Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesday & Top Ten Tuesday (1)

So I've been getting more into meme's recently and I like to try and keep it to only one meme a day, however, both of these really caught my eye and I couldn't pick, so I figured why not do both! So here we go.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's my teaser: "What if the problem is me? No one likes me when they really get to know me. Not even my father." (Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter)

ETA: It's been pointed out to me that I picked really depressing teaser! I picked it because it's the question that is really at the crux of the story- why did Polly's father leave and what that loss means to her. That being said- this book is hysterical. Polly and the string of boyfriends she leaves in her dust are both tragic and funny- just like High School was for most of us! So- to recap- not a depressing book! Go read it- it's really cute :)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at Broke and Bookish Here is what they have to say: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

This week they are looking for your Top Ten Heroines, so here are mine (in no particular order except for the fact that this is the order I thought of them in) !

1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy (Suzanne Collins)- she can drive you crazy (and Gale and Peeta crazy as well), but at the end of the day she stands up for herself and her family and those she loves. Plus she kicks ass with the bow and arrow, and who doesn't love that?!

2. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter (JK Rowling)- Hermione is a know it all who can actually back it up. She's brave and loyal and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

3. Penny Lane Bloom from Lonely Hearts Club (Elizabeth Eulberg)- She may not be kicking ass and taking names, but she does start a club that reminds girls that they don't need a guy to be happy. She's a hero for all of us who have ever had a broken heart and needed a friend to lean on.

4 & 5. Scarlett and Rosie from Sisters Red (Jackson Pearce)- these two lost everything to an angry Fenris, but instead of giving up or running away, they ebcame lean, mean Fenris killing machines. They are loyal and brave and totally awesome!

6. Tasmin Berrybender from the Berrybender Narratives (Larry McMurtry)- one of my longtime favorites Tasmin is the spoiled eldest daughter of an English nobleman who finds herself in the American west in the late 1800's. She's obnoxious and self absorbed, but we soon see that she is capable of taking care of herself and her whole family as they travel across the west.

7. Emer/Saffron from The Dust of 100 Dogs (AS King)- The girl survived being a pirate queen, 100 lives as dogs and living through High School in the 80's, all while plotting to get her treasure back (and maybe find her lost love).

8. Gemma from Stolen (Lucy Christopher)- She is the ultimate survivor. She does what she needs to in order to survive her kidnapping and emerge on the otherside in one piece.

9. Morgaine from The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)- Morgaine was born into a powerful family of Kings and Priestesses and goes on to be entangled in all the best parts of Arthurian legends. She is strong and smart, not to mention she is a high Priestess of Avalon.

10. Janie from the Wake trilogy (Lisa McMann)- even though she is cursed (blessed) with being a dreamcatcher. She struggles with making the decision of who and what she wants to be, but she is strong and loyal and willing to risk her personal safety for others. Plus she gets Cabel.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: Sea by Heidi R. Kling

Summary: Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna Jones reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to six-months post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful orphaned boy, Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

She knows they can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from him? And what about her old best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the truth about her mother’s plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to finding answers.

And Sea’s real adventure begins

Review: I really enjoyed this book. I knew for sure I loved it when I cried. I'm not one for crying while reading, but Sea's journey through heartbreak and loss was touching and left me really feeling for her as she struggled to keep moving forward, even as her world was falling apart. Kling weaves a beautiful and moving story about loss and healing, and finding your place in the world.

Sienna (Sea) is a wonderful charecter. I liked that Kling didn't pigeonhole her into a sterotype. Sea was a strong girl, who has a giving heart, but who was left broken by her mother's dissapearance. Facing her fears and traveling overseas to help tsunami victims is a step she has to take to heal. It was great to see that helping others was helping her heal as well, even if she wasn't exactly conforming to the mold her father was hoping for. Her relationships with both Spider and Deni were great and I liked the fact that there were these two guys who helped her heal in very different ways, but that they weren't cast in a stereotypical "love triangle" plot line.

One thing that gave me pause was how quickly she fell for Deni, disregarding safety and common sense as she dove head first into both a relationship and the mission to help him find his family. Then I thought about the fact that at 15 you're a supposed to be a bit impulsive and naive, and while I still wish there was a little more consequence to her actions, I understand that it was something Sea had to do.

I also really liked that Kling looked seriously at the way people survive after a disaster like a tsunami. While this is ultimately a story about one girls survival through the personal tragedy of losing her mother and coping with that loss, it was nice to see it tied in with seeing how we all deal with the global tragedy that is the result of a tsunami. Seeing the emotional damage in the children at the orphanage, the community cost in the lost homes and the cost in lives through Deni and Rema's eyes as they try to regain their homes gave a great window into how we are all connected and can help eachother. Watching Sea help Elli and the other orphans and seeing how in doing that she was able to find peace within herself and with the loss of her mother was phenomenal.

In the end I cried. For what Sea lost, for what the orphans lost, for the sea turtles and Sea's mom, but mostly for what they all gained by knowing eachother. I'm hoping there will be more to come about Sea and Spider, about Rema and Deni and the other orphans and even about Vera. Even if this story isn't continued, I'm excited to see whatever Kling writes next.

Book Trailer:

About Heidi R. Kling:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. The idea is to share what books you got your hands on in the last week.Not too many books headed my way this week (but that's okay I haven't finished everything from last week yet!) Only 3 things to add- one actually in my mailbox and two from the library.

Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna Jones reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to six-months post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful orphaned boy, Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

She knows they can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from him? And what about her old best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the truth about her mother’s plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to finding answers.

And Sea’s real adventure begins

I didn't actually get this book- but I did get a street team pack that included some great bookmarks (some signed!) plus some stickers. I've got some plans for the bookmarks- including giveaways and dropping them off at the area libraries- maybe I'll even sitck some in my favorite books for some unsuspecting readers to find!

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.

Native American Sherman Alexie presents a highly acclaimed collection of 22 interlinked short stories. "One of the major lyric voices of our time . . . these spare, disturbing stories trace with stark, lyric power the experience of American Indians in the modern world."--New York Times Book Review.

Interview: Mozelle Richardson

A few weeks ago I read and reviewed The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson- and loved it. It was a great cross of a bunch of things I love, Indiana Jones, James Bond, history and cowboys. Essentially the perfect book for me! So I was extremely excited to get the chance to interview Richardson about this book.

First, a mini-bio of Richardson (from the back of the book & Amazon.com)
Mozelle Groner Richardson was born a Texan but she and her husband W.T (dub) raised their four children in Oklahoma City. She know calls Sante Fe home and her favorite activity is traveling the by-ways of New Mexico with her friends. Mozelle received her BA in Journalism in 2004 at the ripe age of 90 from the University of Oklahoma.

I just finished reading The Thyssen Affair, where did you come up with the idea for this story?

There was a newspaper account of vandals stealing a German Major’s skull—buried 35 years before—from a POW cemetery at Ft. Reno, Oklahoma. A writer automatically asks “Why?” I turned to a dentist friend and wondered if one could bury a microdot film in a tooth filling. He told me how. There was my plot.

Your main character Canyon Eliot is an ex-OSS agent and current Colorado rancher who is called back into action. Did anyone inspire the character of Cane?
No. I just pictured a 60-year-old rancher (I’ve known some) and made him my protagonist.

One thing that struck me was how much information there was about so many different cultures and events. How did you go about researching all the different aspects of the story?

I did lots of research from history books on WWII, Goebel’s diaries, autobiographies, etc. I spent a month in Munich, drove through the Bavarian Alps, into Italy and into Rimini.

In addition to Cane working with the CIA, we also saw Anya (KGB), Magen (Israeli Mossad) and members of the Nazi party’s Spider group at work within the story. How did you research these somewhat secretive groups?

There was a book by Frederick Forsythe called The Odessa File that gave me ideas.

With so many different personas and aliases for Cane, Anya and Magen, were you worried about it becoming confusing for the reader?

Not really, because early on I introducted the aliases and what they could be used for.

The book ended with Cane and Anya getting together, did you know they would end up together or did it happen as you wrote?

Of course. There had to be a love interest—but not one that was easy.

You written numerous other books, do you have any plans to write any more?

I’m working slowly and intermittently on an autobiography. My children and grandchildren hope that I’ll finish it.

What are some of your favorite books and authors?

So many. Mary Stuart to start out with. PercivalChristopher Wren’s wonderful books (Beau Geste). Donn Byrn’s book Destiny Bay which I stole from the Library when I was 16 and have probably read 50 or a hundred times. Mary Renault’s books on the Ancient Greeks—if I ever lived a former life, I lived it as a Greek. Jack Higgins books. I love most all mystery writers.

Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions. I thoroughly enjoyed The Thyssen Affair and can’t wait to get my hands on some of your other books.

A Special Big Thank You for enjoying my book. M.R.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sunday Confessions (2)

I'm about 2 hours early on this one, but that's okay! To Read or not to Read has a new weekly meme that I wanted to jump on! Sunday Confessions- each week she'll ask a new questions, sometimes book related, sometimes not. This weeks question is a great one!

What's your favorite book turned to movie?
This one is super easy for me. There have been alot of great books that became movies (Harry Potter for one) and there have been some bad ones (umm...Twilight), but my all time favorite is The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

These are some of my favorite books, and my leatherbound trilogy (all three books in one!) is one of my prized possessions. I think that Peter Jackson did a phenomenal job when he did the movies. The casting was spot on and the CGI and acting and, well, everything was amazing. Hopefully The Hobbit will get done at some point, because it would be awesome to see the whole series done.
How about you- what's your favorite book to movie?

Contest Winner! The Secret (of happiness)

We have a winner!!!!

Congrats to ....


* winner was chosen using Random.org. I've emailed our winner, per our contest policy, she has 48 to claim her prize!
* Thank you to everyone who participated.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Banned Book Week: Calling all bloggers

Hey fellow bloggers, authors, readers, everyone! It's almost that time of year again, ALA's Banned Book Week, September 25th- October 2nd.

I'll be posting that entire week, featuring some of my favorite books that have been banned or challenged throughout the years. Looking at this years list (here) as well as the different lists from the past 2 decades (here) I was shocked to see some of the books that I've loved. I'm also going to be giving away one copy of each book I'm featuring (some of them signed!).

Where do you come in? I'd love for Banned Book Week to be a celebration of great books and the freedom for everyone to have access to them. I'd like it to be bigger then just each of our individual blogs. So I want to hear from all of you! Do you want to guest post here on my blog? Are you having a BBW event on your blog too and want me to post about it here? Want to donate some swag for the giveaways? Shoot me an email at areadersramblings@gmail.com and let me know if you are interested in participating.

Book Blogger Hop

I'm back! A very busy summer put a crimp on my meme participation, but now that things have settled down I promise to jump back in to the fray! This meme is hosted by Crazy for Books, so hop on over her way to see what she is up to!

Here is this weeks question:
Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

I actually just started using a rating system, and I pretty much follow a simple, standard 5 star system (here). I decided to start using a rating because it is a really quick and easy way to sum up how you feel about a book.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Summary: Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris-- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax-- but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they've worked for.

Twenty-five-year-old Jackson Pearce delivers a dark, taut fairy tale with heart-pounding action, fierce sisterly love, and a romance that will leave readers breathless.

Review: I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up on Monday and when Mockingjay showed up Tuesday I set it down. In taking that break, I was worried that I might lose interest in Sisters Red, but I didn't. As soon as Mockingjay was finished, and my review was posted, I was anxious to get back to Scarlett, Rosie and Silas, and see how it all ended. While vastly different from Mockingjay, Sisters Red held it's own.

I really liked how this book took a well known story (Little Red Riding Hood) and made it into something new. Instead of sticking closely to the original tale, Pearce took just enough to make feel familiar and then went her own way, creating great charecters. Our three main charecters were Rosie, Silan and Scarlett, each touched by the Fenris. Scarlett is left with scars, both physical and emotional, after an attack that left her Grandmother dead. Scarlett defended her younget sister Rosie against the Fenris, and from that point forward has made it her personal mission to kill the Fenris, angling for revenge against the pack that killed her Grandmother. Silas is a neighbor, friend and hunting partner and for Rosie, something more.

I appreciated the fact that Pearce didn't shy away from showing the after effects of that initial attack and how each person handles it differently. Scarlett is left with a single minded determination to kill all the Fenris. She trains and hunts and fights, both for revenge, but also to try and keep others from experiencing what she did, especially Rosie. For Scarlett the hunt and Rosie are her life. Silas hunts because it's what he has always done, but he wants more. Rosie hunt's because it's what Scarlett wants and because she knows that with the knowledge that the Fenris exists she ahs a responsibility to do something about it.

Rosie was my favorite charecter. I loved that she was shown as someone who is struggling with what her responsibilities are, and how they effect what it is she really wants out of life. With Silas pushing her in one direction and Scarlett pushing her in another, Rosie is kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I enjoyed seeing her figure it all out. I also really loved what I'm calling a love triangle, although it's an untraditional one. The obvious move would have been to make both Scarlett and Rosie want Silas, but Pearce avoided that trap (thank goodness). Instead we see Rosie torn in two as she is pulled between Silas who may be her perfect match, and Scarlett, her sister who she is closer to then anyone else in the world. I felt that although Scarlett is the leader in their little pack, it's Rosie who is really the main charecter who has to find her way and figure out she is.

(SPOILER ALERT- I tried a few times to write this section spoiler free, but couldn't. So if you haven't read Sisters Red yet, you may want to go ahead and skip this paragraph!)
The thing I appreciated the most was Silas' storyline and that while I guessed fairly early what he was, I didn't anticipate how the whole storyline would end. With Rosie captured and then escaped and the three facing off against a huge pack of Fenris, I didn't see a happy ending. In fact I was sure that Silas was a goner and that's where the sequel would head. How would Rosie and Scarlett move forward with Silas on the other side. It wasn't until Scarlett told both Silas and Rosie that it was okay, that I realized that it really was okay. With so many cookie cutter YA books out there, I've found that it is easier and easier to figure it out before the author wants you too, so I was loving that fact that Pearce got me. So to that I say "well done!".

The other thing I will mention (however, briefly, as I wrote an entire blog post on this already today) is Pearce's awesome epilogue. I hate epilogues, but this one was spot on. It jumped ahead just enough that we see how the three are coping and what they are doing, but not so far ahead that I felt I was missing something. It made the book for me.

Overall, I liked this book alot. It's sometimes hard to redo a classic fairy tale, but I think Pearce did a great job. This story really looks at how loss can effect each of us differently, how the bonds that hold us together can change, and how we deal with adversity when it's staring us in the face. I can't wait to see where the story goes from here.

About Jackson Pearce:


Whatcha Thinking Thursday (1)

So I'm starting a new meme. I haven't seen anything like this so I don't think I'm stepping on anyones toes. Of course, I do not read every book blog out there so if someone knows of the meme going on somewhere else, please let me know!

With that out of the way- here's how this will work. Each Thursday I'll simply blog about something book related that's weighing on my mind. Feel free to comment away if you agree or disagree (just keep it clean, okay?), or if you want to post to your site either on the same topic or about whatever it is you're thinking about go right ahead. I just ask that you link back to here. Also- make sure you add your blog to the list so we can find you too!
So without further ado, I'm thinking about epilogues.

Yup. Epilogues. I finished two books on Tuesday. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce. I was already in love with Collins' Hunger Games books, so it is no surprise that I loved Mockingjay as well (review here). On the flip side, I'd never read anything by Pearce, and going up against Mockingjay is a pretty tough match, but I have to say, I really enjoyed Sisters Red as well. There was really only one thing that seperated the two in my mind. The epilogue.

To be upfront, I hate epilogues. I hated it in Harry Potter, hated it in Perfect Chemistry (Simone Elkeles) and I hated it in Mockingjay. Here's my arguement against the epilogue. It's such a let down. We've just spent an entire book, or in some case 7 entire books, living with these charecters. Laughing with them, crying with them, hurting with them and unltimately loving them. In many cases the book ends with a triumph of some kind, an overcoming of previously insurmountable odds and then suddenly it's 20 years later and everyone is happy and isn't it wonderful. I feel like it cheapens the lives that I know they must have had in the interim. I get that it is a way to give us a peak into the future, to let us know that they are all okay, but it still just doesn't work for me. To condense it to 3-4 happy pages seems inadequate, and I inevitable feel let down, dissapointed. These books are books that I love, and they end in a way that doesn't do the writing and charecters justice. Yet, I continue to see epilogues tacked on there at the end, like an afterthought to the brilliance that came before. It's tantamount to another device I dislike. Why not just end the book with "and they all lived happily ever after" and call it a day?

I was beginning to think that a good epilogue was impossible, and then I finished Sisters Red (review here), and there it was, a good epilogue. Why was it good? In my opinion it was good because it didn't make any giant leaps into the future, I didn't feel I missed anything. The epilogue jumps about 7 months forward to point where our three fenris hunters, Scarlett, Rose and Silas are just beginning to get their lives back on track, to find their own place in the world. We see them heading out into the world and are left to wonder what will happen next without wondering what it is that happened between the end of the story and the point at which the epilogue begins.

So that's what I'm thinking about. How about you? Epilogue love or epilogue hate? Or, do you have something totally different on your mind?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year

Review: I'm going to be purposely spoiler free here. I know that if someone spoiled it for me I would be furious, so I won't do that to anyone else. Although I'm thinking I may wait a week and go for broke with a spoilerish review, there's just to much to try and hold it all in.

I love this series and I love these books and mostly I love Katniss. I wanted badly to give this book 5 stars, but I felt it was missing something, and the thing it missed for me was Katniss and Peeta. Not their relationship, but their individual personalities that I have grown to know and love. I knew they would emerge changed after their last time in the games, that they would be damaged body and soul, but I missed them all the same. I ached for them as they tried to find some way out of the pain that had been inflicted on them, and while I missed those traits that I love, I admire the way that Collins is able to convey the emotions in her writing. You could really see the destruction that was left behind after the games had ended and the war began.

On a personal note, I also really hate epilogues. I didn't like it in Harry Potter and I didn't like it here. I will say, this one wasn't nearly as bad as others, but they are something I generally find unnecessary. I appreciate the fact that it is a great way to give us a peak at the future, but I also think it can cheapen the lives that I imagine these charecters have gone onto. To condense years into a few pages is something I really feel fails to live up to the story that we've just read. I won't go on and on about it, but it is something that dissapointed me.

That being said. I loved everything else. I thought this book was far darker then the other two (if that is possible) and that it all ended the way it should have. I liked how it all played out and how Katniss had to figure out her place in all of it. I like how she found herself in the midst of the chaos and confusion. I loved how it wasn't just the Capitol that they were facing, but the worst in everyone's nature, and they had to conquer those personal demons as well as the Capitol. I especially loved how they struggled with how to defeat the Capitol without becoming just like those they wished to take down. It was all so well done.

I can't say enough about Katniss. I think I've always felt a connection to her because of her choice of weapon, because it's the one that I use too. I've loved her since the first pages of Hunger Games and it certainly didn't diminish here as we see her trying to emerge from the hell she's been put through (and continues to be put through). I loved, and hated, seeing try to figure out not only the physical war that is being waged, but also the political and emotional one, especially with herself.

Gale and Peeta (and everyone else) do not dissapoint either. It's amazing how no one is without scars, and yet they all try to move forward and find their place in the grander scheme of things. I had my own preferences going in, but Collins has the ability to make you love both equally, and you can see how hard it must be for all involved, when friendship and love and war and pain are all tangled up together and there's no easy way out.

Mockingjay was overwhelming and heartbreaking and wonderful. I'm sad that it's over, I'm not really ready for it to be over, but I will definitly re-read, if only to revisit the charecters I've come to really, really love.

About Suzanne Collins:


Monday, August 23, 2010

Contest: The Secret (of happiness) by Demosthenes Armeniades

A few weeks ago I reviewed The Secret (of Happiness) by Demosthenes Armediades. (here)This was a fun book that had so many twists and turns that every time I thought I had the secret figured out, something else happened to make me think again.

Rules: this contest will run until Friday, August 27th at midnight, so get those entries in. This contest is open in the US only. Please note that the winner will be receiving their book directly from The Cadence Group. For more information on my contest policies click here.

How to enter: Super easy, just fill out the form below. Winners will be drawn using Random.org on Saturday morning (8/28) and notified by email and on this blog.

Good Luck!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: Matched by Ally Condie (Spoilers)

Summary: In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.

Review: **This is an ARC review, and Matched is not officailly released until November. There will probably be spoilerish info in this review, so if you prefer to wait until November to know about this book, you should jsut go ahead and stop reading now. For the rest of you- read on!**
So, I loved this book! As it turns out, the more dystopian books I read, the more I realize that I really love this subset of YA books. Matched first crossed my radar a few months ago when Kami Garcia and Margeret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures) said that it was "the best book you've never read", and since Matched doesn't come out until November, I hadn't read it- but I wanted to! Last week I recieved a ARC from the publishers and was completely sucked in from the get go.

The thing about dystopian for me is that when it's done well, it's not that hard to see how we can go from where we are now to the way the book depicts life. In Matched, the society sees everything, hears everything and decides everything. They control every aspect of life, meals and milestones and even who you marry and when you will die. They make all these decisions into big ceremonies so that the members of the society are excited about it instead of feeling angry about their free will being taken away. It's all a way to control everyone and everything. The Society even provides each citizen with pills that help with aother aspects of their lives- one which provides nutrients in case of an emergency, one that helps you relax if you are nervouse and the last which remains a mystery to everyone and can only be taken if an official tells you to. There is no part of your life that the Officials haven't got their hand in.

In this book, it's hinted that all is not well in some of the outer provinces and that those in control, the officials, are losing that hold on the masses. One clear sign of that comes at the end of the book (SPOILER ALERT- from here on out, you have been warned!) when Cassia's official comes to her to talk about why Cassia and Ky were torn apart. The official tries to act as though Cassia and Ky coming together was all a plan, an experiment, and that everyone had acted just how the officials had predicted. Essentially trying to take these personal and special moments away from Cassia. However, Cassia and the reader, can easily see that the official is fishing for information, that it hadn't been under their control at all, and that's why it had to be stopped.

Cassia is a wonderful charecter. She's poised at the edge of adulthood and the first step is go to her Matching Ceremony, where she will find out who the Society has paired her with for marraige. She is amazed and excited when she finds that she will be paired with Xander, her best friend. Then she's see's the face of another friend, Ky, flash across her screen before it goes blank, and from that moment forward nothing is the same. Cassia has a tough road to walk. She does truly love Xander, but not the way she finds that she loves Ky as she gets to know him. Together Cassia and Ky might be able to change the world.

I loved the end of the book, when after Ky and his family are removed from Mapletree Borough, and after Cassia's family has been notified of their impending departure, that you begin to see the seeds of dissent amoung other members of the community. You begin to see that the Official's control isn't as complete as they pretend it is, and that maybe Cassia and Ky are not alone in their feelings that everyone should have choices in their life.

The relationship between Cassia and Ky was beautiful to see as it grew from curiosity to love and partnership. In the same vein, seeing Cassia grow within herself as she begins to see, really see, the world around her for the first time is fascinating. From the outside we see it right from the start, but Condie did an amazing job showing us what it would be like to live within it and never know anything else. How these revelations are scary, but can also create a resolve to make it better.

This was a fabulous book. I'm assuming that there will be a sequel (right!?!) because Matched leaves off just as Cassia has made the decision to stand up for herself, her relationship with Ky and in a bigger way, for all the citizen's of the society. I can't wait to find out what happens next for all of them!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Contest Winner! The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson

We have a winner!!!!

Congrats to ....


* winner was chosen using Random.org. I've emailed our winner, per our contest policy, she has 48 to claim her prize!
* Thank you to everyone who participated.Stay tuned for another contest next week!
ETA: our origanl winner didn't claim her prize, so we had a second draw. Our new winner has 48 hours to claim her prize before we do this thing again!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Summary: The undead can really screw up your senior year ...

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction. (from goodreads.com)

Review: Totally and completely loved this book! I picked it up during a bout of insomnia that began about 4.5 hours ago. About 1/2 hour ago I finished it up. At 351 pages, that's no easy feat. Lets just say this book sucked me in.

I loved both of the main characters. Jessica is a typical high schooler that isn't so different from what I was like in high school. Kinda geeky, not the prettiest girl in group and loves horses. So pretty much I was on Jessica's side from the word go. I loved seeing her go from being a bit of a nobody to the legitimate ruler of an entire royal family. She had to deal with alot throughout this book, the normal perils of high school, plus this whole other world that was thrust upon her out of the blue. Lucius is your typical tortured soul, and that was okay for me. I don't think Fantaskey really broke the mold with him, but I also don't think she needed to. I enjoyed seeing Lucius try to deal with the substandard conditions of living in rural PA and the horror that is High School. I especially enjoyed seeing him realize that having a choice in who you are and who you want to be is something that everyone should have. Which by the way is also slightly ironic, seeing as he is trying to decide who Jessica should be all the way through.

There are great supporting players here to and tops on my list are Jessica's parents. Too often in YA books we see parents that are cruel or distant or somehow lacking. Often that's what leads our intrepid heroine to stray to the supernatural. here we have two loving parents who risk their lives for both the child they adopted years earlier, but also for Lucius, because they see a wrong being done. They let Jessica make her own decisions, while still be present and engaged parents. I think that this is such a great piece to this book that I wish we saw more often.

In the end I really thought this book was a great ride. There are enough twists and turns along the way to keep you guessing at how (and when) it might end, and the love story at the heart of the book is a new take on the classic crossed lovers that you can't not love. I didn't want it to end and I want to know more about how Jessica and Lucius do moving forward. Thank goodness Fantaskey has more stuff on her website. This was a wonderful book- go buy it- you won't be sorry.

About Beth Fantaskey: Check out more about this great author!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Summary: Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showing pretty girls--and his "party" lifestyle--all over the Internet, and her mom, who was once one of her dad's girlfriends, is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for far too long, Hannah has learned how to stay out of sight...and that's how she likes it.

Of course, being unknown isn't helping her get noticed by gorgeous, confident Josh, who Hannah knows is her soul mate. Between trying to figure out a way to get him to notice her, dealing with her parents, and wondering why she can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn, Hannah feels like she's going crazy. She's determined to make things work out the way she wants....only what she wants may not be what she needs.(from goodreads.com)

Review: I love Elizabeth Scott's books, so it's really no surprise that I loved this book. Something, Maybe follows Hannah as she tries to figure out where she fits in. Both of her parents are not cut from the traditional parent cloth. Her Dad, Jackson, is a Hugh Hefner sort, filmed practically 24/7 cavorting with his "special girls" and only contacts Hannah when it might be good for ratings. Her mom, Candy, an ex- special girl, has her own website catering to men who want to see her in skimpy clothes. Since both are public figures, everyone at school knows who Hannah's parents really are. Needless to say, it's a tough road that Hannah walks.

Hannah's dad was killing me. I can't say much without giving it all away, but lets just say, a good parent he was not. I lvoed that Hannah eventually came into her own and was able to really see him for what he was too. Sometimes just because you're capable of being a dad doesn't mean you are a good one.

I really liked Hannah's charecter. She felt real to me. She thinks her crush Josh can do no wrong (until he does) all the while failing to see co-worker Finn for the great catch he is. She struggles to stay invisible as school, while at the same time longing for some sort of real high school experience. Josh and Finn were great guys in this book. I loved that it took Hannah awhile to see them clearly, becuase I think that's how High Schoolers can be (I was like that). You get an idea in your head of how you want that person to be, despite the fact that it isn't reality. Eventually you realize what you want and need might be something totally different.

Teagan, Hannah's best friend was great and really showed another part of the joy that is graduating and heading out on your own. She failed at one dream, and although fear was kind of holding her back from giving that particular dream another go, I didn't get the impression that her failure has crushed her completely. I would really like to see where Teagan goes from her.

This was another great high school story by Scott. I can't wait to get my hands on another one of her books!

About Elizabeth Scott: Scott has many awesome books (The Unwritten Rule being one of my favorites!) Check out more about Elizabeth~
Twitter: @escottwrites


Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine- head to her site to see what everyone else is eagerly awaiting. As for me, there's really only one choice this week... only 6 more days to wait and it still seems to long.

MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins
Release date: August 24, 2010

Summary: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year. (from goodreads.com)

What are waiting for this Wednesday??

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: The Exile of Sara Stevenson by Darci Hannah

Summary: In 1814, Sara Stevenson, the well-bred but high-spirited daughter of celebrated Scottish lighthouse designer Robert Stevenson, falls in love with a common sailor, Thomas Crichton. On the day of their clandestine elopement, Thomas mysteriously disappears, leaving Sara heartbroken, secretly pregnant, and at the mercy of her overbearing family. Refusing to relinquish her hopes that Thomas will someday return to her, Sara is banished to an eerie lighthouse on lonely and remote Cape Wrath. There she meets William Campbell, the reclusive yet dashing light-keeper who incites her ire—and interest. Soon Sara begins to accept her life on the cape and her growing attraction to William—until a mystifying package from an Oxford antiquarian arrives, giving intriguing clues to Thomas’s whereabouts. Through her correspondence with the antiquarian, Sara slowly uncovers the story of her beloved’s fate. But what she doesn’t immediately grasp is that these letters travel an even greater distance than she could have imagined—as the boundaries between time and space unravel to forge an incredible connection between a woman and a man many years apart. (from goodreads.com)

Review: This was a really great book- I loved the main charecter Sara and how she stood up to her family and friends in a time when women weren't supposed to have a mind of their own. I thought the supernatural aspects of the book were well played too. Without giving too much away, the first line of the book is "Someone once told me that every tower had a ghost, and every ghost had a story", so going in I was prepared for some ghosts. However, Hannah used the idea of ghosts reaching out to those still alive in a supporting way, leaving the very realistic plight of Sara Stevenson to stand on it's own.

There were a few small things that gave me pause and kind of distracted from the main story. One thing being that some of the plot points were easy to figure out long before they are "revealed" in the book. Especially where the lighthouse keeper William Campbell is involved. Again, I won't give anything away, but I figured out early on that he wasn't exactly the horrid person Sara feared he was. The other thing about William was that I couldn't figure out how old he was supposed to be. Sara is 19 during the bulk of the story and William is a good deal older (I think) and while his exact age doesn't much matter, it was something that I found myself thinking about through most of the book.

The supporting cast in this book are great. Kate is perfectly written as a bitter woman who thinks more about duty then friendship. Mary, a neighbor at Cape Wrath provides a nice mother figure for Sara and her son Hughie is a wonderful little rascal.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am willing to overlook some of the things that weren't perfect in favor for the many things that Hannah got right.

About Darci Hannah: This is the first I've heard of Darci Hannah and I'm glad I happened to win this book! As a History buff and YA lover, this was the best of both worlds for me. It also promted me to find out a bit more about Darci- you can do the same by checking the following spots!

Twitter: @darcihannah


Disclaimer: I recieved this book through Goodreads First Reads Giveaway

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Confessions

To Read or not to Read has a new weekly meme that I wanted to jump on! Sunday Confessions- each week she'll ask a new questions, sometimes book related, sometimes not. This weeks question is a great one!

Who was your first supernatural/paranormal crush?
Marcie picked Gary Oldman in Dracula, excellent choice!

So who do I pick? It was hard to narrow it down, but I eventually picked....
Brad Pitt as Louis in Interview with a Vampire (ignore Tom Cruise in this picture- yech)

Interview with a Vampire came out when I was in 7th grade and I was totally not allowed to watch it. I watched it anyways- I even watched it during my birthday party with my little sister and younger cousins in attendance. Needless to say I got caught and got in trouble- but it was worth it! I loved this movie and loved Brad Pitt in it!

How about you? Who was your first supernatural/paranormal crush?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Contest: The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson

A few days ago I reviewed The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson. (here)To recap- LOVE THIS BOOK. I didn't put it in my review, because it didn't strike me until later, but this book, this plot, is what the last Indiana Jones movie should have been. To celebrate the awesomeness of this book I have a copy to give away!

Rules: this contest will run until Thursday, August 19th at midnight, so get those entries in. This contest is open in the US only. Please note that the winner will be receiving their book directly from The Cadence Group. For more information on my contest policies click here.

How to enter: Super easy, just fill out the form below. Winners will be drawn using Random.org on Friday morning (8/20) and notified by email and on this blog.

Good Luck!

Announcement: Updating site

Alright guys- I'm going to be fiddling around with the site for a bit, trying to use some of the new layouts and what-not that blogger has, which means my site may look totally wonky for a bit as I figure out how I want it to look, etc. Basically- I want it to look exactly the same, but with a wider review panel. Silly blogger won't let me change widths with the customized template I use now- so I basically have to start from scratch and attempt to recreate! Stick with me for a bit and I'll get it all straightened out, plus I have 2 contests coming up, so who doesn't like that!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: The Secret (of happiness) by Demosthenes Armeniades

Once upon a time, Max the billionaire invited David to his private island where whiz kid golden boys zip around the globe in private jets making millions and living the dream. But all may not be as golden as it seems. Max wants happiness. David wants his girlfriend back. Marcie just wants to avoid getting fired from her cashier job at Walmart. And the Guru knows the answers—or does he? Follow them on a wild rollercoaster ride through offshore paradises, out into space, over the Himalayas, across the Russian tundra, and through an evolutionary quantum shift to a final showdown in the Texas desert.

The Secret of Happiness is a fast-paced, offbeat, fairytale thriller charged with suspense until the final word.

This was a wild ride of a book. The main charecter is David, a whiz kid who is headed to Wall Street after graduation, where he will join the ranks of the working man. He has a great girl named Dot and his future is pretty well mapped out. Then he meets Mr. Singh, who makes him an offer he can't refuse. Go to a private island and work for a billionaire named Max and essentially live the dream. David goes into it with the confidence that comes with youth, and soon finds himself up against a task that he thinks will be easy, but proves to be anything but: make Max happy. Truly happy for one moment. Accomplishing this task leads both David and Max on an adventure that spans the globe.

Parts of this book were slightly overwrought and complicated, but I think the point is that sometimes life is overwrought and complicated. there were moments that I thought the book was a bit silly, and I wished that we got more of the parts where Max was going on the initial adventure that David set up for him to make him happy.

Some of the stuff I loved (without giving too many spoilers away) were the parts where you weren't sure if it was all a set up, all part of som big game to reach the end goal of making Max happy. Was everything David did after taking over part of some master plan? I really enjoyed the fact that you were allowed to make your own assumptions for a large chunk of the book before Armeniades let you in on the secret. I also really liked the epilogue, which revealed the book to be a letter from David to Dot, an explaination of why he left, what he did and what he learned.

It's hard to tell if Armeniades is actually trying to impart a message in the end. He definitly has a point, that everything can become corrupt (like Max's life), and how you have to get back to basics to find that true happiness. That money can buy alot, but it can't buy happiness. Overall a really fun book, that takes alot of sterotypical themes and turns them on their heads. I thought it was a great read if you want suspense and a good time!

About Demosthenes Armeniades:
The Secret (of happiness) website: http://www.the-secret-of-happiness.com/


I received this book as a review copy from The Cadence Group.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson

Canyon Eliot, Colorado rancher and ex-OSS WWII agent is brought back into action by a CIA friend to do a simple investigation in Munich. The problem: nothing is simple. For the first time in his career, Canyon feels like a newcomer. As someone well-known to be on top of his game in the spy business he is befuddled to find himself tracked down and set-up without any inclination of who is behind it all. In this exciting, fast-paced thriller he must go by his wits and not by his jaded experience as he enters the convoluted and twisted world of intrigue with both the Israeli Mossad and the Russian KGB.


I really enjoyed this book. As a history geek, this book really sucked me in and I flew through it. I really enjoyed the main character Cane- he made me think of James Bond mixed with Indiana Jones and a little bit Roger Murtaugh (Lethal Weapon "I'm getting to old for this shit"). Cane has long since retired to his Colorado ranch and he isn't really into being pulled back into service, but when his late son's best friend Peter asks him for help, he simply can't resist. Pretty soon he is trying to figure out who stole the skull of a WWII POW from Ft. Reno in Oklahoma, why they wanted it. Pretty soon he finds himself tangled up with Isreali Mossad agents and the lovely Anya, a KGB spy, all after the same skull. It was fun to see Cane, once on the top of his game, stumble his way through this investigation. He seemed like someone who knew what he was supposed to do, but was always a step behind, yet still managed to pull through anyways.

One thing I really appreciated was all the history that you got out of this book in addition to a great story. Cane travels all over the world, Bavaria, Italy, Oklahoma and takes on the persona of big game hunter in Alpendorf, Geologist in Italy and Oktoberfest worker. not only did the author have to know who Cane was as a Colorado rancher, but who his persona's were as well. Add on top of that Anya's persona's and all the stories that her and Cane told eachother and you could have ended up with a really commplicated and confusing story. Richardson kept it simple though and I didn't ever feel like I was lost. I liked the twists and turns this allowed for in the story.
As soon as I finished the book I handed it over to my husband, who is also a history geek, not to mention a huge Bond fan, I can't wait to see what he thinks of the book!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TELL ME A SECRET by Holly Cupala

Guys- it's been awhile since I've posted. School is over for a few weeks and my brain has been unable to function in a way that would allow me to review a book. I do have a few reviews in the pipe and after a super busy week which will see me in a bridesmaid dress (and pink shoes...they are awesome) I promise I will get to posting. Pittacus Lore's I Am Number Four and Mistwood by Leah Cypess are on deck.

Until then, check out this awesome trailer for Holly Cupala's Tell Me a Secret.