarely performed. My other favorite book would be Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. I had already read Plato and Aristotle. But Oediupus Rex- the story of a man who couldn't escape his fate of marrying his mother and killing his father- touched off my love of all things (ancient) Greek.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Blackout by Mira Grant

Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3)

Goodreads Summary:
Rise up while you can. -Georgia Mason

The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.

The year was 2039. The world didn't end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.

Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there's one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it's this: Things can always get worse.

***SPOILERS*** If you haven't read books 1 & 2, this review contains spoilers.

My Review:
First, I'm not going to say why/how Georgia managed to come back from the dead. It's explained very early in the book, but I'm going to let you find out by reading. A minor spoiler, but still. All I'm going to say is that Georgia and Shaun are reunited in the most ick-inducing scene possible. If you've read the book, you know what I mean. Second, I'm not going to do a real review of this book. I mean, if you're reading it, it's because you liked the series enough to continue and you're probably pretty much going to read this book no matter what. All I can add to that is that this book was a fitting end to the series. And that, wow, the author manages to keep topping herself as things get worse and worse for the staff of the End Times.

Why zombies? What is it we fear or believe that makes zombies so appealing? When I was a kid, there were two movie franchises- Friday the 13 and Halloween. One of the standard bits in this, and many horror movies, was "The Virgin Always Lives".

The message being, sex kills- in the movies, literally. In real life, sex=AIDS=death. It might have been Jason Voorhees in a hockey mask, but what we were really afraid of was AIDS. So, what does the recent zombie craze say about what we fear now? What are zombies really a symbol of? The original Night of the Living Dead movie from George Romero came out in 1968. The Vietnam Era...a time when mistrust of the government was very high. What's also common to many zombie movies and books is that the zombie uprisings are caused by science gone bad- which you see in Grant's books. So, in the Newsflesh trilogy, Grant paints a world in which bad science and bad government combine. We live in a world where a lot of people do not have faith in government. A poll taken in 2006 found that a third of Americans believe the government was somehow responsible for 9/11.

Of course, Grant's books are not the only zombie books out there. What do other zombie books and series say about our fears at this point in time?

Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia (Insignia, #1)

Goodreads Summary:
More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.

My Review:  (NOTE: I've been struggling to write a review of this book for days. Not going to happen in any kind of traditional sense of a review. The review is basically my rambling, stream-of-consciousness  thoughts spawned by this book. If you want to avoid that, short review: Good book for boys who don't like to read- if you're not looking for that, take a pass on this book. Catch up on your TBR pile instead- there were plenty of really good books released this year that you should be reading instead.)

First, you could get really drunk playing the "Insignia Drinking Game".  
  1. Every time you spot a character in Insignia that's really a Harry Potter character in disguise, take a drink.
  2. When you see a Harry Potter story element in Insignia (like having different "houses"), take a drink.
  3. Any time an Insignia character uses something scientific or some computer program to solve  a problem instead of magic (like in H.P.), take a drink .
On second thought, so much in Insignia is like Harry Potter that a drinking game is not a good idea. Maybe replace "take a drink" with "Eat an Oreo". (Buy at least 2 bags) Clip from the movie "Beerfest" as your warning against doing an "Insignia Drinking Game". (Clip has some NSFW elements- brief nudity. Although it looks like they tried to block most of it out. Be warned)

My comparison of Insignia to Harry Potter is not necessarily a criticism. If you break a story down into its elements, all stories are derivative. Remember taking literature courses about plot types? Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Self, etc. The theory by Arthur Quiller Crouch states that there are really only 7 Basic Plots in literature- so nothing is truly original at that level. Which is why I focus on characters because I think creating interesting characters is key to making a book good and at least seem "original" and unique. Well, considering it's a drinking  game rule- take a drink/eat and Oreo when you spot a H.P. character in this book- it goes without saying that these characters seemed like recycled H.P. characters- there's even a Professor Snape, really. Really. The most original thing about the main character, Tom, is that he has acne at the beginning of the book. Don't remember the last time I've seen that in a YA book. Here's my big problem with the book, near the end of the book this song started popping into my head:

Hate the song; hate the movie. If you're now scratching your head, wondering what I'm talking about. You're lucky- it means you've never seen Top Gun and for that I envy you. But the association of Top Gun and Insignia does make sense. In essence, these two things are a good example of plot driven vehicles. It's common in plot oriented books to have characters that are more archetypes than individuals. In other words, it's more important that something happens (plot driven) than to understand why it happens (character driven). In plot driven movies and books, characters don't need to be unique and interesting- what's interesting is the stuff that's happening... a fight scene, car chase, etc. Characters exist to do these things (get into fights, drive the car) and nothing else. I guess on this level, the book does work- it was a fast, basically enjoyable read.

If you haven't seen the movie Top Gun, you don't need to. Here's "Everything You Need to Know About Top Gun" as told by Quentin Tarantino. A 3 minute summary and analysis of Top Gun- major warning about language, though:

Overall Rating: 3 stars
Genre Rating: 3 stars (I don't think this was a standout as genre fiction either. It's a very readable book that's also kind of forgettable.)

S.J. Kincaid's Blog
S.J. Kincaid on Twitter

Insignia (Insignia, #1)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: Deadly Cool Books 1 and 2 by Gemma Halliday

Deadly Cool (Deadly Cool, #1)Social Suicide (Deadly Cool, #2)

Goodreads Summary: (Of Deadly Cool)
Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name.

But as much as Hartley wouldn’t mind seeing him squirm, she knows he’s innocent, and she’s the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school’s resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer’s next victim.

My Review:
I decided to review both books because in a mystery series, not much changes.  And to me, the most important thing in a mystery series is that it contains characters you want to spend time with. Because they will appear over and over and over in each subsequent book in the series. And since I'm a mom about the age of Hartley's mom, the songs for this book are... (it will be explained later in the review):

First of all, I grew up loving mysteries. Like many girls, I loved the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene.  (Although my favorite mystery series growing up was The Three Investigators) So, it kind of saddens me that there aren't many YA mystery series, which is why when I came across this one I decided to read it right away. We meet Hartley on a very bad day- the day she discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her. Right off, I related to her. I had a boyfriend who cheated when I was in high school, like Hartley. Again, like Hartley, I found out because other people found out first. In other words, you get the pitying expressions and also phone calls from "helpful" people who I think kind of take enjoyment in telling you that your boyfriend is cheating. I don't relate to Hartley in that I think I would have let my (ex) boyfriend fry/go to jail/become the girlfriend of Bubba, the prison inmate who hasn't seen a woman in 20 years, etc. if he had gotten accused of murdering the girl (tramp) he cheated with. But Hartley is a nice girl- and I like that she's a nice, normal, AVERAGE girl. She's smart, but not the class valedictorian/prom queen/computer hacker/secret spy. Just a normal high school girl who is going to keep stumbling over dead people. 

The real weakness of this series- so far- is in the portrayal of a few of the secondary characters. Now, maybe it's because I'm a mother, but I like Hartley's mother. She embarrasses Hartley by blasting her old people music- Guns N Roses, Aerosmith, etc. She keeps feeding Hartley the most disgusting sounding vegan food possible- I'm a vegetarian, but I wouldn't eat most of the stuff. Chase, the possible love interest...he's like "Standard Teenage Love Interest #5" instead of feeling like a real person. Chase is the attractive, yet mysterious boy, with unclear romantic intentions. The best friend, Sam, is also a typical mystery best friend- the person the MC calls to break into places, question suspects, etc. Not a lot of character development going on beyond Hartley, the main character. But the series is funny, charming, cute, and I'm sure that in future books we'll learn more about the other characters.

Overall Rating: 3 stars
Genre Rating: 3 1/2 school lockers (works better as a contemporary YA than a mystery)
Genre Rating: 3 magnifying glasses (a good, but not great mystery)

Gemma Halliday's Website
Gemma Halliday on Facebook 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Feature and Follow (6)

Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read every Friday. Complete Rules and Instructions are here:

This week's question:

Q: Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy?

Now if money is truly no object, then I want a Gutenberg Bible and one of the copies of Songs of Innocence and Experience with the color plates done by William Blake, himself. If you mean something that could be reasonably purchased through a normal bookseller...

Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2)

Winter of the World by Ken Follett because the ebook for the first in this series (Fall of Giants) was $19.99

The second book would be one of the out-of-print, hard to find books in the Jeeves and Wooster series by P.B. Wodehouse. Not familiar with the series...

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)

Goodreads Summary:
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever

My Review:
Why did I wait so long to read this series? Of course I'd heard of the series, I like the author's other series. (Well, at least for the first few books)  I guess the main reason I didn't start reading this series was I didn't want to make a commitment to yet another series. But a few weeks ago, a Feature and Follow question asked something like, "Which character would you most like to see jumping out of your birthday cake?" A lot of the answers were about character(s) in this series. So, I bought the book- and buying an ebook is a major commitment for me, so I started reading it right away. The Verdict? This is one of those cases where when a lot of people like it, there's a reason that they like it- pretty much because it's really good.

Rose... Rose makes me think of this song:
I have this song on the brain because it's part of a playlist I just made for my son who just ended a relationship with a girl...who is now semi-stalking him and harassing him online. Let's call it the "Angry Breakup" Playlist, agree that this means that yet again, I'm not going up for the "Mother of the Year Award".

Back to the book...Is it just me or is the relationship between Rose and Lissa just a little creepy. I get that Rose is Lissa's bodyguard, but Rose just seems overly clingy and jealous. I guess because Lissa had to feed off of her? In any case, it's just one more issue to add to Rose's pile of emotional baggage. Which was already stacked pretty high. But it does make you feel for her and relate to her. I mean, who didn't have some issues in their high school days?

I think one of the best things about this book is the characters. I feel that Mead did a good job with even the secondary characters. Which is a real weakness for a lot of authors. I think she has a real "touch" with creating great bad characters and that she created a variety of them with different reasons and motivations. That some aren't really "bad" or evil- that the characters do things that end up being "bad" because of lack of self-esteem or weakness. In other words, there's a complexity to Mead's characters...and yet she manages to leave enough unsaid- enough mystery- about them that I want to read the next book in the series. At least for me, the most important factor in determining whether I keep reading a series is great characters. Even if there's a cliffhanger, if I don't care about the characters, then I don't really care to keep reading to find out what happens to them next.  So, this is a series I plan to keep reading- I already have the next few books in the series.

Overall  Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre Rating: 4 coffins

Richelle Mead's Website
Richelle Mead on Twitter
Vampire Academy's Ning site
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Deadline by Mira Grant

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy, #2)

Spoiler Alert!
Warning: If you have not read the first book of the Newsfeed Trilogy, Feed, this contains spoilers for that book!

Goodreads Summary:
Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.

But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.

My Review:
Ah, a zombie road trip book. Reminded me of what has become one of my favorite zombie movies- Zombieland. So, it's appropriate that the theme music is off the Zombieland soundtrack. But because it's Metallica, and a lot of people think that Lars Ulrich is a d-bag, I'm throwing in another tune. And you can never go wrong with Siouxsie and the Banshees.

This book wasn't as good as the first book of this series. I think that in books that involve world-building, the first novel is special when it's great. Kind of like the Hunger Games. It's a world that you just fall in love with, but how do you top that? Sadly, the answer is that you really can't. I felt let down by the second Hunger Games book as I was let down by Deadline- precisely because the first novel in the series was so great. It's magical to create a special literary world, but once you's not new any more. So I'm always a little let down. Despite this, it was still a great book.

The book's characters are reporters. So it's no surprise that the issue of truth is important. In the first book of the Newsflesh series, one of the issues posed is, "Do we believe a comforting lie or a painful truth?" In Deadline the question is, "Is truth more important than anything?" If you tell people the truth, but it will undermine the overall public safety, do you still tell the truth? Is Truth more important than Life? Because Shaun and company learn about something in this book that, if they make it public, could kill quite a few people. One of the things I love about the series is that the answer to this question is something the characters struggle with- as I think most of us would. 

What I didn't like about this Georgia. As Shaun keeps saying (basically)- he's the guy that pokes stuff with sticks. Georgia's supposed to be the one, because she's a Newsie- that handles the telling the truth. And because this book is about that conflict between safety and truth, it needed Georgia to provide that tension. Either by being the one to defend truth for the sake of truth or to struggle with the possibility of burying that truth. What I also didn't like about this book...Shaun has sex. No, it's not any kind of "weird" sex, but something happens after that struck me as just beyond gross. (Don't worry, not involving any kind of sex act at all. Are you intrigued, though? You'll have to read the book, I'm not telling.)

The ending though was just, Wow! Wow, I have to get the next book and read it now. Because something happens at the end and you just need to know why. I can't imagine reading this book when it first got released and having to wait a whole year. 

Overall rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre Rating: 4 brains

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy, #2)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Breathe by Abby Glines


Goodreads Summary:

Sadie White's summer job isn't going to be on the beach life-guarding or working at rental booths like most kids her age. With her single mother's increasing pregnancy and refusal to work, Sadie has to take over her mother's job as a domestic servant for one of the wealthy summer families on a nearby island.
When the family arrives at their summer getaway, Sadie is surprised to learn that the owner of the house is Jax Stone, one of the hottest teen rockers in the world. If Sadie hadn't spent her life raising her mother and taking care of the house she might have been normal enough to be excited about working for a rock star.
Even though Sadie isn't impressed by Jax's fame, he is drawn to her. Everything about Sadie fascinates Jax but he fights his attraction. Relationship's never work in his world and as badly as he wants Sadie, he believes she deserves more. By the end of the summer, Jax discovers he can't breathe without Sadie.
But can their love overcome the disparity in their lifestyles? Or will they have to learn how to breathe again?

My Review: 

I love cotton candy. Sometimes. If I'm in the mood for it. But I don't want a lot of it- I don't want to eat it every day. But when my kids say, "Let's go to the carnival/fair, etc." I don't think rides, I think cotton candy and funnel cake. But after I eat the cotton candy, I'm done. I have no desire for any more of it, even the thought of eating any more makes me nauseous. Fast forward a month or two... carnival comes to town again, I think, "Cotton Candy". This is not off topic, it's just that Breathe is such a cotton candy type book...Oh, first this is the song that kept going through my head. (I know Jax wasn't in a boy band, but my house and blog are a Bieber-free zone.) Be forewarned: partial nudity in video.

Why is this book like cotton candy? It's really fluffy, light, almost as if it too was spun out of sugar and air. Which was fine for the mood I was in when reading the book. I was busy at work, tired, sore, etc. So this was a nice read- the kind of read where your brain can almost go on autopilot. But for a cotton candy type book, this was a good read. Look, we need books like this. There's nothing wrong with them- you can't be reading books like War and Peace all of the time, right? So yes, this is a perfect summer read. The thing that really bothered me was the overly melodramatic ending. It just didn't fit with the whole tone of the rest of the book. There are a few things that didn't bother me because of how they were portrayed within the context of the book. But fair warning, there's a (semi) love triangle, Sadie kind of falls in love with Jax really quickly (instalove), and just wow Sadie's mom got on my nerves. Overall Rating: 3 stars Genre rating: 3 1/2 cotton candies

Monday, July 16, 2012

100 Follower Giveaway Winner

The Winner of the Giveaway is Lauren. I'll be emailing Lauren shortly.

I want to thank Lauren and all of my other Followers for entering. Hopefully I'll have another giveaway soon. Some Entangled authors like Kate Evangelista (confirmed) and Jennifer L. Armentrout are visiting my town in a few weeks. So, if my husband takes me to the book signing as planned, I should have some autographed DTB's to giveaway soon. I love giving away stuff.

Shay @ 365 Books

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Review: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Such a Rush

Goodreads Summary:
A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.
High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.    

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.

My Review:
First of all, I just want to say that this book is for older teens. As a parent, this is the kind of book I would read first before I let my teenager read it and I would read it with them. It has all kinds of content issues- sexual situations, fairly graphic sexual activity, and language. Wow, the language! I think that this book has one of the widest ranges of bad language I've seen in a YA book- pretty much every bad word except the "c" word. One of the words used...I was shocked.

Theme music for this post:

I know, obvious, but it is the song that popped into my head throughout this book. I like the character of Leah. I like that she's spunky and feisty and determined to make the best and most of her life. This was one of those books in which the characters were so real to me that when I stopped reading the book, real life was a little jarring. Also, I know I really like a character when I keep going back and thinking about what comes next for them- you want to know what happens next after the book is over. The characters in this book were so well written that even Leah's mother- who is mostly absent in the book- is such a large presence. The author is able to define her and make Leah's mother's influence and character felt in the "blank" spaces of the book. Basically, every single component of a well written book is here. Great characters, a fast moving and interesting plot, very readable, etc. My big issue of course is the language and sexual issues. This is one of those books that makes me wonder who this book is written for. In other words, are authors writing YA books for adults? Here's one statistic:
Hilary Murray Hill, managing director from Scholastic Books, which publishes The Hunger Games and other teen fiction, estimated 'more than one third' of teen books in its slate were purchased by adults. She said the books were hugely popular with the '20-50' age bracket and once they had found one teen series they enjoyed they were likely to seek out more.
And this statistic makes me wonder if the language and sex issues are a result of the trend of adults reading YA book. I've noticed that quite a few of the books I've read recently have had characters in high school who are 18 or who have graduated h.s. or just about to. That, technically, it's adults using this language and having sex so that makes it all okay, I guess. In any case, with those warnings, this is a good book with great characters. Overall rating: 3 1/2 stars Genre Rating: 4 1/2 school lockers Author's Website Author's Twitter Author's Blog
Such a Rush

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meh Books, Part III

The Hunt (The Hunt, #1)

Goodreads Summary:
Don’t Sweat.  Don’t Laugh.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him.  He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood.  Gene is a human, and he knows the rules.  Keep the truth a secret.  It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him.  He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

My Review:
It took me about 3 weeks to finish this book. That's a pretty good sign of a "Meh" book. I just couldn't get into it. Plus, every time I would actually sit down and try to read it, something ridiculous would happen in the book. The main one is the continuing plight of the main character- Gene. He keeps saying that the vampires will discover he's a human and eat him because he smells and there are no showers. No showers...REALLY? Look, my car doesn't sweat and I still have to run it through a car wash. Okay- vampires are not coated with some teflon type substance that allows them to repel dirt. Just ridiculous. The other is something called armpitting- sticking your elbow in someone's armit- I guess it's a vampire sex thing.  Okay, I'm done with this book.


Why this is a Meh Book:
1. Ballet terms that aren't really property defined or described. In other words, it's written for the general public, but it's only truly understandable by someone who's taken ballet.
2. Just felt nothing for the main character...
3. Except at the end of the book. Then I just wanted to throw the book across the room. Did not like or understand the choice the main character made at the end.

Team Human

Why this is a Meh Book:
1. There's nothing that really stands out for me in this book. It's mostly forgettable.
2. It's can see how the story arcs in this book are going to play out pretty fast.
3. It's one of those odd books- it's really readable in the sense that it's a fast read. Yet, you wish it were just a little bit worse so you could stop yourself from reading and just put it down and walk away from it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday (5)

Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read every Friday. Complete Rules and Instructions are here: Feature and Follow

This week's question:

Q: What drove you to start book blogging in the first place?

I started blogging in May, 2012. My grandfather died a few years back. Also five years ago in April my mother died after battling cancer; a few years later my niece killed herself in April. April is not a good month and I've been finding myself becoming depressed every April. My mother always used to tell me the best way out of depression is doing something positive. So, starting a book blog was always something I talked about, but never quite managed to do. But this year I felt inspired to do it because I can do it, because I'm still alive and here. This is the year I pull out of my funk and actually start doing all the things I've been meaning to do, but putting off. Waiting for a better time. I'm also going to do NaNoWriMo this year because I've been "meaning to" write down all of the stories I made up for my kids when they were young. 

While you're here, you can enter my 100 Followers Giveaway. One of the prizes is open internationally.

 100 Followers Giveaway Ends on 7/17/12 @ 12:01 AM EST

Follow Me on Twitter and I will follow back within 24 hours.

Reveiw: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

52 Reasons to Hate My Father

Goodreads Summary:
Being America’s favorite heiress is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Lexington Larrabee has never to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to work. But then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Blvd either.

Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteen birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.

In a hilarious “comedy of heiress” about family, forgiveness, good intentions, and best of all, second chances, Lexi learns that love can be unconditional, money can be immaterial, and, regardless of age, everyone needs a little saving. And although she might have 52 reasons to hate her father, she only needs one reason to love him.

My Review:'s almost a cliché to have a bad/distant/absent/deadbeat father. It was ridiculously easy to find theme music for this post- bad fathers have inspired so many musicians to immortalize their bad dad in song. So, you have your pick of two bad dad songs:

If you think about it, the author had a tough job in this book. She had to make Lexington Larrabee, a fictional heiress and celebutard sympathetic. But I did find her sympathetic because of the whole bad father thing. I actually found myself hating her father, Richard. (I guess because at her age I had "daddy issues", too) Why? Because Lexington is her father's creation; her failures are really about his failures as a father. Now if you are disinclined to cut a character slack for bad behavior- especially if she's 18- then this is probably a book to avoid because initially Lexington will make you nuts. I guess I'm more likely to excuse this kind of behavior because I'm older and I can look back on myself at 18 and what a screwed up mess I was and accept that this is just the process of growing up. I remember talking to my mother when my father and I were fighting. She told me this: if you do things- especially hurtful and negative things- as a reaction to your father, he's controlling you. That doing the opposite of what your father wants means he's still in control. Again, if you find yourself thinking, "That's so obvious!", then this is not the book for you.

Despite all of the above, in many ways this is a perfect summer read. Lexington's stumblings through life are at times funny. The author does manages to wrap all of the moral messages of a coming of age book into an easy summer read-type book. Yet again, reading a blogger's review of an ARC of this book made me add this to my TBR. This book was July's runner up for the "I Hate This Cover" of the Month. Ugh, it's just awful and because of the cover, the book had gotten filed into my mental "Not Reading This Book" list. I mean, the way main character is dressed on the cover doesn't say celebrity heiress. It makes me think of this song:

Overall Rating: 3 stars (still recommended if you're in the mood for a light summer read)
Genre Rating: 3 1/2 stars (this is a good, but not great book)

52 Reasons to Hate My Father

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

There's something about me that's contrary. If I make a list, it feels like work. I hate work, I really loathe it. I do it because my kids are addicted to eating at least 3 times a day and like living in a house. So, making a list of books I want to read makes it feel like work, so once a book is on a list I feel compelled not to read it. Keeping that in mind, you can guess the progress I made on the books listed in my reading goals.

Books I planned to read:
1. Deadline by Mira Grant. I was 2/3 of the way through, and it's completed.
2. Blackout by Mira Grant. Started it, barely 3 chapters in.
3. Assassin's Curse...didn't touch it during the read-a-thon.

So, I read about 1/3 of a book from that list. But I did read these books:
1. Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire. Finished book.
2. 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody. Finished book.
3. Started Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols. About 60 pages read.

Plus, of course, the Universe just knows when I want a quiet couple of days to read and dumps on me. I can't believe how awful and busy work was on the read-a-thon days. Read-a-thon theme music:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire

Don't You Wish

Goodreads Summary:
When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school. 

In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen.

But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie. So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it? The choice isn't as simple as you think.

My Review:
First of all, if you're going to be all picky about the science behind how Annie Nutter goes to an alternative universe and becomes Ayla Monroe... I only have this to say:

Oh, and this book is not for you. Look, I'm get that I'm reading a YA Cinderella/Ugly Ducking Becoming a Swan type book. I'm not looking for a scientifically accurate info dump on how this happens. If I want the science, I'll read a book by Stephen Hawking or someone. I'm reading this because I want my mind to chill out after a cruddy day at work. If I am bumming you out with my dumbness, stop reading now and go here: Souper Smart Peeple Blog About Science 'n Stuff.

Okay, in all honesty, the science behind how Annie gets transported is silly. It's basically this: (Semi NSFW due to language/partial nudity. Be forewarned)

With her father and brother as the two geeks and her as the hot chick. Except she doesn't appear out of a bathroom, she gets transported to Florida. But like Gary and Wyatt (you need to go watch "Weird Science"), she learns that wishes don't always work out.

This is a pretty cheesy kind of book- but good cheesy. At least I found it charming and at times sweet. It's very predictable, but sometimes that's good. I mean sometimes I want the book I'm expecting, if that makes sense. In other words, if a book seems like it's silly, sweet, and yet goofy, then I want that book to deliver a silly, sweet, slightly goofy story. Throw in some "Coming of Age" type moments and a cute romance and you have this book.

On the negative side, the author threw in an attempted date rape. It was pretty awful and just seemed so out of context for a book like this. Also, the language is just horrible at times. I'm not a teenager, so I don't know if that's realistic or not. But other than that, this is a great summer read.

Overall rating: 3 stars
Genre rating: 4 high school lockers (This book is very readable. I really couldn't put it down once I started)

Roxanne St. Claire's Website
Roxanne St. Claire's Twitter

Don't You Wish

Giveaway Update: Strings of the Violin

Like the 100 Followers Giveaway, I'm removing the mandatory requirement of following via GFC/Linky. But, you must follow my blog and E&K Family Book Review either through GFC/Linky or by Twitter. Will verify winning entry. This is to open it up to people who aren't on Blogger and can't use GFC. Again, sorry, didn't know how that whole thing worked. Also, you can now Tweet about the giveaway daily for points.

The Strings of the Violin

I guest blog at E & K Family Book Review and was given an opportunity to review this book through them. I received a (physical) copy from the author. I don't normally give away any book once it enters my house, but this is a new author and I'd like to help her get more readers by doing this giveaway. Even though it pains me. This book is like "The Wizard of Oz" mixed with Jewish folklore.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will verify that the winning entry has completed all of the tasks they claimed points for and are following me and E&K Reviews (see 1st paragraph). I didn't make it mandatory, but I hope that if you enter you add this book to your TBR shelf in Goodreads. Sorry, U.S. only. Don't know why it doesn't appear in the rafflecopter thing. Here's an easier link to add the book in GR than the Rafflecopter one:

The Strings of the Violin

My review of this book will appear at E&K Books on July 12, 2012.
E&K Family Book Review

Review: Feed (Newsflesh #1) by Mira Grant

Feed (Newsflesh, #1)

Goodreads Summary:
In 2014, two experimental viruses—a genetically engineered flu strain designed by Dr. Alexander Kellis, intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and a cancer-killing strain of Marburg, known as "Marburg Amberlee"—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks.

It raised the dead.

Millions died in the chaos that followed. The summer of 2014 was dubbed "The Rising," and only the lessons learned from a thousand zombie movies allowed mankind to survive. Even then, the world was changed forever. The mainstream media fell, Internet news acquired an undeniable new legitimacy, and the CDC rose to a new level of power.

Set twenty years after the Rising, the Newsflesh trilogy follows a team of bloggers, led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, as they search for the brutal truths behind the infection. Danger, deceit, and betrayal lurk around every corner, as does the hardest question of them all:

When will you rise?

My Review:
Wow! Oh, first, we need some zombie theme music. I don't know why, but I associate this song with one of the Romero "Dead" movies. I distinctly remember it playing as zombies were peeling themselves out of the grave. But I can't find it in a soundrack, so I'm just going to assume that's my association.

Although, I'm in such a zombie type mood that I did a mini-film fest- I watched "Shaun of the Dead" and "Zombieland".  So I do have "Night of the Living Dead" and "Day of the Dead"- the two most probable films this song may have appeared in- up for future viewing.  

Short review: Probably the best traditional zombie type novel I've read since World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.  

Had this book remained "just" a zombie book, that would have been fine with me. It is fast-paced, well written, and full of well developed characters. But, it's more than "just" a zombie book. Yes, it takes place as Georgia and Shaun blog about a presidential race; they are the bloggers chosen to follow a candidate along the campaign trail. But it's not really "just" about that either. In essence, it's a thinly veiled allegory of the current "War on Terror."  Read it and think about it. It makes you think that a lot of the things we do to suppress/eradicate/control terrorism actually end up creating more terrorists.   

It's also about fear and the reality of having to trade freedom for safety. Which is something that we've had to balance after September 11- how much freedom are we willing to give up to be safe? Now, right around September 11th, I would have traded a lot for safety, for the ability to not be afraid. I wanted to be told that if we just do "X", the world will go back to normal. I was one of the unlucky people who actually had relatives in one of the places an airplane flew into on September 11th. My mother, grandfather, and I spent the better part of a day trying to find out if they were alive. (The phone lines were jammed, obviously, and we couldn't get through.) Fortunately, I ended up being one of the lucky ones and my relatives made it out of the Pentagon alive and uninjured. 

Like many Americans, I avoided doing a lot of things. We cancelled a trip to Disneyland, we avoided places with large crowds on "significant" holidays, etc. Why? Fear. Which brings us back to "Feed". A lot of the book is about the politics of fear- how politicians use our fear to get elected by promising to make us safe. Which brings up at catch-22 for them- we can never be truly safe. And once the crisis has passed and we start going back to feeling safe, we don't need them. So, some politicians create a climate of fear and use that to make promises to keep us safe. But it's not just about "them" (the politicians), it's about "Us". The book explores the question, "Do we believe a comforting lie, or a painful truth?" Do we elect people who are our better angels- who do the tough, unpopular, smart thing? Or do we elect the person who goes along with the comforting lie? Who does what we want, instead of what is good for us. Yes, this is a zombie book with brains.  

But, "I hate politics!" It's okay, you can still read this book. It's still fun and full of action, blood, and gore.   

Overall Rating: 4 1/2 stars  
Genre Rating: 5 brains
Mira Grant's Website
Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)'s Twitter  
Feed (Newsflesh, #1)

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon, Day 2 Update

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

Wow, I'm not close to completing my Read-A-Thon goals. Which were really small, tiny, and pathetic- just 2 1/3 books. Well, I finished a book on the list (duh, the book that I only had 1/3 of the way to go, of course). So this is an easy update. I finished Deadline by Mira Grant. I don't know what it is, but if I put a book on some kind of reading list, I pretty much don't read it. I also finished Don't You Wish by Roxanne  St. Claire. 

I did the Day One Challenge at Between the Pages.

Day 3 Mini Challenges: 
The Reader Bee's Challenge:  

What is Your Most Anticipated Book of 2012?
Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2) 
This is Book 2 of Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. I've pretty much been waiting for this book since I finished the first one. Follett is one of my favorite contemporary authors.  


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)

Goodreads Summary:
Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

My Review:
I wasn't blogging when the first book of this trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, came out.  But if I had been blogging, my review would have gone something like this:
I gave "Discovery of Witches" a 1 star rating on Goodreads. I liked the first, maybe, fourth of the book. Then I thought it was boring and overly long. Think about it- it's a 600-ish page book and I thought 450 or so pages of it were deadly dull. That's like a whole boring chunky book worth of boring. So, why did I read Shadow of Night? Because it's set in the Elizabethan Era and I was promised that I would meet Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. So, I decided that as long as I could get the book for free, I would give it a try.     

So, this was my attitude going into the book. I was prepared to try to like it, but I was expecting to hate it. I know that's not really fair, but... I ended up really liking this book. Which says something, because when I started the book, I was looking for reasons to hate it and give myself and excuse to stop. But I couldn't stop, the book just sucked me in. Why? Because stuff actually happens in this book compared to the overly navel gazing boredom of the first book. Second, Diana is really a lot less whiny and annoying in this book. Finally, Kit (Christopher) Marlowe is a deliciously, queen bitch, gay daemon.   
Historical Accuracy: I'm not an Elizabethan scholar, but I'm pretty sure that Marlowe wasn't a demon. In other words, this is an historical fantasy novel. So don't quibble about this. I hope it's accurate because the atmosphere Harkness created in this book is really lush and you feel transported into Elizabethan England. In any case, Harkness has published these books: The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution and John Dee's Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature. So, I'm going to assume that Harkness knows more than I do and that this book is pretty historically accurate.
Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars  
Genre Rating: 4 magic wands  

As a side note: If you despised "Discovery of Witches", and perhaps were unable to finish it. I think that you could read a summary of "Discovery" to get enough background to read this book. There's really very little information you need from "Discovery" to make sense of  "Shadow of Night". Of course, if you hated a first book in a series, it goes without saying that you should get this one from the library.  
Author's Website 
Author's Twitter   
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)
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