Month in Review: December 2012

Book Reviews Posted (12):
Because It Is My Blood (Birthright #2) by Gabrielle Zevin
Hating Heidi Foster by Jeffrey Blount 
Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
The Athena Effect (The Athena Effect #1) by Derrolyn Anderson
Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer
Chameleon (Ripple #2) by Cidney Swanson
Unfurl (Ripple #3) by Cidney Swanson
Dane's Addiction (Colebrook Confessions #2) by Sorrel Provola
The Pineville Heist by Lee Chambers
Notorius Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19) by Janet Evanovich
Rosy George's Convention Conundrum by Polly Young 
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Other Blog News/Events:
Jennifer Brown-Thomas guest posted about where she finds inspiration for her writing.
We participated in a giftcard giveaway hop hosted by I am a Reader Not a Writer.
Author Derrolyn Anderson gave away two copies of The Athena Effect and two beautiful handmade necklaces.
Author Cidney Swanson gave away the winner's choice of her books.

Books Read (16): 
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
The Athena Effect (The Athena Effect #1) by Derrolyn Anderson
Outpost (Razorland #2) by Ann Aguirre
Dane's Addiction (Colebrook Confessions #2) by Sorrel Provola 
Rosy George's Convention Conundrum by Polly Young
Unremembered (Unremembered #1) by Jessica Brody 
The Pineville Heist by Lee Chambers
The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson 
Creator Class (Creator Class #1) by K.M. Breakey
Fathom (The Chronicles of Crescent Moon Bay #1) by Merrie Destefano
Waking Up Married by Mira Lyn Kelly (Did Not Finish)
I Shot You Babe (Bombay Assassins #4) by Leslie Langtry 
Paradise by the Rifle Sights (Bombay Assassins #5) by Leslie Langtry 
Hidden (Firelight #3) by Sophie Jordan 
Furious by Jill Wolfson
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover 

How was your December?

Weekly Wrap-Up 12.30.12

What a week!  It was Kaitlyn's second Christmas, but the first one where she really got into opening presents.  We had a busy week visiting with family and having a great time.  Which means not a lot of reading time.  I received a new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and am reading my first book on it---I'll let you know how that goes!

Books I Read This Week:

Furious by Jill Wolfson Furious was a contemporary take on a Greek myth.  I really liked it and loved that it is a stand-alone novel!

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover.  I loved this book!  Hoover captured the magic of falling in love perfectly.  This is my second time reading Colleen Hoover and so far, I'm a big fan of her work.  This is a mature YA novel, but had plenty of romance without being too 'much.'

How was your week?

Book Review: Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Radley just wants to get home to her parents in Vermont. While she was volunteering abroad, the American People's Party took power; the new president was assassinated; and the government cracked down on citizens. Travel restrictions are worse than ever, and when her plane finally lands in New Hampshire, Radley’s parents aren’t there.

Exhausted; her phone dead; her credit cards worthless: Radley starts walking.

Release Date: September 18, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

I was so impressed with Safekeeping.  I saw on the cover that Karen Hesse is a Newberry medalist and I can see why.  If this book does not win an award, I will be surprised. Safekeeping was such a powerful, insightful read.  I loved every second of it and could not put it down!  

Hesse included many of her own pictures throughout the book, which really added some depth to the story.  I wish that my ARC had contained color pictures, but even in black and white the pictures were moving.  

I was continually reminded of Cormac McCarthy's The Road while reading Safekeeping.  But, while The Road was not for me (read my mini-review on Goodreads here), I loved Safekeeping.  Hesse took a very serious subject and managed to keep the book from being depressing.  I look for my bookss to be entertaining and uplifting, and I was definitely uplifted after finishing Safekeeping.  

My other favorite element of Safekeeping was the tremendous amount of character growth in both Radley and Celia.  Both of those girls could have just given up at many points during their respective journeys: they both had so many terribly hard things happen to them, but they had such inner strength that they were able to keep going.  

The ending was a real surprise to me, especially the fate of Radley's parents.  But again, Hesse turned something sad into something moving and beautiful.  

Safekeeping is a relatively fast read.  The story is simply written, and with the inclusion of the pictures, some of the pages have very little script.  I finished the book in about an hour and a half (and I was glad I could finish it so quickly because I was very invested in how the story ended).  I would highly recommend this book!   

Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to...

Heather, who won a $10 Amazon gift card through I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Sweeping Me's Gift Card Giveaway Hop.

  Beckey and Karen who won e-copies of The Athena Effect by Derrolyn Anderson.
Holly and Lauren who each won a beautiful necklace, handmade by author Derrolyn Anderson.

Thank you to Derrolyn Anderson for providing the ebooks and necklaces for our giveaway.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by I'd So Rather Be Reading and entered our giveaways!

Book Review: Rosy George's Convention Conundrum by P.J. Young

Twenty nine-year old Londoner Rosy dreams of writing like Pinter, marrying before thirty and NEVER leaving London.

But although Shrek lookalike fiancĂ© David’s cosmetic surgery placement means just that, her parents’ village of Lytton holds surprising attractions.

Such as theatre and sexy sailing instructor Angus.

And when David’s infidelity sparks a blissful affair with Angus, with a brand new ‘happy ever after’ a bouquet toss away, Angus is exiled.

David returns ... but his ‘deal-breaker’ means Rosy must discover her REAL dreams …

Release Date: July 24, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author

Having read and enjoyed PJ Young's YA book, To Be Honest (read my review here), I was looking forward to reading more from her, especially given that Rosy George's Convention Conundrum is an adult novel.  

This was such a neat book!  To me, it was a smartly-written women's fiction/romance.  Rosy is engaged to David and busy planning their wedding.  They are living together in London, when he gets accepted into a medical internship in Paris.  The rules of the internship dictate that no spouses or significant others can join the students in Paris.  So, suddenly, Rosy finds herself needing to move.  She moves in with her parents in Lytton, which is a huge step down for her.  Rosy misses the hustle and bustle of London, and has a hard time adjusting to the small town and slower-paced life in Lytton.  

Rosy writes screenplays in her spare time, and decides to start a play with the townspeople of Lytton.  This is a great diversion for her and she does a lot of growing throughout her work with the play.  Rosy has an attraction to Angus, who teaches sailing classes, but denies her attraction as she is happily engaged to David.  But then the unthinkable happens and Rosy is betrayed by David.  

Rosy has some hard decisions to make, and has to live with the aftermath of her chocies.  This was the crux of the book: should Rosy go with a conventional marriage or take a leap of faith and follow her heart?  Hence the title, Rosy George's Convention Conundrum.  When I first read the title I thought the book would be about a meeting-type convention, not a 'life-choices' convention.

What I really liked about this book was the dialogue, especially Rosy's internal dialogue.  She was witty and hilarious.  I loved her sarcasm and how she interacted with everyone around her.  Rosy had a lot of spunk and I loved that.   

Rosy George's Convention Conundrum was a fast, fun, light-hearted read.  I really enjoyed it and would definitely read PJ Young again.  

Book Review: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19) by Janet Evanovich

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.

After a slow summer of chasing low-level skips for her cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds agency, Stephanie Plum finally lands an assignment that could put her checkbook back in the black. Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton’s premier assisted-living facility, has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Now it’s on Stephanie to track down the con man. Unfortunately, Cubbin has disappeared without a trace, a witness, or his money-hungry wife. Rumors are stirring that he must have had help with the daring escape . . . or that maybe he never made it out of his room alive. Since the hospital staff’s lips seem to be tighter than the security, and it’s hard for Stephanie to blend in to assisted living, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur goes in undercover. But when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie is forced into working side by side with Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, in order to crack the case.

The real problem is, no Cubbin also means no way to pay the rent. Desperate for money—or maybe just desperate—Stephanie accepts a secondary job guarding her secretive and mouthwatering mentor Ranger from a deadly Special Forces adversary. While Stephanie is notorious for finding trouble, she may have found a little more than she bargained for this time around. Then again—a little food poisoning, some threatening notes, and a bridesmaid’s dress with an excess of taffeta never killed anyone . . . or did they? If Stephanie Plum wants to bring in a paycheck, she’ll have to remember: No guts, no glory. . . .

Release Date: November 20, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Purchased

I'm a longtime fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, loving this series for the humor.  The last two books were let-downs for me, and Notorious Nineteen was no exception.  The humor was sadly missing, and there were no actual laugh-out-loud moments for me during this book, whereas in books one to sixteen, I could count on drink-spewing laughter. 

I think the main thing that's getting me down with the latest Stephanie Plum books is that the series is just going on for way too long.  Evanovich needs to wrap things up.  It feels like she's milking the series for all it's worth and I don't like regretting the fact that I bought a book.  Notorious Nineteen's plot was recycled, there was no character growth, and the romance was lackluster.  I wish I could get my money back, especially considering that I paid about $14 for a less-than-three hour read.  I did finish the book, just out of principle, but I'm never buying another Stephanie Plum novel---I don't care how long the waiting list is at my local library!  


Book Review: The Pineville Heist by Lee Chambers

Seventeen year old Aaron stumbles into the aftermath of a five million dollar bank heist gone wrong. Hiding under a canoe, Aaron partially catches the murder of one of the robbers. In the chaos he sneaks away with the money and heads straight for the closest place of safety, his high school. Terrified, Aaron tells his shocking tale to Amanda Becker, his drama teacher, but it doesn't take long for one of the psychotic robbers to show up. In the locked down school the pair are relentlessly pursued in a quest to get the money back and wipe out the evidence.

Release Date: March 28, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author

This was a neat book, and very different from my usual reads.  For someone who doesn't read a lot of thrillers, I've read two good ones lately: The Pineville Heist and The Girl in the Wall.  Both were YA thrillers, a new genre for me, and I really enjoyed them.  

The Pineville Heist starts with the entire town of Pineville abuzz with the news of a bank robbery: five million dollars has been stolen from the town's only bank. While hiding in the woods, Aaron sees two of the robbers and watches them hide the money.  He goes back to the site with his two best friends, but they're caught by the robbers, who turn out to be murderers as well.  The three boys run, and Aaron ends up hiding under a canoe.  While hiding, terrified for his life, Aaron witnesses one of the robbers murder another robber.  He does not see the killer, except for his boots, since he's hiding under the canoe when it happens.  

Aaron discovers the money is hidden under the canoe with him.  He picks it up and runs for his life, towards his school.  His hope is to get help for his friends, one of whom he knows has been shot, and to turn the money in to the authorities.  But, when Aaron gets inside his school, things go awry.  He can't find anyone to take him seriously and when someone finally does listen to him, no one believes his story.  

What follows is one really intense night of Aaron fighting to stay alive.  He is trapped in his school, with only his teacher as an ally (and really she's a burden since he feels the need to protect her) and the murderer is after them both.  

What I liked about The Pineville Heist was the fast pace and the plot twists.  Chambers took things in a direction I wasn't expecting and I loved that.  Especially considering who the villians were---that was a nice surprise!  

There were some times that Aaron did the dumbest things.  He had chances to kill the murderer and didn't take them.  I know that he was trying to do the right thing by maiming and not killing, but the repetition of him letting the killer get away got a little old for me.

Overall, though, I did really enjoy this book and would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of thrillers.   

Weekly Wrap-Up 12.23.12

Because I got all my Christmas shopping and wrapping done early (think before-Thanksgiving early) I was able to relax and read a bunch this week!

Books I Read This Week:

Creator Class (Creator Class #1) by K.M. Breakey.  I enjoyed this YA dystopia!

Fathom (The Chronicles of Crescent Moon Bay #1) by Merrie Destefano.  I loved this one!  So emotional and well-written.

Waking Up Married by Mira Lyn Kelly.  DNF: it was just too unrealistic for me.  Smart, sexy writing, though.

I Shot You Babe (Bombay Assassins #4) by Leslie Langtry.  I needed a good, light-hearted read and this fit the bill!

Paradise by the Rifle Sights (Bombay Assassins #5) by Leslie Langtry.  I enjoyed this novella, and was happy to see Paris get his HEA.

Hidden (Firelight #3) by Sophie Jordan.  A great conclusion to a very strong paranormal YA series!

How was your week?

Book Review: Dane's Addiction (Colebrook Confessions #2) by Sorrel Provola, Twist Literary

After a stint in rehab, Dane’s back for his senior year. But just because he gave up drugs doesn’t mean his unsavory friends from last year are willing to let him walk away scot-free. Dane has unfulfilled obligations that may cost prison time—or his life--to meet. Even the son of a Russian mobster needs Markham’s help when blackmail and coercion are the name of the game. And all Dane wanted when he came back was the chance to rekindle his steamy, secret romance with the girl who’s always toyed with his heart. Will he be able to convince her his love is worth the risk?

Release Date: November 15, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher
Other Books in the Series: The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy

I enjoyed book one in the Colebrook Confessions series, and was happy to read more about these Gossip Girl-type characters.  I liked Dane in The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy and was looking forward to getting to know him a little better.  

I enjoyed Dane's Addiction, but thought that there wasn't quite enough to Dane's story.  I would have liked less emphasis on sex and more emphasis on his character.  I am intrigued by the premise and the storyline, and will definitely keep reading this series, though.  I enjoy the short but satisfying reads.


eBook giveaway

YA author Cidney Swanson is giving away an eBook to one of our readers!  The lucky winner will win their choice of one of Cidney's books(This giveaway is open internationally)

From the Ripple Trilogy:
(Click the titles to view the Goodreads page for each book)

From the Saving Mars series:

Cidney Swanson is a full-time writer of Young Adult Sci-Fi and Fantasy including The Rippler Trilogy and The Saving Mars Series. SAVING MARS was named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012. She lives in rainy Eugene, Oregon with her family.

Interested?  Here's how to enter: Leave a comment below with your email address.  That's it!  Winner will be selected in one week (on 12/28/12) and notified via email.

Book Review: Unfurl (Ripple #3) by Cidney Swanson

Against all expectations, Samantha Ruiz has survived attacks by two of Helmann’s deadliest assassins. She’s alive, but she’s far from safe. Helmann is planning a second Holocaust and wants Sam to play a starring role. Will, meanwhile, separated from Sam by an ocean, seeks a way to prevent Helmann’s apocalypse. Along with Sir Walter and Mickie, Will plays a deadly game sneaking into Geneses’ facilities, discovering unsettling clues as to Helmann’s plans. The clock ticks down as Will and Sam discover just how much they must be willing to sacrifice to stop Helmann. UNFURL, the powerful conclusion to The Ripple Series, will leave fans breathless.

Release Date: January 1, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author
Other Books in the series: Rippler, Chameleon

I liked Unfurl from the very first page to the very last line of the book.  The story is told in alternating points of view, from Sam and Will's perspectives.  I love a first-person narrative, but I love an alternating first-person POV even more.  The first two books in the Ripple series featured Sam as the narrator, so I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into Will's thoughts in Unfurl.

Unfurl begins exactly where Chameleon ended.  Sam and Will are separated: he's still in France and she's back home in San Francisco.  They are missing each other something fierce, especially considering that they just declared their feelings for each other at the end of Chameleon.  They had very little time together as a couple before Sam had to go back home.

There was more action in Unfurl than I was expecting.  I liked it, though.  This book felt more like science fiction than the other books in the series, which I enjoyed.  It was definitely not a purely sci-fi novel, but a mix of paranormal, contemprary and sci-fi, which Swanson blended to perfection.

Unfurl was the perfect ending to the Ripple series.  There was closure to each element of the storyline, and I loved the ending to the love story.  I love Swanson's writing style: the pacing is just right, and her plot has just the right amount of twists to keep it interesting.  

I really enjoyed the Ripple series and would highly recommend it to fans of paranormal YA, sci-fi fans, and fans of contemporary YA!

Book Review: Chameleon (Ripple #2) by Cidney Swanson

Sixteen-year-old Samantha Ruiz has a lot on her mind. The crush who kissed her but changed his mind. The BFF who thinks Sam is in an abusive relationship. The geneticist who wanted Sam dead but now wants her ALIVE. And of course, Sam’s still dealing with a tendency to disappear into thin air.

When Sam learns of her nemesis Helmann’s Nazi-like plan to establish a Thousand-Year Reign, she’s determined to fight him. Along with Will and Mickie, Sam flees to France to meet Sir Walter—their best hope for stopping Helmann’s brave new world.

But Sam isn’t any safer in France. Someone is following her. Someone invisible. Sam will have to figure out how to hide from an enemy she can’t even see.

Release Date: September 7, 2011
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author

It's been a while since I read the first book in the Ripple series, Rippler (read my review here), so I was worried I would have forgotten some of the details of the story.  But, after re-reading my review of Rippler and upon starting Chameleon, my memory was refreshed and I dove with abandon back into Sam and Will's world.

One of the many things I love about this series is the paranormal element.  It is unique and so fun to read about.  Sam and Will both possess the ability to turn invisible---what a cool talent!  It was fun to live through them vicariously, imagining myself with that same ability.  After they have 'rippled' (turned invisible) they have the ability to pass through walls, and even go underground.  They can also move faster than a speeding bullet.  Okay, that is an exaggeration, but they can run really fast.  One night, while out running, Sam and Will run fast enough to pass trains!   

Most of Chameleon takes place in France, which provided a great change of pace and added another layer of depth to the story.  The villians from book one are still a problem in book two, and the more Sam, Will and Mickie learn about Helmann and his plans for world domination, the scarier things get.  The trio gains a powerful ally and mentor in Sir Walter.  Sir Walter was my favorite character in Chameleon.  I enjoyed his personality and his mannerisms.  He was one of those characters who jumps right off the page and into my mind.

Swanson hit just the right balance between action and romance.  I was starting to despair that Sam and Will's relationship was going to go undeclared and unresolved until book three, when Swanson finally brought them together in such a sweet and tender way.  I love the way she writes emotion!

The books in the Ripple series have a more intelligent feel to them than many other YA novels.  I think it's due to the historical element of the story, the dialogue, and the fact that while the main characters are in their teens, they are mature for their ages.  They have to be, facing what they are facing. 

I am really enjoying the Ripple series.  It's paranormal YA with a unique twist.  I would highly recommend these books!

Weekly Wrap-Up 12.16.12

Books I Read This Week:

Unremembered (Unremembered #1) by Jessica Brody.  I loved this one: it was an outstanding mix of contemporary/sci-fi/mystery YA!

The Pineville Heist by Lee Chambers.  A great YA thriller!

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson.  Another winner by Dickerson, plus it was a Christian historical retelling of Snow White!  

How was your week?

Book Review: Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer

Defamed, disgraced and displaced...

Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She's offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?

Not so much.

She can't stand Derek Whitley - wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self.

As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?

Release Date: December 15, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author

Unmasking Maya was such a great surprise!  I went into this book not knowing if I would finish it because it is classified as a romance, and as you know, I'm not a huge fan of classic romance novels.  But Unmasking Maya was much more than just a love story (not that there's anything wrong with books that are 'just' love stories).  It was a book about a woman reinventing herself after career-ending scandal, the relationship between a father and daughter, and finding love. 

Despite these potentially heavy topics, Unmasking Maya was a light-hearted, fun read.  It actually reminded me a lot of Sophie Kinsella's writing.  It was more womens' fiction than romance, at least to me.  Maya had a successful career in fashion in New York City.  However, she's involved in a huge scandal, and even though she was not at fault (her fiance was!) she is ruined in the fashion world.  She moves to San Francisco and starts a new career as an artist.  Maya showed a lot of grit and determination, which I really admired.  

What was so unique about this book, and what made it really stand out for me, was the type of art that Maya creates.  She makes wall hangings which incorporate all kinds of different fabrics, textiles, and accessories.  This new kind of art incorporates her sense of fashion into artistic creations.  I loved the descriptions of Maya's artwork, as well as the scenes when she's actually creating her art.  I am not in the least bit a creative person, so I really enjoy reading about the creative process.  Mercer did a great job with this part of the book.

The love story between Maya and Derek is a slow build (which I appreciate).  At first they each shun the other, for their own reasons.  But then, they slowly start to see more depth in each other, and a grudging friendship forms.  It blossoms into something more in a really sweet and tender way.  There were not too many bedroom scenes and the ones that were there were discreet.  I loved the ending, especially the epilogue.  Don't you just love it when authors include an epilogue?

Overall, I really enjoyed Unmasking Maya.  I'd recommend this book to fans of romance, womens' fiction, and contemporary fiction.  Unmasking Maya was a great read, and a nice change of pace for me.  I'd definitely read Libby Mercer again!  


Ebook and Necklace Giveaway!

Author Derrolyn Anderson is offering a giveaway of her new book, The Athena Effect, in an ebook format for our readers and also a necklace that she made herself (she's a beader as well as an author)!

Summary for The Athena Effect:
Country girl Cali has been kept a secret her entire life, raised in isolation by two very troubled people. Despite her parent’s disturbing fits, Cal is perfectly content, living at one with the nature that surrounds her, and finding adventure inside the pages of her beloved books. When an awful tragedy tears her away from her remote cabin in the woods, nothing she’s ever read has prepared her for a world that she knows very little about.

Girls and motorcycles are what bad-boy Cal’s life is all about. Brought up in a raucous party house by his biker brother, he’s free to do as he pleases, going through the motions on his final days of high school. Aimless, Cal stopped thinking about his future a long time ago.

Attacked by a gang of thugs while running an errand for his brother, Cal is in serious trouble until a fierce girl appears out of nowhere to intervene. She chases off three grown men, sparing Cal a brutal beating before disappearing into the night like a spirit. He can’t stop thinking about his mysterious rescuer, and when she turns out to be the weird new girl at school who goes out of her way to avoid him, he can’t contain his curiosity.

He’s never met anyone like her before, and the more he learns about the unusual girl who shares his nickname, the more he wants to know. Cal can’t help falling for Cal, but can he keep her from falling victim to a dangerous enemy from her parent’s tragic past?

About the Necklace:
This necklace is inspired by The Athena Effect's main character Caledonia’s ability to see auras – colorful emotions made visible. Approximately 18’’ with a toggle closure, the necklace is a rainbow of gemstone chips, including : Citrine, Peridot, Green Adventurine, Malachite, Amazonite, Magnesite, Turquoise, Lapis, Howlite, Amethyst, Coral, Jasper. and Amber.

Giveaway Rules:
  1. The e-book giveaway is open internationally.
  2. The necklace giveaway is open to the US and Canada.
  3. You do not have to follow us to enter.
  4. You may enter to win both the e-book and necklace.
  5. There will be two winners for the e-book and two winners for the necklace.
  6. Winners will be notified via email (look for an email from and you have 72 hours to respond and claim your prize.     
Interested?  Here's how to enter:
Leave a comment with your email address, and if you're interested in the ebook, necklace, or both.   
Remember that the necklace giveaway is open to US/Canada only, but the ebook giveaway is open internationally.  Winners will be chosen randomly in one week (on 12/21/12).  


Book Review: The Athena Effect (The Athena Effect #1) by Derrolyn Anderson

Country girl Cali has been kept a secret her entire life, raised in isolation by two very troubled people. Despite her parent’s disturbing fits, Cal is perfectly content, living at one with the nature that surrounds her, and finding adventure inside the pages of her beloved books. When an awful tragedy tears her away from her remote cabin in the woods, nothing she’s ever read has prepared her for a world that she knows very little about.

Girls and motorcycles are what bad-boy Cal’s life is all about. Brought up in a raucous party house by his biker brother, he’s free to do as he pleases, going through the motions on his final days of high school. Aimless, Cal stopped thinking about his future a long time ago.

Attacked by a gang of thugs while running an errand for his brother, Cal is in serious trouble until a fierce girl appears out of nowhere to intervene. She chases off three grown men, sparing Cal a brutal beating before disappearing into the night like a spirit. He can’t stop thinking about his mysterious rescuer, and when she turns out to be the weird new girl at school who goes out of her way to avoid him, he can’t contain his curiosity.

He’s never met anyone like her before, and the more he learns about the unusual girl who shares his nickname, the more he wants to know. Cal can’t help falling for Cal, but can he keep her from falling victim to a dangerous enemy from her parent’s tragic past?

Release Date: August 30, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author

I really enjoy Derrolyn Anderson's writing, so I was excited to read her latest work, The Athena Effect.  (Read my reviews of her paranormal YA series Marina's Tales here).  I thought the summary was so intriguing, even more so that Cali and Calvin share a name, well, at least a nickname (they both go by Cal). 

I love reading about tough female main characters, and Cali fit the bill to a tee.  She's resourceful, strong and independent.  And that's not even considering her gift!  Cali can manipulate the emotions of the people around her.  At first, she thinks her gift only works on animals, but as the book progresses, she realizes she can change the emotions of humans too.  Cali sees emotion as colors, like an aura around a person, and I thought that part of the book was really unique and well-done.  I liked seeing people's emotions as colors, as it added another layer of interest to the story.

At first, Cal seemed to be your typical bad boy.  But there was more to him than met the eye, and he and Cali become friends (slowly on her part and not fast enough for him).  I liked the slow progression to the love story.  Anything quicker would have been unrealistic, considering Cali's sheltered upbringing.  There was a lot of world-building in The Athena Effect, which did slow the story down at the beginning for me.  But, that just means that the sequel will be even better because all the groundwork has been laid.  

If you like contemporary YA or paranormal YA, The Athena Effect is a great mix of both.  I am looking forward to where Anderson takes the series!

Gift Card Giveaway Hop

Thank you to Inspired Kathy of I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Mary of Sweeping Me for hosting this hop! Gift cards are our favorite kind of gift and giveaway. 

 One lucky winner will receive...

an Amazon gift card for $10!

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Anyone can enter! 
  2. This giveaway is open internationally.  The winner will receive their gift card via email.
  3. You do not have to follow our blog to enter, but followers gain extra entries.
  4. The winner will be contacted via email (look for an email from and has 72 hours to reply to the email and claim their prize.  After 72 hours, if the winner has not responded, another winner will be chosen.
Visit the other participating blogs here!

Book Review: Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

How far would you go for love, beauty, and jealousy?

When Nicole Castro, the most beautiful girl in her wealthy New Jersey high school, is splashed with acid on the left side of her perfect face, the whole world takes notice. But quiet loner Jay Nazarro does more than that--he decides to find out who did it. Jay understands how it feels to be treated like a freak, and he also has a secret: He's a brilliant hacker. But the deeper he digs, the more danger he's in--and the more he falls for Nicole. Too bad everyone is turning into a suspect, including Nicole herself.

Award-winning author Paul Griffin has written a high-stakes, soulful mystery about the meaning--and dangers--of love and beauty.

Release Date: October 25, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Library

I saw this book on my library's New Releases shelf and based on the summary and cover, decided to give it a try.  I'd never heard of it, or read anything by Paul Griffin before, but was really intrigued by the summary.  I'm so glad I read this book: it was a great, powerful, emotional read!

Several years ago, I read and fell in love with Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful (read my review here).  I think I've been looking for a book to rival North of Beautiful ever since then, and Paul Griffin definitely has a contender in Burning Blue.  

Nicole is the most popular and beautiful girl in school.  She is loved by many, but also a target of jealousy.  The girl is practically perfect: who wouldn't be jealous?  One day at school, an unknown attacker squirts her in the face with acid.  Nicole's plight and subsequent disfigurement becomes her defining characteristic, as the story of her attack becomes public.  The police have very little information and have not found the attacker.  The entire town is speculating as to who did it, and Nicole is followed by photographers trying to get a look at her burn. 

Jay and Nicole meet by chance outside the school counselor's office.  Nicole is in mandatory counseling to facilitate an easy return to school after her recovery, and Jay is in counseling since he had an epileptic seizure in front of the entire student body at a pep rally freshman year.  He's been homeschooled since then, but the counselor and his father decide it's time for him to return to school.  Nicole and Jay become friends, as they both are struggling with huge issues and a change in the way the world sees them.  Jay decides to try and figure out who was responsible for the attack on Nicole, and the closer he gets to an answer, the more complicated and dangerous things become.  All the while, he's falling for Nicole, but doesn't know if she feels the same.  

I loved a lot of things about Burning BlueThe characterization, the fact that Jay and Nicole don't just magically bounce back from their respective traumatic events, the suprise twist at the end, and the writing itself were all outstanding.  It's rare I like a first person male narrative as much as I did in Burning Blue.  Griffin tackles powerful hot-button issues, and does
so with aplomb and tact.  I loved that his characters are in therapy and don't just return to normalcy as soon as they fall in love, like in so many other YA novels.  The love story progressed at a slow, appropriate pace, considering what the main characters were dealing with.  I loved that!  

The focus on art, as well as Jay's computer hacking, really added some depth and interest to the story.  I'm no computer geek, but I loved reading about Jay's hacker skills.  I just found it really interesting.  Griffin's pacing had me reading into the night: I kept telling myself, "just one more chapter," until I looked up and I had finished the book.  I sped through this book in a day, it was just that good.  I could not rest until I knew who had burned Nicole.  There was almost a thriller-type element to Burning Blue beyond the contemporary romance element. 

I loved this book.  I would recommend it to fans of contemporary YA.  I'll definitely be reading more from Paul Griffin!

Weekly Wrap-Up 12.9.12

Books I Read This Week:

The Athena Effect (The Athena Effect #1) by Derrolyn Anderson  I love Derrolyn Anderson's writing and she did not disappoint with this contemporary YA with a paranormal element.

Outpost (Razorland #2) by Ann Aguirre   So much better than book one.  Loved it!

Dane's Addiction (Colebrook Confessions #2) by Sorrel Provola  I liked book one in the series, The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy, better, but still enjoyed this short installment in the Colebrook Confessions series.

Rosy George's Convention Conundrum by Polly Young   This book was a real treat---not at all what I was expecting and I loved the surprise of the love story!

How was your week?