Book Review: Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1) by Simone Elkeles

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

Release Date: September 24, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

I really enjoyed Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry and Leaving Paradise series, so I was thrilled to be able to read Wild Cards early through NetGalley.  I did really enjoy this book, but not as much as some of her previous work.

I liked Ashtyn and Derek but had a little bit of trouble identifying with both of them.  Ashtyn was full of surprises and I never quite knew which side of her was going to be predominant at any time: the tough football player or the softer young woman desperate for love and approval.  Derek was at first glance your stereotypical bad boy, but there was more to him that I initially suspected.  

My favorite characters in this book ended up being Derek's grandmother and Ashtyn's sister, Brandi.  They both added a lot of spunk and interest to the story.  I thought the conflict resolution was very sweet and well-done, with a couple of surprises to spice things up.  I think what kept me from loving the book was the focus on football. I just don't like football and wasn't really invested in that part of the story (which was a huge part of the plot).

Overall, I did enjoy Wild Cards.  It wasn't one of my favorites, but it was still a great read and I would definitely read the next book in the series.  Simone Elkeles excels at writing realistic characters experiencing emotions that are part of growing up (falling in love, for example)----and for an adult reading her work, her books are great at taking me back to that first-love feeling.   


Giveaway: Blog Fest 2013

Blog Fest is one of our favorite yearly giveaways!
Thanks to Cinnamon from A Journey of Books for hosting this great event. 

Visit the other blogs participating in Blog Fest here. This is a link to the Blog Fest tracking site.

Our giveaway is a...
$15 Amazon e-gift card 

Giveaway Rules:
  1. This giveaway is open internationally.
  2. The winner will be notified via email and will have 72 hours to respond to the email and claim their prize.
  3. The gift card will be delivered via email; therefore you must have a valid email address.
  4. Anyone can enter!
Visit the next five blogs participating in Blog Fest:
Michelle Flick
Feather Stone
Leontine's Book Realm
Novels on the Run
Book Obsessed 

And visit the tracking site too.

Blog Tour: Loving the Missing Link

Natalie and I are honored to welcome author Julia Asel Thomas to I'd So Rather Be Reading today.  Julia is the author of Loving the Missing Link  and is here today to talk about a very important writing technique: choosing your verbs.  Welcome, Julia!

Choosing Your Words Carefully: A Guide to Finding the Best Verbs for Your Purpose

There are two things a group of words must have to be an honest-to-goodness sentence. Of course, they need a noun, even if that noun is understood. Then, they need a verb – a word that will tell what that person, place or thing is doing. Whether you are a beginning writer or you just need a reminder, it is always a good idea to consider how you are using these powerful words in your writing.

Did I say powerful? Well, some verbs are powerful while others are little more than placeholders. What I call “power verbs” are those that give a narrower definition to the given action. Let me give you an example from my book, Loving the Missing Link. On the very first page of the book, Cheryl narrates, “I realized that Mom would hear about it, so I rushed home to tell her.”If I had written the sentence using the verb ”went” instead of “rushed,” you would only have a broad understanding that Cheryl moved from one location to the other. I used the verb “rushed” because I wanted the reader to know Cheryl’s exact style of moving. I wanted to convey a powerful emotion connected to her movement.

A carefully chosen verb can eliminate the need for an adverb, too. Adverbs have their place, but they tend to slow down the action of the sentence. Notice the difference between these two sentences: “I stepped loudly on the floor.” And “I stomped on the floor.” Stomped is a powerful enough verb that it does not need the adverb “loudly.” If you stomped, we tend to assume you did it loudly.

Power verbs are action verbs. Yet, not all action verbs are equal. Walked is technically an action verb, because it shows that someone or something is doing something. Replace it with a more precise verb, and boost the power of your sentence. Your character may have walked, but your reader knows more about what is going on if she sauntered, glided or trudged instead.

That is not to say that a simple verb is never called for. If your purpose is to have your character write a business report or a legal document, it is best to keep the verbs simple in most cases. That is because power verbs tend to show an attitude of some kind. Use verbs that are less flamboyant and more direct when you want to be straightforward and unbiased.

Finally, when you are writing sentences, it is not enough to choose powerful verbs. You need to put them in a position of action. Instead of “The dog was groomed by the attendant,” say “The attendant groomed the dog.” Use that power verb to the max by keeping it in the action mode rather than the acted-on mode.

Power verbs make your fiction more precise and also more concise. They insert the reader right into the action of the sentence. If that is the effect you want, examine every verb and make sure it is up to the task of driving your fiction forward. Your plot, characters and settings shine when you ground them in powerful, active verbs.

As a writer, I constantly fight the battle to overcome weak verbs. As I write this, I am also reminding myself to always choose my words carefully. Sometimes, I don’t choose the right verb until the second or third draft, when I have a clearer understanding of what is going on. As long as I get the job done, I don’t sweat it.

Book Summary:
Loving the Missing Link is a fabulous tale about love, success, hope and music. During the 1970's. Young Cheryl Simpson feels trapped in her small Missouri town. As her mother tries to help her find a way up and out, Cheryl begins to feel that it is all an impossible dream. She sees herself living a boring and dismal life for the rest of her days. Just at the moment when she is about to give up on happiness, she gets the opportunity to join her high school band. The band promises a connection with the world outside her town, but Cheryl does not see any future for herself in music. It is just a tool to get where she wants to go. However, Cheryl’s mother arranges for Cheryl to take private lessons with an accomplished musician, who helps her realize the beauty and awesome power of music.
Still, Cheryl feels that small-town inferiority and finds it too hard to believe that she could ever be anyone special out in the “real” world. On the eve of a music contest that could help her earn a music scholarship, Cheryl begins to panic. Scared and feeling alone, Cheryl runs off with her high school sweetheart and gets married, leaving the band behind.
During the next years, Cheryl and her husband make a life for themselves. Cheryl meets friends along the way who help guide her to becoming the woman she wants to be. She becomes interested in the arts again. All the while, Cheryl and husband Jerry face the challenges of homelessness, miscarriage and an extra-marital affair before an unexpected disaster brings Cheryl’s life crashing to the ground. Cheryl survives, with the help of her extraordinary friends and her life-long love for music.

Author Bio:
Julia Asel Thomas writes stories with vivid descriptions, authentic dialogue and revealing narration. Her debut book, Loving the Missing Link, presents the engrossing and moving story of a young, small town girl who grows up, lives and loves while trying to find a balance between despair and hope.

Like the protagonist in her debut book, Loving the Missing Link, Julia Asel Thomas knows small town life. However, Julia’s experiences were quite different than Cheryl’s. Julia is the middle child of seven children and the daughter of a church organist and a business manager. Growing up in the small town of Hamilton, Missouri, Julia’s family enjoyed a reputation as a bright and interesting family. Julia thrived on the quiet and carefree life she lived in that gentle place.

When Julia was in high school, she earned a scholarship for a trip to Cali, Colombia as a foreign exchange student. The experience, although it only lasted a few brief months, had a profound influence on the rest of her life. After her time abroad, Julia realized in a very real way that, although customs may differ from culture to culture, the substance of human emotions is constant. We all need love. We all need to feel secure. We all have happy moments and sad moments. Back from Colombia, Julia become ever more interested in capturing these human emotions through music and writing.

After high school, Julia took a break before going on to college. During this time, she married her husband, Will. Will joined the Air Force, and Julia accompanied him to bases around the country, taking college classes in each town where they resided. Their two children were born in Las Vegas, Nevada, while Will was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. Married in 1976, Julia and Will are thrilled to celebrate each new anniversary and look forward to staying together for life.

Julia began writing fiction at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher gave her the assignment to write about “My Worst Day.” Julia took the opportunity to concoct every possible disaster a young child could face during the course of a normal day. The teacher loved her work and asked her to read it to the class. From then on, Julia wanted nothing more than to be a writer.

In 2007, Julia began earning her living by writing articles, press releases and website content for a number of clients. As she settled into a routine of working every day on her writing, the old urge to write fiction resurfaced. In 2012, Julia started with a story she had written in 1985 and continued it to create the story in Loving the Missing Link.

After Julia’s husband, Will retired from the Air Force, they moved back to Missouri and now live in Kansas City, Missouri. Find out more about this author by visiting her online:

Book Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

Release Date: September 24, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

This was a great read!  What the summary says is so true: this book is very realistic, gripping and honest.  I was hooked from the first chapter and could not wait to find out how Callie's story would end.  

I loved the premise of Where the Stars Still Shine.  Callie has gone through more than most adults endure, and managed to be the adult in her relationship with her mother.  I really felt for Callie.  She never had the chance to have a real childhood, or even make friends.  Her mother's erratic, paranoid and irrational behavior rules their lives and Callie and her mom are always on the run, moving from town to town to evade the law.  

Callie's life takes a turn for the better when she is discovered after ten years and goes to live with her dad.  Her dad has remarried and his new wife and their two children do accept Callie; however, Callie has a hard time adjusting to the huge transition of having a stable home and family, with a big extended family.  

A YA novel would be incomplete without a love story, and Where the Stars Still Shine had a great love story.  I was so happy with that element of the book.  

There were a couple of places where the story slowed down a little, and several times when Callie's behavior really got to me, but overall these issues did not lessen my enjoyment of the story.

I loved Doller's writing style, her storyline, and the way she writes emotions.  I also liked that this book is a stand-alone novel.  Having a firm conclusion to the story means a lot to me!  I loved Where the Stars Still Shine and look forward to reading more from Trish Doller. 

Book Review: Last Train to Omaha by Ann Whitely-Gillen

What happens when a bright young man’s promising future is tragically derailed at the age of eighteen?

Thirty-five-year-old James Milligan, the solitary and impenetrable chief architect at one of Chicago’s leading design firms, has never recovered from the gruesome death of his best friend nearly two decades before. He’s learned that a distant heart is the only way to shut out the nagging guilt and pain that threatens to capsize him at any moment. Only the dying veterans at the Aaron Milligan Palliative Care Center know the depth of the overwhelming compassion that James harbors within himself, and he is determined never to let anyone else into his heart — or his future — again.

However, when caring and patient palliative care nurse Rebecca Doyle enters his world, his hardened exterior begins to crack against his will. Will Martin Diggs, the charismatic and perplexing Vietnam War veteran convince James that it’s not too late to reclaim his future?

Release Date: March 11, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author

I really enjoyed Last Train to Omaha.  It felt like literary fiction to me: much deeper than my usual reads, which was a great change of pace.  Last Train to Omaha is a fairly long book, which allowed for more depth to the story.  Whitely-Gillen has written a very insightful, emotional and deep book, and it's not to be missed.

My favorite thing about Last Train to Omaha was the characters.  They were so well-developed and diverse, and made the book a joy to read.  I loved how there was a large cast of characters with many stories, some of which intertwined.  James and Rebecca are the main characters and each go through some pretty tough personal journeys.  Martin Diggs was the most enigmatic and entertaining character in the book.  I loved him and thought he added so much depth and emotion to the story.  Martin is a very well-read, intelligent, and wise character, and is often the voice of reason to those around him.  He often quotes poetry, and he stole the scene every time the story came back around to him.  Martin's words of wisdom made for an inspiring read.

Whitely-Gillen did a great job developing the characters.  I liked that Last Train to Omaha takes place over several months, because it gave the characters time to really grow and change.  I really enjoyed the emphasis on personal growth and acceptance of your circumstances.  It made the book feel very useful for my own life.

My one complaint about Last Train to Omaha was that the story moved slowly at times.  It's definitely not a fast-paced, action-packed read.  The book is more about emotional growth and the pace of the story reflected that.  

Last Train to Omaha was not like the books I usually read, but I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to anyone.  It would be a great book club pick.    

Book Review: Freak of Nature (IFICS #1) by Julia Crane

Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.

Release Date: February 2, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

Freak of Nature was a neat book that really grew on me as I read it.  I really enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the next book in the series!

Julia Crane's writing is very spare and direct.  I think the best word to sum up her writing style would be succinct.  At first, I wasn't sure what I thought about her writing style.  I found myself wishing for a longer story to allow for the love story to be better developed.  But, by the end of the book I had gotten used to the prose and began to appreciate it for its uniqueness and how well suited it was to the plot.

Freak of Nature was extra special to me because the main character shares my daughter's name, with the exact same spelling.  It was sometimes hard to separate the two Kaitlyns while I was reading, although the fact that Julia's Kaitlyn is a cyborg helped matters.  I found myself automatically liking Kaitlyn before I really knew much about her, just because of her name.  

The cyborg premise is nothing new, but I did like the way Kaitlyn becomes a cyborg.  That part of the story was well-developed, and I enjoyed the scientific aspect of her creation.  I also enjoyed Kaitlyn's demonstrations of strength and agility.  There's nothing more appealing than a strong female lead character.

The book didn't go in the direction I expected it to, and I liked that.  I expected the characters to act a certain way and when they didn't, I was really surprised (which I liked).  I was happy with the way Crane wrapped up the story: plenty of closure but the ending left me looking forward to book two.  

I really enjoyed Freak of Nature and I'm looking forward to reading more from Julia Crane!

Book to Movie Review: The Host

Stephenie Meyer's The Host is one of my all-time favorite books.  I've read it several times and each time I enjoy it just as much as the first time I read the book, right after it was released in 2008.  I've long hoped that Meyer would release a sequel to The Host (has she decided to just stop writing and work on movies?!) but in lieu of a new book release, I was pacified with the release of The Host movie.

I did not see The Host in the theater; the main reason being that I'm a SAHM to a 2 year old and I really can't get to the movies anymore.  As soon as the movie was released to Netflix, I sat down and watched it.  

While I don't think the movie version of a book is ever as good as the book itself, I found the disparity between the book and movie versions of The Host to be quite shocking.  The movie felt flat, unemotional, and cliched to me.  Many of the more emotional scenes in the book were either missing, contrived, or rushed.  The movie seemed to drag and was, at times, boring.  In contrast, I think the book is exciting, full of emotion, and I love the slow build of the relationships between the characters.  The movie was full of what I consider typical alien cliches: very sleek, advanced technology, white and gray clothes, bright and modern silver cars, etc.  I wish that the souls' technology would have been more subtle (as it was implied in the book) and not so abjectly alien.

There was a definite lack of chemistry between the main characters.  If I had not read the book, I would have been unsure as to why Ian and Wanda ever fell in love.  The relationship building was just not there.  At one point, Wanda/Melanie asks Jared to kiss her.  That part in the book was so full of chemistry.  In the movie, it was laughably forced.

I have mixed emotions about the casting for The Host.  I thought Jeb, Jared, Maggie and the Seeker/Lacey were perfectly cast.  I also liked Melanie; however, I wish she would have been stronger-looking.  She's so thin and I always imagined Melanie to have a fighter's build, not a super-slim actress build with very light musculature.  Wanda's character was my biggest casting complaint.  Wanda is supposed to be small, ethereally beautiful, blonde, and delicate.  Wanda's new body was just all wrong (the wrong face, hair, and stature), and it nearly ruined the ending of the movie for me.  

My favorite character was the Seeker.  She perfectly embodied the Seeker from the book, and I loved her internal struggle, and the fact that she's hiding a huge secret of her own.  Her drive and determination were admirable, although poorly directed, and I loved the way her storyline came to a close.

The best thing I can say about The Host movie is that it did stay true to the book.  I really appreciate that and liked seeing one of my favorite books adapted into a movie.  I wish that the movie had been longer, to allow for more character development.  There were some important plot points that were left out, due to time constraints, I'm guessing.  The storyline about Kyle and Jodi, as well as Wanda's job before she meets up with Jeb, immediately come to mind.  

I realize that this review is full of complaints.  I did enjoy the movie, but had some major problems with it.  I know it's not a movie I'll buy, or likely ever watch again.  It may be worth your time if you can rent it for a low price, but I would highly recommend reading the book instead if you have the time.

Book Review: Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions by Cami Ostman and Susan Tive

Beyond Belief addresses what happens when women of extreme religions decide to walk away. Editors Susan Tive (a former Orthodox Jew) and Cami Ostman (a de-converted fundamentalist born-again Christian) have compiled a collection of powerful personal stories written by women of varying ages, races, and religious backgrounds who share one commonality: they’ve all experienced and rejected extreme religions.

Covering a wide range of religious communities—including Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Calvinist, Moonie, and Jehovah’s Witness—and containing contributions from authors like Julia Scheeres (Jesus Land), the stories in Beyond Belief reveal how these women became involved, what their lives were like, and why they came to the decision to eventually abandon their faiths. The authors shed a bright light on the rigid expectations and misogyny so often built into religious orthodoxy, yet they also explain the lure—why so many women are attracted to these lifestyles, what they find that’s beautiful about living a religious life, and why leaving can be not only very difficult but also bittersweet.

Release Date: April 2, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher

I have never been in an extreme religion, but I am drawn to stories about those who have been.  Earlier this year I read Peggy Riley's Amity and Sorrow, and was amazed at the intensity of the characters' religious devotion.

I started Beyond Belief expecting that the stories would be accounts of the events leading up to the women's exodus from their religion.  I confess that I was a little disappointed to find that most of the essays are either a summary of the narrator's religious background, or describe one outstanding event.  Upon further reflection, I decided that a book devoted solely to the stories of how women left their religious groups would start to feel repetitive.  I liked that I started each chapter not knowing what to expect from that particular essay.

One of my favorite aspects of a collection of essays is that I can read one story at a time, then put the book down, picking it up days later to read another story.  I can stop and start reading without being lost, or having to follow one particular plot.  It's nice to be able to experience a book one small bit at a time.  

I would have liked more depth to the stories.  Of course, this issue is common to collections of essays: how well can the reader get to know a character when their entire story is eclipsed in 10-20 pages?  I often wondered why exactly the women chose to leave their faith group, and would have liked to know more about that, instead of just having a snapshot of part of their faith journey.

Overall, I did enjoy Beyond Belief.  It's definitely a change of pace from my usual reading selection, and I liked the intensity and honesty of the stories.  I would recommend Beyond Belief to anyone interested in extreme religions, and to fans of nonfiction books.

Fill out the form below to enter to win an e-copy of Beyond Belief.  This giveaway is open internationally and runs from 9/19/13 to 9/29/13.  The winner will be notified via email.

Book Review: The Bitter Kingdom (Girl of Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson

The epic conclusion to Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she's never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.

Release Date: August 27, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased

I can't think of a better end for Rae Carson's outstanding Girl of Fire and Thorns series!  The Bitter Kingdom was everything I wanted it to be and more.  I found myself reading as slowly as I could, just to make this book last longer---it was that good.

Elisa has really come into her own in every way: as a queen, as a woman, and as a bearer of the Godstone.  I loved seeing her grow into such an admirable and strong character.  She is decisive, strong-willed, and quick-witted.  I really liked her as a person, and she grew on me more with each book in the series.

I love seeing Elisa and Hector so happy together.  Their relationship was so tender and sweetly written.  Carson hit the perfect balance between love and duty.  I loved the way Carson ended the book with regards to the love story.

The characters in this series really stand out.  They come from all walks of life, and characters that I had sworn to hate, I found myself actually liking.  I love it when authors do that: make me care about a character that I thought I would hate.  It's the mark of a great writer.  

The plot was full of twists, as usual for this series, and I never knew what would happen next.  I thought I knew how Carson would resolve the main crux of the book: the war between the countries, but I was wrong and I loved the surprise of how that issue was resolved.  

I really can't say enough good things about this series.  The imagery, the love story, the character development: it's all so good!  I would highly recommend reading the books back to back if you can.  The world Carson has created is so complex that it would be easy to get a little lost between books.  I had read the novellas before reading The Bitter Kingdom and that helped me refresh my memory and enjoy the book even more.  Authors like Rae Carson remind me why I keep coming back to high fantasy, even though it's not always the easiest genre to read.  This series is not one to be missed!  


Book to Movie News: The Year of YA

It's been a while since we have had a Book to Movie round up and GOOD GOLLY are we in for it! There are so many book to movie adaptations that have (and will) come out for 2013! And SO many are from the YA genre!!! 

Lets recap the ones released so far:

World War Z was SO FREAKING CREEPY! The BEST ZOMBIE film to date! #therunnersfreakedmeout #ihatezombiesilovezombies

The Great Gatsby I loved it and it was true to the book. #youhadmeatleo #alwayshateddaisy

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones I really had my doubts going into this one. I did not like the cast and I thought there was no way to capture the vivid world Clare created in the books. I was especially bugged at who was cast to play Jace because I had my heart set on Alex Pettyfer! BUT I have to say BRAVO to Jaime Campbell Bower! I really liked the chemistry between him and Lily Collins, they won me over. He really brought out the cockyness and vulnerability of the "book Jace" that I grew to love! #simonwaswaycuterinthemoviethanihadimagined #stillLOVEthatwarlock #magnus

The Host BOMB!!! I thought it was absolutely horrible... from the casting to the acting. I even lost a few friends over my rude remarks after watching it. If you didn't read the book I have no idea how you could have understood what was going on. If you did read the book you wanted your money back about 30 minutes into it. #nohashtagcouldsumupmydistaste

Les Miserables I don't feel qualified to judge this movie. I have'nt seen the broadway production and fear that if I were to say anything negative about this movie I might be attacked by thesbians! #musicalsarentmything

Life of Pi I haven't read the book or watched the movie. Thoughts?

Beautiful Creatures I went into this one knowing that Kelli hated the books and that it wasn't a 5 star read but that it had potential to be a good book adaptation. I really enjoyed it. I'm sure I would have understood characters better had I read the book but at face value, I liked it! #southernaccentsarethebomb 

November is going to be a GREAT movie month! I am excited to see every single one of these releases! The Hunger Games:Catching Fire, Ender's Game, The Book Thief & Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters


And 2014 ain't lookin' so bad!

Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters... #DIMITRI If this movie isn't epic I might have a break down! So far I have liked the casting #dimitriisrighton

The Fault in Our Stars will be a tear jerker for sure #chickflick

Divergent I still don't know how I feel about Shailene Woodley. I hope that I can look at her as Beatrice and NOT think of Amy and Ricky from The Secret Life of the American Teenager #yesivewatchedthemall #noimnotproud

What Book to Movie Adaptations are you excited for?!

#yesnatalieisobsessedwithhashtags #yesnataliehasalreadydecoratedforhalloween #nonatalieneverclaimedtobenormal

*Image(s) Source:

Book Review: The King's Guard (Fire and Thorns #0.7) by Rae Carson

At fifteen years old, Hector is the youngest squire in the most elite military force in the country. And his first day is disastrous. Everyone assumes the only reason he was recruited is his close personal association with King Alejandro, not because he's really earned it.

But Alejandro needs Hector for a secret mission, one that gives him the chance to prove to everyone—including himself—that he is worthy to be a Royal Guard. Hector must break into the ancient Fortress of Wind to retrieve something so important that the kingdom's future depends on it. What Hector finds in the fortress will stretch his bond of friendship with his king near to breaking. And it will prepare him to become the fearsome warrior and lord commander Elisa will never let go.

A riveting prequel to Rae Carson's epic and acclaimed Fire and Thorns series.

Release Date: July 30, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased

I can sum up my reasons for buying and reading The King's Guard in one word: Hector.  I love Hector in the Fire and Thorns series and jumped at the chance to read about his history.

I really enjoyed The King's Guard.  It had the same magical feel as the other books in the series: completely captivating in its imagery, fast-paced, and with a well-developed plot.  My one complaint is that I wish the story were longer, but it was a good size for a novella.

I thought the plot with Isadora was so unique and well-executed.  I really felt for her, and also for Rosaura.  I loved seeing Hector as a young man, and knowing more about his history.  Hector grows up a lot in this short story, and that was nice to read about.

I really have no complaints at all about The King's Guard.  It was just as good as the full-length novels in the series and I can't wait to read more from Rae Carson!

Book Review: The Shattered Mountain (Fire and Thorns #0.6) by Rae Carson

On the outskirts of Joya d'Arena, small villages fight for survival against the onslaught of sorcerers and raiders. Mara's village has been safe--so far--but Mara decides to escape anyway. Escape from her harsh, abusive father. Escape with her first love. But when their plans fall on the same day that the animagi burn the village to the ground, Mara faces losses that could destroy her. She's a survivor, though. She is going to make it through the mountains, and she is going to protect the refugees following her. Because there's a rumored safe haven . . . and some say they have found the Chosen One. Told from Mara's point-of-view, The Shattered Mountain is an alternate perspective of the beginning of the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

Release Date: March 26, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased

I enjoyed this novella, but liked The King's Guard better.  The Shattered Mountain occurs before the events in book one, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and tells Mara's story.  The Shattered Mountain is told in a first-person narrative, with Mara as the narrator.

It's been so long since I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, that I didn't immediately remember the characters in this story.  I knew Mara's name was familiar but I couldn't place her.  I wish that I would have at least re-read my reviews of the first two books in the series before reading Carson's novellas.  I think I would have enjoyed The Shattered Mountain more if I weren't constantly trying to remember details about the world and characters.

I had a lot of respect for Mara: she has a terrible home life with her father and goes though the unthinkable when her village is attacked by the Inviernos.  She is strong, level-headed, and becomes the leader of the small band of refugees from her village.  

What kept me from loving The Shattered Mountain was how sad it was.  The entire story was just heartbreaking, and while there was a hopeful ending, the book left me feeling somber.

I'm glad I read this The Shattered Mountain, and would recommend it to fans of the series.  The best thing about reading The Shattered Mountain was that it got me excited about the series again, and I'm really looking forward to book three, The Bitter Kingdom, out later this month!


Guest Post: Hannah Fielding, author of Burning Embers

Today we're happy to welcome author Hannah Fielding to talk about her favorite places to write.  Welcome to I'd So Rather Be Reading, Hannah!

One of several writing spots in my French home.
Location, location, location: Choosing where to write
In my experience, where you write has a direct relationship with how and what you write. Try writing in a boring, uncomfortable, confined space and you’re likely to inject that mood into your writing. Which is fine if you’re writing a dark book, perhaps a horror or thriller, but not remotely helpful if, like me, you write passionate, evocative, colourful, inspiring romance.
I am lucky enough to have two homes, one in ‘the garden of England’, Kent, England, and the other in the south of France. In and around both homes I use many locations for my writing. Here I share four of my favourites in the hope they can inspire you to think creatively about where you may set up your laptop or notepad and get lost in your literary world.

I like to sit on this bench in our garden in Kent.
A dedicated writing space at home
Home is where we feel most relaxed, and often writing at home is easier in terms of slotting in writing time around other commitments. Making a dedicated writing space at home also signals clearly to your inner muse and to others that you are taking writing seriously. Many writers feel the need for a degree of quiet and isolation when writing, and I am certainly one of them, so I recommend taking over a private space, if possible. The main criteria for the space are light, warmth and a view – especially a view, to gaze at when thinking. In my home in France my desk overlooks the Mediterranean, and I often find myself lost in its ever-changing colours.

The garden
When weather permits, I like to get outside. The scents and sounds and fauna of my gardens are rich sources of inspiration. Plus, if you’re going to be a writer, you may as well make the experience of writing as fun as possible. Many of us spend at least some time each week stuck in uninspiring surroundings like offices, typing away at computers. Going out into the garden is like crossing a boundary into a place that is inherently more creative.

A lonely beach near my French home.
A local beauty spot
If writer’s block is plaguing you, change the scene. Walking and daydreaming often helps lift a block. Take your writing implements and settle on a park bench or a flowery field or atop a hill and remind yourself of the immensity of the world. For me, a favourite spot is a quiet beach.

I love to take in the lights of Ste Maxime.
A café
Sometimes, you need to be amid the buzz of life in order to write. People-watching is essential for finding ideas and developing characters. Cafés are ideal spots for writers – pick a corner table, take out your notepad, sip your drink and watch the world go by. I especially like to choose a pavement café on a warm afternoon, and if a slice of gateau should happen to be placed on my table by a dashing waiter while I’m there, so much the better!

Thank you for the great inspiration, Hannah!  Want to know more about Hannah's book, Burning Embers?   
Title: Burning Embers
Author: Hannah Fielding
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Genre: Romance
Format: Print/ebook

Length: 282 pages
Blurb: Burning Embers is a contemporary historical romance novel set in 1970s Kenya. It tells the story of the developing love and passion between Coral, a naive, young English girl returning to the place of her birth, and Rafe, the handsome but tortured womanizer to whom Coral is inextricably drawn. It's a story of long, hot African days and sultry nights; of slumbering beasts and awakening desires; of intrigue and darkness; of journeys beginning and ending; of growing up and letting go; of falling in love, and following your heart.

Author of
Burning Embers and romance novel reviewer