Book Review: Rising Shadows by Ashley Townsend

Sarah Matthews is nearing the end of another eventless summer in the small town of Bethany, Oklahoma, bringing her closer to the start of her freshman year of college. Disheartened over the reality that yet another unexciting season is coming to an end, Sarah wishes for an unforgettable adventure. When mysterious circumstances transport Sarah and her younger sister back in time, she gets more of an adventure than she could have ever imagined. The two sisters find themselves trapped in the twelfth century in a place shrouded with mystery and deception. Assassination plots, kidnappings, and tumultuous adventures force Sarah to rely on the Shadow, a masked hero who comes to her aid numerous times. In order to uncover a conspiracy and save those closest to her, Sarah requests help from the Shadow and also from Will, the handsome and equally intriguing blacksmith she befriends. Sarah is strangely drawn to the excitement that seems to follow the town hero and begins to look forward to their secret encounters. She also finds herself caught in a romance with Will, despite the fact that their equally fiery personalities have a tendency to clash as they attempt to work together. But Will’s past is filled with secrets and pains, and Sarah finds it difficult to break through the walls he has built around him. Can the faith and love of God that Sarah exhibits in her own life cause his hardened facade to fall away as he discovers that forgiveness and mercy are never too far from reach?

Release Date: June 16, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Kirkdale Press
Source: Review copy from publisher

This was a neat book!  I am a sucker for time travel novels, especially when characters are transported back in time.  Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and given that Rising Shadows is historical Christian fiction, I was really in for a treat.

Sarah is just your typical girl, getting ready to start college.  One day, during a thunderstorm, she and her younger sister Lilly are transported to the twelfth century.  Upon their arrival, they meet Karen, a college student who is also from the future.  Karen is in the twelfth century with her adoptive father, who is a professor and coincidentally developed the time machine, which is really more of a neat time-travel set of watches.  Karen and the professor ended up in the twelfth century by mistake, but while there, discovered a plot against the king and are working to bring the king's brother to justice, and therefore save the king's life.

There were a lot of things I liked about Rising Shadows. I liked Sarah and her levelheadedness.  I liked her approach to problems, and her loyalty to others.  I especially liked her faith in God, and how she turned to Him in times of trouble.  I liked Karen as well.  She was unpredictable (something I love in a character) and a great friend to Sarah.  Will was a mystery for much of the book but I grew to really like him too.  The minor characters were well fleshed-out and added a lot of depth to the story.  There were several surprises along the way, which I loved.  My favorite parts of Rising Shadows were the historical element and the Christian element, both of which were very well-handled.    

I had a couple of problems with Rising Shadows.  The first was that there were some predictable parts to the book.  I knew who The Shadow was long before Sarah did.  My second problem was that the ending was choppy.  I hated Sarah's decision at the end of the book, then all of a sudden, the book was over.  I kept clicking the 'next page' button on my Nook in vain, hoping for more, not wanting to believe that Townsend could leave me with such a cliff-hanger!  I like being in suspense for the next novel, but leaving things so open between books always leaves me feeling frustrated.  For sure, it's a fine line between an ending that leaves you wanting to read the next book and a chopped-off ending with series novels, and it's something that I think is very hard to get right.  Rising Shadows is the first in a trilogy, so hopefully book two will answer the many questions I have after reading book one.

Overall, I enjoyed Rising Shadows.  I plan to keep reading the series, and look forward to more from Ashley Townsend.

Book Review: Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased

Okay, so I had several goals when it came time to read Insurgent.  The first was to read it and write my own review before I read any other reviews for it: mission accomplished.  I wanted to go into Insurgent as open-minded as possible.  The second goal was to not expect a better book than Divergent.  It's rare for me that second books in a series are better than the first.  There always seems to be a bit of a slump in the second book, in my opinion.  So, starting Insurgent, I was able to meet my two goals.  I had not read any reviews and was expecting a book on the same level as book one (which I liked but didn't love).

For the first 100 pages, I was very disappointed with Insurgent.  In fact, I almost set it down to start another book (the kiss of death for a book for me, as I almost never go back to finish what I've started).  But, thinking that I bought this book for myself with my precious always-too-small book budget, I knew that I had to "get my money's worth."  So, I kept reading, and I'm really glad I did.  I ended up liking Insurgent more than I thought I would in the beginning.  So many questions were answered, and new questions posed that leaves me anxious to read the next book in the series.  Tris goes through so much, and changes so much---you know how I love character growth.  I found Insurgent to be more of an emotional thriller than an action-packed thriller.  There is action, to be sure, but the most impact is made inside the characters, to their belief systems, actions, and personalities.  I like that in a book.   

But I did have some major problems with the bookFirst, Insurgent was so slow to take off (for me), much like Divergent was.  I was bored in the beginning, and I hate being bored while I'm reading.  Secondly, the ending, while it did not surprise me, seemed to be poorly timed.  Mild spoiler alert: the whole time I was reading Divergent and Insurgent, I was wondering about the rest of the world.  Roth portrays Chicago like it exists in a vacuum, which is impossible.  I kept wondering what the rest of the world was like.  To not have addressed this until the end of the second book was mind-blowing to me.  Are the people of Chicago that mind-warped, that they truly do not consider what lies outside the wall?  Do they truly think that they are the only worthwhile society in the world?  Maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe this was addressed in book one.  If I'm wrong, tell me.  But, to me, as it stands, I found this to be a major problem with the book.  The ending felt so formulaic to me.  So much like the ending to say, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau or even Suzanne Collins' Gregor the Overlander series.

Overall, I enjoyed Insurgent.  The problems I had were ultimately overshadowed by the things I liked about the book, such as the character development, relationships, and plot twists.  I am glad I'm reading this series and I am looking forward to the next book in the series, but I'm not caught up in a book fever like I have been in the past. 

Book Review: Intangible by J Meyers

Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift.

Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it.

Release Date:  January 31, 2012
Age Group:  Young Adult
Publisher: Indie
Source:  Review copy from author

I wasn't sure what to think about Intangible at first.  What initially drew me in was the relationship between Sera and Luke.  I love reading about twins, and loved that they had such a close, positive relationship.  Intangible was a little bit of a slow starter for me, but I kept reading because I was interested in the story.  I had to know more about Luke's vision.  Was Sera going to die?  If so, how and why?  And if Luke was able to stop the vision from coming true, how would he do it?  These were the questions that I had to know the answers to.

What started out as a story about twins with special gifts soon evolved into a true paranormal fiction novel.  I liked the inclusion of the other paranormal creatures, and thought they added a lot of depth to the story.  I loved the treatment of the vampires, and the mystery surrounding Lilith.  The characterization of Lilith was perfectly done, and her scenes were some of my favorite (even though she was a horrendously evil character).

There were a couple of things that surprised me while reading Intangible.  Marc's decision at the end was a surprise, although it was not totally out of character, when you think about what kind of person he truly was.  At the very end of the book, there is a scene were Sera and Luke find out about other gifted people.  It seemed to be setting up book two, and while I usually don't mind that, this scene felt like it belonged in a teaser for book two  I like a lot of closure in series novels, and that last scene left me feeling mildly unsatisfied.

Overall, though, I enjoyed Intangible.  I liked the characters, the character development, the writing style, and the plot.  I loved the way Meyers writes with emotion---her characters' feelings literally jump off the page.  I love that!  This was my first time reading J Meyers and I will definitely be back for more. 

Book Review: Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite. 

Release Date: February 28, 2012
Age Group:  Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Purchased

I really didn't know how I could like Pandemonium more than Delirium (read my review of Delirium here), but I did.  In Delirium, Lena was still a product of the Society's twisted thinking.  She eventually grows and changes, but it is a slow process.  In Pandemonium, she is a totally different person.  She has been forced to grow up by the events at the end of Delirium.  (Plot spoiler for book one): Alex gave his life to save her and she keeps going on, even though she doesn't want to, to honor his sacrifice. (End spoiler).

As much as Pandemonium is action-packed, it is also an emotional thrill ride.  I was riding the wave of Lena's emotions right along with her.  I felt all of her highs and lamented during her low points.  That is the pull of Lauren Oliver's writing: she just draws you in and you feel everything the characters are feeling.

I loved watching Lena grow and change.  She morphs from a coddled girl who can't take care of herself to a (sorry to say this, but I have to) Katniss Everdeen-like character who always stands up for herself and does what has to be done to survive.

I loved the plot twists: there were two that I really didn't see coming, and they added a lot of depth to the story.  I love how nothing in Lena's world is as it seems.  It really keeps you guessing throughout the whole book.

And the ending, oh, the ending.  Lauren Oliver, how can you do this to us?!  Now I am on pins and needles waiting for book three. I simply cannot live with myself not knowing what will happen!

If you haven't read Lauren Oliver before, I give her a very good recommendation.  She is an excellent author, and also is on my very short auto-buy list.  She is just that good!  

Book Review: Hana (Delirium #1.5) by Lauren Oliver

In the world of Delirium, love is a disease. And like all eighteen-year-olds, Lena and Hana must take the cure.

At the start of their last summer of freedom, they were the closest of friends. Until Hana made a decision that tore them apart... In Delirium, we heard from Lena. Now, Hana gets to tell her side of the story. And nothing is what we first thought.
Hana is a powerful, moving and beautifully told original eBook short story, with a shocking twist that will leave you with your heart in your mouth.

Release Date:  February 28, 2012
Age Group:  Young Adult
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Source:  Purchased

I am no fan of short stories, but I had to read Hana.  Anything by Lauren Oliver is an automatic buy-and-read for me, so not reading Hana was not an option.  I read it before I read Pandemonium, which was good because it got me back into Lena's world, fully ready to jump into Pandemonium.

I liked seeing Lena through Hana's perspective.  It's interesting to see your favorite characters viewed through someone else's eyes.  I never really got to know Hana in Delirium, but I always liked her and was excited about the chance to know more about her.

But, something was off for me with this short story.  I liked the story until the very end. Hana's actions at the end of the book don't mesh with what we know about her character.  What she did seemed so out of left field, so unwarranted, so unexplained.  There just didn't seem to be a basis for it at all.  I hated what she did and it made me hate her in turn.

Maybe we will find out more of Hana's story later in the series, but at this point, I'm not liking her at all, and find myself wishing her ill.  I hate to say that, but it's true!  Hana is a must-read for fans of this series, but if you're new to the series, start with Delirium. 

Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to...

Michelle R

Who won a copy of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo!

Thank you to everyone who visited our blog and entered our giveaway!  

And, as always, thank you to Kathy of I am a Reader, Not a Writer for hosting this hop.  Your hops are THE BEST!  We wish you a speedy recovery from your broken leg, Kathy. 

Giveaway Reminder: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

There are a few hours left in the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop hosted by I am a Reader Not a Writer.  The giveaway ends at midnight! 

Enter to win a copy of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo!

Book Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Click here to enter to win a copy of Shadow and Bone!

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one unlikely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life– a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart.

Release Date: June 5, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Henry Holt
Source: Review copy from publisher

This was such a unique book!  I tend to shy away from high fantasy, but books like Shadow and Bone make me keep coming back to the genre.  I was immersed in the world of the Grisha right from the first few pages, and didn't want to come back to reality!

I liked Alina right from the start.  I really felt for her: she is an orphan who is totally alone in the world except for her best friend Mal.  She has never excelled at anything, is very skinny and shy around other people.  Her one joy in life is her friendship with Mal.  They grew up together in an orphanage and forged a very strong bond.  Alina and Mal enter the army together and are assigned to the same regiment.  Mal is a tracker and Alina works with the cartographers (map-makers).

In the world Bardugo has created, there is a class of humans called The Grisha.  They are the most revered and feared members of society, and they possess magical powers.  The powers range from the ability to call the elements, healing, and fighting.  The Grisha live set apart from everyone else and are ruled by The Darkling.  The Darkling is the most powerful of the Grisha, and is feared by all, even the King. 

Alina and Mal's regiment has to cross the Shadow Fold, which divides the nation of Ravka.  The Fold was like a dark, terrifying desert to me.  The sand is like a sea, in fact, it is called The Unsea.  It must be crossed on sand skiffs and it is always dark in the Fold.  There are flying monsters called volcra that eat humans---thus, the main danger of crossing the Shadow Fold.  While Alina and Mal are crossing the Fold, their regiment is attacked by the volcra.  One of the volcra snatches Mal up to take him away and eat him, and all of a sudden Alina's power is revealed.  She has no idea that she has any powers, but the threat of Mal's death unleashes her true nature. 

After her display of power, Alina is taken away by The Grisha to become one of them.  She becomes The Darkling's favorite, as her power is so rare and valued.  The Darkling wants Alina to help him destroy the Shadow Fold.  But, all is not as it seems.  The people Alina thinks she can trust are actually conspiring against her, and suddenly, she has no idea what is real and what isn't.

These plot twists are what made the book so good for me.  I loved that the villain is not readily apparent, and that Bardugo makes the reader actually like the villain as well as the heroes of the story.  I truly had no idea what would happen, and I love that!

My one complaint about the story was that I had a hard time catching everything. This probably would have been remedied if I would have just slowed down and read more deliberately, but I was unable to stop myself from reading quickly because I just had to know what happened next!  There were some paragraphs I had to read twice, the story was just that nuanced and detailed.  I love a good, detailed plot, which was the best part of Shadow and Bone.

I loved the ending, which provides a good amount of closure, while setting up book two quite nicely.  I am on pins and needles to find out what happens next in the world of The Grisha.  I would recommend this book to anyone, especially fans of YA, fantasy, and paranormal fiction.  It was an excellent read!

Q&A with Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow and Bone

I am so pleased to welcome Leigh Bardugo to I'd So Rather Be Reading today!  I was tickled pink at the chance to ask her a few questions about Shadow and Bone, which was one of my favorite books of this year.  My questions are in red. 

What inspired you to write Shadow and Bone?
The idea for Shadow and Bone came to me one night at the end of a darkened hall. I was staying with friends in an unfamiliar house and, as my fingers scrabbled along the wall, trying to find the light switch, I was suddenly sure that there was something there with me in the dark, just waiting for me to take a step closer. I mean, I'm a mostly rational, grown up person. I knew I was being ridiculous, but it didn't change the fact that my heart was ready to pound right out of my chest.

When I finally got back to bed, I found myself lying awake, wondering what it might be like if darkness was a place. What monsters might populate such a wasteland? What would they look like? What would it take to fight them on their territory? Why would it be important that you try? The questions kept coming. I couldn't sleep, so I got up and started writing.
The world of the Grisha is so unique.  How did you come up with it?  Did Alina's world evolve as you wrote? Thank you! I was always interested in the functionality of magic and the idea of the Small Science has been with me for a while. I wanted to create a system that operated as a kind of magical version of molecular chemistry. In the first draft, the basics of that system, the parameters of the Darkling's and Alina's powers, and the Shadow Fold were really the only world-building elements in place. It was in the second draft that I began to draw on historical inspiration to lend the world texture and consistency. I focused mostly on Tsarist Russia and I think the research not only altered the narrative, but also brought some existing elements of the story (the history of Keramzin, the plight of the First Army, the tension between the Grisha and the Ravkan peasantry) into sharper focus.
Are you a reader?  What are your favorite types of books to read/favorite books?
(For some reason, this question made me giggle. So tempted to say, "Nope. Not a reader. Words are for suckers!") I'm always reading, but I'm not picky about genre. If the idea sounds interesting or the book comes with a good recommendation, I'm there. It's hard for me to list favorite books because it really depends on my mood. I'm fickle that way. Today, I'll say Carter Beats the Devil, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Dune. Recently, Sharp Objects blew me away, and I'm a longtime fan of A Song of Ice and Fire.
What's next for you?
I've finished Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha Trilogy, so next I'll be diving into the third book, Ruin and Rising. I also have a horror project in the works, but that one is a bit of an experiment. *Puts on goggles, heads back into the lab.* 

Thank you so much, Leigh!  I can't wait for the release of Siege and Storm...I'm sure it will be just as good as Shadow and Bone!

Find Leigh Bardugo here:

Book Review: Hell Transporter (Between #2) by Cyndi Tefft

Aiden MacRae has been given a new life after being stuck transporting souls to heaven for the last three hundred years. He doesn't know the culture, the times or the slang, but there is one thing he does know: he didn't come forward alone.

The master of hell has other plans for the Scottish Highlander and has sent a transporter of his own to get the deed done. Will Lindsey be able to save him or get caught in the crossfire?

Release Date: March 16, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Purchased
Other Books in the Series: Between

I loved Tefft's first book, BetweenBetween was about an 18-year-old girl, Lindsey, who dies in a car accident, and she ends up falling in love with the man who transports souls to heaven.  Between chronicled their relationship from first meeting through several trials and separations.  I loved Lindsey and Aiden's love story, and enjoyed the clean writing as well as the subtle Christian element to the book.  So when I found out that Tefft wrote a sequel to Between, I immediately knew I had to read it!  I thought Between was a stand-alone novel, and I jumped at the chance to read about Lindsey and Aiden again.

I liked Hell Transporter just as much as I liked Between.  I am no fan of books about hell, so I was a little worried this book would be too dark for me.  But it is not dark at all, and not about hell at all.  Lindsey and Aiden are enjoying their time together, when out of the blue, a malicious being starts stalking them.  They discover that the stalker is a hell transporter, the exact opposite of what Aiden was in Between.  The hell transporter takes souls to hell, and is hell-bent (sorry for the pun, but I couldn't resist) on killing Lindsey and taking Aiden for itself.

Much of the story is focused on Aiden and Lindsey trying to find and eliminate the hell transporter.  All of the action is set on Lindsey's college campus, with some of her friends becoming targets and suspects.

I have to say that I suspected all along who the transporter really was.  But, that did not lessen my enjoyment of the book.  I was surprised at the ending, and the conflict resolution.  But what I really loved about Hell Transporter was Aiden and Lindsey's relationship.  It is so full of love, and so sweetly written.  I loved the surprise Lindsey prepares for Aiden, and his reaction to it.  And, for a Christian fiction novel, this book had some spicy love scenes---well, really it was more like foreplay---but was still appropriate for the genre.  I would say the love scenes are about the level of the Vampire Academy series.

I loved the addition of Ian and Sarah to the story.  Their inclusion, as well as their son's history, really added a lot of depth to the story.  Hell Transporter also touches on domestic violence.  Two of Lindsey's college friends are dating, and the guy is violent with the girl when he doesn't get his way with her.  I liked that Tefft included that in the story, and thought her treatment of this serious issue was well done.

Overall, I loved Hell Transporter.  I would recommend this book to fans of paranormal YA, fans of Christian fiction, and fans of contemporary YA.  If you are not a fan of Christian fiction, the faith elements were very subtly handled in the book and should not deter anyone from reading it.  I will definitely be back to read the next book from Cyndi Tefft!

Giveaway: Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop

As part of the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, we are giving away a copy of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to visit other blogs participating in the hop!

Book Review: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2) by Richelle Mead

Tough, brainy alchemist Sydney Sage and doe-eyed Moroi princess Jill Dragomir are in hiding at a human boarding school in the sunny, glamorous world of Palm Springs, California. The students--children of the wealthy and powerful--carry on with their lives in blissful ignorance, while Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian must do everything in their power to keep their secret safe. But with forbidden romances, unexpected spirit bonds, and the threat of Strigoi moving ever closer, hiding the truth is harder than anyone thought.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Richelle Mead's breathtaking Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive. In this second book, the drama is hotter, the romances are steamier, and the stakes are even higher.

Release Date: June 12, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Purchased

Having read and loved Bloodlines (read my review here), I felt sure that I would feel the same way about The Golden Lily.  And I'm happy to say that for the most part, I liked it just as much as Bloodlines. Don't get me wrong, this series is not Vampire Academy for me, but I do like it a lot in its own right.  I read Bloodlines solely for the hope of seeing Rose and Dimitri in their happily ever after, but found myself invested in Sydney's story.  The world of the Alchemists is so interesting, and I love seeing the vampire world through a human's eyes.

I was not crazy about Sydney as the narrator in Bloodlines.  Thankfully, she really grew on me throughout The Golden Lily.  She really is Rose's opposite, and it was hard to let go of my expectations of having Rose for the heroine.

My main complaint about Bloodlines was Sydney's focus on her weight.  She obsesses over her size, constantly bemoaning the fact that she is a size four and not a size two or smaller.  (Since when is a size 4 big?!)  She counts calories and restricts her food intake, in order to maintain her weight.  I hate reading about this kind of negative body image, especially in a YA novel.

Sadly, Sydney is still focused on her weight in The Golden Lily.  There were several mentions of it throughout the novel, most notably a section where she drinks a slush with Adrian and worries about the calories and about being up a pound on the scale the next day.  She notes that several days later she is still "paying for" the slush.  I took that to mean she restricted her intake for several days to make up for the calories in the slush.  I hate that!  I understand that characters need to have some flaws but this is a poorly handled and badly chosen flaw, in my opinion.  I would love to see Sydney embracing herself, at any size.  That would be great!  Maybe that will be part of her growth in this series.  I will hope for that...

Beyond my complaint, I really enjoyed The Golden Lily.  I like where Mead is taking the story, and thought that the signature "Mead style" was definitely present.  By "Mead style," I mean that the story moved quickly, there were plot twists to keep things interesting, and lots of emotion throughout the book.

I liked the ending of The Golden Lily.  It gave me just enough closure while keeping me very interested in the next book.  I'm upset that I have to wait another year to read book three, but happy to stay in the Vampire Academy world, any way that I can.  And can I just say that when Dimitri said "Roza" on the phone with Rose, the entire purchase price of the book was justified for me...   


We've got another reader in the family...

My 14-month old baby has always liked it when I read to her, but lately she's taken reading to a whole new level.  She loves to sit and "read" books by herself, and will read each page from left to right.  She even knows to turn the pages at a regular reading pace!  

Lately Kaitlyn has taking reading to a whole new level.  She'll go get a book, carry it to me, back up into my lap, and hand me the book to read it to her.  I read the book (she turns the pages---and she knows when it's time to turn the pages), we finish the book, she puts the book down, gets up and then goes and gets a new book.  This process can be repeated 10 to 20 times.  I have to distract her with a toy to stop her reading binges!

Kaitlyn's favorites are the little board books, anything by Dr. Seuss.  Kaitlyn has three books we have read countless times---Put Me in the Zoo, Oh the Thinks You Can Think!, and Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?.  She never tires of reading---but does that really surprise you?

Fellow moms, are your kids readers?  And how old were they when they really started liking books?  Fourteen months seems young to me, to be so into reading, but what do I know?

Book Review: A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness (Dave Pelzer #3) by Dave Pelzer

"All those years you tried your best to break me, and I'm still here. One day you'll see, I'm going to make something of myself." —Dave Pelzer, from A Man Named Dave

These words were Dave Pelzer's declaration of independence to his mother, and they represented the ultimate act of self-reliance. Dave's father never intervened as his mother abused him with shocking brutality, denying him food and clothing, torturing him in any way she could imagine. This was the woman who told her son she could kill him any time she wanted to-and nearly did. The more than two million readers of Pelzer's previous international bestsellers, A Child Called "It" and The Lost Boy, know that he lived to tell his courageous story. A Man Named Dave is the gripping conclusion to his inspirational trilogy. With stunning generosity of spirit, Dave Pelzer invites readers on his journey to discover how he turned shame into pride and rejection into acceptance.

Release Date: September 5, 2000
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Penguin Group
Source: Borrowed
Other Books in the Series: A Child Called "It", The Lost Boy

A Man Named Dave was the third installment in the Dave Pelzer trilogy.  This book chronicled his life from ages 18 and up.  It was just as compelling as the first two books, and, once again, I could not put this book down!  There is something so powerful and gripping about Dave's writing.  I found myself rooting for his happiness and success throughout the entire book, and cried at the emotional ending.

My husband and I were driving to a specialist's office two hours away from our home, and we were supposed to be having quality time together, as my mom was home with our baby and we had all morning to talk uninterrupted.  However, I was a bad wife and read A Man Named Dave for nearly an hour instead of talking to my sweet husband!  I didn't want to do it, and hated myself for it, but I was close to the end of the book and just had to know what happened to Dave!  My husband asked, "Is this the last book in this series?  I am so tired of you not talking to me while you keep reading these books!"  I told him that it was, but then, at the end of the book, I saw that Dave has written two motivational books (which I immediately bought) so my husband is going to have to put up with me having my nose in a Dave Pelzer book for a little longer! 

Dave's main focus in this novel was trying to find answers as to why his mother abused him the way she did.  Despite the fact that he was rescued from her household at age 12, and eventually found love from a foster family, he still seeks his mother's love and acceptance.  He has several emotionally draining and painful encounters with his mother in this book, and while he never fully gains the closure he so desires, he does come to a place of acceptance and forgiveness.  The fact that Dave can forgive his mother shows what a strong and inherently good person he is.

Dave has not had an easy life, and in fact, it is hard to believe all of the hard times he has endured.  I'm not saying I don't believe him, it's just sad that someone could have so many hardships.  But, he finds happiness in the end, and I loved that.  He is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and a great example of what faith in God can do for a person.

I give this book, and the series as a whole, the highest of recommendations.  I loved it, and will definitely be reading Dave's other books.  I want his secret--I want to be motivated to live as positively as he does!


The Golden Lily Update

So, I've got some drama going on with Richelle Mead's The Golden Lily.  First of all, Barnes and Noble messed up and sent me my pre-ordered copy 20 days early (read about that here), then I was afraid to start the book (read about my fears here).  

Finally, I started The Golden Lily.  It was so good that I tried to pace myself to make the book last.  I told myself I would read only 100 pages a day.  That lasted for two days, then on the third day I gave in and finished the book.

I'm not going to give anything away (I'll do a full review once the book has been released) but I loved The Golden Lily.  The only thing I'm upset about is that we have to wait another year to find out what happens next!  I loved the pacing, the character growth, and most of all, the glimpses of our favorite characters from Vampire Academy.  Sydney is really starting to grow on me, and I enjoyed her voice more in The Golden Lily than in Bloodlines.  Overall, I am so happy---now I'm just hoping my next read comes close to being as good as this one.... 

Book Review: The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family (Dave Pelzer #2) by Dave Pelzer

"The Lost Boy" is the harrowing but ultimately uplifting true story of a boy's journey through the foster-care system in search of a family to love. This is Dave Pelzer's long-awaited sequel to "A Child Called "It". The Lost Boy" is Pelzer's story--a moving sequel and inspirational read for all.

Release Date: August 1, 1997
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Health Communications
Source: Borrowed

After reading A Child Called It, I knew I had to read more of David's story.  I had to find out what happens after he is rescued from his mother's house.

You would think that things would finally start to get easier for David now that he is free from his mother's tyranny, but they don't.  He just gets a new set of problems.  The Lost Boy chronicles his life from age 12 to 18, and his search for a home and for people to love him.

Just like with A Child Called It, I read this book in one sitting.  I simply could not put it down until I knew that David was going to be okay.  I was so sad reading about what he has to go through as a foster child, especially how he just wants to be loved.

Ultimately, the book ends on an uplifting note.  David's courage and strength of character are to be admired.  He simply never gives up!  I will most definitely read the third book, A Man Named Dave.  I just have to know more about David's journey.  I would recommend this book to anyone.  It's a fast, moving, powerful read.

Book Review: A Child Called It (Dave Pelzer #1) by Dave Pelzer

This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it."

Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive--dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.

Release Date: September 1, 1995
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Health Communications
Source: Borrowed

A Child Called It is such a powerful book.  I'd heard of it before, and always meant to read it "someday", but when Natalie included it in my latest stack of books to be read---yes, Natalie brings me books to read first and tell her if she'll like them---I knew I had to read it now.  And I'm so glad I did.

The only book I've ever read about child abuse is April Maley's I Will Not Be Silent (read my review here).  And I Will Not Be Silent told April's entire life story, from childhood to adulthood.  A Child Called It is written from David's perspective as a child.  The book chronicles his life from age four to age 12.  The prose reflects his thinking as a child, and serves to make the story more poignant.

I expected to sob my way through A Child Called It, and I was so surprised that I did not cry until the very end.  I think that I was too horrified to cry.  Just when I thought that things could not get any worse for David, they did.  I felt so badly for him and just wanted to reach through the book and hug him.

I loved how the book ends with a letter from David, telling you what his life is like now, as an adult.  I needed the reassurance that he grows up and makes a good life for himself 

I would recommend this book to anyone. It is excellent, moving, and makes you want to stand up and do something for abuse victims.  I plan to read the next two books by David, The Lost Boy, and A Man Named Dave.

I'm Afraid to Read This Book...

So, recently Barnes and Noble made a mistake in my favor and sent me my pre-ordered copy of The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead 20 days early! (read the details here)  Hey, I wasn't about to send it back.  I just couldn't, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. 

So, imagine my surprise when I didn't start reading it immediately.  In fact, I waited 5 days to start it.  I couldn't believe I was doing that, and each day I told myself that I would start the book at nap time (my only reading time as a SAHM to a 14-month old), but then each day I had so many other things to do during my coveted nap time hours.  

Finally, I realized something: I was putting off reading The Golden Lily.  Once I came to this realization, I had to explore why I was doing it.  And the reason I came to is this: I am afraid to start the book because I am afraid it won't live up to my expectations.  I have been building this book up in my head for a year now, and I'm so afraid it won't be what I want it to be.

Has this kind of thing ever happened to you?  If so, what did you do?  I'm just going to jump right in and see what happens.  Wish me luck!


Splash Into Summer Hop Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to

Kali S.

Who won a copy of Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter!

Thank you to everyone who visited and entered our giveaway!  Thank you also to I am a Reader Not a Writer and Page Turners Blog for hosting the hop!