Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1)
Author: Carrie Ryan
Format: Paperback, 308 pages
Pub. Date: February 9th 2010
Source: Libby Blog


2.5 Stars, Rounded up.

For as long as Mary has remembered, there has only been The Forest of Hands and Teeth. There is only their village, only the Sisterhood, and the Guardians. They are all that remains since the Return. Their village is gated in, keeping the Unconsecrated in the forest. The Unconsecrated were once friends and family, but no longer. Once the bite sinks in, and the infection takes hold, it's only a matter of time before you're one of them- a zombie. But Mary's mother has told her stories, stories of a large body of water called an ocean, and men who have walked on the moon. After she learns of a few secrets that the Sisterhood is keeping from the village, she has to wonder if her mom wasn't so crazy after all. She must decide how much she's ready to risk- her love, her family, herself- in order to find out what lays beyond the forest.


This book was very difficult for me to rate. I am not a fan of the zombie genre, as a whole, and was hoping that this would be the book that would finally satiate me. Sadly, it wasn't. The book wasn't badly written, nor was it amazing. I found it to be average, and I hope to explain why that is below.

-From the beginning, I felt a major disconnect to the main character. For this reason, I felt disjointed throughout the rest of the novel. I often disagreed with her decisions, and was more often than not indifferent to her as a whole. I found myself agreeing more often with the friends/family that told her to grow up and get real. Maybe I'm just a cynical adult these days.

+That being said, I appreciate that Mary turns into a bad ass when she needs to. When people that she know become infected, she doesn't hesitate to turn into the killer that her village trained her to be.

-I felt like this book was a prequel, not a series-starter. The first two-thirds or so passed by really slow for me, and I was bored for a long time. But in the last third, it kicked into gear, and it seemed like the story actually began.

+The story is very descriptive. I was able to picture the scenes, especially the Forest, very well, and it did help to make me commit to finishing this book. If not for the well written details, I probably would have abandoned it.

-One problem I did have with the writing was the time lapses between chapters. Sometimes it was just over night, sometimes it was a month or a week. It was easy enough to catch up on once the author explained how much time had elapsed, but the inconsistencies did bug me a bit.

Upon finishing this book, I am primarily indifferent. I won't be adding it to my list of favorite books, that's for sure. But, it wasn't a waste of time reading it either. So, my opinion is this: If this book comes into your possession, read it. If it does it, I don't think you're missing out on much. If you like zombies, you may like this book a hell of a lot more than I did. If you're a fan of dystopian books, you may be a bit disappointed. As it stands now, I'm unsure if I would like to continue the series. I think it may be better than the first one, since all of the back story appears to be out of the way.

Thank you to Libby Blog for my copy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tart by Lauren Dane

Title: Tart (Delicious #2)
Author: Lauren Dane
Format: ebook, 352 pages.
Pub. Date: November 6th 2012
Source: "I am a book addict...and proud of it" blog


4.5 Stars, Rounded up.

Juliet Lamprey is a strong, assertive woman who knows what she wants. She's her own boss- the owner of the infamous Tart bakery. Up and coming, it's growing in popularity thanks to the artwork and catering company run by her friends in the same building, but because her baking is perfection. Things are getting settled in when Gideon comes back into her life. They'd known each other growing up, but he's definitely more than the boy she remembered. When he's in town helping out with the family farm, Juliet starts a romance with the family loving cowboy that's just too good to resist. Only, one of her best guy friends since forever, Cal, isn't too keen on Juliet seeing people that aren't him. He's pined for her since they were young, but has waited too long to do anything about it. Juliet's world as she knows it comes crashing down around her with an unexpected kiss and a proposition that would leave all three of their delicious appetites satiated....


This is a book with adult content and situations. If this offends you, please scroll along.

I am pleasantly surprised to say that I loved this book. Not afraid of sounding too shallow, I originally wanted to read this because of the cover. My regular followers know that I'm very picky but just as hopeful when I read romances. Most of the time, I'm left wanting more and regretting my book choices. However, I'm very happy to say that this Tart filled me up in all of the right ways.

+One of the most important aspects of a good romance, in my opinion, lays in the hands of the female protagonist. In Tart, this position is filled by Juliet Lamprey, baker extraordinaire. She is an alpha female who does just fine on her own. She knows what she wants, how she wants it, and just exactly how to obtain it when she needs it. This assertiveness made all the difference. She's not made of stone, and can be a bit bitchy and even weak in moments, but she's not the perpetually useless damsel in distress, and for that reason alone I cheered her on.

+The males in this book are tasty. Cal is a dark haired lawyer with designer clothes and piercing eyes who can be a bit too bossy for his own good. Gideon is a golden haired cowboy with manners and a deep love for his family and the land that he so laboriously looks after. Both men are dominant and it leads to some interesting sex scenes with their "alpha" female. I can't blame Juliet. I'd want to enter a three-way relationship with this fine gents too.

+The element that surprised me the most (in the best of ways) was the actual plot. Too many times in the past, I have picked up a romance that seems generic and weakly written, or in other cases, only sex and no plot. This book actually made me tear up at parts. There's a beautifully narrated wedding full of loving friends and family, there's a hospital scene that brought to surface extreme feelings of rage and "stabbity", as Juliet puts it. Though the sex scenes were great (and I'll get to those later), there was far more than meets the eye in this book. It's got layers to it, and it made it all the more encompassing.

+Now, the part that everyone really cares about: the sex. Lauren Dane has exceeded my erotica-reading expectations. She writes scenes between the three of them with just enough detail to leave the reader hot and bothered, but not too much detail so that it's off-putting. None of the three in their menage is ever left out, nor are any of them slacking at any point. Each of them is aggressive and sexy in their own way, and the three of them together make for steamy happenings. Props to the author for using so-called "naughty words" in her writing. I much prefer them to broad statements like "he touched me there."

+The cover, as I mentioned at the beginning, is gorgeous. It does a great job of summarizing what the book is about: a sexy baker and her two lovers.

+This book does a very good job of leading up to the next Delicious book, which isn't so much a sequel as it is a continuing story with one of Juliet's friends. The expected publication is April 2, 2013. Assuming I'm not lucky enough to snag an ARC -wink wink- (Never hurts to try), I know I'll be getting it upon release.

-One of the things that did irk me about this book was the sentence fragments. They don't occur often, namely when one of the characters is aroused. I understand the theory of characters' thoughts being muddled by sexiness, but it bothered me just a smidge.

+/ My last point is neither positive nor negative, just an observation. There are a LOT of characters in this book. At some points I found it extremely difficult to remember who was who. It wasn't a constant, and it didn't take away from the story. It did just take me a few moments, here and there, to refocus on who was involved.

This book is a very solid 4.5, rounded up. This is my warning/disclaimer: If you are offended, repulsed, or closed-minded to the ideas of polyamory, three-way sex, vulgar language, or male-male sex scenes, do NOT read this book. I promise you, you will not enjoy yourself. However, if you are like me and can't resist the idea of two handsome men together with their darling, delicious bakery owner, are impartial to homosexual scenes and dirty language, then read this book immediately. Your ovaries will thank you (Or man parts. I don't judge).

Thank you to the "I am a book addict...and proud of it" blog for my copy.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Title: Forbidden
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Format: Hardcover, 454 pages.
Pub. Date: June 28th 2011
Source: Half Price Books


Five stars. I wish I could give more.

Lochan, seventeen, is the head of the Whitely family. His mom is bitter and resents her family ever since her husband left them all behind for a new woman and a new family. Eager to cling to her youth, she drinks and parties and spends her money on time with men who will never marry her, neglecting her family. Lochan has stepped up to the plate, with his year-younger sister Maya, and helped to raise their three younger siblings. Because they were thrust together as parents, they were hardly ever brother and sister. They were always equals.... The pair realize that their love goes much stronger than that of siblings. Somewhere among all of the skinned knees, overdue bills, and dirty dishes, Maya and Lochan have fallen in love. They're on fragile ground- the kids can never know, for fear of police intervention and a chance of breaking apart the family. The world can never know.... But how can a love so strong be illegal, be so wrong?


I have never read a book that was so heart wrenching, soul crushing, tear inducing, and so utterly beautiful. Forbidden broke my heart a few times over, but is one of the best books that I have read in my twenty years of life. My review will be short and probably a bit incoherent, because I am still crying over this piece of work.

+I was hesitant to read this because of its subject matter: incest. But at the same time, that is what intrigued me enough to go out and buy this book to see for myself just how "taboo" it would be. I've read reviews that loved this book, and others that thought it was disgusting. I side with the former.

+The writing is beautiful. Tabitha Suzuma details the emotions of not just Maya and Lochan, but of all of the siblings with pinpoint precision. The book has a dark, shadowy underlying tone that makes it read a bit like a poem. You can tell that each word was picked for a reason, and it makes the book that much more real and gritty.

+The way this piece is written, I couldn't help but to mentally cheer for Maya and Lochan's relationship. Wrong as it may be, I have to admit this book made me think long and hard about what love really means, and what it means to be together. I found myself ignoring the incest part of this story at parts, just wanting them to be together and to be happy.

+Lochan is a character that I grew to love over the course of the novel. Truth be told, he would have been one of the boys I looked twice at in high school. He's studious, cares for his family. He doesn't talk much and keeps to himself, but is very smart. He has been added to my mental list of fictional boyfriends. I adored this character.

+Though my relationship is far from incestuous, I did relate to Lochan a bit. He has thoughts of bitterness and jealousy at the relationships of his classmates because they get little tokens of affection that are taken for granted; hugs in the hallway, sitting together at lunch. He can't do these things with Maya without arousing suspicion. My girlfriend and I are in a long distance relationship, and I share these bitter, envious thoughts when I see couples walking around my college campus. Even now, I am sobbing at my keyboard, and my girlfriend can't do anything about it. Passages like this definitely rang true for me, despite being in a completely "legal" relationship.

+I am writing this review with as few spoilers as possible, so I'll keep this bit to the short side. I didn't see the ending coming, at all. I probably should have, but I didn't, and it hit me with the force of a MACK truck. I have never cried so hard over fictional characters, save for maybe Dumbledore's death in the Harry Potter. I couldn't believe I was out of pages when I was. Nothing broke my heart more than seeing the words "Epilogue", knowing that that was it, there's no going back, no rectifying or fixing or problem solving.

If you have a problem with taboo relationships or if the notion of incest sickens or upsets you, then this is not the book for you. But if you believe that there is no love that is unjust or immoral, and that everyone deserves the right to be happy with the spirit of their choosing, then let this book wrench your heart and crush your soul too. It's a book that is easy to read but hard to swallow, and left me in tears.

Now, a happy reading to you all. I must fix myself a hot beverage and try to pull myself back together.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse

Title: Rockoholic
Author: C.J. Skuse
Format: Hardcover, 358 pages
Pub. Date: November 1st 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


3.5 Stars, rounded up.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Jody lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes The Regulators. They are the single greatest band ever, and she owns it all- the DVDs, the albums, the magazines. All because of beautiful, brooding American front man Jackson Gatlin. He's so deep and gorgeous, she would give everything just to meet him face to face. One of the highlights of her life is when her best friend Mac gives her his ticket to go see them in concert.... Only things don't go exactly as planned. Through a series of mishaps, Jody... Kind of... Well, accidentally kidnaps Jackson. They hide him out in her garage, but... He doesn't want to leave. Mac and Jody have to figure out a way to discreetly get him away and avoid the paparazzi, and in Mac's eyes, Jody's hero can't leave fast enough.


Before you get this book, you should know that it's not realistic. At all. I understand that this is a fiction book, but it's almost like superfiction. Know this before you start reading, otherwise it will skew your feelings of the book, like it did with me.

-Jody is one of the most insufferable female characters I have ever read, right up there with Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele. She is the fan girl that gets picked on at concerts, in real life. She supposedly hangs with the outcast/gothy stereotype crowd... And yet she knows nothing about drugs. Like, at all. At one point, Mac makes reference to a rock. She asks if you get high by licking it, thinking it a stone outside. I don't know if this was done to build an air of naivety or what, but it made me wish that she'd get caught in her shenanigans.

-She thinks in acronyms. Such as OMG. In her own head. This bothered me a bit, though it was easy to look past.

+Mac, on the other hand, has been added to my list of fictional boyfriends. He is constantly reminding Jody that her plans and actions are stupid. He's a great supportive friend and a great big brother to his baby sister, Cree. He's the lead in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Ugh. He is just yummy. I pick him over Jackson any day.

+Jackson is portrayed well. He's coming down from a high at one point, and is angry and throwing things and barking orders. I feel this was at least semi-accurate, as opposed to an easy "oh, he's clean" instant fix. I give props for that. I hated him at first, and grew to love him with time.

+ There was no instant love. Thank god, a book without it, finally!

+I love the cover of this book. It's what initially drew me in, and I think it stands out on a shelf.

The only major downfall with this book is my irritation with the lead character, Jody. Other than that, this is a music fueled, quick read that any fan girl can relate to, if only a little bit. I know personally, I was imagining my own band of obsession in place of The Regulators in this story. It took me awhile to get into it, but overall I was very glad I stuck it out and finished this novel.

I recommend it for any girl who has had a celebrity obsession and fans of YA literature. If you want a realistic fiction or a strong female lead, then pass this.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Death: At Death's Door by Jill Thompson

Title: Death: At Death's Door(Death of the Endless #3)
Author: Jill Thompson
Format: Paperback, 208 pages
Pub. Date: July 1st 2003
Source: Borrowed from Emily


Three stars.

Death is a sibling of the Endless, a family that is older than the gods themselves. When her brother stirs up trouble, Lucifer closes the gates to hell, and lets everyone go. Because Death is a familiar, the souls flock to her for guidance. Together with her two sisters, Delirium and Despair, she must stop the insanity and save the Underworld.


Meh. That's pretty much my unprofessional opinion on this book.

-I understand that this is simply a personal preference, but I am not a fan of using grayscale in graphic novels. It makes everything drab and it's hard for me to mentally fill in the color.

-To be honest, I found it hard to follow. Everything moved along really fast and there were too many names that started with D. I found skipping between panels to be almost random, and it didn't follow a cohesive string, in my opinion.

+ I like the concept of Death being a goth girl. It's a cool twist, and I really liked the way that she was drawn.

-This felt like a fan fiction to me, not an official manga published by DC comics. It just felt like this was done unprofessionally, and to me, that is not a very good thing.

This was my first attempt at manga. I'll give it another shot, but not from Jill Thompson. If you like The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and manga, maybe this is up your alley. If you're just starting out with this medium, I recommend getting something else first.

Her Mad Hatter by Marie Hall

Title: Her Mad Hatter(Kingdom Series #1)
Author: Marie Hall
Format: Kindle Edition, 164 pages
Pub. Date: July 7th 2012
Source: Amazon


Five stars.

Alice Hu is something special- the great granddaughter of the original Alice in Wonderland. The new owner of a cupcakery in Hawaii, life as she knows it changes when a strange old woman enters her shoppe after hours. A fairy godmother who works for the fairy tale bad boys, this woman has searched for decades for the right Alice. If Hatter doesn't find a mate soon, he will go completely mad and Wonderland will go amok along with him. Alice is sucked into Wonderland and she's thrilled- she's been in love with her fictional Hatter since she was 13. When she meets him in the flesh, he is everything she hopes for. Tall, dark, and handsome with a sensual voice, he's familiar to her. The catch? He hates her. The original Alice hurt him bad, and her relative is the spitting image of her. Three days is all Alice has to make the Hatter love her, and to save him from his insanity.


I was blown away by the book. It is not often that I am pleasantly surprised, but this book was far better than I expected.

+Wonderland is described beautifully. It's fantastical and maddening and gorgeous and oh, Alice, I would never want to leave there either, especially if I had a sexy Mad Hatter all to myself too.

+Hatter is yummily described. Normally when I read romance books it's the stereotypical "prince charming" features- brawny, blonde, and blue eyed. Hatter is none of things, and is far more desirable to me. I have a fictional crush on him anyway, so I was fully on Alice's side in this story and lived vicariously through her.

+This was an erotica/romance with an actual plot. The sex was steamy and well written, and the sexual tension and frustration were driving me insane. That being said, this took a back seat to the plot of saving Hatter. This is how I like my romances, as opposed to 200 pages of nonstop meaningless bedroom time.

+I was taken by surprise by the ending. I don't want to give spoilers, but I actually teared up. I probably should have seen it coming, but alas, I did not. I ran out of pages way too soon and I'm not done with their story yet, even if the book is over.

I recommend this to adult fans of Alice in Wonderland who want a bit more spice in their fairy tale. This book is not for children or for prudes. This is the first book in a series, and I cannot wait to read the rest, featuring other fairy tale bad boys.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

True Blood, Vol. 1: All Together Now by Alan Ball

Title: True Blood, Vol. 1: All Together Now
Author: Alan Ball
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages
Pub. Date: February 22nd 2011
Source: Half Price Books


Four Stars.

Down at Merlotte's in Bon Temps, Louisiana, life just keeps getting weirder for the mind-reading, vampire-dating, little blonde waitress named Sookie Stackhouse. One night at work during a fierce thunderstorm, a native creature called an imp shaloop locks the True Blood regulars inside. An intense monster with fangs and tentacles, he feeds on others' shame. Sam, Sookie, Bill, Eric, Tara, Jason, and Lafayette are forced to dish out their dirtiest secrets and stories until the trickster spirit is finally tricked himself.


First, let me say I am a basic fan of this series. I have seen a few episodes of the show, and read a few of the books. I am not the biggest fan, nor am I one who detests the franchise.

+/-That being said, I do believe that this plot does more accurately follow the TV show as opposed to the novels. That being said, this fact did not bother me in the slightest.

+The artwork is gorgeous. Modeled after the cast of the TV series, I positively loved it. Particularly the portrayal of Eric Northman, who is my favorite to look at on the show. It's dark and gritty, and illustrates the monster well.

-There wasn't really a major plot to this adaptation. It appeared to be just a way to reveal the pasts of all of the main characters in a short period of time, with no real battle or even real expansions on their tales of woe.

+/-This first collection continues in a semi-cliffhanger, no doubt leading to a second volume of the graphic novels.

I think that fans of True Blood as well as the Sookie Stackhouse novels would appreciate this artistic rendition of the vampiric story. If you're fed up with all the vampire shows or don't like True Blood- why would you pick this up? You wouldn't enjoy this either.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Foreplay by Tammy Valentine

Title: Foreplay
Author: Tammy Valentine
Format: ebook, 15 pages
Pub. Date: January 13th 2011
Source: Susan Frances' blog

One Star

Izzy Morgan is a prude, and after she discovers that her friend Jessica has a cool ability- being able to guess a man's actions and desires in bed based on their astrological horoscope sign- her group of friends decides to take her through a man from each sign. It is a plan for a year to help her learn by practice and experimentation, all thanks to Jessica's help.


-Nowhere on the book's page does it say that this is an introduction or an excerpt. This book is roughly 15 pages. This doesn't even constitute a novella, in my opinion. It's more like one conversation. It felt like one chapter of a potentially good book, or one laugh track filled scene from an episode of Sex and the City.

-Because it's so short, it was really vague. There was next to no detail, forced dialogue, and no character development. I didn't care what Izzy and her friends did.

-There's nothing dirty in it. There's a few crass jokes and a short scene at the beginning, but it was far from erotic.

+I do give props to the author for using anatomically correct words in the aforementioned scene. A lot of authors use euphemisms that just make the bad writing even worse.

If this were a teaser or an excerpt, then I would like to read this. But unfortunately it's the start of a series, and so I must treat it as though it was written as a stand alone novella, since there is nothing to indicate that it is otherwise.

Skip it. That's my opinion. If you want a really fast read, then maybe you'll like this. But I can't really recommend it more specifically than that.

Thank you to Susan Frances' blog for my digital copy.

F in Exams: The Funniest Test Paper Blunders by Richard Benson

Title: F in Exams: The Funniest Test Paper Blunders
Author: Richard Benson
Format: Paperback, 127 pages
Pub. Date: September 1st 2008
Source: Christi the Teen Librarian blog


Three Stars.

F in Exams is a book that every student can relate to. It is a short collection of some of the cleverest and idiotic answers ever written on tests. It is divided by subject (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Math, Business & Technology, Psychology, History & Geography, and English) so that the reader can look at a specific class, whether it is their favorite or perhaps the one that they guessed on a lot in high school too.


+ This was a very short, funny read that didn't pretend to be anything other than what it was. It is simply test answers and questions chronicled onto paper. No added commentary, just hilarity.

+It's something that I think that every student, past or present, can relate to and laugh at. I know that geometry was my doom in high school, and that I actually drew a picture in lieu of an answer on my recent Theater 101 exam in college.

+It's for all ages. I read this aloud with my mom for a bit of cheering up, and we both found it equally amusing.

My personal favorite reply was in the Physics section. The question was What does a transformer do? and the answer was It can go from being a robot to a sports car in three seconds.

Overall this book is a quick, amusing read, but I probably won't read it again. If it happens to come into your collection, or if you are currently a student or a teacher, then I would read this book. If not, I don't think you're missing out on anything too crucial.

Thank you to Christi the Teen Librarian blog for my copy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Best of 2012

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. Gone is 2012, and 2013 is officially begun. We survived the end of the world! And now, I've finally made my decision- the top 10 books of 2012. These are only the books PUBLISHED in 2012, not just read. These are based solely on my own personal opinions, and I hope you give them a read, if you haven't already. I will post my number one book first, the others that follow are in no particular order. May you have a happy, bookish new year!

1. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.


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.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire


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!

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves


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.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry


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!

Send by Patty Blount


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.

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson


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.

Flyaway by 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.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Five stars.

I absolutely adored this book. 4.5 stars, rounded up.


Cinder is a retelling of the classing fairytale Cinderella. Set in the future, after the fourth World War, our Earthly society is one of both man and machine. Cinder is a cyborg, outcast because of it. Shes also a mechanic, and when Prince Kai comes to her booth for her expertise, she can't get him out of her head. Unfortunately when you're part machine, and the plague is killing people around you left and right, it's hard to stay positive. Add in the fact that Cinder has "special" blood and a looming war with the citizens of Luna, a colony on the moon, you have one helluva futuristic princess tale that's not what your mama read you.


Much to my surprise, I loved this book. After hearing so much hype, I was expecting to be disappointed. I'm very glad to be wrong. This story was vividly written and easy for me to imagine the story and surroundings. I felt part of the story, and though it was predictable (it is Cinderella, after all), I found myself rapidly turning the pages to see what happened next, and horrified when I ran out of book. I will definitely be investing in the sequel.

I recommend it to fans of fairytales, YA, or cyborgs and intergalactic war.

Thanks to Marissa Meyer and Jean Booknerd Blog for my copy.

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip


Five stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

An orphan, lead character Camilla was brought up & trained to be a spy by a gang, mastering strategies & skills (such as knife throwing, singing, & contortions) that make her a skeleton woman, or a Chinese femme fatale. Gang leader Big Brother Wang secures her a place in the 1930's nightlife scene of Shanghai as a lounge singer of great esteem. But all of this loveliness is only to gain the attention of rival gang leader, Master Lung. She must climb the fragile ladder to become his number one- and then destroy him, lest Big Brother Wang destroy her. Walking on glass shards, Camilla grows suspicious of two other "skeleton women". One is named Rainbow, who as a journalist makes or breaks a reputation with the stroke of a pen. The other is named Shadow, a magician as mysterious as her name who threatens Camilla as the number one show in Shanghai. All of this is thrust into further complication when the emotionless to-be assassin starts to feel for Master Lung's own son. But in her life of deception, masks, & strategy- Can she walk away from this feud with her life?

This book is mesmerizing. I can think of no better word for it.

Before even cracking it open, this book is beautiful. The cover is bright & striking, it would definitely catch my eye upon a shelf.

The novel itself is written beautifully. It's poetic & vivid, reading almost like a song. The use of Chinese sayings & proverbs, as well as quotes from other books, make frequent appearances. It adds a nice sprinkling of culture to the intriguing story. No sentence is superfluous- each & every word serves a purpose, making the story more engrossing. There is never a dull moment, & I found myself often exclaiming "What?!?" to myself, in the best of ways. I was kept on my toes until I ran out of pages, & even now I hunger for more of Camilla's story. This story is a perfect balance of sex, espionage, drama, & suspense. The characters are very relatable, & I adore the fact that this plot is headed by powerful women. It's a very welcome change from my usual reads. Plus, this edition comes with a reading group guide, perfect for those reader's looking to spark conversation at their book club.

In short, I found this book just as dazzling as Shadow's magic act. I recommend it to no particular audience, but to anyone who loves a wonderfully written story. I have never read the work of Mingmei Yip before, but now that I've gotten a taste, Skeleton Women will not be the last book of hers that I consume.

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


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!

Season of Joy by Virginia Carmichael

Title: Season of Joy
Author: Virginia Carmichael
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Pub. Date: October 16th 2012
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Two Stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

This book follows the typical Harlequin-esque romance formula. There's a busy business woman named Calista who volunteers at a local shelter. And then there's the handsome man with a hidden past that enters the picture. Romance shouldn't be in the picture, but it is, and at the end of the day love overcomes all obstacles, no matter how cliche they are.


+One plus that I did appreciate in this novel was that the Christian themes were relatively subtle. When I realized that this book was to do with a mission worker, I was a bit put off. I'm not anti-Christian, but I don't personally follow that path. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no preachy moments or lengthy Bible quotes, which I have encountered in other romances.

+ I don't wish to spoil anything, so I'll keep it to the minimum. I didn't see the fire coming. I thought I knew exactly where the plot was headed, but this threw me for a loop. Well played, and a tip of the hat to you.

At the end of the day, there's nothing unique about this book. It's a romance novel that, to me, will be lost on my shelf among the others. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't my thing, either. If you enjoy Harlequin romance- great! You might really like this book! But if you're looking for a different read from the usual, you might want to pass this one up.