Book Review: Rejection by Meagan Bridges

Maggie McKenzie battles overwhelming rejection, raccoon attacks and personal space invading coworkers with only random facts and a growing sense of adventure.

Release Date: May 26, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author

With such a short summary, I wasn't really sure what to expect from Rejection.  I read it on the heels of The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie, which was a neat happenstance.  The two books felt related to me: The Enchanted Truth's message was sort of the moral of Rejection.  And reading Rejection was like seeing The Enchanted Truth played out in modern adult life.

I really felt for Maggie.  So many bad things come her way, and she does have some woe-is-me moments, but for the most part she was great at not feeling sorry for herself.  I loved reading about her attempts to 'find herself,' and how she eventually comes to the realization that she is enough, just as she is and she deserves more than what the man in her life can offer her.

The minor characters, mainly in Maggie's office setting, are what really made this book for me.  They were hilarious and very well-developed!  Maggie's job, as well, was interesting and I liked seeing her shine at work when she wasn't necessarily shining in her personal life.  I did like Maggie's best friend Abby as well.  (But why did Maggie sometimes call her Abby and then other times call her Abigail?)  Abby added a lot to the story and seeing she and Maggie's interactions provided insight to Maggie's character.

Overall, I really enjoyed Rejection.  It is a good example of what I like best about women's fiction: a strong heroine, great emotional writing and a good, realistic ending.  I would recommend Rejection to fans of contemporary fiction and fans of women's fiction.

Book Review: The Spark (Extrahumans #3) by Susan J. Bigelow

Deirdre Burns White clings desperately to her normal life. She has a job, a boyfriend and an apartment in the city of First Landing. She's made sure life is normal... because Dee is an extrahuman. She can make fire with her mind and she has the devil's luck, but because of that, she was once imprisoned and tortured by the ruthless Confederation military. All she wants is to bury the past and blend in.

When an old friend shows up bearing a letter and a command, though, Dee finds she can't run any longer. The ghosts of her past have come back to haunt her, even as the first cracks finally begin to show in the Confederation's smothering oppression.

Now First Landing is in a state of open, wild revolt, and Dee has to make a choice: to hide herself away, lost to guilt and regret, or to embrace her past and her dangerous powers to help save the people and the city she loves.

Dee could set the world on fire; all she needs is a spark.

Release Date: August 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

This was my favorite book from the Extrahumans series.  It was very character-driven, with most of the focus on Deirdre (who goes by Dee).  Dee is an extrahuman, possibly the most powerful extrahuman alive.  Many extrahumans have been killed by the Confederation, due to their threat to the crushing control the Confederation exerts on humanity.  Dee can create fire with a thought and also has an intuition that provides her with extraordinary luck and protection in dangerous situations.  

Dee has gone through a lot in her life, and is trying to suppress her extrahuman abilities and live as a 'normal' human.  She's just trying to blend in, but because of her true nature, and her past, she can't open up to let anyone into her life.  She has an on-again, off-again boyfriend, whom she's never shared her secrets with.  Dee can never be her true self with anyone.  She has to constantly control her emotions, so that she doesn't accidentally set something---or someone---on fire.  One day, Dee runs into an old friend from her past, who brings her a letter with instructions for Dee, instructions to complete a very big and important task.  Dee doesn't want any part of the extrahuman life anymore. She is just trying to be normal and live under the radar, under the notice of the Confederation.  But, there's too much going on in the world (including the other planets in Bigelow's futuristic world) for Dee to sit idly by and watch while others are hurt.  Dee's decision to help leads to the action-packed part of the book, which was great.   

What I really liked about The Spark was that it was full of character growth.  Dee really goes on a journey, both physical and emotional, with the path ending in self-acceptance and the ability to open herself up to love.  All of my favorite characters from the first two books came back in The Spark, with the exception of Sky Ranger.  The omission of Sky Ranger leads me to wonder if this book is in fact the end of the Extrahumans series.  I really hope it's not, and that we'll get a fourth book, to see how things end with Sky Ranger, as well as Ian.  I want to know if the prophecies come to pass!  

There was a lot of action in The Spark, more than I was expecting, but I enjoyed it.  The only thing that slowed me down was keeping the political parties straight.  Sometimes I started to get confused.  It made me wish I had read all three books closer together, instead of just books two and three back-to-back.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Spark and would highly recommend Susan Bigelow's Extrahumans series.  It's a really unique, well-executed series and I will definitely be reading Bigelow's future work! 

Book Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

Release Date: October 1, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

I really loved this book!  I felt so badly for Ever.  She is trapped inside her own body, and can't stop the cycle of overeating, guilt, and self-loathing.  Her inner critic is on high alert, and constantly berating her.  Ever calls her inner voice Skinny.  Skinny loves to bring Ever down and is constantly saying such mean things to her.  By the way, I know that Skinny is actually Ever, but the book is written in a way that Skinny and Ever almost feel like two different people.  

Fueled by fear and a sliver of hope for a better future, Ever decides to undergo gastric bypass surgery in a last ditch attempt to lose weight.  She starts to lose weight and change, slowly but surely, and is supported and coached by her best friend.  Ever has an uphill battle, with some slip-ups along the way, but is ultimately successful in losing a significant amount of weight.  

Having worked with people before, during and after weight-loss surgery, I know enough about the process to be able to tell you that Skinny was an accurate portrayal of the process of weight-loss surgery.  Surgery is not a cure-all, it's simply a tool to help people lose weight. Losing weight after surgery still requires a huge amount of work, and Cooner was great about showing a realistic glimpse of a post-surgical lifestyle.  I loved that about this book.

But the best thing about Skinny, for me, was how Ever battles her inner critic.  Even after she loses weight, she still has trouble with her cruel inner voice.  Ever pushes people away, due to fear of ridicule, and has trouble opening herself up to friendships and especially love.  The way Ever finally confronts Skinny and truly sees herself for what she is was the best part of the book. 

My other favorite part of Skinny was that the book was a slight retelling of the Cinderella story.  I love Cinderella retellings and Skinny was a unique twist on the classic story.  There was a ton of character growth in this book, not just in Ever but in other characters as well.  I love watching characters mature and change.  

I would highly recommend Skinny.  It was an excellent read, and I look forward to reading more from Donna Cooner!  

Weekly Wrap-Up 11.25.12

In addition to a great Thanksgiving in which I ate too much, as usual, I had a good reading week too!

Books I Read This Week:

Unfurl (The Ripple Series #3) by Cidney Swanson.  A perfect conclusion to a really unique paranormal YA series. 

Timeless (Timeless #1) by Alexandra Monir.  I loved every second of this one.

Timekeeper (Timeless #2) by Alexandra Monir.  Even better than book one.

Reviews of all three of these books are to come soon!

How was your week?

Molly Ringle Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered our Molly Ringle YA Giveaway!

Congratulations to Jennifer G, 

Who won an ebook of her choice between What Scotland Taught Me or Relatively Honest.

Thank you to Central Avenue Publishing and author Molly Ringle for the opportunity to host this giveaway!

Book Review: All At Sea by Heather Wardell

Melissa and Owen met on New Years' Eve and he proposed on Valentine's Day. Now it's March, and they're about to set sail on a two-week Caribbean cruise - and get married on the last day at sea. Though their relationship's moving fast, Melissa's wanted to be married for years and she knows the smart stable Owen is a great catch so she's sure they'll be fine. At least, she's sure until she meets his brothers on the cruise and discovers she's dated both of them: Austin, the fun-loving flirt whose kisses still haunt her dreams, and Nicholas, the sweet horror movie fan whose lack of ambition upset her in ways she still doesn't understand. Melissa expected to spend tons of time onboard with her fiancé, but he instead spends nearly his every waking moment in the casino displaying a previously unseen love of gambling. This surprise, and the time she spends with Nicholas and with Austin, makes her question everything she thought she wanted. Her relationship with Owen was just fine before, but suddenly 'just fine' doesn't seem good enough to keep a marriage alive for a lifetime. Melissa has two weeks to decide: stay with Owen or jump ship.

Release Date: September 6, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author

I am a huge fan of Heather Wardell, having read and loved all of her previous novels (she's written ten now and there's not a dud in the bunch!), so I was super excited when she emailed me to tell me she had a new release.  Her books are stop-drop-and-read kind of books for me: everything in my life comes to a screeching halt so I can devour her stories!  I was expecting to get drawn into a character-driven, emotional story, and Wardell delivered, as always.  I just loved All At Sea!

If you haven't already read the summary, please read it now.  I want to talk about the characters, but I can't do that without you knowing a little bit about them.  And, I'm not going to try to write my own summary, because there's no way I can summarize this book better than Wardell did.  

Melissa and Owen are getting married...and they've only know each other for three months.  I've always believed that it takes at least one year to get to know someone.  I think you need to experience birthdays, the holidays, illness, and all of life's ups and downs for a whole year before you truly know someone and know how they will react to certain situations.  For example, if Melissa had known Owen long enough to go on a vacation with him, she would have known that he likes to gamble on vacation.  And by gamble, I mean stay in the casino all the time, coming out only for meals and a few hours' sleep every night. By the way, how in the world could that be fun?  I can't imagine going on vacation and not wanting to sit and read by the pool---which is what Melissa does. 

I had a little bit of a hard time really identifying with Melissa.  I like to imagine myself as the main character as I read (if it's a female lead) and I just could not put myself in her shoes.  I could never make that kind of huge, impulsive decision, to marry someone I'd only known for a few weeks.  So, it took me some time to really get to know and understand Melissa.  But once I did, I really felt for her.  Here she is, about to get married, and she realizes this huge character flaw in her fiance.  Not only that, she is faced with being around not one, but two men from her past.  Oh, the horror!  

I had a feeling where Wardell was going to take the story, and I'm so glad that she resolved the conflict the way she did.  There were some surprises along the way, which I loved.  But my favorite part was the character growth shown in several of the characters, but especially Melissa.  Wardell always manages to grow her characters subtly, so slowly that sometimes I don't pick up on it until the end of the book when they are so much stronger than before.  I love that!  

My favorite part of All At Sea was the relationships between the characters.  I loved the way Melissa interacted with the men in her life.  I also really liked how she stands up for herself, especially with her future mother-in-law.  

I would highly recommend All At Sea.  It's one of my favorite Heather Wardell books.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with next: her writing just keeps getting better! 

Book Review: The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1) by Julie Kagawa

Don't look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them. That is Ethan Chase's unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he'd dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister's world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Release Date: October 23, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

I had really high hopes for this book, having read and loved the first three books in the Iron Fey series, and Kagawa did not disappoint me with The Lost PrinceThe Lost Prince's story, pacing, and emotions were just as great as its predecessors'.  I love the world Kagawa has created and was really excited to spend some more time in it.  

I liked Ethan as a narrator, but I did miss Meghan's voice. I simply like a female point of view much more than a male first person narrative.  But, as far as male narrators go, Ethan is pretty perfect.  I wish he would have expressed more of his feelings, but I do understand why he didn't.  He's had a lifetime of keeping his feelings to himself, and he can't undergo a huge emotional shift overnight.

There was one major plot point that I did predict very early in the book.  Maybe it's my medical background, but the signs were too clear to mistake.  

Like the other Iron Fey books, the imagery really set this book apart.  It is simply outstanding!  I love Kagawa's descriptive prose, and find it so easy to imagine myself in the Nevernever right along with my favorite characters.  And speaking of favorite characters, I do wish there was more of Meghan and Ash in this book, but I was happy just to get a glimpse of them living out their happy ending.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. I do suggest that you read the other Iron Fey books first, otherwise you'll spoil the ending to the first books in the series.  I'm really looking forward to where Kagawa takes this story!

Book Review: Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover

Hardships and heartache brought them together…now it will tear them apart.

Layken and Will have proved their love can get them through anything; until someone from Will’s past re-emerges, leaving Layken questioning the very foundation on which their relationship was built. Will is forced to face the ultimate challenge…how to prove his love for a girl who refuses to stop ‘carving pumpkins.’

Release Date: February 25, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

I broke one of my cardinal rules of reading with Point of Retreat.  Are you ready to hear my confession?  I read book two without reading book one first!  I still can't believe I did it...I was accepted to read Point of Retreat through NetGalley.  I emailed the publisher to see if they would send me Slammed, book one, first, and never heard back.  I had no money in my book budget to buy Slammed and my library did not have a copy.  So, I decided just to jump right in and hoped that Hoover would provide a good enough summary in book two so that I wouldn't be too confused.  

I'm glad I didn't read any reviews of either Slammed or Point of Retreat before reading the book.  I love being able to go into a book with no preconceived notions about it.  Luckily, Hoover provided enough backstory that I was able to catch up on most of what I'd missed in book one.  

I really liked this contemporary YA novel.  It was on the mature YA spectrum, with the relationship between 19 year-old Layken and 22 year-old Will.  There were some cliches, which were borderline cheesy for me (one of Layken and Will's fighting scenes immediately comes to mind) but not so much that I couldn't still enjoy the story.

Hoover's character development was great, especially in the minor characters.  Kiersten and her mom were my two favorite characters.  The emotions were sweetly written and just jumped off the page as I read.  

Overall, Point of Retreat was a good read.  I'm glad I read it, and I know I would have enjoyed it even more had I read Slammed, book one, first.  I would recommend this series to fans of contemporary YA.

Weekly Wrap-Up 11.18.12

We've got a great no-strings attached giveaway going on right now!  Fill out the form below to win a digitally signed ebook of your choice of What Scotland Taught Me or Relatively Honest by YA author Molly Ringle.  

Books I Read This Week:

Son (The Giver #4) by Lois Lowry.  This one was just exceptional.  I love Lois Lowry's writing and to finally have a firm conclusion to the Giver series was so satisfying.  Highly recommended.

Chameleon (The Ripple Series #2) by Cidney Swanson.  I loved Rippler (book one in the series) and jumped at the chance to review books two and three.  Chameleon did not disappoint!

Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich.  I got this one from the library after a long time on the e-book waiting list.  It was just not for me: the writing style was so simple, it felt like I was reading a children's book!  I dropped it after a few chapters.

How was your week? 

Guest Post and Giveaway: Author Molly Ringle

High school seems to be the default setting for YA, and I do see why. At age 14 to 17, you're hormonal and possibly in love, and increasingly confused by and frustrated about the world, but you're still stuck under your parents' roof and your teachers' demands, confined by their rules. It all makes for pretty good drama.

But to me, an even richer phase is right after high school: when you turn 18 and move out (to college or travels or some away-from-home job) and become an actual young adult. You're still a teen in that phase, still hormonal and confused and frustrated. But now you're thrown out into the sea of real life without near as much help from older grown-ups. You have to procure your own food, keep closer watch over your own income and bills, take care of yourself when you're sick, set your own curfews and rules, and feel the consequences of your decisions more strongly than ever. It's part awesome and part awful--or at least, it was in my experience. And that's the phase I've found truly interesting to write about.

In both my novels that might count as YA--Relatively Honest and What Scotland Taught Me--my protagonists are 18 or 19, fresh out of high school, and tackling the world in settings totally new to them. For both books, the teens are even in a different country than they're accustomed to. Daniel in Relatively Honest is a Londoner starting university in Oregon. And Eva and her friends, in What Scotland Taught Me, are Americans taking a work-abroad stint in Edinburgh before beginning college. Therefore they all suffer culture shock on top of the usual unbalanced nutrition and romantic troubles of a person's first year out of their parents' home.

At that age, under the influence of so many new people and temptations, it's common to make more mistakes--and bigger mistakes--than we did as younger teens. My characters are no exception. In fact, despite both these novels being love stories, I don't generally call them romances, because they involve so much more deceit, cheating, and confusion than the romance genre tends to allow. "Coming of age," "new adult," "teen lit," or just "fiction"--I'm happy with any of those labels for them. And if you read them, I hope you might see the appealing, humorous side of the flawed humanity my characters possess. In my opinion, to be young and in love and flawed is one of the most glorious phases of life.
To enter to win a free ebook copy of either What Scotland Taught Me or Relatively Honest (winner's choice), fill out the form below. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, November 25th.  This giveaway is open internationally, and there are no rules: anyone can enter!

What Scotland Taught Me Summary (taken from Goodreads):
Fresh out of high school, Eva Sonneborn is headed to Scotland with her best friends: scholarly, sarcastic Laurence; gorgeous, ghost-seeing Amber; and responsible, sweet Shannon. They plan to spend the next six months in Edinburgh, enjoying an adventure-filled work-abroad journey before parting ways for college.
But when Eva meets Gil, a local bartender, she figures a little innocent flirting won't hurt her relationship with Tony, her ever-faithful boyfriend back home. But just when things turn less innocent with Gil, the trip starts throwing curveballs at not only her but her friends too. By the end of the trip, they've all fallen in love, sometimes with the wrong people - and with consequences that may tear their friendship apart forever...

Relatively Honest Summary (taken from Goodreads):
Shocking. Disgusting. Deceitful. That's how some might have described Daniel Revelstoke's behavior even before he fell in love with his first cousin.
Previously a don't-tie-me-down Don-Juan type, Daniel doesn't know Julie is his long-lost cousin when he meets her and starts trying to lure her away from her long-distance boyfriend. And by the time his mum drops the family-relation bombshell in his lap, he already loves Julie and it's too late to switch off his feelings. But dishonest habits die hard. He reckons if he can keep Julie from finding out they're related--just a little longer--he runs a better chance of winning her over. He's never loved anyone before, and if she's the one, she's worth a little deceit. Love can do dangerous things to your head. And worse things to your family.

I almost walked OUT of the theater! (Spoiler Free Review of Breaking Dawn Part 2)

You know I was one of those crazy women at the theater last night, chomping at the bit, waiting to see the final installment of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn II... I had my shirt made, Snickers in my pocket, huge order of nachos, and a seat on the end (because you know I have issues with people who smack their food). I did all of my usual stunts:
  1. Had the hubby make me (and some friends) shirts for the night... yes, shirts for every occasion are a must.
  2. Curled my hair and actually put on make-up (because you know Edward can see through the screen)... patiently waited for the hubby's annual comment "You NEVER get this dressed up on our date nights"... I wasn't disappointed: he delivered just before I left.
  3. Ate half of my contraband (hidden in my pockets) before I even parked in the theater parking lot, darn you Snickers with almonds.
  4. Met my partner for all things Twilight related, Vesta! Who had been patiently waiting at the theater saving seats for 2 1/2 hours (everyone who knows me knows that I have a mental syndrome, IAMALWAYS15MINUTESLATE disease, only the awesome people of the world suffer from this... in this case I was 2 hours behind schedule :/)
  5. Took three trips to the restroom, 1 trip to the concessions (remember I ate all my candy in the car) and about 20 pictures because everysingle one had something that someone didn't like... eyes closed, double chin, "I look fat", etc etc.
  6. FINALLY, I turned to the row behind me and started my interrogation:
    1. "Are you screamers, smackers, cryers, talkers or the giggly girls who are going to kick my seat all night?"............. They didn't claim any, as usual... discovered they were chair kickers ;(
  7. Scoped out all the audience and made (inappropriate) comments... Why would you bring an infant here?, she did not wear that?! Is that blood on her neck? You know how it goes, you've done it.
NOW, on to the movie.

It was flipping awesome! In my opinion it was the best Twilight yet. No more stuttering Bella or whimpering Edward, they were tough as nails and TOGETHER (and I mean together baby, right in the beginning). As usual the storyline followed the book really closely but man there was one detail I had forgotten and it really mattered later in the movie! 

Which brings me to the title of this post... I almost walked out of the theater. This one minor detail made the entire audience gasp and I really think we all held our breath until we said something to the effect of "THIS IS CRAP! I can't believe this is happening, NO WAY... I need a refund". Yeah, it was that bad. But, in the end this was just a really great ending to the series.

I won't say any more because I can't spoil it for the other 9 million people that will be watching it today. But I will definitely be going back to see it again with the hubby and to catch all the details I missed last night, you know the second time is even better.

*From a mother's perspective: The love scene in this movie was pretty intense. I wouldn't recommend younger children watch it.*

Book Review: The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy (Colebrook Confessions #1) by CC Dalton, Twist Literary

Summary for the Colebrook Confessions series:
Markham Savoy is Colebrook Academy's most infamous student...
He's also the most attractive, most deviant, and most charming, but who's counting? Every Colebrook matriculant knows that Markham is in the business of making problems disappear. And Colebrook students have no shortage of problems. But his aid comes at a price—an obligation to one day repay the favor. Given the number of kids who get in trouble at Colebrook, Markham has a veritable army of willing minions to do his bidding. So the question is, after years of collecting and collating the secrets of his peers, what exactly does Markham have in mind?

Each installment of Colebook Academy is told from the point of view of a different student. As these characters' lives intertwine, each reveals one of the shocking, interlocking secrets that will help Markham leave behind a legacy. A final coup de grâce that the halls of Colebrook Academy will never forget.

Summary for The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy:
Even though he safeguards the secrets of his classmates, Markham wouldn't be caught dead sharing his own, and he never lets romantic entanglements get the best of him. But when Piper Harrington marches into his life, he’s forced to give her something in exchange for her cooperation in his schemes--his very own Colebrook Confession. And that's not the only time Piper brings out an unexpected side of himself.

Will the dirty secrets of Markham Savoy be his crowning glory...or his undoing?

Release Date: October 30, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

This is my second time reading a book published by Twist Literary (read my review of the Alibi series here), and I really enjoyed this unique concept.  The books are written in short installments, with each installment from a different person's point of view.  I like that kind of writing, as it allows the reader to really get to know each character in the series.

Book one, The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy, is told from Markham's perspective.  Markham reminded me a lot of Chuck Bass from the Gossip Girl television series.  He had that same controlling personality, wealth, and need to manipulate everyone around him.  Those are not particular qualitites which I admire, so it was hard for me to really like Markham.  His one saving grace was the way he watches out for and takes care of his younger sister (heavy-handed though his actions may be).

Markham was like a 'handler' for the students of Colebrook Academy.  He does favors for people in exchange for those people owing him a favor in return one day.  The entire way he operated seemed pretty unrealistic for a high-school student, but hey, I'm not exactly living in the world of the super-rich, so what would I know?

I liked that The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy had a lot of surprises and intrigue.  It kept me guessing as to what would happen next.  I liked seeing Markham play with the children at the town's benefit, because it showed a softer side to his character. 

I would recommend the Colebrook Confessions series to fans of contemporary YA.  I'm looking forward to the next installment in this series!


Nook vs Kindle

I've had my first-generation Nook for almost three years now and it's time to upgrade.  Christmas is coming, you know?  I am looking at the Nook Simple Touch with glowlight and the Kindle Paperwhite.  

I also have an iPad, and recently read a book on it with my Kindle app.  I hated reading on that screen: my eyes fatigued and I could not sit and read for an hour like I can with my Nook.  I'm thinking that I'm going to stay with the e-ink screen since that is what I'm used to, but now I just have to decide: Kindle or Nook?   

What kind of e-reader do you have?  Does reading on a traditional computer screen bother your eyes? 

Book Review: All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin

With my eyes closed and Alex's core friends all around me, it was like I'd become my big sister, or something just as good. And so who cared if they were calling it Alex's party? One thing I knew: it would be remembered as mine.

Alex has it all—brains, beauty, popularity, and a dangerously hot boyfriend. Her little sister Thea wants it all, and she's stepped up her game to get it. Even if it means spinning the truth to win the attention she deserves. Even if it means uncovering a shocking secret her older sister never wanted to share. Even if it means crying wolf.

Told in the alternating voices of Alex and Thea, Adele Griffin's mesmerizing new novel is the story of a sibling rivalry on speed.

Release Date: October 9, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

All You Never Wanted was different from my usual reads.  It reminded me a lot of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game in that it's about two rich girls at odds with each other.  Alex is the older sister and she is an integral part of the popular crowd---where her younger sister Thea desperately wants to be.  Thea will stop at nothing to be popular like Alex, even going so far as to spread lies about everyone around her, just to get attention.

I really hated Thea, although I did understand where she was coming from.  She just wanted to be included, to be part of a group, like Alex.  The lengths she went to to insure her place in the popular crowd were unbelievable!  Thea was very vain and immature and all that back-stabbing started to get old for me.  For me, Thea's quest for popularity made the whole book feel petty and shallow.

Alex has something more going on though.  She has a huge secret that is literally eating her up inside.  She's never shared it with anyone...and doesn't plan to either.  Until she connects with Xander.  The source of Alex's misery was a definite surprise.  I was expecting her problems to stem from an eating disorder, abuse, or something more typical of a teenage girl.  To find out what happened in her past that's the source of all of her present trauma was a true surprise for me, which was nice.

Alex and Xander's relationship really saved the book for me.  I loved the ending (although I would have liked a few more details as to whether Thea got what she deserved).  I did feel like the resolution to Alex's problem was pretty unrealistic, and I hated that her strength did not come from within, but rather from Xander.  I would have liked to see her overcome her problem in a healthier way.

Overall, All You Never Wanted was a good read, but not one of my personal favorites.  I think that fans of Sara Shepard will enjoy it, as well as fans of contemporary YA.   

Exciting Mention!

Earlier this month I posted my review of Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat (a really funny blog that I love to read every day).  I posted my review on Amazon and Goodreads as well.  Read my review here.

Today I pulled up Jen's blog to read her weekly wrap-up post and was so surprised and honored to see my review featured!  She found my review on Amazon and liked it enough to repost it and even complimented my writing style!   Read all about it here.  

I have Brianna of The Book Vixen to thank for letting me know about Jen's blog.  Reading her funny rants on life and parenthood has lifted my spirits many a time, and I consistenly laugh out loud while reading her posts.  I love that!  

The next time you have a few free minutes, check out People I Want to Punch in the Throat.  Jen has a page of her 11 favorite posts that are all laugh-out-loud funny.


Weekly Wrap-Up 11.11.12

Have you noticed our new look?  Natalie designed and uploaded our new layout this week.  Isn't it pretty?  She does such a great job maintaining our site!  And she made me a Thanksgiving signature too!

Books I Read This Week:
Guns Will Keep Us Together (Bombay Assassins #2) by Leslie Langtry  This was a fun read, but not my favorite in the series.  I just couldn't identify with Dakota, the narrator.

Blissful Lies by Jennifer Brown Thomas  This book reminded me of Gossip Girl and the Pretty Little Liars series.  It was a good read, but not for me.  I'm not going to be reviewing this one, but I will be participating in a blog tour for it.

Stand By Your Hitman (Bombay Assassins #3) by Leslie Langtry   I loved this one!  Missi, the narrator, is one of my favorite Bombay family members, and it was great to see her get her HEA.
Burning Blue by Paul Griffin   Really powerful read about a girl who gets acid squirted in her face by a most unlikely attacker.  I sped through it in a day and loved every minute of it!

How was your week?

Book Review: Mystic City (Mystic City #1) by Theo Lawrence

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.

Release Date: October 9, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

Oh, this was a great read!  I confess that I requested it from NetGalley due to the cover alone: I read the summary but it was the cover that hooked me.  Not only was Mystic City  a great dystopian read, it was also a political thriller of sorts, as well as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.  With a dash of magic!  With all of those elements, the story could have gotten heavy or chaotic, but Lawrence did an awesome job weaving a story that I simply could not put down.

The setting and imagery were simply outstanding.  I loved the descriptions of the Aeries and the Depths.  The spires full of mystic power were so neat, and as I read I could picture them outside Aria's window.  

I knew something fishy was going on with Aria's memory.  There had to be more behind her memory loss than how things seemed.  I loved discovering the truth right along with her, although I did suspect what was happening before she did.  There were times I wished I could have just jumped into the story to tell her what was really going on!  

The love story was so perfect.  I am such a romantic, and to have this futuristic Romeo and Juliet type of story was just perfect for me.  

I loved the ending---there were definitely sad elements, but I loved the strength Aria shows and her resolve to work towards a better future.  

I would highly recommend this book.  Theo Lawrence has a brand-new fan and he is now on my auto-buy list (which is a feat, considering that he obtained this status after only one book!). 

Book Review: Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat

From the popular, hysterical and award-winning blogger Jen of People I Want to Punch in the comes the next destined-to-be holiday classic! You'll want to make room on your bookshelf next to A Christmas Carol and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat.

So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, sit back and enjoy Jen's latest collection of humorous rants dissecting the “most wonderful time” of the year. She unleashes her biting wit and hilarious opinions on everything from cookie exchanges to annual humble brag Christmas letters from over achieving moms to horrifying Christmas' of her childhood.

In this book you'll find such topics as:
The White Trash Dollhouse
Like a Neon Virgin in Guess Jeans and Swatch Watches
A Very Special Christmas: Hoarders Style

and, of course, the viral sensation:
Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies

Jen is the author of the popular blog name pretty much says it all. It's not “Rainbows & Unicorns,” people. She's been accused of saying what everyone else is thinking and dropping the f-bomb liberally. 

Release Date:  October 4, 2012
Age Group:  Adult
Source: Purchased

This was such a fun read!  I love to read Jen's blog: People I Want to Punch in the Throat and as soon as her book was released, I knew I had to read it.  I love Jen's blog for her humor and snarky writing.  She often says exactly what I'm thinking, and she's not afraid to speak her mind on anything.  That's a trait I really admire!

Jen's book is about the holidays (obviously).  I think that the inspiration for her book came from her hilarious blog post about the Elf on the Shelf (read that post here).  In fact, if you like Jen's Elf on the Shelf post, you'll love her book.  Her book is full of essays about the holidays, some of them satirical, all of them hilarious.  She covers topics like cookie exchanges and the annual holiday letters (which are actually opportunities to brag about everything your perfect family has done over the past year).  I love Jen's open, honest writing and I love her perspective on things.  It's so nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way about many parts of the holidays!

I'm really glad I read this book and really enjoyed it.  My one complaint is that it was quite short for the price.  I wanted more: more laughs, more rants, more from Jen.  I'm definitely going to be reading and buying her next book! 


Book Review: To Be Honest by P.J. Young

Fifteen year old Lisi Reynolds likes to fib. Just little ones. What’s wrong with that? Everyone lies, don’t they?

With best friend Josh’s traumatic love life, a shopping-addicted mother and Chad Swanning oblivious to her existence, how else is Lisi supposed to survive, if not with a little truth-stretching?

But when a rare mammatus cloud over the Globe puts Lisi in her delectable English teacher Miss Mint’s shoes, living the ultimate lie proves irresistible.

There’s just one catch: Miss Mint wants her life back.

And she won’t get it until Lisi starts telling the truth.

But with a cool house, hunky fiancé and the chance to confront bully Alicia and win Chad's heart, why would Lisi give it all up, to be honest?

Release Date:  September 11, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author

This was such a cute story!  To Be Honest was a fun, fast read.  It's set in London, which added to the enjoyment for me.  The book is narrated in Lisi's point of view, and contains a lot of British slang---which I found so endearing.  Really, for me (a Texan) to read about high-school students in London saying "jolly good" was a fun diversion from my usual reads.

From the summary, I thought To Be Honest was going to be about telling the truth, and it was, but the neat part was that it was sort of a Freaky Friday experience: Lisi and her English teacher Miss Mint actually switch identities during a storm.  I always loved that movie where the daughter ends up in her mom's body and vice versa (what was it called again?) and so to read a book with the same type of situation was really enjoyable and took me back to my teenage years.

But there was a lot more to To Be Honest than I initially expected.  The book covers eating disorders, with a great treatment of this sensitive issue.  The love stories were sweet and really well-done.  I loved the character growth and how all of the characters start living more open and truthful lives by the end of the story.

I really enjoyed To Be Honest.  I'd recommend it to fans of contemporary YA.  I would definitely read more from P.J. Young!  

Weekly Wrap-Up 11.4.12

I had a busy reading week this week: thanks to insomnia, I got through quite a few books.

Books I Read This Week:

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater.  I tried for two weeks to get into this book and just couldn't.  I stopped reading about 50 pages in.  The story was moving too slowly and the book was a little too heavy on the ghosts and spirits for my taste.

Daughter of Jerusalem: a novel by Joan Wolf.  This was an outstanding historical Christian fiction!  The story was about Mary Magdalene's life from childhood on.  My favorite part was her journey in faith and seeing her interactions with Jesus.  Joan Wolf is quickly becoming a new favorite Christian author for me! 

Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover.  I broke all of my reading rules and read this book without reading book one.  *gasps in horror*  Luckily, Hoover provided enough details at the beginning of book two to catch me up on the story (although I know I would have enjoyed the story even more had I read book one first).  I liked this book and thought it was a really sweet love story!

Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer.  This was a fun, light-hearted read about a woman who moves from a successful career in fashion to a career in fine art.  What was so unique was the type of art Maya creates: wall hangings made with different fabrics (which incorporated her success in fashion into her new career).  And there was a really sweet love story, too.  Great read! 

How was your week?

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop Winners

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and entered our giveaway for I am a Reader, Not a Writer's annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!

Alexandra won a $15 Amazon gift card

Jennifer and Jill won "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" T-shirts

Damia won an "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" book bag

Congratulations to the winners and thank you for supporting I'd So Rather Be Reading!