Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pint-Size Review: Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren (#1)

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren (#1)
Pages:  416
Release Date:  June 1st, 2012
Date Read:  2012, May 8th-13th
Received:  ARC via NetGalley
Rating:  4/5 stars
Recommended to:  13+


SUMMARY -
Cora's life may not be grand or full of wealth, but there's one thing she's sure of: who she is.  Even when tragedy strikes her father's farm and her education to be a teacher is in jeopardy, Cora works hard to do what needs to be done.
But when her true parentage is revealed, everything falls apart.  She is whisked away into a fantasy world where she is not yet accepted.  Her new siblings, her new cousins, the long trip - the Grand Tour - she is to take with them...  It seems everything has fallen apart.  Her growing friendship - and possibly something more - with the tour guide's nephew, Will, and her desire to discover who she keeps Cora busy...and who are the people who might be following them?  In the end, it might come down to Cora to put her bravery to the test.

MY THOUGHTS -
Lisa Bergren recently became one of my favorite authors when I read this book and this book and this book.  I'm madly in love with those books, lemme tell you.  And apparently there are more books that are coming out to ease my desire for more.

But for now, I am happy happy happy with Glamorous Illusions.  OMG.  I seriously adore this book!  Maybe not as much as the River of Time, but by golly it was a riot!  I love Cora's character, for one.  She's a strong-willed, clear-headed girl who loves God and wants to do what's right.  I loved her journey of faith and how even though she wasn't quite sure who she was, she always knew she was a child of God.  She's such a feisty girl, too!  She made me laugh more than once.

And, erm...I have a weakness for boys/men named Will.  First, it's the little boy I've babysat for nearly 7 years, ever since he was 1 year old.  He loves me, I love him...  He tells me stories and we play video games together...and he tells me that if I don't let him climb that tree he'll never love me again and I tell him to get down from that tree or else and he climbs right on down and gives me the biggest hug ever.  Other than that Will, there's my magical love for Will Turner...I'm a Pirates junkie.  So yeah.  I have good associations with the name Will.  And this Will - he is NO exception.  He's amaaaazing!!  I seriously adore him so so so much.  His growing love for Cora (even though he's certain they can never be together) is soooo sweet and adorable and innocent...and still passionate at the same time.

Come on now, don't tell me you don't want to read this book.  Not only do you have awesome characters such as Cora and Will, but you also have fancy dresses, romantic boat rides (more than one!), castles and masked balls, a (possibly) dangerous game in a large maze, and more!  Seriously, though, the first boat ride and the maze scene were my favorite scenes in the book!  Ca-ra-zy!  CRAZY!

My only drawback - the end seemed a liiiittle bit fast.  Rushed, kind of.  Not terrible, and totally fascinating and lovable, but just, given the length of the book, a little too quick for my liking.  Oh, and the alternating POV's were a bit disappointing.  I wanted it to be all from Cora's perspective, but there was some from Will's and some from Cora's real father.  Not bad, just me wishing it was all Cora!

All in all, this was a great book with an awesome story and a promise for more and greater adventures!  And we have yet to get to Italy, where Lisa works her magic!  Eeeep!  So excited!

This book reminds me of...
Downton Abbey (the time period and the dresses - the story was completely original)
The trip to France I'm someday going to take
Traveling to exotic places
Evil stepsisters
Roguish gentlemen (oxymoron, I know)
Castles I want to see
Adorable, slow-moving romances (that I wish would move faster!!!)

For the Parents -
A bit of adventure, a few flirtatious characters, but nothing improper!  Great for ages 13+

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Num8ers by Rachel Ward (#1)

Num8ers by Rachel Ward (#1)
Pages: 325
Release Date:  November 8th, 2008
Date Read:  2012, January 24th - February 10th
Received:  Audiobook from Library
Rating:  4/5 stars
Recommended to:  17+





SUMMARY -
Jemma never wanted this gift - this curse.  She never realized the Numbers meant something until her mom died - on a date that spelled out the Numbers Jem saw in her mother's eyes.  now she knows - she can never look someone in the eye without knowing when they'll die.  For a long time, Jem has distanced herself from the world, but now, she's found a friend in the quirky boy from school, Spider.  It isn't long, however, before Jem's gift predicts a terrorist attack.  Now the suspects, she and Spider are on the run for their lives, and Jem is forced to live like she's never lived before.

MY THOUGHTS -
Sitting here, writing out that summary, I almost burst into tears.  Yep, this is one of those books.  Books that make me bawl.  I swear I was hyperventilating at the end of this book.  It's like a sharp knight to the gut.  Actually, I take that back.  It's a shock back into reality.

Most books with this much content usually aren't what I pick up or finish.  But.  There are a few reasons I finished this one.

1.  The narrator.  By golly this woman can read a book and make it come to life like nothing else I've ever seen.  I don't typically do audiobooks, but I was pulled into Jem's world through the narrator's brilliant voice.
2. Jem's transformation (more on that below).
3.  The thick intensity and grit of the world Rachel Ward so perfectly built.  Oh, it's earth, the world we live in, but it's like nothing you've ever read.
4.  Her writing.  Ward has a way with worlds.  Simple, to the point, but also lyrical and passionate.

CHARACTER NOTES -
So.  Jem.  She's hard, closed-off, never budging from her comfort zone (if she even has one) - no friends, no life - nothing that could make her see people's death dates, their Numbers.  Normally, a girl like this would drive me crazy.  There's no way I could relate to her.  But, the magic of the narrator and author worked together, and as soon as I heard Jem's story, her mom's story, her life now, I could never have walked away.  I cared, I understood, I was Jem.  I suddenly was experiencing life through her eyes.  I hurt, bled for her, with her.  If you can do that with your readers in such a severe, devastating way, you're brilliant.

When Jem meets Spider, so begins the slow, painful process of Jem's transformation.  I cannot even begin to tell you how perfect and seamless the change wrought in her character was.  Like, freaking brilliant.  I'd say it's some of the best character development I've seen, hands down, next to classic characters such as Sydney Carton, Andre-Louis Moreau and Raskilnikov.

Spider was also excellently portrayed.  He irritates the crap out of Jem sometimes, but she cares for him more than she's wiling to admit.  There's so much heart and soul to his character, because he is the life in Jem.  He brings her out of her shell with his fidgeting, jumpiness, loud personality, and care for her.

Besides these two, there's a cast of characters worthy of reading about.  None have so much page time as the leads, but they all play their part.  None were ever dull or awkward or stupid.  I loved every last one of them.

STORY NOTES -
I was sitting in my car with my 14-year-old sister, listening away to this brilliant narration, at the very beginning of the story, when Jem dropped the first F-bomb in a rather sudden, s hocking moment.  She said it again, a few times in that scene.  Startled, I turned it off, planning to proceed with caution when there wasn't such a young audience.

Proceed with caution.  Yes.  There were a LOT of F-bombs in this book.  Probably 60 or so.  Typically, this annoys me to pieces.  BUT.  I could understand where Jem was coming from, due to stellar writing skills on Ward's part.  This doesn't make it okay, but if I was in Jem's shoes, and had lived the life she had, I'd probably cuss up a storm as well.

In any case, this book holds something very precious.  It's a story about the delicacy and beauty of life.  It's an adventure that takes you across London, the countryside, and the sea side.  It's a thriller that keeps you on your toes till THE VERY END.  It's a romance that will steal your heart away.  It is not typical.  The romance, the journey, the climax - I've never read anything like it.  And because of that alone, it is beautiful.

SUMMING IT UP -
Heart-breaking.  Your heart will be broken once you've finished.  Trust me.  Shattered.  But in all the right ways.  Rachel Ward - please, never stop writing.

(Although, I do have to say - this isn't a book for everyone.  Not all people can handle or like to handle books with this much content/grit/hardcore story.  So look both ways before you cross this street.  But I hope you do cross this street.  I hope you do.)

For the Parents -
Explicit language throughout.  Drug use, theft, sex in a barn (some detail but more about the emotion)...death.  It's a  heavy book with hardcore themes.  Recommended 17+

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Buys 5/18-25/12

Ok, so, all these last 10 days I've been sick...and it hasn't been fun.  I've gotten out of the house twice in the last ten days.  And you know what makes me happy when I'm sick?  Books, of course.  And guess what I got in the mail while I was sick?  Books.  Lots of 'em.

BOUGHT


A Lady of Secret Devotion by Tracie Peterson - $3
This book looks adorable!

The Naming by Alison Croggon - $3
This looks very intriguing.  I've read the first couple of pages and I really love the writing.  Hopefully it'll be a favorite! :)


RECEIVED


I was kind of a little bit freaking out when this showed up in my mailbox a few days ago - like, I was sooooo excited!!  Seriously - this book looks phenomenal.
Like I said last Friday Buys, I don't get hard copy ARC's in the mail very often, so this was SO. COOL.


WON

Let me first thank Misty @ The Book Rat and the folks at Walden Pond Press for the opportunity to read this three wonderful-sounding books!!  (I won these books in a giveaway that was a part of Fairy Tale Fortnight!)
Juniper Berry by M. P. Kozlowsky
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Soooooooooo excited for all three of them!! :D






I would also like to thank Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Laurisa White Reyes for the opportunity to read Laurisa's book The Rock of Ivanore!  I read the first few pages of this as well and was like, "Well hello there beautiful, where have you been all my life?"  ;) I'm thinking I'm going to adore this book!


 These books all came in the mail within two days of each other!  I was seriously beyond stoked about it!!!!

OH!  And I keep forgetting to add this:

My dear friend over at A Work of Fiction, who lives allll the way in Australia, got to meet Lauren Oliver - and because I'd just missed Lauren's signing in LA, got this poster signed and sent it to me!!  It's beautiful, is it not?! :D


THE STASH

Aren't they just beautiful?!


NETGALLEY

Doesn't this just look fantabulous?  Who doesn't want to read a book with that cover?  You'd have to be crazy.  Just sayin'.

And this one too.  I mean, what is with these gorgeous coooovvvveeerrrs?!?!?!


Not as big a fan of this cover, but it does look really interesting!  I'll be getting into all these later in the year, as they come out November-ish, but I can't wait! :D


What did YOU get this week?  Link me in the comments! :D

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pint-size Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (#1)

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (#1)
Pages: 293
Release Date:  April 19th, 2011
Date Read:  2012, April 21st-24th
Received:  Own
Rating:  3/5 stars
Recommended to:  15+


SUMMARY -
Kate Winters doesn't want to be here.  Seeing Eden Manor, living in a house in the town her mom grew up...  All to send her mother off.  To let her mother die of cancer that's eating away at her.  Now she has to make friends at school, because her mom wants her to move on, be happy.  There's James, the sweet guy, who seems to care a lot about her.  And then there's not-so-friendly Ava and her boyfriend Dylan.  But when a terrible accident occurs and a young life is lost, a mysterious man appears, offering to give the life back if only Kate will live with him through fall and winter, every year - forever.  Pulled into a series of tests she must pass - or die - Kate must rethink everything she thought was possible to take on her promise.

MY THOUGHTS -
This book didn't shock me, wow me, or present anything new - but, oh, did I enjoy it!  I was a bit surprised at some things toward the end, but other than that it was the same old, same old.   So why did I enjoy this book so much?  Kate.  Ok, so, she was a little whiny at times (I thought), but I respect her more than most YA heroines.  She has strong morals and a very selfless outlook, and keeps her promises.  She was what wowed me.

I also really enjoyed the chemistry between Kate and Henry.  The romance is pretty slow moving - hey! 6 months is a long time for YA lit - and at the end it isn't all happily ever after.  This I appreciate.

The plot itself was interesting, but definitely not chock-full of obvious, life endangering tests like you'd think.  One reason I kept pushing through was to see what the tests would be revealed as.  They were interesting, but not like I'd hoped.

I liked the way Ava was incorporated into this story...  And I also did not guess who was killing off all the girls until right before Kate did. That mystery did keep me involved.

Last thing - Henry.  He was just...ok.  Understandably sad, dejected, and ready to "fade", but sometimes, it seemed too much.  Dude, you're allowed to smile every once in a while, okay?

All in all, this was a fun read!

This book reminds me of...
Mansions I'd want to get lost in
A heroine worth rooting for
Lovely gardens
Stained glass
Intrigue!! ;)

For the Parents -
Language scattered throughout; after some passionate but nondescript kissing, it is stated Kate and Henry have sex, but the act is not described in any way. Mention of Ava sleeping around, being a whore, etc. ( All this has a reason!!)  Recommended 15+

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 TBR pile Reading Challenge - update

You know, that challenge.  The one I never post about.  Or even keep up with.  I'm so bad about it.

I've read a grand total of FOUR books for this challenge.  I signed up for Level #3, which requires I read at least 21 books from my 2011 and earlier TBR pile.  I'm only 1/7 of the way through and we are 1/2 through the year.

Things better start looking up.  Erm, I better stop getting books from the library and buying new books and reading those.  What's wrong with me?! ;)

So.  The four I've read so far:

Crossed by Ally Condie (Matched #2)
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor (Alyss #2)
(And I'm currently reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, which I've had for probably two years...it's amaaaazing!)

It's kind of crazy.  I need to get a move on.

Some that I want to read soon:
Witchlanders
Wildwood Dancing
The Blackhope Enigma
A Sudden, Fearful Death
Lock and Key
Geek Magnet
East
Fablehaven
Miss Spitfire

Do you see any that you've read/heard good things about?  Which would you recommend reading first?  There's a poll to your right that will allow you to vote!  Give me your thoughts! :D

Haaaaappy Reading!! :D

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Roar & The Whisper by Emma Clayton


The Roar 
Pages: 496
Release Date:  April 1st, 2009
Received:  Own
Rating:  5/5 stars
Recommended to:  11+


The Whisper
Pages: 320
Release Date:  February 1st, 2012
Received:  Own
Rating:  2/5 stars
Recommended to:  11+


~ Summary for The Roar ~
A year ago, Mika's twin sister Ellie was said to have drowned.  Everyone believes she's dead, but not Mika.  It's like he can feel her,still alive and well.  He wants answers, but when no one will help him, he's forced to do things on his own.  But when his school starts issuing the Fit For Life program - exercising, drinking the Fit Mix, and experiencing random growth spurts - and Mika's elderly friend Helen tells Mika to stick with the program so he can find Ellie, Mika throws himself full-fledged into the program.

But that's merely the beginning.  Now they must learn to fight Pods in a game that has sucked in every youth.  When Mika and his new friend Audrey find themselves at the top of the game, Mika realizes he is closer to finding Ellie than it seems - and that the game is much more dangerous than anyone believed.


The Roar ~
So, brilliant stories don't come around that often, but when they do, you read them again and again.  The Roar is one such book.  It's beautiful.  The plot, the descriptions, the suspense.  MIKA.  Mika makes this book what it is, really.

The Whisper ~
Btu what happens when its long-awaited sequel disappoints?  Ok, it's hard.  Yeah, I was hoping for the same brilliance in The Whisper.  If the author can do it once, she can do it again.  Unfortunately, what I got from The Whisper was less than good.  I'm sad to say it.

The Roar ~
With characters like these, it's hard to leave your readers behind.  Mika is 12 years old, a strong boy with an amazing love of life.  An amazing love in general.  He's wonderful and I adore him with every fiber of my being.  And, I, erm, kind of have a crush on him.  Just don't tell anyone. ;)

Ellie is fast, furious, and totally fantastic!  She makes me smile and whoop with joy and triumph.  She's spunky, and her pet monkey, Puck, is adorable.  The little bond they have really adds to the story and shows you all sides of Ellie's character.

Audrey, too, is just...wow.  She blew me away.  She's the kind of girl who talks in exclamation marks and is the life of the party.  Some people might find her annoying but I couldn't get enough of her!

The Whisper ~
Wait, I take that back.  I could get enough of her, and almost every other character.
While The Roar is from Mika's perspective (with some of Ellie's and Mal Gorman's in the mix), The Whisper is allll over the map.  Every-stinking-where!  Almost everyone seems to have a few chapters (or more) from their perspective.  I just didn't care about all those other characters enough to get into it.  Some were new characters who pop out of nowhere.  Others are old characters who don't really have a huge part in the story.  I read this book to discover what happens to Mika and Ellie, not the rest of the world.

Mika and Ellie are the only characters who remained interesting, so I found myself skimming some of the other parts because it didn't mean anything to me.

The Roar ~
WHAT a story.  Like, fan-freaking-tastic!  Think X-men, dystopia, and just good sci-fi.  I was riveted, first time and second time.  Everything unfolds to perfectly, it's hard not to want to want to know what's next and keep turning the pages.  The sci-fi elements were so great.  Kids trained to fight Pods and who also develop superpowers because of a drink they were forced to take?  Yeah, i'll read that any time.  And the lights?  Way too cool!!

The Whisper ~
She lost me.  Emma Clayton lost me.  And at about 30 pages, no less, when I realized it was going nowhere I wanted to follow.  But it was taking Mika and Ellie with it (just barely) so I decided to go along with it, at least for a bit.

But nothing...happened.  It felt very much like an excessive extension of The Roar.  It could have been compacted into 50 pages and attached to the end of The Roar, but instead, its 350 pages were endless.

~ So what should you do? ~
As the reader, obviously that's your choice.  But I say...  Read The Roar.  Know where the story is going to end (it's obvious), and be happy with it.  End there, satisfied.  If you're curious about The Whisper, kill it, before it kills you.  Or your cat.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Buys 5/4-18/12

VERY fun stash this weekend!! :D  Enjoy!

BOUGHT

So you all know that a few weeks ago I bought an extra copy of Everneath...and it was for someone special.  Someone special, as in, a follower of my blog!  Soon, there will be a two year blogoversary/250 follower giveaway!!

The top book is mine - dear Brodi is AMAZING.

The second one is for one of you very lucky followers! :D




Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
I bought this for about $12 with a giftcard a discount.  SO excited to read it...hopefully more than once...because it's my unrealistic and totally ridiculous goal to ease my Downton Abbey addiction until Season 3 airs next winter.

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Also $12 with discount and gift card.  I'm SO excited to read this!  More than any other dystopian out right now! :D

Cold Fury by T. M. Goeglein
I received this from the publisher when I won the giveaway on the Librarything Early Reviewers giveaway program!  SO excited about it!  I don't receive hard copy ARCs very often so this is a treat!!

AND....along with meeting the WONDERFUL Brodi Ashton, I was very fortunate to meet Bree Despain, fellow author and friend of Brodi's.  They were hilarious together and they discussed very good topics.  Afterward, I bought The Dark Divine (which I'm positively ITCHING to read NOW) for $11.

I love that - Make life divine!! :D

THE STASH



NETGALLEY

Also...from NetGalley:

So, everyone, what have YOU purchased/received/borrowed this week?  Link me up in the comments! :D
Happppy Reading!! :D

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #3 - The Wicked and the Just



This is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper!






Cecily’s father has ruined her life. He’s moving them to occupied Wales, where the king needs good strong Englishmen to keep down the vicious Welshmen. At least Cecily will finally be the lady of the house.

Gwenhwyfar knows all about that house. Once she dreamed of being the lady there herself, until the English destroyed the lives of everyone she knows. Now she must wait hand and foot on this bratty English girl.

While Cecily struggles to find her place amongst the snobby English landowners, Gwenhwyfar struggles just to survive. And outside the city walls, tensions are rising ever higher—until finally they must reach the breaking point.


______________________________________________

I've heard fantastic things about The Wicked and the Just - especially the rave review over at Small Review's.  Sounds like a lot of tension, suspense, and intrigue!  I got this for review from NetGalley but missed downloading it by a mere day!  So sad!  Now that I hear what I missed I'm especially frustrated!  Hopefully I'll get my hands on a copy soon!

Released:  April 17th, 2012
Goodreads
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
The Book Depository

What are YOU wishing for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Bookshelf Dilemma: Episode 2


Here it is again, the second episode.  This time, I'm covering my extensive Favorites Shelf.  This includes Forever Favorites and Books of Incredible, in case you're wondering what correlates to my Goodreads shelves.

To start, we have my Heartland collection.  Yes, it is a collection, full of first editions and well-read much-loved copies that I will ALWAYS have FOREVER and EVER.  I know it isn't the most popular series ever, but holy gracious I love it so much and want to re-read them, even though I know they're not well-written or relevant to my age...I just adore them too much. :D

Harry Potter and Percy Jackson take the stage!  These books are amazing.  Period.  End of story.  They deserve to be here.  Forever and ever and ever and ever.

This is kind of a random collection of 2-book series' and stand-alone favorites.  I mean, Jeanette Rallison?  She'll always be there.  Airman...brilliant.  Aurelia and Exile don't deserve to be anywhere else.

This is my trilogies section.  All these belong in a trilogy (except for Before I Fall but I couldn't put it anywhere else...oh, and Incarceron, but that had to go there as well).  I love these books so much it's ridiculous!

N. D. Wilson.
Because he's so cool.  He gets his own little spot.
(Since I've changed my bookshelves, he's had to go with everyone else.  It's almost painful.  I just love him too much to put him with "everyone else".)

More series and trilogies.

These are more books from my childhood that ended up being favorites.  I will always love these books.  They represent the amazing literature that, in its own way, inspired me to start this blog.  I owe them many thanks.

 Here they are!  They're no longer like this...this shelf has changed twice since I took these pictures.  But I will show you one step at a time with my massive self-control... *snickers*  You get the point.

In any case...  What do you think?  What do you think I've done with them now?  How would YOU organize them?  Comment comment comment! :D
Happy Reading! :D

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Tempest by Julie Cross (Tempest #1)

Tempest by Julie Cross (Tempest #1)
Pages: 344
Release Date:  January 17th, 2012
Date Read:  2012, March 15th-18th
Received:  Library
Rating:  5/5 stars
Recommended to:  17+





SUMMARY -
Jackson Meyer was always the average, normal teenager...until a year ago, when he discovered his ability to travel through time.  First it was freaky.  Then it was all fun and games.  And now, with the help of his supergeniusfreak friend Adam, he wants to find some answers.  But when men come looking for Jackson, killing his girlfriend Holly right in front of him, he must use his extraordinary gift - and an accidental "jump" to the past - to save her and uncover a few family secrets that could mean a change...in everything.

MY THOUGHTS -
I am feeling this incredibly strong urge to buy everyone a copy of this book.  (Everyone as in...I don't know.)  Not all would like it, but holy gracious, it was so stinkin' good I can't even help but try.

You guys, come on!  Julie Cross if flipping awesome!  How Did She Do It?!  I loved literally everything about this book.  (Ok, well, there could have been a little less language...BUT...)  I loved Jackson, seeing a male perspective in first person.  Holly, Adam, cool CIA stuff, time travel that isn't hokey, perfectly paced plot-line with a perfect train of thought that never breaks.

I've never understood time travel so well.  I suppose I should try out my own abilities soon... ;)

Julie Cross writes like nothing I've ever seen.  The brilliance of her style is her clarity, her way of describing. It allows her to show, not tell.  To bring the reader into the story.  I was one of those readers.  I really was.

CHARACTER NOTES -
Let's just put this out there now - Jackson and Adam totally remind me of the Neal/Mozzie duo from White Collar...and in all the best ways.  They're not copies, either, just similar, and if I absolutely love the Neal/Mozzie duo (which I do!!), you can bet on me loving Jackson/Adam.

Jackson rocked this book to the very core.  He radiates total and complete excellence - as a character in literature and as a real person.  I connected with him and - guilt as charged! - totally fell in love with him.  He's far from perfect, but shows tons of personal growth and strength in doing the right thing.  At first I thought Holly might be too good for him, but no...  He totally deserves her!

Speaking of Holly.  She's way too cool!  She's a dream come true for Jackson, but she's real, flaws and all.  She added so much meaning to Tempest, being at the lead of Jackson's drive to search for answers.

There are so many great characters here, I wish I could name them all.  Some start out bad and end good (like as in good guy/bad guy...not quality...they're all great quality characters!).  Some totally tricked me and flipped the story upside down.  I found I was second-guessing myself more than once on a lot of these people.  They're very involving!

STORY NOTES -
But that's not the only aspect of Tempest to turn things around.
This story is freaking crazy!!!  Every two seconds my ideas/plans/theories about the story line were blown up in my face by some insanely incredible twist.

Tempest starts fast and ends faster.  So much happens, which could have been so confusing, but I never once wondered about the theories or experiments.  Everything made sense...okay, except for that one thing at the end.  But even that didn't bother me too much.  I know Cross will tie it in in the second and third books...I trust her that much.  *please don't break my trust!*

Highlight this if you want to read - it's the biggest spoiler in the book so if you haven't read it, I don't recommend reading it!

I thought that going back in time to a different "timeline" meant you couldn't change the future?  Like, he went back, saw and talked to Courtney, and yet nothing in 2009 changed.  When he went back in time to avoid meeting Holly in the very beginning, it was to change the future.  But it doesn't work that way.  So am I missing something or is that a hole in the story?

In any case, whatever my issue was with the end...it was still breathtaking, gut wrenching, and totally heartbreaking.  I definitely cried some in this book because the whole thing had a very emotional undertone...and some of the scenes...GAH!  Don't get me wrong - Jackson is this a total guy and not a mushy gushy softy - but he has the perfect mix of manliness and a sensitive side, which only adds to the brilliance of Tempest.  (And which only works to make me fall head over heals for him because that's like my dream guy!!)


The love story was just wonderful.  It reminded me some of Everneath in the fact that it had already happened, but needs to be "relived".  That was one of the factors that sold me in Everneath, and it worked again with Tempest.  I love the slow progression of things between Holly and Jackson, and the fact that it was still so intense.  Like, emotional (not the dramatic type) and beautiful and so stinking sweet.

SUMMING IT UP -
Tempest sucked me into its timeline!  ;)  Yes, I'm hopelessly lost in the world of Jackson.  I'm hooked.  I didn't think I'd love it, but wow I was wrong!  And now... Second book please come out very very soon!!!!!

For the Parents -
Quite a lot of foul language... F bombs, GD, b**ch, s**t, d**n, etc.  For that alone I recommend to older ages.  But on top of that there are some crude sexual remarks and, yes: college age Jackson and Holly are practically living together.  A few minor details (Julie Cross is really good an implying and leaving out unneeded details), but it happens at least 4 times, and with enough detail to make me squirm at the thought of my 15 year old sister reading it.
Recommended to older teens, 17+.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tempest (Quotes)


Her face relaxed and she tugged on the front of my shirt, pulling me closer before kissing my cheek.  "So...what are you doing tonight?"
"Um...  I've got plans with this really pretty blond chick."  Except I couldn't remember what we had planned.  "It's a...surprise."
"You're so full of it."  She laughed and shook her head.  "I can't believe you forgot your promise to spend an entire evening with me reciting Shakespeare...in French...backwards.  Then we were supposed to watch Titanic and Notting Hill."
"I must have been drunk when I said that."  I glanced over Holly's shoulder before kissing her quickly on the mouth.  "But I'll agree to Notting Hill."

- Page 3, Chapter 1

If you read this book and don't fall madly head-over-heals drooling over yourself in love with Jakson then we'll get together so I can beat you up.

Review on Monday!  ;)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vote on the poll!

Okay everyone...  There's a poll, on the right side bar.  It is currently tied 3 to 3 and if I can help it, I really don't want to have to pick between them.

The two tied answers are -

Insta-love VS Realistic love
and
Mythology retellings VS Fairytale retellings

So.  Which one do you want to read about next?  Vote vote vote!  :D

*UPDATE*

Mythology retellings VS Fairytale retellings is the winner!!! :D

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Giveaway: Ordinary Magic (Ends May 23rd)


Caitlen is absolutely wonderful!  She has not only agreed to the wonderful interview that we had on Monday, but she is also giving away one finished (and signed, if the winner would like) copy of Ordinary Magic to one very lucky winner! :D  Fill out the Rafflecopter below and...well, I'm trying to resist the urge to say, "May the odds be ever in your favor!"  But too late!  Haha enjoy!  And make sure you check out the review and interview while you're at it! :D a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Pages: 288
Release Date:  May 8th, 2012
Date Read:  2012, February 24th - March 1st
Received:  ARC via NetGalley
Rating:  4.5/5 stars
Recommended to:  10+







SUMMARY -
Abby is about to be tested for magic - will she be a Level 5?  A 6?  She comes from a very prominent family, where everyone uses magic well; her older sister tested at Level 9!  But when Abby is discovered to be an Ord, a non-magical human, she is cast out by the society around her.  Ords are unnatural - they are usually sold to Adventurers or the Guild.  Abby's parents, of course, refuse to sell her, and find a place for her at Margaret Green School, a place where where Ords learn how to protect themselves and live in a magical society.  When Adventurers strike, seeking slaves, and the students are in danger, Abby and her friends muster all the courage and wit they possess to outsmart the enemy.

MY THOUGHTS -
Already I have the winner for the "CUTEST book of 2012"!!  This is is, ladies and gents!  Ordinary Magic is stinking adorable.  And not only that - it had me laughing out loud all the time, and loving every second.  The way Caitlen Rubino-Bradway portrays everything through stellar writing and her brilliant story-telling style had me applauding for more.

While absolutely everything about Ordinary Magic was just adorable, my favorite thing about it was the humor.  In character, in conversation, in their way of life - I still giggle when I think about Gil, or Abby's hilarious sarcasm, etc., etc.

CHARACTER NOTES -
Abby, her family, the mages, her friends at school, the Adventurers, the King - all brilliantly done!  There was no need to tell the reader who all these people were because the reader is shown from page 1 with crystal clear imagery.  Because of this, I want to say each and every one is my favorite and tell you why, but that simply can't be done.

Abby's voice is realistic and funny.  I love her.  Like, want-to-be-best-buds love her.  She's spunky, determined, and totally sweet.  She can have a bit of temper but is really mature.  Talk about perfect character building...

Peter, Fran and Fred were awesome.  I love that Fran always speaks in a whisper, Fred is everyone's buddy, and Peter can be a total jerk, but deep down is a totally great guy trying to figure things out.  I'm hoping, in maybe another book - romance for Abby and Peter? :)

Mom and Dad, Abby's parents, are some of the most hilarious parents I've ever read about in Lit.  I could relate to them on a personal level because they remind me of my parents.  Not in every way, but enough to make me love them even more than I would have originally.  They were SO funny, always teasing their kids and making jokes.

But.  My favorite.  He would have to be Gil, Abby's older brother.  Oh, my gosh.  He's such a riot!!  I was NOT expecting such hilariousness from him, and about him from his family, but he proved to be the biggest source of laughter for me.  I. LOVE. HIM.  The twist about him in the end just made me burst into hysterical laughter!  I'm cracking up just thinking about it!!

STORY NOTES -
Think:  fun, adventure, magic, kinds, bad guys, and lots of wit.  I love when kids have to outsmart the bad guys ("Home Alone" style!), and Ordinary Magic had plenty of that.  There were a few scenes that were a bit slower than the rest, but never boring.  The pace is otherwise consistent and actually pretty fast.  (It took me a bit longer than typical due to a crazy week, but normally I could've finished a book like this in 2 days!)

Every scene has a purpose.  I love that about Ordinary Magic: nothing is unimportant or out of place.  I also love the originality of the idea.  Instead of a magician surrounded by non-magical people, it's the other way around.  And it's just as fascinating to read about!

I also love the mix of cultures.  Kings and castles mixed with boarding schools, mixed with city life and fairs and magic carpets.  (I LOVE magic carpets!)  It's flipping awesome!

SUMMING IT UP -
What's not to love?  This book is all sorts of awesome fun.  There's no reason why you shouldn't have this on your TBR.  Add it now - you won't be sorry!
Recommended 10+


Monday, May 7, 2012

An Interview With Caitlen Rubino-Bradway



You can find Caitlen at the following places:







Why she's here:












To start off, can you give us five fun facts about yourself?
Okay, let’s see. 

1) I am a huge Renaissance Faire fan.  I try to go every single year and it’s always so much fun.  Where else can you can eat a giant turkey leg while watching a human chess match?  Actually, there should be lots of places you can do that, but so far I’ve only found it at the Renn Faire.  Also it fulfills the little 14yo Caitlen that lives inside me, the one that was raised on Disney Princesses and Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Adventures of Robin Hood with Erroll Flynn, who finds it really unfair that we don’t go around in long beautiful dresses all the time.  Come to think of it, actual, grown-up Caitlen finds that unfair, too.

2) March 14th is one of my favorite holidays because it is (unofficially, I think?) Pi Day, which to me means fun and pastry and also some math.  I really have to thank my high school for that.  Math was always my trouble subject, but my high school started celebrating Pi Day — we’d have pie-eating contests and math relay-races and a prize for whoever could memorize Pi to the furthest digit.  My friend, Tara, won every year with 11 digits out.  They made a subject that I didn’t like so much a lot of fun.

3) The first thing I ever wrote was a Star Wars fan fiction.  Because that is how I roll.  Actually, I didn’t think it was a fan fiction at the time.  See, I was in high school and one of my closest friends got me into Star Wars and we read all the novels together.  Then one day in the lunchroom we got the brilliant idea that we could write a Star Wars story and the just send it into the publisher and they would make it a book, because that is totally how it works, because it’s not like the publisher tries to hire professional writers for those things.  Not at all.  (By the way, Bantam Dell, I’m totally a professional writer now.) I have no idea where it is now, and I can only hope it never sees the light of day.

4) When it comes to movie-adaptations of books, if at all possible I prefer to see the movie first and save the book for after.  It’s a policy I’ve recently instituted after way too many time of sitting in a movie theater thinking, That’s not what I thought they looked like, why did they leave that part out, they skipped over that whole section in the forest — that was the best part.  If I go into the movie tabula rasa, as it were, I find I can enjoy it for what it is, and still not be spoiled for the book, which is, in my experience, usually better.

5) I think Dr. Doofenshmirtz should be held up as a role model for the children of America.  Okay, so, yes, there is the whole ‘heading a corporation of Evil in an effort to enslave humanity’ thing.  But the important thing is that he tries, and he never gives up, no matter how many times that Perry the Platypus stops him.  Tomorrow is just another -inator waiting to happen.
 I may also have a little bit of a crush on him, but please, please don’t tell anyone.

Yay for Pi Day!  I've never celebrated...and think I might just start next year! :D
What are five books you think everyone should read?
I think everyone should read a book in every genre, even if they’ve never read or think they won’t particularly like.  Granted, most of my reading is middle grade and YA, but I do try to push myself outside my comfort zone every now and again.  The books I typically recommend are:

1)      I’m not a historical non-fiction person, but Over the Edge of the World by Laurence Bergren is hands down one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read.  It’s a chronicle of Magellan’s journey circumnavigating the world, and let’s just say that I cannot believe some of the stuff that went on during that voyage.  It’s a miracle anyone made it back at all.
2)      I think it’s odd, considering my mom raised us on Sherlock Holmes, that I’m not a rabid mystery girl.  But every now and again, when the mystery mood strikes me, I like to pick up one by Georgette Heyer.  My favorite is Envious Casca, set at English manor house, with a bickering family gathered together for the holidays, a locked-room murder, and even a little bit of romance.
3)      Speaking of Romance — I love romance novels.  I get flak about it sometimes, but it’s like any other genre.  There’s good, there’s bad, and there’s a lot in the middle.  Contemporary romances are my sweet spot; I deeply love Nora Roberts’ Angels Fall, where the heroine spends most of the book trying to deal with a Holy Cow Traumatic Past, while trying to solve a Mysterious Mystery that brings up said HCTP in spades.  Also she’s a cook, and my, oh my, so much talk about food….
4)      On Writing by Stephen King. I don’t read a lot of books about writing — I prefer to read books in the genre I’m writing in, so I can get a feel for what I like/don’t like — but I loved Stephen King’s On Writing.  It’s a wonderful book, and while he does talk about writing, he also takes you through his history as a writer, which was the part I really loved.  He mentions at one point he’d hear a lot, “you’re a good writer, why are you wasting your time on horror, etc”, and how he had to get past that.  It’s stayed with me because I’ve heard variations of that, when I tell people Ordinary Magic is a children’s fantasy.  Fortunately, I’ve also met a lot more people who love children’s fantasies as much as I do.
5)      Military science fiction, anyone?  I’ve been reading Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet series with my Dad, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot.  The first six books are based on the battle of Xenophon, with a small band of warriors trapped deep in enemy territory, trying to get home.  The space battles are pretty exciting, and I really like how Campbell works in the time delay that would occur in space, which means that his hero has to guess what the enemy’s going to do before they do it so he’ll have time to prepare, and there’s this wonderfully tense sense of are we dead yet and just don’t know it?

I will definitely have to pick up some of these awesome-sounding reads!
How has writing and being published affected your life?
Other than just me walking around with a big goofy smile on my face?  I’ve been a lot busier and spending a lot more time online.  I’m even on Twitter (yeah, I’m about ten years behind the rest of humanity), which I’m still getting used to.  But I think the biggest thing is that my parents constantly tell me how proud they are of me, and my friends have all been saying how they’re so impressed. It’s awesome, but it’s also a little surreal.  I just hope it doesn’t go to my head — to which end I’ve hired an apathetic teenager to follow me around and give a long-suffering roll of her eyes whenever someone pays me a compliment.

Ha!  It took me forever to get on Twitter as well...  Seriously, though, it sounds like an amazing thing!  Oh, to be published...
Who is your favorite character that you have created and why?
That’s a tough one.  I’d have to say it’s a tie between Barbarian Mike and Gil.  Right from the start, Barbarian Mike was just so much fun to write, that I ended up looking forward to every scene with him.  But I also loved writing Gil, who I originally intended just to be the goofy one in the family.  Except at some point I decided he was a writer, and started channeling all of my writerly frustrations into him.  We both of us have trouble with deadlines.  To be honest, I’m kind of jealous — he has to have a lot more self-discipline than I do, to be able to write at the kitchen table in that crazy house.  I always have to get out of my apartment and find somewhere less distracting.  Ideally some place without wifi.

THANK YOU!  Gil is MY favorite TOO! :D  I can't help but giggle every time I think of him.  Dr. Doofenshmirtz?  Psh!  I have a major crush on Gil!  ;)
What gave you the idea to write about a non-magical girl in a land full of magic?
I’d like to say that one day I was strolling through the woods, looking for enough gooseberries to make seven little pies, when I was approached by the Idea Fairy, who showered fairy dust over my head until a Story Idea was formed.  Because not only would that be awesome, and be a set thing I could do whenever I needed ideas, I’d also apparently be Snow White in that scenario?  And, even if the Idea Fairy didn’t show up, hey, gooseberry pies.
In reality it popped into my head one night during a discussion with friends about tropes in fantasy stories.  I realized that a lot of the books I loved (kids and adult) had a similar setup for the main character.  Specifically that they were either an orphan or the outcast in a really terrible family, and it turned out they had this incredible untapped power.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that, but it got me thinking how I’d like to see the opposite — someone with a big, happy, loving family who didn’t have any power and how they’d deal with that.

That's awesome!  And little did you know then that that discussion would lead to....THIS! :D
When dreaming up Abby’s character, who was her primary “role model”, or the character who gave you the most inspiration for her?
Abby didn’t have a role model in the sense that I based her on anyone in particular, but I did go into writing Abby knowing that I wanted certain things.  As I said, I really wanted her to have a big, loving family — noisy and nosey and crazy, yes, but one that also supported and stood up for each other.  I thought that having a family that loves and accepts her for who she is would give Abby a sense of security, and a certain level of confidence.
I also went into it wanting a character who was relatively cheerful. This was just a personal thing, as usually I emo the heck out of my characters, and I wanted to try something different.  Knowing that, I sat down to try a few scenes and just latched onto this voice.  Once I had Abby’s voice, everything else came from it.

Abby is seriously such a fantastic character!  It's so fun to hear how she came about. :)
The humor in Ordinary Magic is fluid and consistent and totally how me and my family joke around each other.  Would you say this is reminiscent of your own childhood?
I’d definitely say it was influenced by my own family, as we have a highly developed sense of humor that’s probably a coping mechanism to deal with all of the crazy that we seem to naturally generate. And I’ll admit, I did draw heavily on certain people when writing certain characters.  Abby’s parents are directly influenced by my mom and dad, and we both have big sisters that could run the world if they put their mind to it.  I also tried to echo the feel of my family around the dinner table whenever Abby’s family gets together.  As a kid, I never understood why the grown-ups would want to spend forever, sitting around and talking, when there was running around like a crazy person to do.  One of the nicest things about being (legally) a grown-up, is that I get it now.  My family has some really fun dinnertime talks.

No wonder her family dynamics are so realistic - you wrote about them from a first hand experience!
What was your favorite scene to write?
Okay, so without giving away spoilers, I’d have to say it was the last action sequence/fight at the school.  It was also one of the parts that was very clear to me from the beginning.  I knew it was going to happen even if I didn’t know how I was going to get there.  It was something I worried about — I feel like humor comes easier to me than action — but I got really caught up in that scene and I liked how it turned out.  Of course, getting caught up has it’s consequences; all throughout writing and re-writing that scene, I had the most horrible, gut-wrenching nightmares.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night, my stomach in knots, never remembering exactly what the dream was about and a little worried that I didn’t want to know.  And…now that I type that out, that doesn’t seem like fun at all.

Oh, no!  The nightmares don't sound like fun - but the fact that you finally got to write a scene that had been there from the beginning?  Purely awesome.
Which of the characters in Ordinary Magic would you choose as a best friend and why?
Gil.  Absolutely.  I love Gil.  We could have all sorts of intense writer discussions and then go get coffee and just hang out forever.  (Gil, we could have so much fun if you were just real…)

YES!  Gil.  Please be real, for us?  Please???
I’m hoping you have a sequel planned? 
I am currently on my FOURTH outline for a potential sequel, because apparently my brain has nothing better to do than pull pranks and make me write out three completely separate and detailed outlines for other potential sequels before it finally gives up the goods.  Thanks, Brain.  (Seriously, I have been tearing my hair out for two weeks over this thing.)  Nothing’s guaranteed, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed.  Metaphorically, of course.  It’s really hard to type otherwise.

*squeals with joy*  GASP!  Sounds amazing already!  (I'm such a fangirl!)
______________________________________________________

Thank you SO MUCH, Caitlen, for joining us today!  Can everyone give her a round of applause?  Definitely one of my favorite interviews!


And guess what everyone?  Not only do I have my review coming up tomorrow....but on Wednesday I have a giveaway for you all!! :D  I know, I know - IT'S SO EXCITING!!! :D  So pop back in to be sure you read the review and enter the giveaway to read this fantastic book Ordinary Magic!