Giveaway Reminder

Happy Halloween!!

Don't forget to enter our Spooktacular Giveaway Hop for the chance to win one of four great prizes: a $15 Amazon gift card, two "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" t-shirts, and a book bag!  The hop ends tonight at midnight.  You don't have to follow our blog to be eligible---anyone can enter for a chance to win!


Book Review: Sapphire Blue (Edelstein Trilogy #2) by Kerstin Gier

Gwen’s life has been a roller coaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

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

What a great read!  I loved Sapphire Blue just as much as Ruby Red, book one in the Edelstein trilogy.  Sapphire Blue picks up immediately where Ruby Red left off (I love it when books do that, instead of days to weeks passing in between books in a series and having to read a summary of what has occurred in the interim).

Gwen is finally starting to accept that she, instead of her cousin Charlotte, is the last time traveler in the Circle of Twelve.  She still does not understand her role, due in large part to the members of the Lodge keeping her out of everything.  Gwen is left to try to figure things out for herself, along with her best friend Lesley's help.

Lesley is my favorite character in the series.  She is so genuine, and a great friend to Gwen.  I love her sense of humor and the fact that underneath all the fluff that she projects to the rest of the world, she has a really good head on her shoulders.  I thought it was so neat that Lesley is the one who solves the code.  After Lesley, Xemerius was my second favorite character.  I was so hoping that Gwen would make friends with him, and he's turned out to be a useful ally.

The pacing in Sapphire Blue was great.  The book moved really quickly, and the plot was just twisted enough to keep me really interested without being so involved that I had trouble keeping up.  I can't wait to find out the truth about what will happen when the circle closes and what the Count is really up to.   

My one complaint about Sapphire Blue is that books that occur over only a few days in time are not my favorite kind of book to read.  There has been about a week or so since we first met Gwen in Ruby Red.  I really prefer it when the time span of books stretches out over weeks to months, to allow for more character growth.  That said, there definitely was character growth in Sapphire Blue and the short time span did not feel so short what with all the time travel to the past.

The fast-paced plot, great emotional writing, well-developed characters, and unique concept are what make this series so good.  I can't wait for book three, and will definitely be reading Kerstin Gier again! 

Book Review: Ruby Red (Edelstein Trilogy #1) by Kerstin Gier


Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Release Date: May 10, 2011
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased

This was a really unique book.  It was not at all what I was expecting!  I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Sapphire Blue (book two in the trilogy) and had to buy book one to catch up on the series.

I really liked Gwyneth.  She was full of contradictions.  At first I thought she was your typical high-school girl, interested in gossip and cute boys.  But then, she kept doing things that surprised me.  Like saving Gideon's life and having some really witty comebacks to his sarcasm.  I liked how she stood up for herself with her family and also the members of The Lodge.

I loved the London setting.  I can just hear the characters' accents as I read, and I love that!

My one complaint is that the love story seemed to move too quickly.  I was surprised at how quickly Gideon goes from contempt to attraction with regards to Gwyneth.  I would have preferred to see their relationship grow more slowly.

Overall, I really liked Ruby Red.  I'm not usually a huge fan of time-traveling books, but this one really stood out in the genre for me. 

Weekly Wrap-Up 10.28.12

Don't forget to enter our giveaway for the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop.  Click here to enter to win one of four great prizes!

Books I Read This Week:

123 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas Phelan.  My sister recommended this book to me after Kaitlyn started throwing temper tantrums (she's only 19 months---I thought that wouldn't start until she was 2!).  I'm so glad I read this book.  It's a simple, common-sense program that involves giving the child two chances to stop a bad behavior before putting them in time out.  I plan to start the counting immediately and hope to see less tantrums from Kaitlyn soon!

Owlet (Society of Feathers #1) by Emma Michaels  I enjoyed this unique paranormal YA.  Look for my review soon!

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  This book was so beautifully written, moving, and just outstanding.  I loved it!

 How was your week?

Book Review: Promised (Birthmarked #3) by Caragh M. O'Brien

After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever.  She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland.  In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher.  Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what--or whom--she loves most?

Release Date: October 2, 1012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

I liked Birthmarked and was just in love with Prized.  Knowing that, Promised had a lot to live up to for me personally.  I thought it was just as good as Birthmarked, but Prized is still my favorite book in the trilogy.  Overall, the Birthmarked trilogy is one of my favorite dystopian series.  It has everything I love about dystopia, all in a unique setting with excellent writing.

The plot moves really quickly, which kept the pacing of the book exactly how I like it: practically at breakneck speed.  I finished Promised really quickly because I simply had to know how it all ended for Leon, Gaia and Mya.

There were a couple of things that bothered me about Promised.  Parts of the story started to feel repetitive to me.  For example, how Gaia kept going back through the wall into the Enclave when she really shouldn't.  That was another problem for me: Gaia kept making foolish decisions and putting herself in danger.  She didn't grow into the leader I thought she would, although she did set things right for the Enclave and the people of New Sylum in the end. 

My other main concern with Promised was with Gaia and Leon's relationship.  I hated that she sort of strung Leon along for so long.  The relationship felt one-sided, with more of the commitment coming from Leon.  I didn't understand her hesitance to fully commit to him, especially considering everything he had been through to be with her.  I didn't like Gaia's lingering feelings towards Peter and Will.  I wanted the love square to be dissolved more quickly than it was.  Although, I was happy with the resolution of the love story.

I could not believe how things ended with regards to Gaia and her ability to have children.  That really broke my heart for her.  Especially considering her career centers around childbirth!  I did like that the ending of the trilogy wasn't your typical rainbows and unicorns HEA, though.  I liked that there was some loss, which led to character growth.  I liked that things felt realistic, but not so bleak as, say, Mockingjay.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Birthmarked trilogy.  Caragh O'Brien's writing is outstanding, and I look forward to more of her work in the future.

Book Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of the 3rd book of the SOLID series, Shelley Workinger has put together a giveaway game! 

EVERY ENTRANT who COMPLETES the task will win ebooks of BOTH “Solid” (Solid #1) AND “Settling” (Solid #2). 

The GRAND PRIZE WINNER will win SIGNED COPIES of ALL 3 BOOKS, including “Sound” (Solid #3) just as it hits the shelves on Nov. 1st! 

The rules are simple: 

1. Visit each blog on the list 
2. Leave a quick comment to show you were there 
3. Copy the image fragment and paste it into a Word .doc 

There are 18 stops to visit, comment on, and collect pieces from; once you’ve hit all 18 stops and assembled* all of the pieces to complete the image, email your entry to the author at: 

4. Visit the author’s blog: But What Are They Eating? and leave a comment letting her know you’ve sent in your completed entry. 

ALL 4 STEPS are important because she will choose the Grand Prize Winner from her blog comments (using and then check her email to verify the entry. 

*Don’t worry; the pieces are in order, so if you follow the list, it’ll be easy. :) 

The Game runs from Oct. 25th through Oct. 31st; last day to enter is Oct. 31st and winner will be chosen Nov. 1st. 

Good luck and get gathering! 

Here’s my piece: 

 And the rest of the stops: 


Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

We're so excited to be part of the  Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by I am a Reader Not a Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm.  Thank you to Kathy and Rhiannon for hosting this hop!

We have three prizes to give away to FOUR winners!  ANYONE can enter our giveaways!  Please note that the Amazon gift card is the only prize open internationally.

One $15 Amazon e-gift card
(This giveaway is open internationally.)

Two "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" t-shirts
(Both t-shirts are adult size XL and are Kelly green with white print. The print looks the same as it looks on the bags pictured below. This giveaway is open to US residents only.)

One "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" bag 
(This giveaway is open to US residents only.)

There are over 400 blogs participating in this giveaway hop!  Click here to enter other giveaways.

Thank you so much for stopping by I'd So Rather Be Reading!  We hope to see you again soon!

Book Review: Prized (Birthmarked #2) by Carah M. O'Brien

Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?

Release Date: November 8, 2011
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased

This was my favorite book in the Birthmarked trilogy!  It had none of the middle-book slump I was expecting.  I've noticed that dystopian series seem to have more of a slump in the middle books than other genres.  (Crossed by Ally Condie and Insurgent by Veronica Roth immediately come to mind).

But O'Brien really outdid herself with Prized.  I expected Gaia's arrival in Sylum to be sort of anticlimactic.  After all, she already escaped what she thought was the most danger she could ever be in by leaving the Enclave, and has had to cope with the traumatic and sudden loss of her parents.  She's left everyone and everything she knows behind, including Leon, to bring Mya to The Dead Forest.  But Gaia is stunned to find that Sylum comes with its own unique set of problems.  My favorite line in the book is when Gaia realizes that Sylum is just like the Enclave, except it's run by women.

I loved that Prized takes place in such a different setting than Birthmarked.  It really felt like two different worlds, and to see Gaia change and grow as a pivotal part of both worlds was neat.  She makes some hard decisions in Prized, some of which I did not agree with, but the tough situations all serve as opportunities for character growth.

I am not always a fan of love triangles.  Prized had something different: a love square with Gaia and the three men who love her.  That was almost too much but turned out to be very unique and well-handled.  Gaia suddenly goes from being an outcast to being a very desirable and attractive person in the eyes of the men of Sylum.  This was quite a turn-around from how she was viewed in Birthmarked!  In some cases, the love square felt like lust over love, and at other times, I knew that Gaia's love interests really loved her for who she was.  Leon's coldness towards Gaia just killed me, until he finally revealed how he really felt.

Gaia's decision at the end of the book was my favorite part of the story.  I love how she grows into a leader, and starts to set things to right for the men of Sylum.

Overall, I really loved Prized.  I was so glad that I already had Promised on hand, because the books in this series end on mini-cliffhangers.  I can't wait to find out how it all ends in Promised!   

Weekly Wrap-Up 10.21.12

I had a slow reading week with very little time to actually sit and read.  My little one is teething and has decided that she does not want to sleep any more (fun!).  I really enjoyed the two books I did finish, though.

Books I Read This Week:
To Be Honest by P.J. Young
Skinny by Donna Cooper

How was your week?

Book Review: Tortured (Birthmarked #1.5) by Caragh M. O'Brien

“But what about Leon?”

Now, in this new story that bridges the gap between Birthmarked and Prized, Caragh M. O’Brien answers her readers’ most common question with a tale of suffering and determination from Leon’s perspective. Be warned. The story is a spoiler for the first book in the award-winning trilogy.

This promotional e-book includes this exclusive bridge story, as well as a teaser chapter for Prized, book two in the Birthmarked trilogy, available wherever e-books are sold November 2011.

Release Date: December 6, 2011
Age Group: YA
Source: Free e-book

Having loved Birthmarked, I knew that I had to read Tortured.  Leon was such an enigmatic character, and having an entire novella just about him really intrigued me.  

But, Tortured was more of a promotional e-book, with a teaser chapter for book two making up the bulk of the book.  Leon's short story was super short.  It was good, and I enjoyed it for the entire 15 minutes it took me to read it, but it left me wanting more.  Which was a good thing because I was able to jump right in to Prized (book two).
My favorite thing about Tortured was seeing a softer side to Myrna.  I also liked getting to know Genevieve a little better.  There seemed to be more to her than Leon thought there was in Birthmarked, and she really shows her strength as well as her love for Leon in Tortured.  

I'm glad I read Tortured, but I'm even more glad that it was free.  I would have been miffed if I'd had to pay for such a short story. 

Book Review: Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1) by Caragh M. O'Brien

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve.

Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.

Release Date: March 30, 2010
Age Group:  YA
Source: Purchased

I've had Birthmarked on my TBR list for a while now, but it wasn't until I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Promised (Birthmarked #3) that I got around to reading Birthmarked.  I was a little leery of accepting a review request for a third-in-the-trilogy book when I hadn't read the first two books, but I was hopeful that my library would have the first two books.  No such luck.  Catching up on the series (buying the first two books) has now cost me about $22.  But, if book two, Prized, is anywhere nearly as good as book one was, I'll be a happy camper.  Because I loved Birthmarked!

I sped through this book, in awe of how good it was and fast the story moved.  It's rare that I like a third-person narrative as much as I liked Birthmarked.  O'Brien continually surprised me with her plot twists, which I loved.  Each new revelation brought another level of intrigue to the story, which made the book so dang interesting.  The characters were so well-developed, even the minor characters.  Each character brought something to the story---there was no extraneous fluff in Birthmarked.  O'Brien manages to create a unique and totally believable world without a lot of draggy world-building at the beginning of the novel.  

I'm so glad that I didn't read any reviews of Birthmarked before I started the book.  I went into it with a clean mental slate, so to speak, and I was able to form my own opinions without being influenced by other reviewer's thoughts.  

I loved Birthmarked, loved everything about it.  It really stands out in the genre, and I cannot wait to start book two, Prized.      

Book Review: Crewel (Crewel World #1) by Gennifer Albin

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Release Date: October 16, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Source: Review copy from publisher

After finishing Crewel, all I can say is WOW!  What a unique story and well-executed concept!  I don't think I've ever read anything like this book.  I don't know if Crewel is classified as a dystopia or science fiction, but it had my favorite elements of both genres.

I loved Crewel's premise.  In the world of Arras (the reader learns about its relationship to Earth at the end of the story) certain women are gifted with the ability to change the world.  They take the elements of the world, time and matter, and weave them together on a loom.  These girls are called Spinsters and they are the most prestigious members of society.  It took me a while to fully understand what the Spinsters actually do, and for a while I pictured their work sort of like how Tom Cruise worked the computer wall-screen in Minority Report.  Weird, I know, but it worked for me.  Spinsters control births, deaths, crops, everything about the world of Arras.

Anyway, most girls long to be a Spinster.  In the Crewel world, women are not valued, with the exception of Spinsters.  Most of them are secretaries, or at best, teachers.  Men rule this society.  However, Adelice does not want to be a Spinster.  Her parents taught her to hide her gift of weaving, and she knows that she must pretend to fail at her testing.  But, she slips and actually works the loom at her testing, and the Guild comes for her, to take her away to the Academy.  

Once there, she uncovers the truth about Spinsterhood.  She makes some unexpected allies and quickly makes a powerful enemy as well.  But Adelice is no ordinary Spinster.  Something is different about her: something that scares the people around her.  Suddenly, things get really interesting.   Adelice's ability pulls her into the limelight, and she has to fend off the attentions of a most unwanted suitor.  She also starts to have feelings for someone who is wholly inappropriate for her.

I loved Adelice's character.  She was tough, but still had a well-balanced emotional side to her as well.  The plot moved quickly, and once I understood what being a Spinster meant, I found Crewel impossible to put down.  I did predict the ending, but still enjoyed the book.  There were some surprises along with way, which made things very interesting.  My one complaint is the extreme cliffhanger ending.  And since Crewel was an ARC for me, now I have forever to wait until book two comes out!   

Book Review: Double Blind: A Novel by Brandilyn Collins

Twenty-nine-year-old Lisa Newberry can barely make it through the day. Suddenly widowed and a survivor of a near-fatal attack, she is wracked with grief and despair. Then she hears of a medical trial for a tiny brain chip that emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. At rope’s end, Lisa offers herself as a candidate.

When she receives her letter of acceptance for the trial, Lisa is at first hopeful. But—brain surgery. Can she really go through with that? What if she receives only the placebo?

What if something far worse goes wrong?

Written in the relentless style for which Brandilyn Collins is known,
Double Blind is a psychological thriller with mind-bending twists. Lisa faces choices that drive her to the brink, and one wrong move could cost the lives of many.

Release Date: October 15, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: NetGalley

I really liked the sound of Double Blind...enough to read a genre that I thought I was through with: mystery and suspense.  I haven't read a thriller in a long time.  I've read so many thrillers (medical, murder, legal) in years past that I just got tired of the genre, and vowed to take a break from it for a while.  But, the summary of Double Blind really drew me in.  I wanted to find out if Lisa gets any relief from her depression.  There are so many misconceptions and a stigma surrounding mental illness, and I don't understand why.  People seem to think that depression is their fault or a sign of their own weakness.  If you had diabetes, you wouldn't question taking insulin, so why do people (or their family members) with mental illness question getting help?  That's something I just don't understand.

Lisa has had several traumatic events leading up to her severe depression.  She has suffered multiple miscarriages, infertility, and the death of her husband.  Not to mention an attack that nearly killed her.  She is left alone, scared, and barely able to function.  Medication does not help her.  At her wit's end, and hoping for a better life, Lisa decides to enter a medical trial for a brain chip which can cure depression.  Her main concern, besides the imminent brain surgery, is whether she will receive the actual chip or a placebo.  Never in a million years does she expect what happens after the surgery.

Lisa wakes up from the surgery to find that her chip works, to her intense joy.  But, and this is a huge but, she begins to experience someone else's memories.  And that someone is a murderer.  Lisa's life is turned upside down as she battles with the company to remove her chip.  She ends up trying to piece together the events surrounding the murder on her own, in an effort to save the woman who she keeps seeing killed.  Lisa's search for justice takes her to the heart of a conspiracy rooted deeper than she could have imagined.

I really liked how Lisa stands up for herself, and tries to save the woman whose murder she keeps seeing.  I liked how she forges a better, healthier relationship with her mother, after years of being under her mother's thumb, she's finally standing up for herself.  I liked the ending, and how Collins weaves everything together.  The pacing was great, and kept me reading late into the night.  I could definitely tell that Collins is not a debut author---this book read like only an experienced author's work can.

Overall, I really liked Double Blind.  I still am not nearly as into the thriller genre as I used to be, but the next time I'm in the mood for a thriller, I will definitely pick up something else from Brandilyn Collins.


Genre Selection

After finishing a historical Christian fiction book (two of my favorite genres combined into one excellent novel), I had this thought: if I could read only one genre for the rest of my life, what would it be?  

I still don't have my final answer, but I'm leaning towards historical fiction.  As much as I love other genres, like contemporary, paranormal, and Christian fiction, historical fiction books make me the happiest.  And isn't that what we all strive for: to finish a book and be happy that you read it?

What do you think?  If you could read only one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Book Review: Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon

Jamie was born with a testis, an ovary, and a pixie face. He can be a boy after minor surgery and a few years on testosterone. That’s what his parents always say, but he sees an elfin princess in the mirror. To become the man his parents expect, Jamie must leave behind a little girl’s dreams.

At sixteen, the four-foot-eleven soprano leaves home school for a boys’ dorm at college. The elfin princess can live in the books Jameson reads and nobody has to find out he isn’t like the other boys.

When a medical student tells Jamie he should have been raised female, he discovers the life he could have as a girl. The elfin princess can thrive, but will she risk losing her family and her education for a boyfriend who may desert her, or a toddler she may never be allowed to adopt?

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

I accepted Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite for review because I was in the mood for something different.  I'm so glad that I read this book!  It is the kind of book that will stay with me for a long time.  Jamie's struggle with gender was so heart-wrenching that I will not soon be able to forget her.

Jamie has two genetic disorders, which have resulted in short stature, a heart-shaped pixie face, and a testis and an ovary.  The story takes place in the 1970's, when being understood was even more difficult for intersex persons than it is now.  I can't imagine the struggle people living with these disorders go through, and to have gone through it at a time when it was poorly understood really made me feel for Jamie.  

His parents want Jamie to live as a boy, but she does not fit in with the boys.  Jamie is not good at boys' games, like playing catch, and prefers to play dress-up and dolls with her sister and cousin.  Jamie's parents let her live as a girl until she is nine, then they force her to live as a boy.  Jamie constructs a pretend boy persona which allows her to hide her true female self.  She goes off to an all-boys college, where she is constantly teased for being so short, small, and feminine in appearance.

Jamie's roommate, Frank, protects her from the worst of the bullies, although he does not know that Jamie is intersex, he is a friend.  Frank's girlfriend, Sharon, is in medical school.  She sees Jamie when she is at the hospital having an emergency appendectomy, and discovers her secret.  Sharon accepts Jamie as she is and encourages her to live as a female.  Jamie does, at first for a few weeks, and then for longer periods of time.  This is all to the consternation of her parents, who want her to come back to Chicago and go on testosterone, and live as a boy.  Jamie struggles between pleasing her parents and living a life that is true to her innermost desires.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the faith element.  Jamie is a Christian, but struggles with feeling guilty for wanting to live as a girl, when for her entire life, she has been told she is a boy.  Her birth certificate says male, and that's what her parents keep falling back on when they reprimand her for dressing as a girl.  Jamie constantly prays for God to make her into the boy her parents want her to be, and if not, that He would allow her to be the girl she wants to be.  I loved that Jamie prayed, and loved the growth of her faith as she meets and is accepted by other Christians.

My only complaint about Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite was that sometimes the story was hard to follow.  Characters were introduced without much back story, and I had to go back to the beginning to find out exactly how Jamie knew Lisa and Sharon.  The story does jump around a little, with the flashbacks to Jamie's past, and it wasn't always clear to me whether we were in the past or present day.

Overall, that complaint was nothing in light of how good this book is.  I loved the writing, the emotions, and most of all, Jamie's growth.  I loved how she finally comes to fully accept herself as she is, and stands up for herself to her parents.  I also loved that she gets a happy ending.  I would have been too sad if things had not ended the way they did.

I would highly recommend Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite.  It's an excellent read, and I would definitely read Lianne Simon again.

Book Review: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris-Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

Lawson's long-suffering husband and sweet daughter are the perfect comedic foils to her absurdities, and help her to uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments-the ones we want to pretend never happened-are the very same moments that make us the people we are today.
Let's Pretend This Never Happened is a poignantly disturbing, yet darkly hysterical tome for every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud. Like laughing at a funeral, this book is both irreverent and impossible to hold back once you get started.

Release Date: April 17, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Purchased

I love reading Jenny Lawson's blog: The Bloggess and hoped that her book would be full of the hilarious writing I enjoy on her blog every day.  And, it was!  I loved Let's Pretend This Never Happened.  I read it pretty quickly, because it was so good I couldn't stop.  Everything in this book was funny or satirical, from the chapter titles to the footnotes.  I laughed until I cried several was just that funny!

If you're looking for a 'clean' memoir, this is not it.  Jenny uses the f-word liberally, and there are references to drug use as well.  A good way to tell if you'll like the book is to read her famous Beyonce post.  If you like that post, you'll love the book.  If you're offended, skip the book because it's full of these kinds of humorous outtakes from her life.

As for me, I can't wait until Jenny's next book.  Luckily, I have her blog to read in the meantime, and I will also be re-reading my favorite chapters from Let's Pretend This Never Happened any time I need a good laugh. 

Weekly Wrap-Up 10.7.12

I read two great books this week. Be on the lookout for upcoming reviews of both of these great reads!

The Spark (Extrahumans #3) by Susan J. BigelowThis was a great conclusion to a really unique and well-done series.
The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1) by Julie Kagawa.  Thank you, NetGalley, for the advance copy!

How was your week?

Book Review: To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a murdered carpetbagger, gratefully accepts an invitation from “Aunt” Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation and the dearest friend of Olivia’s late mother. Expecting to be the Harding’s housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned once again when she learns the real reason why Elizabeth’s husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Caring for an ill Aunt Elizabeth, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a southern-born son who—unbeknownst to her and everyone else—fought for the Union. Determined to learn “the gift” that Belle Meade’s head horse trainer, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him while harboring secrets that threaten his life. As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for “betraying” the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again…

Set within the remarkable history of Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, comes a story about enslavement and freedom, arrogance and humility, and the power of love to heal even the deepest of wounds.

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

I really loved this book!  I did not expect to like it nearly as much as I did.  It took me a while to really fall in love with the characters, but once I did, I could not put To Whisper Her Name down.  I read it on a car trip, and it made the hours in the car simply fly by.  In fact, I was so busy reading that I forgot to talk to my husband...he had to keep starting conversations with me, conversations I was so eager to finish so I could get back to reading!

Olivia is a recent widow, and has to endure the shame of her husband's shady business dealings and the circumstances surrounding his death.  Her husband's family leaves her with nothing to live on, and she has nowhere to go.  Her mother's best friend, Elizabeth, invites her to come and live at Belle Meade plantation.  Belle Meade is, among other things, a horse farm, and Olivia is scared to death of horses.

On the way to Belle Meade, Olivia meets Ridley Cooper.  He is also traveling to Belle Meade, looking for work.  He is a former soldier who has traveled across the country to learn from the famed Bob Green, Belle Meade's gifted horse trainer.  Olivia and Ridley are far from fast friends.  He thinks she is stuck-up and she thinks he is too free with his words and actions.  However, neither can deny that they have an attraction, and a grudging friendship ensues.  

To Whisper Her Name occurs directly after the Civil War.  The events of the war and the toll they take on each character and the nation as a whole shapes much of the novel.  I loved that aspect of the book: to feel like I got a true glimpse of what life was like during that time.

Besides the historical aspect of the book, I loved the faith element as well.  Both Olivia and Ridley slowly come to accept God in their lives.  The ending was just perfect, and I was so happy picturing the happily ever after for myself.

I highly recommend To Whisper Her Name and look forward to reading more from Tamera Alexander.


Book Review: The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie

In this humorous and insightful tale, a modern day princess finds herself single and asking for magical intervention to change her sorry love life. Rather than casting a spell to bring Prince Charming to her rescue, a savvy fairy godmother gives the tenderhearted damsel an unexpected gift. By entrusting her true thoughts and desires to an unlikely confidant, the young royal soon discovers that the person who could make her life everything she dreamed it would be has been with her all along.

As author Kym Petrie herself realized, every woman needs a froggy friend and a secret journal—and enough adventures with the girls to keep her heart pounding and her mind racing. Life is meant to be about happy beginnings . . . you can never have enough of them.

Release Date: September 18, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

This was a cute little story!  And by little, I mean it's 40 pages and took me about half an hour to read it.  It's light and fun, and just what I needed after reading a long and emotionally heavy book.  The Enchanted Truth was sort of a reading palate cleanser for me.

The Enchanted Truth takes the premise of the princess seeking love and puts a new twist on it.  Instead of Prince Charming coming to save the day and 'complete' the princess, she learns self-fulfillment.  She makes a list of the qualities she desires in a future mate, and then begins to exhibit some of those qualities herself, simply by taking the focus off of finding true love.

I would recommend this book to ages middle grade and up.  It would be a great story to read with your teenage and tween daughters.  I enjoyed it, and I'm glad I read it.  It left me smiling, even though it did feel young and was a little shorter than I would have preferred.

Book Review: Sound (Solid #3) by Shelley Workinger

Clio Kaid's had one crazy summer.

After learning she was one of a hundred teens who were genetically modified before birth, she and the others departed for "camp" at a classified military site.

Besides discovering her own special ability, uncovering a conspiracy, and capturing a killer, she's also forged new friendships, found love, and managed to lose them both.

With no answers and the end of summer closing in, Clio's terrified of going home more lost than when she arrived.

Will she finally find everything she's been looking for?

Find out in this exciting conclusion to the Solid trilogy.

Release Date:November 1, 2012
Age Group:  YA
Source: Review copy from author

What a perfect conclusion to the Solid series!  I really enjoyed book one, Solid, and book two, Settling, but I think that Sound was my favorite out of the series.  It was a close race, though: all three books were great reads in their own right.  Not to mention the fact that Workinger provides a descriptive summary at the beginning of each book, thus enabling readers who are new to the series a way to jump right in.  I would definitely recommend reading all three books, and reading them in order, of course, but you could read just one book from the series and still understand what's going on.

Sound takes place immediately after the events in Settling, book two.  Clio is ostracized by her group of friends, because of her betrayal of Jack.  Clio had an inappropriate moment with Lieutenant Graham at the end of book two and once her friends found out, they shunned her.  The worst part was that Jack does not remember anything about Clio's betrayal.  In fact, he can't remember his relationship with Clio at all! 

Finally, Clio takes ownership of her mistake and is accepted back into her group of friends.  I loved the way the conflict resolution between the group was handled.  I loved that Clio really owns her feelings and stands up for herself.  I also was happy with the way Clio handled her relationship with Jack: it wasn't at all what I was expecting, but it was perfect for the situation.  Additionally, I was also pleased with how Workinger resolved the conflict with Lieutenant Graham, especially the part where Clio confesses her indiscretion to Colonel Clark.  

My one complaint about Sound was that there was a lot of build-up to the actual action sequence in the book.  The build-up was necessary, but I would have preferred for the book to be longer and to have more action.   

I was surprised at the ending---which made me happy---I love to be surprised.  I think it was the perfect way for Workinger to end the series.  She left things open enough for a future sequel, but closed enough to give her readers closure.  I hope there is a sequel sometime in the future, because I'd love to read more about the Solid characters and spend some more time in their world!