Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler

Title: My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands
Author: Chelsea Handler
Format: Paperback, 213 pages
Pub. Date: June 6th 2005
Source: Purchased.


3 Stars.

Chelsea Handler is a comedienne best known for her show, Chelsea Lately, as well as her previous books (Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea and Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang. She brings her edgy, often profane and hilariously offensive sense of humor to this book, which is a collection of one night stands that she has had in her life. Ranging from men to odd fetishes, midgets, and men who can't even "rise" to the occasion, she brings a unique perspective to the life of a single woman in LA.


This book is exactly what it sounds like. Each chapter presents a different man that she has slept with (or, has tried to sleep with), and each one is funny for its own reason. I've watched her show on E!, but this was my first introduction to her best selling writing.

+ My Horizontal Life really is hilarious. Personally, I'm an introvert. I'm not a big party-er, and I'm not even close to the level of sexual casualness that Chelsea is. To be honest, I think that's what made this book funnier. I can't even fathom half of these situations happening. I don't know how I'd react to some of these men, other than to be speechless in disgust/disappointment/awkwardness. The fact that she's so calm, cool, collected, and so damn hilarious when facing these kind of events is a special kind of talent, and I've got to give a tip of the hat to her for that.

+ There was a good variety of stories. Though each chapter is similar (at the end of the day, this book is about sex. Simple as that), they are strikingly different. This made it a quick, easy read that didn't drag on monotonously. I thank her for spicing up her sex life stories for my own entertainment purposes. Cheers.

- True, there is no actual plot to this book. It's more of a diary or collection of short stories than a novel. However, at the end, there's a resolution that ties up the previous 200 pages of sluttitude. It happened really fast, like there was a page maximum limit and the book needed to instantly stopped. It made me sad that I was suddenly out of pages.

+/- This point is neither a positive nor a negative. A lot of reviews that I have seen mention her being awful and offensive. Some people probably think so. Hell, a lot of people probably think so. I can not stress this enough: If you are offended by her stand up, or are unfamiliar with her brand of comedy: DON'T READ IT. It's that simple. Comedy is in the eye of the beholder. I find alcohol induced embarrassing sexual woes hilarious. You might not. To each her own.

This book was a much needed pick me up in a time of the holiday blues. If you like her comedy or previous books, this is up your alley. If you embrace or appreciate the partying, sex embracing, drug snorting lifestyle, you'll get at least a few laughs from this. But if you're easily offended, prude, or uncomfortable with this time of crass humor, don't even bother picking it up. I promise, you won't like it.

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Title: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Author: Susannah Cahalan
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: November 13th 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


3.5 Stars, rounded up.

I received this book from Goodreads First Reads.

Susannah Cahalan was a busy New York woman. A promising reporter with the Post, happy with her boyfriend and her life, it all falls apart in a manner of days. A string of mysterious symptoms (seizures, rigid muscle movements, nonsensical talking) leads to her waking up in the hospital, restrained to her bed without an idea as to why she's there. In this memoir, Susannah chronicles her journey through her mysterious illness from the first creeping symptoms, to the final treatment. She shares her triumphs, her downfalls, her heartache, and the bonds between the friends and family that never left her side, even when "old Susannah" was nowhere to be found. This is a story of warning and of sharing, and most importantly, a story of the human mind and the obstacles it can overcome.


This book was a very interesting read. I can't call it "good" without feeling guilty- Miss Cahalan's story is unfortunate. However, I had never heard of this illness until I read this book. It is both informative and personal, making it a deep but not difficult read.

+ One of the most positive traits of this book is the way that it's written. Because of her mental state at the time of her hospitalization, a large part of this memoir is taken from other peoples' perspectives. I feel that this gives the book a vibe of honesty. Upon release, she leafed through the journals kept by both herself and her parents and her charts. She interviewed her doctors and nurses, and the friends and family members who visited her, and even watched the surveillance videos taken from her room. It has to be an odd experience, piecing together one's life in an out of body-esque situation like this. But the book flows and is cohesive, painting a vivid portrait of the struggle that she went through.

+ This book is heavy handed with medical jargon. The author did a very good job of breaking this down as simply as possible (after all, the brain is a very complex thing). Better yet, at the end of this book is a bibliography, showing that Susannah most definitely did her research when writing both her original Post article on this scary new autoimmune disorder, as well as this memoir.

- That being said, this was a negative point for me. I understand that research is crucial to this book. I respect the brain's complexity, this disease's mystery, and the author's need/desire to explain this scary situation to the best description that is medically possible. However, in parts I felt extremely weighted down by the scientific discussion. I had to press on forward. This is just a personal opinion, and again, I realize that it is necessary to the narration.

+ But, an interesting bonus to this book that I wasn't expecting was the breaks in text. There are excerpts from medical charts, her own personal test results. There are pages taken from her journal to chronicle her journey and to fully illustrate her various states of both mental health and emotion. These little images speak volumes, adding an extremely personal glimpse into Susannah's mind.

Overall, I think this is a fascinating read. It is horrifying and amazing that so much is still unknown about the human brain. The fact that something like this could happen to anyone in the blink of the eye is so scary. I'm very grateful to Susannah for writing this memoir. I had never heard of this autoimmune disorder before, and I'm glad that I now know what possible symptoms could be, so that if anyone I know exhibits them, I can keep this in mind. This book strikes a bit of a personal nerve with me, because my own mom was in the hospital for a month with unknown neurological problems (that turned out to be a stroke and a fistula). Many of her symptoms were similar to this, which made this an extremely emotional roller coaster for me.

If you enjoyed books such as Sybil or When Rabbit Howls, are interested in psychology/neurology/disorders, or are a fan of nonfiction in general, I would definitely give this a read.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Shakespeare v Lovecraft by D.R. O'Brien

Title: Shakespeare v Lovecraft
Author: D.R. O'Brien
Format: Paperback, 125 pages
Pub. Date: April 14th 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Four stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Shakespeare v Lovecraft is a novella that follows the classical Shakespearean character Prospero (The Tempest) as he makes a seedy deal with the one and only Cthulhu. Prospero's daughter Miranda, as well as other heroes from Shakespeare plays such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth must make things right in the universe once more, and try their damnedest to save the day.


I have no shame in saying that I have nerdy interests. I could sit and read Shakespeare for hours. Contrarily, I have begun a recent obsession with science fiction, thanks to a not so gentle push from my girlfriend, who also loves it. All that being said, this novella is a perfect blend of my interests, offering a new twist on two classic authors.

+The cover alone is enough to draw you in. It features a Shakespearean gent and two Shakespearean ladies, one of which with one of Cthulhu's tentacles wrapped around her leg. The cover alone features a magic circle, Cthulhu, and pretty women. If that doesn't make you want to read it, well, I don't know what would.

+I feel that the works of both William Shakespeare and H.P. Lovecraft were blended well. The language was that of the Bard, while the beasties are fresh out of Lovecraft science fiction. Despite the major contrast in both time frame and writing style, and not to mention genre, this blend seemed seamless.

+Going based off the Bard once more, the violent scenes did him proud. There was a definite horror/gore element to this story that I was pleasantly surprised with.

+Then too, there was definite comedic aspects. Because.... It's Cthulhu. And Shakespeare.

+In case you didn't hear me, Cthulhu is in this book. That gets a plus mark all to itself.

-I'm not exactly sure what it is, but something is keeping me from giving this a perfect 5 star review. If I can actually pin point what it is, I will edit this review and slip it in.

I recommend it to fans of Shakespeare or science fiction, or ideally both. It's a quick, enjoyable read.

Thank you to Goodreads and D.R. O'Brien for the lovely signed copy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hot Buttons Sexuality Edition by Nicole O'Dell

Title: Hot Buttons Sexuality Edition (Hot Buttons #3)
Author: Nicole O'Dell
Format: Paperback, 172 pages
Pub. Date: October 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads

One star.

I received this through Goodreads First Reads.

I can't possibly review this fully without saying mean things that I'll regret, so I'll try to keep it professional.

First, I didn't realize that this was a Christian/faith based books. And that, frankly, is my fault. Had I known, I wouldn't have bothered entering for it.

Long story short, this book is full of paraphrased/updated Bible quotes applied to sexual relationships. This book stresses a "pure until marriage" lifestyle and quite honestly, doesn't do a good job in answering the so-called "important questions" that teens "are asking."

First of all, who are the teens that are asking these things? They have to be sheltered. Most teens don't want to talk to their parents about the weather, let alone sex and advice about it. Unless you keep your kids in a Saran wrap bubble, they're going to read things, watch things, and learn things. It is inevitable. I am not anti-Christian. I don't follow Christianity myself, but I've no ill will to those who do. But the way to help your child is not to make sex seem disgusting and shameful and preach purity. Nor is it to answer with a Bible quote.

But, the reason I will never recommend this book is for the homosexuality chapter. While I respect the overall message of "Jesus loved the sinner, just not the sin", I think it's absurd that the author suggests things such as prohibiting tv or movies that portray homosexuality in a positive light, limiting friendships with gay friends, and prohibiting your children from getting into a situation that may "tempt them to try out a homosexual relationship." Seriously? Because homosexuality is an obvious choice that we all get tempted into. I know that my first gay experience, I was alone too long with a girl and thought to myself, you know what would be fun? Sex with girls. (Sarcasm. Since I know not everyone will comprehend that). I think it's extremely hypocritical to say that Jesus loves you, but never ever let your kids watch about it on tv lest they be tempted to try it. And to add to it, this "help" book uses the New International Version, and not the King James version. I didn't realize that the NIV has changed the Bible quote to read: "'Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman." Whereas, the KJV says: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind. People often ask me why I don't take the Bible as my Word. That is your answer. It is randomly updated and changed around so much that I can't possibly start to pick and choose what was meant versus what has been "wrongly changed".

If you're a Christian, maybe this book will mean something to you. If you're gay or non-Christian, don't even bother reading the first page. It's preachy, and quite honestly, unhelpful. I personally feel that if even if I were a Christian, this book would provide little parenting information.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: December 27th 2011
Source: Candace's Book Blog and Elana Johnson


Four stars.

Everyone warned Min that dating Ed wasn't the right road. But she didn't listen. She loved Ed, even though he was her complete and utter opposite. He was a strange fixture in her life that she depended on and cared for, even when things seemed a bit too hazy, a bit too vague. But Min and Ed are splitting apart, and Min is making it final. She's collected all of the treasures of their relationship, both big and momentous and small and seemingly insignificant. Like a scene in a movie, she's written him a letter, explaining each and every item in the box to be dropped off at his house, and each and every reason why they broke up.


This was my very first Daniel Handler experience outside of his pen name, Lemony Snicket. I have to say, I was not disappointed. This book was odd, and very different than I expected. But as Min and Ed know, different doesn't necessarily mean bad.

+This book is written in letter format. Min is writing the letter on the way to Ed's house, and it is heartfelt and personal. It's a bit rambling, but as a girl who has been dumped, I feel that that part is accurate. Sometimes thoughts don't always separate themselves, sometimes memories aren't exactly as sharp as they once were. I think it gave the story an interesting dynamic, and to be honest, I'd love to read a book that's a response from Ed.

+The letter is broken up with illustrations of the items that Min is returning in the box. The sketches are well done, though in my ARC I can only see them in black and white, and not the full color version seen in the finished copy.

+I love the little details in this book. I can personally relate, having kept small, "meaningless" tokens from relationships past. It's amazing how something like a hair tie or a random seed or leaf can have more profound attachments than the cliche gifts of jewels and plush animals. I loved the way Min spoke and narrated, and described things.

-That being said, Min has a love of old movies. Movies that I have not only seen, but never heard of. This made a lot of her references lost on me, because I couldn't picture things the way that she did. Believe me, I wanted to see the world in her cinematic eyes, and I want to see a large number of the films that both Al and Min mentioned throughout the time frame.

+I loved the characters. As I already mentioned, I related to Min and her emotions. I was hoping with her, heartbroken with her, and angry with her. I wanted Ed to be a good guy, despite all of the foreshadowing and even the not so subtle reasons I was given not to like him. And then there's Al, the silent best friend who I wanted to be happy when he was so sad and miserable.

Despite a lack of old movie knowledge that would have been helpful to have throughout this story, I found this a sad but enjoyable read. I teared up, and found myself pushing my way through the pages so that I could answer the title question of why they broke up.

I recommend this to fans of young adult romances (or break ups), and those "artsy folks" who love old films (maybe you'll appreciate it for different reasons than I did). If you enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Chopsticks, you might like this. If you're looking for a double sided story or a cheerful, fun read, then this probably won't be for you.

Thank you to Candace's Book Blog and Elana Johnson for my shiny new ARC of this book.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Vol. 1 by Denise Mina

Title: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Vol. 1
Author: Denise Mina
Format: Hardcover, 146 pages
Pub. Date: November 13th 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Four stars.

I won this book through Goodreads Firstreads.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Vol. 1 is a graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson's bestselling book by the same title. It follows a murder mystery from decades past with the socially inept computer genuis Lisbeth at center stage. This volume covers half of that novel, with a second volume to be released in the future.


+I have to say, this book is beautiful, from cover to cover. The character that sticks out as consistently awesome looking is the cover girl, Lisbeth. She looks amazing in every frame. This fact makes up for a lot of other little flaws in this volume, because Lisbeth is my fictional girl crush.

-That being said, the rewriting of her character was, well, bad. She was given cheesy quips and remarks that "real" Lisbeth would have kicked her ass for even thinking about saying. She was softened up, and I don't like that at all. TGWTDT is one of the few books with a strong heroine out there that gets the hype it deserves, but it doesn't reflect in this rendition.

-+The plot is a bit scattered and choppy. It's not necessarily a bad thing, because I felt way about the novel at times too. But because of a lack of actual chapters, it was a bit hard to keep up. Doable, but a bit flustering if not paying super close attention. This book should NOT be read in place of the novel. It acts as an illustrated guide, and the summarized plot is basically effective. However, it is like reading the Sparknotes without reading the book. You will be missing out. PLEASE read the novel first, and read this after.

I recommend it for fans of graphic novels and fans of Lisbeth. People who are going to compare tiny details to the book should pass this up, it won't be for you. Thank you to Goodreads for my copy- I will definitely be picking up the other volumes in the future.

Rules of Darkness by Tia Fanning

Title: Rules of Darkness (Rules #1)
Author: Tia Fanning
Format: Paperback, 140 pages
Pub. Date: November 1st 2007
Source: Ramblings From This Chick blog


Two stars.

Katia has been bound to Stoyan since she was born. He trained for a decade simply to protect her. Katia has terrible, wonderful gifts that encourage things that go bump in the night to go after her. It is because of these gifts that she must live by a strict set of rules. After her relative's death, she feels the need to run away from everything- including her husband to be. Only he's been watching, and waiting, but she really just wants to leave her life behind.


Sigh. I am tired of weak female characters.

-Katia, in theory, should be a kick ass heroine. But all she does is run. She runs away from her village, she runs away from the spirit that enters her house. She runs away from the man that she loves, despite the fact that she acknowledges her love for him. She runs from the visions. She's a runner not a fighter, and I don't have time to read about characters like that.

-On that note, she makes stupid decisions. She knows that breaking the rules will hurt her. So what does she do? Break the rules. If I were Stoyan, I would have just stopped protecting her and left her to the spirits and werewolves.

-Someone is always protecting her, despite her gifts. Let her kick some ass. -When was this story supposed to take place? She was raised in a village where she was born in a home and could be sold off to a boy at birth. And yet, she runs away to a place with laptops and cars. This jump is never really explained, other than she's now in America.

-Stoyan is a male character that I can not stand. I like rough, dominant males. However, he's just anger inducing. He walks into her life all of a sudden and tries to boss her around. I don't care if that's the rule of the village or not. I wouldn't want him telling me what to do either. He spanks her at one point for acting like a child. It wasn't sexy, or cute. It is the sign of an abusive ass. That's saying something, coming from me, because I normally side with the abusive asses.

+All that said, it was relatively well written. Things were well described and vivid.

I'm sure somebody likes this, but it isn't me, so I have no recommendation to make.

Thank you to Ramblings From This Chick for my copy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler

Title: I'm Not Her
Author: Janet Gurtler
Format: Paperback, 285 pages
Pub. Date: May 1st 2011
Source: Purchased.


Five stars.

Nobody looks at Tess. She's a weird and anti-social freshman, always studying. Not to mention the lack of fashion that both she and her religious fanatic obese best friend possess. No, everyone would rather look at her older sister, Kristina. Kristina is bubbly and easy to like. She's nice to everyone, beautiful, and the star of the girls' volleyball team. That is, until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess finds her home life falling apart, with her sick sister, gossipy mother, and absent father all tearing away her own goals, while at school she's thrust into morbid popularity. She's the sister of the hot one who's sick. Life, trust, and friendships are lost by some but gained by others in this heart-wrenching story of family, love, and coping.


I'm not sure that I can write a cohesive, non-blubbering review for this book, but I'm going to try.

+The amount of emotion in this book is simply astounding. Just when I thought I couldn't grieve or cry any harder, Gurtler ripped away another piece. This book is raw, brutal, and often times uncomfortable. But that's what makes it so beautifully written and realistic. Anger, sadness, hope, betrayal, shock, and grief were all present in this novel, and my heart and brain weren't always sure how to react.

+What else made this book realistic is the type of cancer Kristina develops. It occurs in a non-vital location that I never even thought could get cancer. It's a snap back to a harsh reality that cancer can effect any part of anybody at any time.

+The characters were all flawed, but well described. I absolutely loathe both her mother and her "best friend." I wanted to hug Kristina and a few of Tess' new friends.

+And on that note, I wanted to console Tess. I relate more to her than any other character, being a nerdy introvert myself. I also relate because my mom was sick, though it wasn't cancer, and all of a sudden it brought out both the best and worst in people. You'd be amazed how many people change and how drastically in the face of a tragedy.

I could gush forever, but I'll spare you all that rambling mess. I recommend this book for ANYONE affected by cancer, anyone with a sister, or anyone who wants to read a book where they will shed tears. A similar book to compare it to is Tell the Wolves I'm Home.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Masquerade by Sheri Whitefeather

Title: Masquerade
Author: Sheri Whitefeather
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Pub. Date: April 6th 2010
Source: Ramblings From This Chick blog

One star.

Amber is a fashion heiress and socialite. She shared a night a while back with two lovers, Jay and Luke, and she can't get either of them out of her mind. She agrees to live with the steamy roommates for a month, and the boys are all too happy to complete the threesome. That is, until Luke uncovers Amber's family tree, which involves a scandalous love affair and murder. The past comes to light and starts to repeat itself, leaving Amber to decide who she should be with, and the risks of falling in love.


This is going to be a short review, to make it as painless as possible.

-I didn't connect to Amber. It's the typical spoiled brat who has too much of a good thing but can't part with anything. First world problems much. Two gorgeous guys want you. Shut up and be happy.

-The sex scenes felt awkward to me. There's a fine line between steamy romance and awkward third wheels. I felt that this book was largely the latter, and I didn't want to continue to read them.

-The book flips between the past royal scandal and the current life of Amber. You can tell because the past is in italics. Pages of it. It bothered me to read that much italics. I don't think it was necessary, a chapter titled with the perspective would have sufficed just fine.

-On that note, I think the scandal is what made this book so hard to read. Make a book in the past or make a book in the present. Stop flipping back and forth. It helped the disconnect from the characters that I felt.

+- The cover is pretty, but it makes the book look a lot more intimate than I personally felt while reading.

Maybe I'm just picky, but this is yet another adult themed book that just left me sighing and disappointed. I say skip it. If you're a superfan of threesomes, maybe you'll enjoy it. But my advice is to simply pass.

Thank you to Ramblings From This Chick blog for my copy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Codes and Roses by Julia Talbot

Title: Codes and Roses (Bloodrose #1-3)
Author: Julia Talbot
Format: Paperback, 226 pages
Pub. Date: September 1st 2009
Source: Ramblings From This Chick blog


A weak two stars.

Codes and Roses is a set of three short stories about the customers of a sex club called the Bloodrose. Willing paranormal participants are partnered up according to taste for an optimum time, based on an application and experience. It's sort of an in-real-life eharmony or Fetlife for werewolves and vampires. The stories circle around a werewolf, naked Deacon, who gets off on the bite of vampires. He is paired up with a vampire named Kasey, who wants nothing more than to drink from and ravish the sexy werewolf that he has just obtained. The other stories include a rouge shapeshifter, a weird scientist, and a douchebag werecat.


First, let me just say, I don't mind reading erotica. I don't mind reading MM erotica. So anything I say about this review should be read with that in mind.

-This is one of the few times that I would judge a book by its cover. It's not well done, in my opinion, and it would never get my attention on a shelf.

-Dare I say- there is too much sex. I like erotica just as much as the next girl, but I would actually like a plot. I was only fifty pages into this collection and I found myself thinking, "Oh, we're doing this again?" And when it did happen, it was rather short and anticlimactic.

-On that note, I didn't feel that the sex was varied. There was a very limited vocabulary that made it seem as though I was reading the same scene over and over again. There are a LOT of words out there to use, other than the "c word". It made the book seem a bit trashy and not all too original.

-On top of that, there was some very poor grammar. There were sentence fragments that irked me, but what bothered me the most was the vampires. It's acknowledged in the mythology of vampires (as well as specifically in this book) that they are old, and come from different times. They should speak eloquently, while these vampires seemed like truckers.

-I'm a bit confused on the chronicling of these stories. This novel is supposed to contain books 1, 2, and 3. But when I clicked on the series page, I saw that the "third" story in this is marked as number four, and that there's another in front of it. I have no idea what that's about.

+That being said, I really do like the concept of this club. Enough so that it bumped this rating to a two star review, instead of one. If properly written, it would have been a delightful setting to read about.

If you're into M/M or paranormal erotica, or like when there's constant, short lived sex scenes, great. Maybe you'll like this better than me. If you prefer detailed, slower moving types of stories, give this a pass. I don't really recommend it to anyone.

Thanks to Danielle of Ramblings From This Chick blog for my copy.

Beta by Rachel Cohn

Title: Beta (Annex #1)
Author: Rachel Cohn
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: October 16th 2012
Source: The Reader's Antidote blog


Five stars.

The island of Demesne is a utopia. Humans aren't bothered with trivial things like work, only luxury and leisure. Instead, the work is done by clones- servants cloned from the recently deceased. Void of souls and feelings, they are perfect for a life of servitude. Elysia is a Beta clone- one of the first few teenage clones in existence with a rampant threat of defects. On the island pf perfection, defects mean death. But Elysia isn't like other clones. She can taste food. She can remember memories from her First's life. She learns that there are others out there, others who are planning a revolution. Elysia must choose her side, and risk everything in order to claim what clones were never meant to have- a life of her own.


I think this book was absolutely stunning. It had a little bit of everything: rebellion, romance, dystopia, pretty backdrops for adventure. This was a well rounded, action-packed read.

+The cover is beautiful. It's shimmery and perfect, just like the island contained within its pages.

+I loved the protagonist, Elysia. She was a cute amount of naive mixed with bravery, determination, smarts, and most importantly, hope. She was constantly trying to play a role that was different then expected, and it left me cheering her on. I wanted her to be happy with a life of her own, away from certain nasty characters that I won't spoil.

+ The island is vividly described. I achieved 'raxia (the state of bliss felt on the island) just by reading about such a perfect place. After all, who wouldn't kill for a chance to lounge by the pool and have others tend to the work? Everyone would- and that's what makes this form of sci-fi terrifying.

- My only real criticism is the bipolar attitudes of non-clone characters. I believe that it was due to the heavy drug use, but in some spots it left me a bit bitter and confused as to why certain characters behaved the way they did.

+- This point is neither positive nor negative, but I felt that there was a lot going on. There's a large amount of characters and races, and I really needed to pay attention to what was happening. For me, this wasn't a quick read.

This book is a great young adult science fiction novel. I am severely disappointed that book two isn't out yet, but I will definitely be picking up a copy as soon as humanly possible.

I recommend this for the YA audience who enjoys dystopian books or science fiction. Those who enjoyed Cinder or Uglies- give Beta a try.

Thank you to The Reader's Antidote for my copy of this novel.

Mostly YA Book Obsessed Giveaway!

Nereyda over at Mostly YA Book Obsessed is hosting an AMAZING blogoversary giveaway, with thirteen prizes in total. Stop on by for a chance to win, and to congratulate her on her blog!
Mostly YA Book Obsesed

Monday, December 3, 2012

Winterhaven Sleigh Tour!

This blog is one of my favorites. All season long they're hosting winter reviews, giveaways, and other fun things. Click the banner and join in on the fun :)

winter haven books

Underworld by Meg Cabot

Title: Underworld (Abandon Trilogy #2)
Author: Meg Cabot
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: May 8th 2012
Source: Short and Sweet Reviews


Three and a half stars, rounded up.

After being attacked by her grandmother, who is possessed by a Fury, Pierce Olivier is whisked away to the Underworld by its ruler, John Hayden. Only she's not dead. Yet. John claims that he's keeping her in the Underworld to keep her safe, and she wants to believe him. She feels protected in his arms, in the Underworld. But when her cell phone starts depicting an image of her cousin in danger, she risks everything to make sure he's okay. But she must constantly be on alert- the living, the dead, and those in between all want her killed. If she's not careful, they will get their wish.


Underworld is the second book in the Abandon series by Meg Cabot.

+ Greek myths are some of my favorite stories to read. I really enjoyed this retelling of the myth of Persephone and Hades using modern technology and plot twists. The Underworld and John both were depicted as dark but beautiful. I can't say that I blame Pierce for wanting to stay with him down there.

+ I loved the setting. The island on which Pierce lives, as well as the festivities held there, sound like a blast. I was easily able to see what the author wanted me to, and I wanted to go party on Coffin Night with the rest of the locals. Plus, there are pirates. Who doesn't like pirates?

+ The cover is gorgeous. It is what first attracted me to the novel. It stands out on a shelf, which is a definite positive.

- I didn't read Underworld's predecessor, Abandon. I feel as though I missed a lot by not doing so. I was often confused, if only for a moment, by references made to Pierce's past that I assume I would have learned in book one. This lack of knowledge on my part lowered this book's rating. This isn't the kind of series, lesson learned, that should be read out of order.

All in all, I feel as though this book is the dark tale of Hades for the teenage girl audience. There's romance, death, broody alpha males, and flirtatious sailors. I recommend it for YA readers and those who enjoy myths. If you're looking for the gritty, gothic, bloody tale of Hades, then pass this book up. I also recommend reading book one first- maybe you'll get more out of the sequel than I did.

Thank you to Short and Sweet Reviews for my copy.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Flyaway by Helen Landalf

Title: Flyaway
Author: Helen Landalf
Format: Paperback, 176 pages
Pub. Date: October 23rd 2012
Source: The Mod Podge Bookshelf and Helen Landalf


Five stars.

Stevie is used to being independent. Her mom, a dancer at a nightclub, often leaves her home alone. But Stevie doesn't mind. Her mom always does what's best for the two of them. After all, they're all the other has. That is, until her Aunt Mindy pokes her nose into their little family after Stevie's mom doesn't come home, accusing her mother of being a drug addict and threatening to call CPS. To avoid the services, Stevie angrily agrees to stay with Mindy for awhile. She sneaks out one night to try and find her mom, and finds her- with white powder and a straw. Her life spirals out of control, clinging to her sanity only by volunteering alongside her high school's bully at a bird sanctuary and getting tutored by her handsome new teacher. But can she truly let go of the mother and family that she clings to so dearly, and spread her own wings?


Wow. Just wow. I am very pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book.

+The characters are extremely well written. I ached for Stevie, I loathed Tonya and Professor. I started out against Aunt Mindy's prodding, but grew to love her in the end. The author was very damn clear about how I should feel, and I think that's a sign of good writing style.

+The text itself was very detailed. I could easily envision myself in the places that Stevie traveled, both good and bad alike.

+There was a romantic interest, but it took the backseat to the mother/daughter story. I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate that after the slew of YA books I've finished with insta-love romances.

-The book was a bit rushed and choppy at parts. I found myself wishing I had a longer, more thorough story.

-I understand that this book is YA, but the language irked me a bit. When you're reading a book about a meth whore stripper and a daughter who's far from innocent, it seems a bit unnecessary to me to use words like "dang" and "flippin'." I think they could have been amped up to "real" swears, or omitted entirely.

+The paperback cover is GORGEOUS. I wouldn't have picked up the hardback copy. But I think the new cover perfectly illustrates the darkness of this story, and I would have definitely picked this up in a store or a library.


Overall, this is a dark, gritty tale of the extent of a daughter's love through rough times, and just how hard it can be to let go of a past that meant everything, and a future that will never come to fruition. I could not put this book down, and I recommend it to YA fans and anyone interested in drug/addiction themes. If you liked books such as Cut, Speak, or Mosh Pit, I'd give Flyaway a try. If you want a happy, feel good read, this may not be for you.

Thank you to The Mod Podge Bookshelf and Helen Landalf for my pretty new copy.

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

Title: Bad Taste in Boys (Kate Grable #1)
Author:Carrie Harris
Format: Hardcover, 201 pages
Pub. Date: July 12th 2011
Source: The Windy Pages blog


Two stars.

Kate Grable is your typical high school geek, on the cusp of having a social life thanks to her best friends. She helps her high school's football team, putting her medical knowledge to the test so that she can have experience when she applies to pre-med programs in college. Of course, being around hotties like Aaron all the time isn't necessarily a bad perk to the job. But when the coach asks her to administer unlabeled shots of steroids to his players, Kate refuses and a red flag waves. Soon, the boys who were injected start turning into zombies, and Kate and her friends have to stop it before it's too late.



-I didn't like Kate. She seemed like a girl I would have rolled my eyes at a lot in high school. She's constantly spouting medical knowledge and facts, correcting other people. It bugs me. Someone should remind her that she's in high school, not college. Tone it back a bit. I also didn't like how this knowledge took away her emotions. Her best friend's boyfriend gets shot and Kate thinks his mom is overreacting by crying, because it wasn't a fatal blow. I'd like to think my mom was cry if I was shot in the armed forces, thanks.

-The actual story is just what you think it is. The zombies weren't creative at all- the offcolor, cannibalistic, 'braaaaiiiiins' moaning zombies. Ho hum. I like my zombies scary, and in this girly YA book, they were more comical than anything. I respect that this was the author's intent, but it's not my kind of story.

+That being said, the cover is gorgeous. It would definitely catch my eye on a shelf.

Overall, I just found this beneath my age level. If I were in junior high, I probably would have loved it. So, please take my review with a grain of salt. It wasn't badly written, nor was it a waste of time. It's just a book that I personally wouldn't read again, or purchase.

I recommend it for female junior high/high school YA fans who want a fast read about zombie football players. If you like scary stories or are a more advanced reader, you might want to pass this one up.


Thank you to The Windy Pages blog for my copy.

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Title: Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2)
Author: Kendare Blake
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: August 7th 2012
Source: The Windy Pages


Five stars.

Anna is dead. Deader than dead. She sacrificed herself into a pit of hellish badness to save Cas, and his friends. But Cas can't let go of her. He sees her ghost everywhere, and he knows that something is wrong. When he sees her with bruises and marks, and she asks for his help, all hell literally breaks loose and Cas does the seemingly impossible- he goes on a quest to bring her back from the other side.



I loved this book. I didn't even read Anna Dressed in Blood and I STILL loved. This. Book. It's haunting and well written. It was a bit scary and a lot of adventure. I hated some characters, I loved others. Sometimes both. It was dramatic, emotional, and it sucked me in.

I recommend it for YA fans, and paranormal fans. Be warned, there's moderate profanity.

Thank you to The Windy Pages blog for my copy of this book!

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

Title: Never Cry Wolf
Author: Farley Mowat
Format: Paperback, 246 pages
Pub. Date: September 13th 2001
Source: Purchased.


Four stars.

Written in the sixties, this book follows the year that naturalist Farley Mowat lived among the wolves. Hired to observe these wolves up in Canada to see why they were killing caribou, Mowat uses humor, observation, and a bit of personification to narrate his observations of wolf behavior and what he learned from his time living in the wild.


I had to read this for my English class this semester. It followed about four other books on natural systems that I did not care for at all, and I'm happy to say I actually really enjoyed this. It's approachable, hilarious, and easy to read. Mowat seems like the kind of guy that'd be fun to go drinking or camping with (though, if that's a good thing in a scientist is probably debatable). Instead of mindlessly journaling boring observations, he helps the reader feel a bond with "Wolf A" and "Wolf B" by giving them human names, and little stories. I genuinely cared about these wolves that lived over half a century ago.

I recommend it for any wolf lover, nature lover, or naturalist.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1)
Author: Katie McGarry
Format: Hardcover, 392 pages
Pub. Date: July 31st 2012
Source: Framed in Words blog


Five stars.

Pushing the Limits is a book that follows two high school "freaks". One of them is Echo, a girl who used to be popular but showed up after an absence wearing only long sleeves. The rumors ruined her. Then there's Noah, a druggie "bad boy" with far more on his plate than people would guess. Assigned to be his tutor, Echo learns that they might not be so different, and can help each others' slightly insane pasts, even if the school hierarchy disapproves.


I loved this book. The chapters alternate between points of view (Noah and Echo), which help you see both sides of the love/lust story. I felt that Noah was desirable and likable while still having a bit of rebellious controlling tendencies, and that Echo was a female who actually developed over time, and I didn't want to punch her in the face. I just wanted her to be fixed and happy. I liked the plot, and it had me sucked in. I had to know what happened. I read this book in one setting, with no regrets. I recommend it for teens, romantics, and fans of the weird new New adult/contemporary hybrid.

Thank you to Angela of Framed in Words blog for my gorgeous hard cover copy of this book!

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Title: Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings #3)
Author: Jackson Pearce
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: September 4th 2012
Source: Jen Ryland and YA Romantics


Two stars.

Lo is no longer human. Her identity gone with the waves, she knows only what the angel and her sisters under the sea have told her. Her new life has started in the ocean, and will continue until the angel comes back to take her away. A mermaid, the ocean is now her home.

Celia is a human triplet, with a special gift. She can see into peoples' pasts, just by touching their skin. Her and her sisters, both gifted as well, keep this a secret between themselves. After all, who would believe them anyway?

Naida no longer exists, save for in the mind of Lo. Naida is what she was once called, before the ocean claimed her. She fights the mermaid Lo, forcing her to remember her human life, no matter the cost or the pain that it puts them through.

When a boy, Jude, falls off of the pier, Celia and Lo are there to save him. When Celia accidentally touches Lo, she sees into her past, learning her human name, Naida, and hears a blood curdling scream... And then everything is black. Lo wants to remember her humanity, wants to claim it back. But the only way to do this is to make a human boy love her- then steal his soul. Perhaps Jude is not as safe as he believes....


I am full of so much disappointment after reading this. I had never read any of these retellings, and was super excited when I got the chance to read about mermaids. But overall, this book just fell flat for me.

+ The chapters alternate between Lo, her human personality Naida, and Celia. This makes for a well rounded story perspective.

+ It's an interesting twist to the mermaid lore, taking away their humanity completely.

- It was very odd reading about a mermaid who pretty much has multiple personality disorder. Lo is everything oceanic and mermaid. Naida is her human self. Both are in the same body, and one voice often interrupts the other. It was interesting, but didn't quite work for me.

- I was disappointed by the lack of... Well... Mermaidness. This is a darker version then, say, Disney's The Little Mermaid, and I'm fine with that. But, the only real difference (physically) between them and humans is their skin color.

- And on that note, when Lo walks on shore, blood oozes from her feet. I understand this is to show the pain she's willing to go through to learn about herself. But, I couldn't help but to want her dead. She's a mermaid. On shore..... No thanks.

- The triplets all have powers. While necessary for the plot, I couldn't help but to feel that it's a little much when combined with a story that already contains mermaids.

- I felt a disconnect and dislike for all of the female characters. Celia came across as antisocial and awkward, and Lo has that whole personality conflict that made it hard to follow at times, and it didn't really make me cheer for her to be human, the way I think the author intended.

Over all this book felt clumsy and anticlimactic. I didn't care what happened to either leading lady, and I feel that's just a bit important in a good book. If you're gung-ho into mermaids and fairy tales, maybe you'll enjoy this book. But for me, it's a pass.

Thank you to Jen Ryland and YA Romantics for my copy of this book.

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Title: Sean Griswold's Head
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Pub. Date: September 4th 2012
Source: Karey White


Three stars.

There's only a short review for this one, because I haven't got much of an opinion on it.

I think this is an interesting concept, and it's definitely emotionally charged. Dealing with sickness is never easy, as this book perfectly shows. However, I feel it was just a bit too young for my liking. I'm a fan of young adult novels, but I found this to be a bit immature.

If you get a copy, sure, read it. If not, eh, don't rush to get a copy.

Thanks to Karey White for my autographed copy.

North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus by Candace Jane Kringle

Title: North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus
Author: Candace Jane Kringle
Format: Paperback, 314 pages
Pub. Date: October 2nd 2012


Five stars.

North Pole High is the memoir of none other than the princess of Christmas herself, Candycane Claus. That's right. The one and only daughter of Santa. At sixteen, she has a pretty jolly life. A half-elf boyfriend who's totally hot chocolate, great grades in her classes. She even has a candy striped Range Rover and a penguin for a chef- how chill is that? But all that comes tumbling down like an uneven snowpile once Rudy Tutti comes into town. Rudy hates Christmas. He outgrew it, and didn't even think Santa was real until he met the big guy in the doughy flesh. Candy wants nothing to ignore him, but when they're forced to design a Christmas tree together in class, all bells break lose. A rebellious spark in her ignites like a mall Christmas light display.... But can she pull her act together, and salvage things in the love department, before Christmas is ruined for everyone?


Lords a'leapin', I cannot stress how much I loved this book. It is the first book I've laughed out loud while reading in a long time. This definitely put me in the Christmas spirit.

+ I loved the setting. Candy canes grow wild, there's a hot chocolate pond. Reindeer poop is chocolate. Honestly, what person wouldn't want to live in such a splendiforous place? I was sucked into the North Pole immediately.

+ It wasn't instant love. In a lot of YA books I've read lately, it just takes one look and the girl is smitten. In this book, there's a bit of time for her to mull things over and decide.

+ Rudy is lovely. As are most of the other characters. Each one was described well, and the proper emotion was conveyed while reading. Santa was mean, for starters. And her best friend was a bit dramatic and moody. But each one was well represented and written.

+ Overall story and premise is adorable. I loved it.

+ The innuendos made the book even more hilarious, in my opinion.

- My one fault with this story is that the gay character's named Queero. Granted, the chef's name is Chefy. But, being LGBT, that was a bit offensive.

All that being said, I definitely recommend this book to YA readers or anyone YA+ who wants a lighthearted Christmassy read. Prepare to giggle, curl up with a glass of hot chocolate and your most favorite blanket, and enjoy the adventures of the North Pole.

Thanks to the lovely Candace Jane Kringle and for my copy of this book!

The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston


Three stars.

A required reading for my English class, this book isn't my cup of tea. It's very poetic, and the author did a good job of painting a landscape with his words, but I found The Outermost House to be incredibly boring. Almost everything is a contradiction, almost every chapter has to do with birds and sand, and there aren't enough people mentioned for my liking. It put me in mind of Walden, which isn't one of my favorite books either.

If, however, you did like Walden, you probably will enjoy this book, so check it out.

Whoever You Are by Donna Marie Lanheady

Title: Whoever You Are
Author: Donna Marie Lanheady
Format: Paperback, 184 pages
Pub. Date: September 2012
Source: From the Bootheel Cotton Patch blog


Three stars.

Emily McGinn, as first introduced in Where Secrets Lie, has a set life. A girlfriend and a family that she loves, a career that she's rather good at. Both feet planted on the ground, Emily knows her place in life, and is content with it. That is, until she receives an inheritance from someone that she's never even heard of before. With that one phone call, her life as she knows it unravels at the seams, and will never be the same.


Over all, I was disappointed with this book. I absolutely adored Where Secrets Lie, which was one of the best books I've received from the Goodreads First Reads program. Unfortunately, this one just wasn't as good. I didn't connect to Emily at all. The story was slow, and throughout I felt disjointed or disconnected from the plot. Overall, I found myself just not caring.

However, that being said, I do love the setting. This book really does make me want to visit Colorado. It simply sounds beautiful.

I recommend it to people who enjoy realistic fiction with slight LGBT themes.

Thank you to Flora of From the Bootheel Cotton Patch blog and Donna Marie Lanheady for the signed copy.

Send by Patty Blount

Title: Send
Author: Patty Blount
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Pub. Date: August 1st 2012
Source: Safari Poet blog


Five stars.

"Dan" needs to make a fresh start. Again. Finally out of juvie, he needs to try to move on, but what he's done can never be forgiven, at least in his own mind. So with a change in his name, and a new school, he starts his senior year. But his guilt leads him to protect a kid from being bullied, and enters himself in a whirlwind of drama and fighting that is far bigger than himself. And then there's Julie, who stares at him just a bit too intently. But she has secrets of her own, and when their friendship strengthens, the ticking time bomb goes off, and it's unclear who will be alive when the smoke clears.



That's pretty much my summary of this book. This book dug up so many old memories that I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried. Hard. I thought of a girl I knew who killed herself in high school because of rumors and gossip that her "friends" spread about her. She tried to talk to me and I thought it was weird. I read her myspace statuses and thought they were a bit dark. And then it was too late. This book impacted me very personally, and I imagine that it'll effect others the same way. Teens and adults should both read this. It's deep, moving, and dramatic, but the message is (though obvious) so important.

Thank you to Safari Poet blog for my copy.

Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of by Harold Schechter

Title: Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of
Author: Harold Schechter
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Pub. Date: August 7th 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Four stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Psycho USA is a nonfiction book that documents forgotten or not well known murderers or killers in American History. There's a nice (is that a word that can be used when discussing serial killers?) sprinkling of weapons and poisons, making the overall theme of "murder" a more varied read.

My favorite part (again, that sounds creepy) were the songs and poems that were written about some of these killers to keep the story alive. It sounds dark, but how many people know the Lizzie Borden rhyme? It was a cool glimpse into our history (our being America.... Not murderers).

Overall, I found this book an interesting and morbidly entertaining read. I was admittedly a bit bored in the beginning, and I wasn't sure if it was going to be my kind of story. I'm not sure if it was my mood or the book that changed, but it picked up and I'm very glad it did. I have a dark interest in murders and prisons, and this book was right up my alley. It was informative, well written, and reflective. People always say, "Man, the world is going to hell in a hand basket. We never acted like this." Well, the murderers of the 1800s who wielded pickaxes and hammers instead of guns beg to differ. As Sartre said, "L'enfer, c'est les autres."

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime novels, nonfiction, or even horror.

Chosen by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast

Title: Chosen (House of Night #3)
Author: P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
Format: Paperback, 307 pages
Pub. Date: March 4th 2008
Source: Purchased.


Four stars.

I hate myself a little.

Instead of getting worse, I'm finding that this series is getting better. I don't know if it's because the writing is getting better, or it's because I'm just getting used to it. But, despite my better judgement, I actually liked this book better than its predecessors.

The drama was way more engaging, the characters more interesting. I feel like more things were explained, & things are starting to take shape.

Personally, my favorite part is that Zoey, the main character, messes up completely while in a love triangle... Well it's more of a square... Anyway. She messes up, & she realizes that she's gullible & a bit stupid. Finally. A dumb character who admits to it.

I'm onto the fourth one, I suppose. I hope this high note wasn't a fluke

Betrayed by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast

Title: Betrayed (House of Night #2)
Author: P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
Format: Paperback, 310 pages
Pub. Date: October 2nd 2007
Source: Purchased.


Three stars.

Well, I have to say, I am glad that I decided to press on with this series despite the awful start seen in book one.

I found Betrayed to be a more enjoyable read, with more action & less immature speaking. I admit that the characters are growing on me.

Not a bad sequel at all, if you can force yourself through Marked, I would check out Betrayed.

Marked by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast

Title: Marked (House of Night #1)
Author: P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
Format: Paperback, 306 pages
Pub. Date: May 1st 2007
Source: Purchased.


Three stars.

** spoiler alert ** It's been a long time since I've been this frustrated with a book. If vulgarity offends you, don't read this.

Let's get the negatives out of the way, since I feel that will go on longer. My first major issue with this book is the writing style. Zoey can say/think such words as "clit", "cock", & "fag".... And yet, she still says words like "poopie" & giggles at the word "boob"? She's supposed to be in high school, grow up. It's not even the character I dislike. It's not Zoey's fault that her vernacular wasn't written cohesively. The word "ho" is used more times than necessary, & it makes this book come off as really immature. Mixed with the over usage of parenthesis that only distracted from the plot at hand, it just wasn't very well executed as a whole.

Then there's the abundance of pop culture references. A few? Fine. But this was excessive. All it does, in my opinion, is sound like an attempt to prove to the reader that "I'm hip, look, Zoey likes hip things". And that's great... Until time moves on. Celebrities & movies aren't topical forever, & in the end the references only date the book.

My last major flaw in this book is the negative stereotypes. Emos, goths, & "dorks" are all dissed, even if only gently. It adds to the immature tone of Marked. By the by, watching Star Wars or Indiana Jones doesn't make you a dork. It means you have taste. I understand they're not everyone's forte, but there's a reason why they've made millions of dollars- people enjoy them.

With all that being said, I do have some positives to say.

Overall, I like the concept & plot of this novel. House of Night sounds like a pretty awesome school that I'd like to visit. I like the mythological aspects with tones of paganism, and I found the characters both well described & relatable. I probably will read book two, I do want to know what happens next. But I'm reading forward with the severe hope & prayer that the speech/writing is stepped up.

I give this a weak three stars. Don't go out of your way to buy it. If you're wanting Shakespearean speech, don't buy it. But if it's in your house or you really have a vampire obsession, then maybe check it out

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Title: Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful #1)
Author: Jamie McGuire
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Pub. Date: August 14th 2012
Source: Aestas Book Blog


Five stars.

Travis Maddox is famous on campus. A star fighter in an underground ring, and a notorious ladies' man, there are few that haven't heard of him, and fewer still who haven't slept with him. Abby on the other hand is making a fresh start at college, tucking away her past. So when Travis sees this "good girl" in a cardigan at one of his fights, she immediately gains his attention. A friendship blossoms, but is made way more interesting when a bet between the pair is made. If Abby wins, man-whore Travis can't have sex for a month. But if Abby loses, she has to live with Travis for that month. Boundaries are pushed, skeletons are ripped from their closets, & neither student will ever be the same.


I loved this book. Upon reading the reviews, I saw a lot of negativity & I wasn't sure I'd enjoy reading this. But, I loved it. I think Abigail is relatable and Travis is dreamy. He's definitely a broken character, but being a bit damaged myself that only made him more appealing to me. It was a quick read, I read it in about two sittings. I can't wait until book two, from Travis' perspective, to come out. I recommend this book to any girl who wants to read about a slightly abusive tattooed fighter.

Thanks to Aestas Book Blog for my copy!

52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

Title: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father
Author: Jessica Brody
Format: Hardcover, 340 pages
Pub. Date: July 3rd 2012
Source: Emily and Simple Books blog


Four stars.

Lexington Larrabee is the heiress that we've all seen on the news. Spoiled, rich, a small dog, never finished a day of actual work in her life. Why would she have to? She's the daughter of CEO Richard Larrabee. She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, and she likes it that way. But one night her partying goes too far, and for reasons that her father doesn't entirely explain, he adds a condition to her receiving her trust fund. In order to receive the fund, valued at a cool $25 million, she will have to complete 52 minimum wage jobs, one a week for an entire year. If she fails, or isn't taking the work seriously, then she's cut off. Permanently. The more that Lexi works, the more she realizes her own potential, and when she finally begins to understand the "business transactions" of her father's company, the corporation might never be the same.


I am honestly surprised how much I liked this book. I was expecting it to be a simple, cliche read. I'm glad that I was wrong. At first I hated Lexi, but I grew to actually care about her 52 jobs, and I wanted her to do them. I wanted to know why her father was extraordinarily stone faced, and why her lawyer so involved. I hated Caroline, and wanted her to be fired from the company more times than I could count. I thought I had the plot figured out about half way through, but I was wrong. Very wrong. And I very much love it when that happens. This books is funny, full of heart, and oddly relatable, even if you're not worth a few million bucks. It blends together the "chip on your shoulder" attitude of Legally Blonde, the concept of Billy Madison, with just a dash of Paris Hilton. This isn't normally my type of book, but I loved it. It's a quick read- but don't mistake that for simple.

This is a solid four star book, and I recommend it for young adult females and up.

Thank you to Emily and Simple Books blog for the free copy.

Moonlight on the Palms by Lisa Greer

Title: Moonlight on the Palms
Author: Lisa Greer
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: June 20th 2011
Source: Lisa Greer


Three stars.

I'm somewhat disappointed in this book. I've read work by this author before, & enjoyed it a lot. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of this one.

Astrid Kent must return to her childhood home in Texas after the death of her mother, & she hasn't been there since she left for college (and for good reason too!). While working on things such as the inheritance, Juan -a boyfriend who left her heartbroken- reenters her life, & despite all of the warnings she gives herself, she finds it hard to stay away. Her stress level & worry only intensifies when she meets a local artist named Manfred who is just as captivating, though in all of the opposite ways from Juan. Though she feels an attraction to both, words from her late mother keep resounding in her head- trust no one.

The first ninety percent of this book was well written. The characters were well thought out, the language was descriptive. It was a fairly quick read with a steady plot, & I liked the premise.

However, in the last twenty pages or so, the book fell apart for me. The climax was intended to shock, but for me it just seemed completely random. I actually had to go back & reread what happened, because I thought I missed something in this final, rapid race to the end. I could have lived with that plot twist though, had it not ended the way it did. It only made me dislike Astrid & made me wished that she hadn't been saved from the story's danger.

All in all, this book was okay. Not amazing, not horrible. I'm extremely torn on my opinion, since I did like a lot of this book, but hated the end. My final opinion: Read it for yourself. I give it a neutral three out of five, because the bad counters the good

Savage Hunger by Terry Spear

Title: Savage Hunger (Heart of the Jaguar #1)
Author: Terry Spear
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: October 2nd 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Three stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Maya & Conner are in the Amazon, letting their primal side show. Siblings, both are jaguar shifters who escape to the rainforest for a feline vacation where they can relax & let their claws out. A girl instantly claims Conner's attention as she is held captive by an enemy during a US army mission. He comes to her aid, but nothing changes. She leaves, he obsesses over her, & his sister Maya simply wants him to be happy. Both cats are shocked when this human, Kathleen, shows up once more in the Amazon. Conner is wary, but will he find out how Maya is intervening with his love life behind his spotted back?

Over all, I found this book to be simply boring. It moved slow, & rather predictably. I wasn't particularly fond of Kathleen nor Conner (though I did like Maya), & I feel that this disconnect from the characters pulled me away from the plot. As a general rule (not law, just a guideline) I stay away from novels with half naked men on the cover. This reminds me why.

However, I did like that it wasn't about wolves. Don't get me wrong, I love me some lupine romance. But using jaguars as the main focus of a paranormal romance was a good idea that I think a lot of people will like more than I did.

I give this a three out of five. It's nothing that you should rush out & buy the day it comes out, but should you pick it up somewhere, give it a shot. I firmly believe that a lot of readers will enjoy this book, but it's just not quite for me

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Title: On the Island
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Format: Paperback, 319 pages
Pub. Date: July 17th 2012
Source: AToMR Book Blog Tours and WinterHaven Books blog


Five stars.

On the Island is a book that takes place, as you may have guessed, on an island. Anna is a thirty-something teacher who has been hired to tutor TJ- a sixteen year old boy in remission- during his summer vacation in the Maldives. All is well as they fly from Chicago to the Maldives, but their next leg of travel isn't so smooth. Their pilot is dead before the plane hit the water, and they find themselves stranded on an unoccupied island with only whatever supplies wash in from the crash. Bonds are formed- Anna watches TJ grow into a man, and TJ only has thoughts for Anna. But worry is always on their mind. Will TJ's cancer come back? Will they get off of the island? Will either of them acknowledge the growing attraction between them, though the world outside of the island would tell them that it's wrong?



That was my actual thought at the end of this book. You can ask my girlfriend, who received that text. I was filled with so many emotions that it kind of all just came out in one incoherent whale noise.

I loved this book. It is written in alternating points of view, giving a well rounded plot from both sides of the relationship. The writing easily maintained my attention, and managed to be both descriptive and beautiful yet so lonely and sad. Being twenty myself, I felt that I related both to the young student TJ as well as the female, Anna. This novel is surprisingly not dull, considering that it takes place on an island with only two people. The plot twists made my hopes soar, as well as break my heart. I admittedly cried, & was way more attached to the outcome of this story than I would have ever guessed.

This is one of the few times that I am very glad I listened to the hype & reviews. This book did not disappoint, and Tracey Garvis-Graves has made a fan of me. I cannot wait to read whatever she puts out next.

A uncommonly given but well-deserved five stars, I recommend this for women who love romance, or anyone looking for a summer, beachy read. Be advised though, if you find a relationship between a teacher and student too risque or taboo, pick up a different novel. You won't like this one.

Thanks to AToMR Book Blog Tours and WinterHaven Books blog for sending me this book.

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Title: If I Lie
Author: Corrine Jackson
Format: Hardcover, 276 pages
Pub. Date: August 28th 2012
Source: Winterhaven Books blog


Five stars.

Minor spoilers below.


Slut. Traitor. Whore.

These are the words that Quinn hears every day in her small military town. Because she broke an unspoken rule- she kissed a boy that wasn't her Marine. Shunned, outcasted, and bullied because of a photograph taken of her kissing an unidentified boy, she's accused of cheating on her overseas boyfriend, Carey. But things aren't always what they seem, and the secret she clings to explains everything. Then Carey goes missing, and old hatreds are stirred, and Quinn must fight herself and the ones that she loves, and decide what secrets are worth keeping, despite the damage they'll cause.



Oh my god, this book is incredible. The writing is simply stunning. Each word is put into place like an intricate puzzle, depicting (flawlessly) an emotion layered so deep that this book brought me to tears, multiple times. Quinn is relatable- we all have a secret that's eaten away at us, that wasn't ours to tell. I know personally, I have felt that alone, that insecure. That secretive. I am LGBT. This book effected me in tremendous ways because of this fact, and having just set the book down, I can't really process all of the emotions I felt. Sadness, empathy, heartache, grief. This book is stunning.

The only complaint that I have about this book, is that it alternates seamlessly between past and present. More than once, I had to reread to see what time period I was in.

I recommend this book for everyone, but especially those in/attached to those serving our country, LGBT readers, and fans of YA. On that topic, if you're reading this review and you are serving the USA in the military- thank you. You don't hear that enough, and I'm sorry for it. Thank you for being brave so that I don't have to be.

Thank you to Winterhaven Books blog for the copy I received.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi

Title: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression
Author: Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi
Format: Paperback, 170 pages
Pub. Date: May 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Five stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

The Emotion Thesaurus is a short but extremely useful Writer's Guide that, as the title would suggest, deals with writing the emotions of characters. I was pleasantly surprised that this is not just a mere thesaurus that provides synonyms. This guide includes so much more, like mental reactions & physical reactions. This little book includes 75 basic emotions that are alphabetically listed, making it easy to quickly reference what you need.

I personally love this guide. I'm an aspiring writer, & sometimes there is just a character's emotion that I can't get quite write. I used this guide yesterday while writing as my way of beta testing (I wasn't about to read a thesaurus cover to cover) & I have to say that both my girlfriend & myself felt that my character's emotions were more relatable & more well written.

I recommend this handy guide for students, writers, & role players.

The Ninth Avatar by Todd Newton

Title: The Ninth Avatar
Author: Todd Newton
Format: Paperback, 380 pages
Pub. Date: February 26th 2010
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Three stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

The Ninth Avatar is a fantasy novel that follows a cast of odd characters in the timeless battle of good versus evil. Carrion soldiers- soldiers of other cities with horns & disfigurements forced to fight- far outnumber the other armies & destroy whatever they pass through. Starka is a priestess who's been outcast, that is until she receives a vision that shows her helping to stop the progression of this dark leader. Magic, dragons, jails, pirates, & a sprinkling of incest guide this saga, making it quite the adventure.

For a debut novel, I have to say this was pretty good. The plot is fairly classic, but good versus evil is always a plot that needs to be told. The writing was solid, the characters unique. It was very easy for me to visualize what was happening within the story. A huge plus with this work is the map included in the front. When I was unsure about something, I could just look there.

The cover is really cool looking & dark, & would have gotten my attention on a shelf. That being said, the font choice bothered me, & it was larger or smaller in random spots.

What I didn't like was the constant change in point of view. Two characters? Fine. Three? Okay. But I lost count of the perspectives that were shown. It gave the book a choppy, confusing edge to what would have been a great debut. Unfortunately, this was enough for me to mark it down.

All in all, I think there are a LOT of people who will like this book more than me. It overall just wasn't my type of story, but I can't stress enough that Todd Newton's writing was solid. If you like fantasy & magic, GIVE THIS A TRY. But if a large amount of characters & enough locations to fill a map will frustrate you, perhaps choose another.

Loki: Nine Naughty Tales of the Trickster by Mike Vasich

Title: Loki: Nine Naughty Tales of the Trickster
Author: Mike Vasich
Format: Kindle Edition, 138 pages
Pub. Date: June 3rd 2012
Source: Amazon.


Five stars.

First, I have to say, thanks for the free story!

This book is a collection of nine (I know it's in the title, hush) stories based on my personal favorite boat-rocker, Loki. I thought there was a nice balance of original myth & the author's own twists & additions.

I, originally, was thinking that this book was going to be four stars... Until I read the last two stories. In them, Mr. Vasich's creativity shines, & effectively leaves an imprint on your ideas about the misunderstood trickster.

This was a pretty quick read, but I recommend it for mythology fans & Loki admirers alike.

The River Witch by Kimberly Brock

Title: The River Witch
Author: Kimberly Brock
Format: Paperback, 246 pages
Pub. Date: April 6th 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Four stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Needing a break from a more than stressful life, Rosalyn Byrne rents a house for the summer on Manny's Island, Georgia. Forced to walk away from a career as a ballerina from a car accident & a miscarriage, this little island is the perfect place to just disappear for a while. But that old house holds secrets of its own. The Trezevants own that building, & not all of them are willing to let go so easily. There's Damascus, a little girl named for the river who has a mission to grow pumpkins, her father, Urey, who's not always around, old Nonnie who claims that Rosalyn is the one calling all the alligators to the island with her hoo-doo. Together, all of them will learn, change, grow, but will Rosalyn ever come to terms with her past?

First of all, this cover is beautiful. To be honest, I judged this book by its cover, & I am very glad I did so.

Now, for what's on the inside of the pretty wrapping. I was stunned to find out that this is a debut novel. This is a very striking start, & I hope Ms. Brock produces more in the future.

This book is a beautiful work of Southern fiction. I'm not usually a fan of the genre, admittedly, but if all of them were written like this, my shelves would be stocked with them.

Her words effectively paint a picture to the extent that I felt I was watching Damascus & Rosalyn's stories unfold, not just reading some text. Each of the characters was detailed & relatable, & by the time the book was over I thought I truly knew them.

I am pleasantly surprised that this book didn't end at all how I thought. On about page fifteen or so, I thought I had it figured out. I was off. Very off. And that is a great thing.

This book definitely isn't a light read. It's full of emotion & drama. I admit that I cried, which I also wasn't expecting. It's very powerful, & even in the happier parts there is an underlying tone of haunting & despair. In my opinion, that makes it even more beautiful.

The only negative for me was that I felt it ended too abruptly. It lazes along at a good pace, like a summer day in Georgia, but then all of a sudden everything unravels (or ravels, depending on the character) & then the story's over. It was a bit rushed for me.

But all that aside, this book was a solid 4/5 stars. I recommend it for women & fans of Southern fiction.

Redemption by Susannah Sandlin

Title: Redemption (Penton Legacy #1)
Author: Susannah Sandlin
Format: Paperback, 357 pages
Pub. Date: June 12th 2012
Source: Susannah Sandlin & Book Sniffers Anonymous blog


Three stars.

*This review contains swear words. Don't like, don't read it. End of.*

Penton, Alabama is in need of a Doctor. But not just any doctor will do. A vaccination that has been given to a large percent of the human population makes their blood lethal to vampires. This means a shortage of food, as well as patience. Aiden Murphy has set up a small little haven, the town of Penton, which is only made up of bonded vampires and unvaccinated humans. Only, his brother has revenge and death on the mind, and Aiden fears that his little village is in danger. So he comes up with a scheme to force the human Dr. Krystal Harris to stay and help with the cause. Aiden reacts to her in a way he never imagined possible, and the romance sets underway as the town of Penton is starting to crumble.


This book just wasn't my cup of tea.

I rather enjoyed the concept of the safe haven for vampires and donors, but the virus/vaccination thing seems to be a new trend with vampire books these days. To be quite honest, this book might have just been at the wrong place in my reading queue at the wrong time. I am vampired out.

Aiden Murphy is a charmingly handsome character, but he makes choices that I'm not okay with, such as "enthralling" Krystal multiple times, and touching her while she was in her daze.

The romance didn't really work for me. The first time they touch it's only half consensual, and it's awkward to read. It was just pretty boring, in my opinion.

What really bothered me the most was the language. The language makes it unclear as to the intended audience for this novel (a problem that I'm finding not all that uncommon. PC Cast, I'm talking to you!). There is an abundance of the word "freakin'" that implies a younger maturity level, since grown ups say fuck. Yet, as adult scenes occur, words like "cock" are used. I'm an adult. I have no issue with vulgar language. But either match the adult theme of the book and say "fucking" or don't use the word at all. "I have no idea" conveys the same idea as "I have no freakin' idea."

Overall, I'd call this book mediocre. I wouldn't rush out and buy it, but if it came into my possession, I'd give it a read. Vampire fans might like it in particular.

Thanks to the author Susannah Sandlin & Book Sniffers Anonymous blog for the autographed copy.

Night Realm by Darren G. Burton

Title: Night Realm
Author: Darren G. Burton
Format: Kindle edition
Pub. Date: May 25th 2012
Source: Darren G. Burton & Giveaways group


Four stars.

Night Realm is a book that falls into both the Detective & Paranormal genres. It follows a cast of characters who are all connected to one another, but who are all trying to get radically different results.

Ryan Fox is a private investigator, down on his luck. Business isn't as fruitful as it used to be, so when he gets a call from the beautiful owner of the newest club in town, Selena, & sees the amount she's willing to pay for his job, he can't turn it down. It's an intriguing job- obtaining research on a rare blood disease. At home, relations with his younger sister are growing tense, & he's not sure what to do about it...

Chelsea Fox wants nothing to do with her brother. Bitter from an incident in the siblings' past, she would be happy if Ryan just dropped dead. She's out to live her own life, the way she wants to- not the way Ryan tells her to. But when she meets Travis, for once, she seems happy. But is Travis who he claims?

David Marks is a homicide detective with a heavy weight on his shoulders, & it only gets heavier as time goes by. A parade of murders with little evidence have popped up in the area, & no one seems to know what's going on. With no blood in the bodies or on the scene, no point of entry other than two small punctures in the neck, & traces of a rare virus, he's stumped. Add that to a failing marriage & the pressure's on- he's going solve one of his problems, no matter the cost.


+I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author's writing is very detailed, which made this an easy to process read. It had a good amount of drama without trying too hard in a genre which, in my opinion, is the case a lot of the time.

+I felt attached to a few of the characters, which helped keep me emotionally invested in the story. I wanted to know what happens!

+Normally, I dislike books that constantly flip between points of view. But with Night Realm, I felt that each switch transitioned smoothly, thanks to the use of *** to differentiate. I found these switches easy to follow, & think it helped to make me so tied to the characters.

+I liked that it was set in Australia. Thanks to the author's descriptions, the landscape in which this was told was very beautiful, a great back drop.

-I did find a few grammatical mistakes, & a few times throughout, the sentences seemed a bit too short & choppy.

All in all, I give this a 4/5 star rating. Night Realm is a gripping novel that left me asking- is there going to be another book? I would recommend to vampire fans who like their fanged creatures on the non-sparkly side.

-Thank you to Darren G. Burton & Giveaways group for the free copy-

Kings & Queens by Courtney Vail

Title: Kings & Queens (Kings & Queens #1)
Author: Courtney Vail
Format: ebook, 328 pages
Pub. Date: July 7th 2011
Source: Shut Up & Read


Two stars.

I'm quite disappointed in this book. A pity, but that's what happens when you judge a book by its cover, I suppose.

In my humble opinion, it's written like a mediocre fan fiction. The dialog sounds forced between characters, characters who I immediately didn't relate to. One of the reviewers commented on the use of language, saying that it's "how teenagers talk." I'm only a year out of my teens, & no one's speech habits or word choices have irritated me as greatly as these characters did.

Plot wise, I feel as though the book was muddled. Random comments popped out of nowhere to aid- I'm not sure if this was supposed to be plot twists or if it was just a quick fix to a plot line that she had just remembered, but regardless, the book was left with an overall vibe of confusion. Admittedly, that did get better as time moved on.

But if you can't grab your reader's attention from the very start, how can you expect them to continue?


On the positive side, the cover is gorgeous. I would have definitely picked this up if I saw it on a bookshelf. The lipstick hints at the YA genre & the red makes it look a bit dark. I liked that a lot. I just wish the pages inside matched.

-Thank you to Shut Up & Read for the free copy to review-

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Title: Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Author: Carol Rifka Brunt
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: January 1st 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Five stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

June is a fourteen year old girl who the world just doesn't quite understand. Her parents always immersed in figures & numbers, & her older sister, Greta, is her polar opposite. They used to be inseparable, best friends. But when Greta started living in "the now"- makeups, boys, parties- June thought of ways to remain infinite. She longs for the past, the days when not all land was known, & the world still had beautiful secrets. The only one who understood this was her uncle, Finn. An artist, Finn appreciated June's love of beauty. So much so, that he began painting a portrait of the two sisters.... When Finn dies too young from AIDS, June feels lost. Finn was her best friend, the one who understood more than anyone else. Shortly after, she learns that Finn had a "special friend" that June never knew anything about. A strange friendship blossoms from these awful circumstances, with a long road of lies, secrets, anger, hurt, loss, & joy that paint a tapestry of a beautifully written story.


Words can't describe how much I simply adore this novel, but I will try to do it justice- Read it. It is a roller coaster of emotions, mixed with layers upon layers of secrets & lies that slowly chip away as the story goes on. Some passages had me crying, others smiling. Sometimes I was so confused about a character's actions that it pushed me to read the book deeper, trying to pick up on the hidden clues that June too was looking for.

The characters are perfectly described, & perfectly flawed. Each has their own mannerisms or quirks, so vividly that I felt I knew them outside of the pages of this book. By the end I wanted to hug each one of them- it has been a long time since I have felt a strong connection to characters, namely June. I related to her on a lot of levels, & I feel it made me more attached to the outcome of the story.

Finn Weiss was an esteemed artist when it came to a canvas & paint, but Carol Rifka Brunt has managed to paint just as vivid of a portrait using the written word. This book is powerful, emotional, & altogether incredible.

I recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind a bit of a tear-jerker, or anyone who has ever kept a family secret. Simply stunning.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas

Title: Something Red
Author: Douglas Nicholas
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Pub. Date: September 1st 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads.


Four stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Something Red is a novel that beautifully blends myth, magic, & mystery, & probably other words that start with "M" as well. It centers around a group of travelers. Molly is the leader- a tough but kind, skilled middle aged Irish woman. With her is her strong but silent lover, Jack, her granddaughter/protege Nemain, & the main character Hob, a boy who grows to manhood through this book's journey. They travel from place to place, stopping to wait out the awful snowstorm that bites at them. But both females are uneasy- Something is out there, stalking them, & it may be closer than Hob ever even imagined.

This book was slow to start. Extremely slow. To the point where I almost abandoned it. However, I'm glad I stuck around. From cover to cover, this book is at the very least beautifully written. The author's writing is poetic & detailed, to the point that I very easily pictured this world. And more than that, I wanted to be *in* this world. All of the characters are well thought out, & I felt a need to cheer on this little gypsy troupe. Plus, Mr. Nicholas sir, you gained incredible favor from me when you put a glossary in the back for the Irish words. With no exaggeration, the last three books I have read that involved foreign language italicized the words, but never gave a definition. But I digress. This book is perfect to read on a fall or winter day by a fire, & though it was slow, I found it enjoyable to the point that I would read a sequel, were one to arise. I give this a 3.5/5 (rounded to 4) because of the aforementioned slowness, mixed with a bit of a let down at the climax of the story.

I recommend it to adult fans of mythology or historical fiction.