Friday, August 5, 2011

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

After reading Kody Keplinger's debut novel The DUFF last year, I was really looking forward to see what was up next for her. I started hearing about Shut Out and without even knowing what it was about, I had to read it.

When I found out that All 4 Alabama had a copy donated for auction, I immediately decided that it was going to be one of the auctions I fought for and I did. I was SO excited when I won and I couldn't wait to get it in my hands!
What I really like about Kody's characters is that they seem very real to me. In Shut Out our main character is Lissa and she's a major control freak, but not without reason. She's dating the quarterback of the football team and when the football and soccer rivalry causes people to get hurt and gets in the way of her relationship, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She may not be able to control what the boys do, but she can control what she does or doesn't do. Soon, all the girlfriends are joining Lissa in a Lysistrata-esque sex strike.
During the sex strike, Lissa forms friendships with all the girls and even gets an old friend back. Something that happens more often than not when it comes to YA is the growth of the characters and I think Keplinger did a very good job showing Lissa's. She went from this girl that was embarrassed to even say the word "sex" to someone who organized a sex strike and helped not only herself, but others, be comfortable with who they were. 

Now for Cash and Chloe. These two are the boy and the best friend and I thought these were great characters. I liked Cash from the second I was introduced to him. He's cute, athletic, and the boy all the girls want. He's unattainable but not because he's dating the queen bee or anything, but because there's only one girl he thinks is worth the time. He might be one of the most popular boys in school but I liked how he wasn't totally confident when it came to the one girl that mattered. Cash was understanding, tender, and sweet and that totally made him sexy.

As for Chloe, I think she rocked at being the best friend. She was the exact opposite of Lissa and they complimented each other really well. Where Lissa was private one, Chloe threw everything out in the open. She was considered a slut and a whore for liking sex and sleeping around but she was strong and confident and knew exactly who she was. When it came to being comfortable with sexuality she was the one who asked the tough questions like "Why can boys enjoy sex but not girls?" "Why should girls be deemed sluts when they enjoy sex but guys are heroes?"

My only complaint was Lissa's dad and his obsession with sports. Dare I say it? It reminded me of Charlie from that book, but worse. Practically every scene her dad was in there was some mention of the big game that was or had been on or a sports channel. He was likeable and I loved the part with the father/daughter talk, but he really seemed one-dimensional to me. Yes, I know. He's not a main character and he's just the parental presence but still. Can't we have a cool dad in a contemporary novel who ISN'T a sports fanatic?

This was a quick and fun read and totally something I'll read again. Keplinger definitely scored a touchdown with this sophomore novel and I can't wait to see what she comes out with next!

Do you think sex, or any kind of intimacy for that matter, should be withheld to get a point across? Will you be reading Shut Out?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

XP: Ringgold Reads

I wanted to make sure the most possible people see this so I'm cross-posting this from my other blog.

Many of you know I am 1/2 of the All 4 Alabama team to help raise money for a rural Alabama town that was hit hard by the destruction of the April 27th tornadoes.

Originally my friend Julie and I were going to team up together to raise money and help tornado victims but in the end we each decided to focus on different things. I really wanted to help rural Alabama and she needed to help her own community.

With the help of author Susan Gregg Gilmore and the participation of Random House, Ringgold Reads was created with a mission to rebuild the school libraries of Ringgold, Georgia and help to promote reading and writing as a way for students to express themselves after experiencing such a life-altering event.

Considering the number of books in a library, the number of different books needed is relatively small. However, the number needed of each book (70) isn't a small number. The list of books needed can be found under the Info link on the Facebook page.

Are you getting ready to start back to school shopping? Why not pick up an extra copy of The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird? Did you see a copy of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas or A Walk to Remember marked down in your local bookstore's bargain section? Have an extra copy of The Hunger Games laying around?

Why not donate it? Every book helps and I know the teachers and students will greatly appreciate them.

Have a few unused credits on PaperBackSwap? You can use them at no charge to you AND help a great cause!

If you DO plan on donating, make sure you email them at to let them know the book and number of books you're donating so they can keep track of what they need. As for the books, you can mail those to:


I know I'll be on the hunt this tax free weekend to see what books I can snag. Will you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Queen of the Dead - Stacey Kade

For some reason I thought this was going to be book one in the series and I was very wrong. Queen of the Dead is actually book two in Stacey Kade's A Ghost and a Goth series.

I was extremely confused when I started reading and I had a ton of questions going through my head. Thank God Stacey re-hashed a few things throughout the book because otherwise I probably would have quit reading.

The premise of the book is cool. Basically a goth guy can see ghosts and he just so happens to be stuck with the ghost of the girl who was the queen bee of their school. She was sent back from the white light (sometime during the first book) and is partnered with him.

I DO wish I would've read book one first because maybe I would've liked book two better. The first half of this book I was wondering what was going on and it was a major distraction for me. Then once I finally started getting into the book, I was almost finished. It seemed like things didn't pick up until maybe the last 75 pages or so for me. I never felt like I was invested in the characters, especially Will (the goth), but I did find myself a little interested in him finding out answers about his father.

Will was just kind of blah and other than being told he's goth from the series title, did not picture him that way.I really liked Alona because she seemed to have the most depth of the two. She had this tough exterior but she was kind of broken on the inside and there were times she didn't seem to like the fact that she was stuck with Will but she protected him. I definitely would have preferred for the book to be solely in her voice instead of the alternating POV that was given.

This wasn't a bad book and I most likely would have enjoyed it more if I had read the first book but as it is, I didn't and it wasn't my cup of tea.

Have you read this series? What did you think?

The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab

What happens when the tale you're told as a child comes true? In Victoria Schwab's debut novel, The Near Witch, Lexi Harris finds out.

When a stranger shows up in Lexi's village of Near and children start disappearing, the people gather their torches and pitchforks (ok, so not QUITE literally..but close) and set out to hunt him down.

Even though Lexi is told to let the men search, she goes off to find answers of her own. Upon meeting the stranger, who she names Cole, she believes he is not the one taking the children and sets of to clear his name before the unthinkable happens. Will she find the missing children before it's too late? Can she stop this from happening before her little sister becomes one of them?

This is one of those books I have been hearing about for a LONG time, so long in fact, I temporarily forgot that it isn't in stores yet when I was telling my mom I thought she'd enjoy it. Oops.

The writing was absolutely fantastic and there were a few times where I re-read a sentence because it was so beautifully worded and it just seemed magical. The descriptions made the book play out kind of like a movie in my head and the littlest things, like Lexi's little sister hopping around, were just so vivid I felt like I had seen it for myself. I thought the story was interesting and well told and was full of mystery, romance, conspiracy, with a little bit of creepy thrown in.

I loved Lexi as the main character. She was strong, fearless, determined, stood up for what she believed in, and was very confident, even when she wasn't feeling like it. The characters were well done and I don't know if it was intentional or not, but I got a small battle of the sexes vibe between everyone else outside of Lexi and Cole.

I don't want to say much more since it isn't out yet but I will say that I really enjoyed reading this and I hope you do too. Victoria did a wonderful job on her debut novel and if she figures out a way to bottle up some of her talent, I'll gladly take some.

I'll also be hosting an interview with Victoria in the next week or 2 so look for that as well as me gushing over meeting her and many other wonderful authors at the 2011 Decatur Book Festival. EEK! Only about 46 more days!

An ARC of The Near Witch was provided to me by Disney Publishing Worldwide and in no way sways my opinion of the book.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Uncommon Criminals - Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals picks up about two months after Heist Society ends. We find out that Kat has struck out on her own to re-steal lost items and return them to their rightful owners. When she meets a woman who tells her Visily Romani sent her to Kat, Kat takes on the job to steal the Cleopatra Emerald.

This was as equally fun as its predecessor and I loved getting drawn deeper into Kat's world. I was wondering where the story was going to go when things were done so early on but I really liked the fact that a con was conned.

The whole time they were plotting on stealing the Cleopatra Emerald a second time, I was wondering how in the world they were going to do it when the mark knew who they were and was an expert con herself. Good times!

One thing that did kind of bother me about Kat was that she really has a hard time letting people help. She's definitely strong-willed and stubborn but she has a very hard time accepting the fact that her friends want to help her and be around her and I look forward to future books to see how she grows.

Hale still remains my favorite character with his witty remarks and his charm. I like the relationship Hale and Kat have because it kind of reminds me of that awkward high school phase where you like a boy but talk yourself out of the possibility that he could ever like you. That's another of Kat's flaws though, she sells herself short when it comes to anything that's not theft.

Kat's flaws are a huge part of why she works as a believable character. She definitely has trust issues, who wouldn't doing what she does, but when she trusts you, you become part of something bigger. A family.

Uncommon Criminals was a quick and fun read and I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next installment.

Are you a fan of Ally Carter? What's your favorite book dealing with thieves?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Heist Society - Ally Carter

Every time I go to Books-A-Million (which is at LEAST once a week) or my local used bookstore, I am always seeing books by Ally Carter. There have been numerous times where I've picked up Heist Society, read the back of the book, contemplated buying it, and then ended up putting it back on the shelf.

I'm not sure why this kept happening, but it did. Every single time there was this little voice in head saying "you probably won't like it, buy this book instead" and I would wander off to something else.

Thanks to Disney Publishing Worldwide, I received a review copy along with the 2nd novel, Uncommon Criminals, and I decided to take a break from the eight other books I was reading (yes, eight. I have been in a MAJOR reading funk this year) to get started.

Believe me when I say that I was pleasantly surprised at how quick I got sucked into the story. Now I do most of my reading at night before bed, but Heist Society was going back and forth between my nightstand and my purse (it accompanied me to work a few days).

Katarina Bishop is a fifteen year old retired thief. Yup, all Kat wants to do is enjoy being normal so she conned her way into a prestigious private school. This "normalcy" she has going, doesn't last long when she's kicked out for something she didn't do. She's sucked back into the life she wanted to leave behind because her dad is being framed and it's up to her to save him. Did he really do it? Who is Visily Romani and better yet, WHAT does the W.W. in Hale's name stand for?

One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is the whole white collar crime thing because yes, I'm a HUGE fan of the TV show White Collar and this book reminded me of it. The story was fun, the book was the perfect length, there wasn't any portion of it that felt like the book was dragging, a cute boy, and there's intrigue and world-traveling. What more do you need?

Then there's the relationship between Kat and Hale. I absolutely LOVED it along with their banter. I could really relate to Kat in that "I like him but there is not a chance he could like me back" way and all I wanted to do was pull her aside and give her a pep talk. Hale is a cutie and although there is a second boy introduced who seems to have a thing for Kat, there isn't really any indication that he's even a small bit of competition for Hale. Ok, so there IS but in my book Nick wasn't competition. At all. That COULD be my own 15 year old self being completely smitten with Hale though.

I will admit that the thought of a group of teenagers pulling off a heist of that magnitude, was a bit unbelievable and kind of pulled me out of the story a bit and did take a little getting used to. Once I quit thinking about the logistics, I was able to just enjoy the ride I was being taken on.

This was such a fun book and as soon as I closed Heist Society I opened Uncommon Criminals. It's almost 1am as I write this, but even so, I plan on reading a chapter or 2 before I go to sleep.

Thanks DPW for sharing this book with me because otherwise, I'd still be picking it up and putting it back down at the bookstore. I am OfficiALLY a fan now. See what I did there?

Have you read Heist Society? Is there a book that you keep picking up at the store only to put it back down again and again?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Interview with John Nelson

Hey everyone! I know I haven't really posted much book stuff lately but I have been in a reading rut this year (seriously, I've read less than 20 books this year). So today I have an interview for you! John Nelson, author of Against Nature was kind enough to answer a few questions for me so sit back, relax, and get to know a new author!

1. To get started, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and former Special Ops Medic--Air Commando. I now work as a healthcare executive in Utah. I'm married to a beautiful and brilliant woman and I have three kids and a sweet dog named Dexter.

2. What inspired you to write Against Nature?
From fact comes fiction. The news headlines were filled with some disturbing stuff like secret prisons, torture, wars justified through public deception, and so much more. I kind of thought we were heading toward a dystopian society. I also wondered what would happen if some of the stuff our government was doing overseas washed up on our shore. The end result was a dystopian thriller. Most dystopia fiction is about the future. Mine is about the present and how we get to that dystopian future. 

3. I really like that you take the present and show how we could get to the future. Most dystopian novels start off with everything changed already and just briefly mention how things changed. Interesting! From idea conception to completed work, what was the hardest part during the whole process for you?
I love the writing process. I never know where the story is going to take me until I get there. I think the hardest part is cutting and editing when the ride is over. 

4. During the research, what was the most interesting or the weirdest thing you found yourself reading about?
 I knew most of what I wrote about. I can't say I had to do too much research. I did take facts of the past decade and expanded them to create a dystopian society. That was certainly the scariest part.

5. If you could sit down with any author, past or present, who would it be and what would be the first question you'd ask them?
Voltaire. I'd ask him to rewrite Candide for our times. 

6. You knew this was coming, favorite books and authors? 
My favorite books are Candide by Voltaire, Animal Farm by George Orwell, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I like books with social value. Books that make you think.

7. In the last year, what has been your favorite release?
I recently read Hunger Games and enjoyed it. I read it on the beach in Mexico....sea, sun, sand and a decent book. Life elevated!  What makes Hunger Games a good book and not a great book, in my estimation, is the lack of social criticism. I didn't see a clear reflection of our own society. Lots of young adults are reading it, but they're not learning anything in the process. Is the book a critique of our growing violent society, our thirst for voyeurism with reality TV, and our acceptance of inequality?  Are we on a path to that world? What are the road signs? All that was missing. It was still an enjoyable read, but not a classic.

8. Is there a question you wish people would ask but either forget to ask or just don't think about asking? 
I think fiction writers have a goal for the reader. Just as a comedian's goal is to say silly things to make us laugh, a conservative talk radio host says inflammatory things to make us angry and outraged. The question people should ask me is: what was my goal for Against Nature? My goal was to make the reader think and reflect. And be entertained too, of course. But beyond the simple pursuit of entertainment, I think a dystopian novel has to do a little more than that. It needs to make you think and reflect. You should see your own world in the reflection of the  book's fantasy world. I tried to do that. It's up to the individual reader to judge whether or not I succeeded.

9. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I'd like to thank you for hosting me and for creating an on-line community where readers and writers can come together. I'd also like to thank you for your work to help your neighbors following the devastating tornadoes in your area. It's so wonderful to see people act selflessly and not just in their own self interest. 

Thank you John! It was a pleasure getting to know you and hosting you here on my blog!

You can purchase the Kindle edition of Against Nature here.

What do you think about Against Nature? Is there a question you think I should have asked?

Monday, May 9, 2011

All 4 Alabama

Hey guys,

I just wanted to post a few links that deal with this project I'm helping with to raise money for people who lost everything in the tornadoes that ripped through Alabama last week.

You can read about on my blog here and check out the auctions/donations site Courtney and I have at All 4 Alabama.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bumped - Megan McCafferty

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from. 
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common. 

Megan Mccafferty's Bumped has been a long awaited book, by me and many others and it marks her first official YA novel. When I found out that it was available for request on NetGalley I was one of many who immediately went to the website to try and get my grubby little hands on this sucker. If you didn't know, this was one of two big books that just became available and practically shut down NetGalley's website. I seriously could not log in until the next day and stalked my email until the golden goose delivered a beautiful, glowing (seriously, doesn't the title look like it's glowing? LOVE IT) egg to my inbox.

The verdict? I only liked it when I wanted to love it. I liked the names of Harmony and Melody because they related to each other without being match-y and I really liked how it alternated between POV. I didn't, however, connect with either of them as much as I would have liked.

Melody: I definitely liked her best. Her relationship with Zen reminded me a bit of one of my relationships at sixteen and it was probably the biggest thing that made me feel connected to either of the girls. I did find it a bit ironic that the girl who dreamed of getting an awesome bump through contract was quite prudish.

Harmony: I felt sorry for her at first but the more into the story I got, the less I liked her. The whole mistaken identity thing was totally her fault and and that whole situation just really irked me about her. I even had a "well, that's what you get" moment when I probably should have been feeling sorry for her (again).

As for the lingo I find myself middle of the road on it. On one hand, I loved that it was stuff that could totally be the norm for future generations. I did feel that some of it was over-used and some of it even took me out of the story and I had to remember that it was being used in a different context than what we use it as. It also felt like it ended too quickly and that emotions changed too fast.

It probably sounds like I disliked Bumped more than I liked it but keep in mind that things you find bothersome or don't like are always more memorable than things you do. That's usually the case for me anyway. 

In all honesty, I devoured this book and it was definitely different. Megan's writing was great and even though there was no dread-locked-Backstreet Boys-T Shirt-wearing-hottie, I DO recommend reading it and I look forward to reading the next book because I have some questions I'd like answered and I really hope they're addressed.

I know I've said it before, but here I am saying it again: I was way too hyped up over this book and expected something that could only be delivered if Megan resided in my head. Will you be reading Bumped when it comes out in a few weeks?

An eGalley of Bumped was provided by NetGalley 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I read this book back in November and I started this blog post when I finished it but it has just been sitting there waiting for me to decide what to say. Then a couple days ago I tried going back to finish this and STILL wasn't sure what I wanted to say.

I wanted to LOVE this book like I loved Before I Fall. The writing was beautiful and amazing and the premise was intriguing and I really liked seeing Lena go good girl gone rebel. Then there's the "but." There always is, isn't there? 

Then earlier this morning I logged onto Twitter and as I was catching up on my feed, I saw Carolina Valdez Miller's link to her Bookanista's Review of Delirium. When I started reading it all I wanted to do was shout "YES, THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I FELT!" So instead of sitting here struggling to find the perfect words to describe what I thought, I'll just link you to her blog because she says it much more eloquently and coherently than I probably could.

Have you read Delirium? Is there a book that you've read recently that you liked but it wasn't quite what you expected?

Friday, February 18, 2011

XP: Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Hey guys, sorry for the non-book related post, but I wanted to get as many people to see this as possible so I'm posting an entry from my other blog, here.

One of my internet friends, Jenny, has had a tough go of things. From dealing with infertility to giving birth to preemie triplets, I can't help but think of her as Wonder Woman.

When I found out that she was going to be participating in the March of Dimes walk held on April 30th, I wanted to help. Not only did I want to help by donating money to sponsor her, I wanted to do something more.

In the last few months I have taken up a hobby of jewelry making and even opened an ETSY Shop (FunkyPineapple Designs) so I decided I would make a special bracelet in honor of the nickname she gave her babies while they were still in the oven, PB&J.

The Peanut Butter Jelly Time bracelet (seen below) can be purchased through my ETSY shop with $10 of each purchase being donated to help Jenny and her family reach their goal of raising (at least) $1,000 for their walk.

Help me help Jenny reach her goal and maybe even surpass it. You'll not only help future families that need the assistance, but you'll have a nice little thank you on your wrist from all the people that are touched each day by March of Dimes.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time bracelets can be purchased here.
Jenny's blog post talking about what March of Dimes meant to her can be found here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Freefall - Mindi Scott

How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend, Isaac, alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time when Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn't wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend's death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.
Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he's ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth soon realizes he isn't the only one who needs saving.

I loved Mindi Scott's debut novel Freefall. I read this back in November so my memory is a little fuzzy so you'll have to excuse me. I thought this was going to be a bit of a depressing book based on the synopsis so I was a bit surprised to find that it really wasn't. Sure, a lot of Seth's issues come from Issac's death, but he's thrown in a Communications class at school and it seems to really help him.

I LOVED the teacher because she was so quirky and weird and I couldn't wait for Seth to get to class to see what she was going to do next. I thought it showed growth when Seth took what he learned in class and applied them in the outside world.

I was also pretty amused with Seth and Rosetta's initial meeting and knew she'd be "the girl" and couldn't help but think "that's just Seth's luck." I didn't really understand why Seth continued to be friends with his friends because they were more into the whole musician (sex, drugs, and rock & roll)  thing. I guess they would be the typical teen boys though.

This book was probably one of my favorite contemporary YA books of the year. Mindi did a great job with Seth's voice and I think she accurately portrayed how a boy in Seth's situation might act. A great debut my Mindi Scott and I can't wait to read more from her!

Have you read Freefall?

Girl Stolen - April Henry

Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen—with her inside!

Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?

A few months ago my friend Julie came over for my husband's birthday party and brought a book she wanted me to read with her. It took me longer than I wanted to actually sit down and read April Henry's Girl Stolen but when I finally did last week, I flew through it.

I'm not really sure what to say about this book. I really enjoyed it while I was reading it but the more I think about what I want to blog about, the more questions I have. This is a hard post because everything I want to say is SO spoilery!

I think I'm just going to leave this one at I read it, I enjoyed it for what it was, I liked the concept of accidentally kidnapping a blind girl, and I would read more from April Henry. 

Have you read Girl Stolen? What did you think?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Darlings Are Forever - Melissa Kantor

Jane, Victoria, and Natalya. Together, they are the Darlings. Best friends forever. They have matching necklaces, their own table at Ga Ga Noodle, and even a shared motto: May you always do what you’re afraid of doing.

When the friends begin freshman year at three different high schools in distant corners of New York City, they promise to live by their motto and stay as close as ever. The Darlings know they can get through anything as long as they have each other. But doing scary new things is a lot easier with your friends beside you. And now that the girls aren’t spending all their time together, everything they took for granted about their friendship starts to feel less certain. They can’t help but wonder, will they really be the Darlings forever?

To be honest, I hadn't heard about this Melissa Kantor's The Darlings Are Forever prior to being asked by the publisher if I'd be interested in reviewing it. I'm glad I got that email because I REALLY liked this book. Plus, anything that references Harry Potter is a win in my book.

I read this book in two nights and would have read it in one if I didn't have an early morning (which if you know me, it's TOUGH to get me out of bed when the first digit is a 6 on my clock). I kept thinking "one more chapter" and continued that thought from about 10:30pm to about 12:30am.

The chapters are alternating between Victoria, Jane, and Natalya and I really felt like I got to know them better this way. My favorite girl was Victoria but there were things I liked about each girl.

Victoria: I thought she was the one who grew the most from beginning to end. By the time I was done reading, I had more than one "you go girl" moments from her portion of the book and I just wanted to see her bloom into a confident young woman. Victoria also got the hot photographer guy so that's a bonus. I literally laughed out loud (and almost woke my husband up) during a scene with her, Jack, a banana, and a condom.

Jane: Jane was the cool thespian. I was surprised that Jane seemed to be the one that had less going on compared to the others. She had her story but I guess Victoria and Natalya's just seemed busier. I liked Jane a lot though because she wasn't afraid to speak her mind and call out Natalya when it called for it.

Natalya: My least favorite of the three girls. A BIG part of this has to do with her conforming to what the rich, popular girls wanted her to be and she just wasn't true to herself. I liked the fact that she played chess and liked the Biology teacher that everyone hated but I wanted to slap her at times.

I really enjoyed this book because it was more about the friendship between the girls instead of anything else. Yes, there were the parties, boys, school, and more in the book but it focused on how they dealt with all the new stuff being thrown at them and how there were still there for each other and were able to put aside their differences when it came down to it.

It was a fun book that showed the sister-like bond between three best friends and it did it well.

The writing was good and left me wanting more. I was expecting another chapter when it ended but it turned out to be a sneak peak of the next book, The Darlings in Love and I can't wait to read that when the time comes.

Thank you Disney-Hyperion for turning me on to a book I might not have known about otherwise.

Have you heard of The Darlings Are Forever? Do you think it would be something you might enjoy?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Losing Faith - Denise Jaden

A terrible secret. A terrible fate.

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

I wanted to read Losing Faith by Denise Jaden for a few different reasons and they are as follows: 

Reason 1: Losing Faith is part of the Contemps Challenge and this is something I'm really happy about participating in. This was my fifth book read for the challenge and so far I have loved all five of them. 

Reason 2: The cover and title. You HAD to know this was coming. There are so many aspects of this cover that I love. The girl holding the flowers is just so subtle and I didn't even notice what was going on with it before I actually LOOKED at it. I love the flowers because they are representing death and mourning but the butterflies make me think of Brie's quest to find out what what happened and free her sister's name. I also really loved how the title had double meaning. I can be such a dork when it comes to stuff like that, I just think it's neat. 

Reason 3: My friend Shana is friends with Denise and I'm just all about support. I love supporting authors and all the ones I have come in contact with (in real life or through Twitter) are just people I genuinely want to see do well. They make it so easy though because their work, Denise's include, is just fantastic. 

Going into this book, I wasn't really sure what it was about. All I knew about it was what was printed on the back and that Shana's friend was the author. I started reading one night before bed (which is when I get most of my reading done nowadays) and didn't want to put it down. I didn't get much read for a few days but once I did, I stayed up til after 3am reading. The only reason I stopped? My eyes were burning so bad and it actually hurt to keep them open. 

I was worried that the religion aspect might get too preachy* but was happy it didn't. I had my ideas of what was going to happen but that just made me want to read faster to see if my theories were valid; they weren't. I found myself invested in these characters, especially Brie and her parents. Denise really showed the grief well and it was heartbreaking. 

The writing was beautiful and I really liked Brie. She was relentless in trying to find out the truth and she made a few great friends in the process. I liked that Brie, Tessa, and Alis all had the same common bond and that they were able to open up to each other when they felt they couldn't talk about it with anyone. 

Tessa was my favorite character because she was supposed to be this hard gothy person but she wasn't any of that. Well, ok. Maybe she was a little but she is the perfect example of why you shouldn't be quick to judge people. She was a great friend and was there when Brie needed her the most. Also, I loved Brie's poem about her at the end. Alis was cool but I had a hard time pushing Alistair from Supernatural out of my head. Somehow, I don't think this was who I was supposed to be imagining.

Great debut by Denise and I look forward to reading quite a bit more from her.

Have you read Losing Faith? Will you? 

*I have nothing against religion. I grew up in a Christian household and have the utmost respect for it. The last book I read that contained religion was way preachy and I felt like things were being shoved down my throat. Not cool.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lament - Maggie Stiefvater

I won a copy of Maggie Stiefvater's Lament from Jessica's a few months back (ok, this post was originally started in September) and I had started this blog entry when I had finished, but I got a bit behind on posting so you'll be seeing a few "older" reads pop up on here.

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky—and equally dangerous—dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen's sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend. Deirdre had been wishing her life weren't so dull, but getting trapped in the middle of a centuries-old faerie war isn't exactly what she had in mind . . .

Lament is a dark faerie fantasy that features authentic Celtic faerie lore, plus cover art and interior illustrations by acclaimed faerie artist Julia Jeffrey.

I'm going to preface this by telling you that faeries aren't really my thing. The most I've read about faeries would be the small portion dealing with them in the Sookie Stackhouse books and that was too much for me. They just like to play with people way too much and that trait tends to irk me.

I think my biggest issue with the book was how some things just seemed to be known without talking about them. For instance, Dee and Luke were talking and all of a sudden she knows the person he's talking about is the faerie queen. Up until that point, there was absolutely no mention of a queen. There were other things like that that I just couldn't get over.

I also thought it was highly weird and slightly creepy that while Dee is getting sick in the bathroom, a boy just walks in and starts holding her hair and she never questions it.

The book itself wasn't bad though. I really enjoyed the relationship between James and Deirdre and really wish that was more prominent than hers and Luke's relationship, and that is the reason why I will read Ballad. Plus, I liked it enough to want to see where the story goes and I have to absolutely hate a series to quit it.

What's your least favorite creature?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fall for Anything - Courtney Summers

From the author of Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are comes a gripping story about one girl’s search for clues into the mysterious death of her father.

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world?

When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Cullen seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?

When I heard that Courtney Summers was going to be releasing another book in 2010, I knew I had to read it. I have so much cover love for Fall for Anything, especially because it's relevant to the book. It's a cover that would make me pick it up off the shelf and is one of my favorites.

Eddie's life is pretty broken and her mom has just checked out, leaving Eddie to deal with her grief alone. I felt terrible for Eddie throughout the book because it is so hard losing a parent and there were parts that brought back my personal loss. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a parent to suicide but Summers did a fantastic job of showing Eddie's grief. The quest she takes you on to find out why her dad did what he did is heartbreaking and realistic. If you don't feel anything when you read this book then your name might be Chandler Bing.

Courtney Summers is consistent. Consistently good. Her characters just leap off the page and make you care about them whether they're the mean girl or a girl drowning in sorrow. Fall for Anything is a definite win and Courtney Summers has knocked it out of the park once again.

Have you read any of Courtney's books? Will you read this one?


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