Do You Like Scary Stories?

We generally agree with each other on many subjects here at I'd So Rather Be Reading.  Chocolate: always, Vampire Diaries (the CW show, not the books): love it, YA: love it...but scary stories are where we draw the line.  Kelli hates them, and hate is not a strong enough word.  No ghosts, zombies, or anything like that will cross her reading plate.  Natalie loves them, and Madi B is also a fan.  Keep reading for each of our thoughts on scary stories.

I'm still scarred after reading Wait 'Til Helen Comes as an 8 year-old...over 25 years ago!  I can still remember passages from that book in vivid detail and was so scared of Helen that I could not sleep alone for days. I don't read anything to do with zombies (gah!), ghosts, or spirits.  I just can't handle it!  And don't even get me started on scary movies...I'm even worse about those.  I was once forced to watch The Shining during a high-school sleepover and I'm still scared every time I have a flashback to scenes from that movie.  Like Wait 'Til Helen Comes, I seem to have a photographic memory for scary things, and I can remember The Shining in vivid detail, despite having watched it once over 17 years ago!  Real life is scary enough...I like my books and movies happy and uplifting.  I'll stick to my Jane Austen adaptations and the occasional Twilight re-watching! 
BRING ON THE ZOMBIES & GHOSTS! It is a well known fact that Halloween officially begins September 1st in our family. No room in our house is safe! When it is time to choose costumes, you will not find any princesses here... So to answer the question, do I love scary stories? ABSOLUTELY! I remember the day my daughter brought home her first Goosebump book from the library and had a story about having to fight to be the first one in her class to check it out... now THAT made me teary eyed. I loved the Goosebumps series as a kid and my mom made sure we had every single one that came out. Now, my love of a good scare comes with one very important guideline: I don't like gore. I like to be scared but I do not like blood & guts. For me, it takes away from a good plot and is only important for a B worthy story. What really gets me going is reading a good thriller and then being so creeped out that I hide under my sheets to go to sleep! It really gets your blood pumping! 
Now, another important question: how have my kids been affected by my love of a good scare? They have been taught right! 
My daughter does not like anything to scare her but likes to be the one doing the scaring. My oldest son LOVES all things scary (& kissing, gah)-- raising him right. And my two year old son LOVES to watch all the goosbumps movies. In fact, if I need to get something done, they are my go-to films to keep his attention. Twisted yes, but I never claimed to be normal.  
PS We have decided to make a creepy movie with extended family this year to celebrate Halloween! Super Excited! Watch the video below that my brother-in-law created that was inspired by the very popular Slender Man game. You will never look at that game the same way!

I've never been a scary movie type of gal. You want me to voluntarily watch a movie that's designed to make me pee my pants? I'll stick with my Disney movies thank you very much! But occasionally I get bored with normal YA book and look for a thriller just for the heck of it! But they have to be short, because I can't handle having to go to bed without the plot finished. If you're the type that loves scary movies, you'll double love scary books. Reading a scary book is like walking through a dark scary forest at night. Stuff freaks you out. But your imagination makes it worse than it actually is. In movies you see the scary monster, you can't change that. But in books, your imagination can make that monster WAY worse than reality! It's pretty awesome. My favorite scary book is Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender. It's got a little bit of everything, ghosts, romance, possesed people and crap, and even a crazy stalker doll. How could you NOT like it?!? Even I could handle it! (Which is impressive judging from my choice of movies).

What are your thoughts on scary stories?  

Books of the Month: October 2013

My favorite books this month were easy to choose...although I read a lot of great books, three stood out for me (and are also some new favorites of mine).  Click the titles to go to the books' Goodreads pages.

1.  UnSouled (Unwind #3) by Neal Shusterman.  If you haven't read this series yet, you're missing out.  It's outstanding!  And, I'd like to note that UnSouled is the first book Nat has stopped to read in months.  So that alone should tell you how good UnSouled is!  Rating: 5 stars; Stalker Worthy 

2.  "You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth" and Other Things You'll Only Hear From Your Friends in the Powder Room edited by Leslie Marinelli.  I loved this anthology, comprised of 39 essays from popular bloggers.  It was funny, poignant, and made me realize that I'm not so weird in the way I think about parenthood sometimes.  Look for my review soon.  Rating: 5 stars

3.  I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert.  Another parenting satire book...a new favorite of mine.  I love Karen's blog, Baby Sideburns, and this book was just what I needed to break me out of a bad "mommy guilt" cycle.  I laughed so hard I nearly cried, and loved every minute of this book!  Rating: 5 stars

What were your favorite October reads?

Book Review: Waterfell (The Aquarathi #1) by Amalie Howard

Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father's betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa's upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age.

Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa's mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

Release Date: October 29, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli

Going off of the summary alone, I thought Waterfell was going to be about a mermaid posing as a human.  It was so much more than that, and different from what I'd expected.  I was surprised at how unique Waterfell was.  It reminded me of Sophie Jordan's Firelight series in a good way, with the complex world-building and intriguing premise. 

I didn't like Nerissa all that much at the beginning of the story.  She appeared spoiled and it was hard for me to really understand her.  But as the story progressed, I began to appreciate her character and as she grew and changed, I liked her even more.  

One thing that bothered me about Waterfell was that I had a hard time picturing Nerissa's true form.  The description was perfectly adequate; however, the concept of Nerissa's true form was very alien to me and I could not hold the image of her in my head.  I found myself altering the image each time she shifted.  I would have liked a picture or maybe Nerissa's true form to be included in the cover art. 

Waterfell is a long book, longer than my typical YA reads, which allowed for a lot of world-building and character growth.  I like the way Howard describes the history of Waterfell and Nerissa's people.  There was a nice surprise at the end of the book, which left me aching for book two.  

Waterfell was well-written and engaging.  It's much more than your typical mermaid story.  It's not a mermaid story at all!  I enjoyed this book and look forward to the next installment in the series.  


Book Review: Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy #1) by Anna Banks

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...

Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

Release Date: May 22, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Madi B

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE (I could keep going) this book! When I love a book, I can take it down in a day. But this one, I read in a matter of hours! After I finished it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Every time someone said something, I'd find a way to relate it to the book. I love the characters, the story, how the magical world relates to ours; it's just AMAZING!

I'm a sucker for a strong female lead. A weak pushover? NO WAY, JOSE! Emma was a perfect fit! Everything about her was plain awesome. I liked how she wasn't perfect. She had problems just like the rest of us and I loved that!  You'd be surprised how many authors make their characters flawless. Nicholas Sparks is notorious for it. Tiny, tan, athletic, beautiful, AND emerald green eyes? Give me a break! What is it with authors and green eyes? 

I loved Galen. His awkwardness around some things was freaking adorable. I really liked the story line too! Watching their love story evolve was so wonderful. The whole time i was thinking cute, socially awkward, AND in love with you?  MARRY HIM! MARRY HIM NOW! 

I thought Anna Banks was kind of playing on the reader a bit though. Could you imagine a deep, mysterious, and totally model worthy guy show up randomly at school and is ONLY interested in you? The author completely understands that we've all have had that daydream and is playing on our weakness of fictional characters! Although I forgave Galen because he's so darn cute.

I liked how Banks didn't give Emma everything. Some authors will make everything good happen to the character. Like in Adventurers Wanted, the main guy has an amazing natural talent for sword-fighting  wins everything, and, oh by the way, HE'S A WIZARD TOO! Can he lose something…ever?  I liked how Emma didn't get everything she wanted (I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t elaborate).

Overall I love Of Poseidon. I was recommending the book before I finished it. Me: “Everyone in the whole world should read this book!” Person: “What’s it called?” me: “Can’t….talk…must…read.” I’m so glad I have a copy of this because I want to read it over and over and over again!

Book Review: Far Shore (The After Trilogy #3) by Traci Slatton

An old enemy wreaks new havoc at the end of the world…

After the mists’ lethal apocalypse, mankind’s only hope for survival lies broken and battered, the prisoner of a ruthless sociopath who will stop at nothing to hurt him. Emma sets out to rescue him. She faces an ultimatum and must relinquish everything she holds dear. As Arthur teeters on the brink of life and death, Emma’s healing ability fails. Her own despair tests her, and she must grow stronger than she ever dreamt possible as she confronts the truth of her own heart.

In a time of apocalyptic despair, love is put to the test…

A mystical odyssey, a haunting love...

Release Date: October 10, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli

I have recently discovered Traci L. Slatton's writing and I am completely enthralled with her series, The After Trilogy.  Read my reviews of book one, Fallen, and book two, Cold Light.  I never dreamed I'd love this series as much as I do.  I was on pins and needles waiting for Far Shore, and I stopped everything (including the book I was reading at the time) to read this book.

Slatton did not disappoint my high expectations: I loved every single second of Far Shore. I did not want the book to end, and found myself trying to slow my reading pace, just to make the book last longer.  Slatton's writing style makes this series so special.  The best way I can describe the writing is that it's very intelligent without feeling too text-like.  I found myself using my Kindle dictionary function several times, and I love being challenged like that.  

The premise of the earth-destroying mists is so unique and well-executed.  The people of the world live in constant fear of the mists, which consume people, animals, and structures alike.  They leave a trail of devastation wherever they go.  I really liked the fact that the mists lend a really intriguing sci-fi element to this series.  Besides the lethal mists, there are groups of raiders who are terrifyingly inhumane.  So, basically, there are dangers right and left in this series.  

The series is set in the end times, hence the name The After Trilogy.  I like books set in this time period because the trappings of every day life are rendered superfluous and day-to-day survival becomes key.  I like that focus on living, especially because it allows the reader to see who the characters are at their core, with the usual concerns of daily life removed from the story.  Slatton does an excellent job with her characterization and also with the relationships between characters.  I've said it before: I can't believe that I'm just as invested in the love story as I am in the fate of the world, but I am.  I am still shocked by Emma's choice, but I believe it was really the only choice she could make and stay true to her beliefs.    

The After trilogy is a perfect example of why it's good for me to read different genres. This series is adult fiction and it's not to be missed.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my young adult, and lately, new adult, series that I don't want to branch out into adult fiction, but I'm so glad I did.  I finished this book feeling educated, entertained, and satisfied.  I still think about this series, weeks later, and often wonder what the characters are doing now.  This series is outstanding and I can't wait to read more from Traci Slatton!     

Book Review: One Tiny Lie (Ten Tiny Breaths #2) by K.A. Tucker

Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents' tragic death and Kacey's self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would...and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t want in a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.

Release Date:  June 11, 2013
Age Group:  New Adult
Source:  Purchased

I really enjoyed Ten Tiny Breaths and jumped at the chance to read Livie's story.  I really liked Livie in Ten Tiny Breaths and always wondered how she kept herself so calm and collected in the face of her hardships.  Turns out, Livie's been hiding some big issues such as being terrified of the opposite sex, and she's also scared of disappointing her father.   

I saw a lot of myself in Livie, mostly the drive to succeed and the shyness around boys.  I never went wild in college like she did, but I really identified with her, much more so than Kacey in book one.  Watching Livie grow up and change was my favorite part of One Tiny Lie.  Well, that, and her relationship with Ashton.  I loved the two of them together: they had a ton of chemistry and I love reading about two people falling in love.

My main problem with One Tiny Lie was that I didn't like the way Ashton treated Livie sometimes.  I don't like games between guys and girls and he ran hot and cold with her.  Which I couldn't stand, especially since I liked Livie so much and wanted her to be happy.
One of my biggest reading pet peeves is when characters have tons of problems and the problems are magically fixed by love.  I can't stand that all too-common plot device.  Tucker is not guilty of that issue, though.  Her characters have issues, yes, but they go to therapy and work through them in healthy ways.  I love that about this series!  The actual interactions with the psychiatrist were some of my favorite parts of the book.  He's a nontraditional doctor and his unorthodox methods garner big results. 

I really enjoyed One Tiny Lie and can't wait to read the next book in the series.   

Book Review: Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths #1) by K.A. Tucker

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

Release Date: December 11, 2012
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli

I'm loving the mature YA genre!  I don't feel so much like I'm reading books that are too young for me.  But this book was quite mature for the genre, with a lot of bad language and sex.  In fact, I looked it up to verify that Ten Tiny Breaths is in fact new adult and not just adult. 

I really enjoyed this book, in fact, I sped through it in about three hours.  I stayed up late to finish it, because I just had to know if Kacey was going to get her HEA.  I loved the writing style, the emotion, and the characterization.  I thought the story was paced very well and the emotions just jumped off the pages.  My favorite thing about this book was how Tucker resolves Kacey's emotional crisis.  The inclusion of therapy and medication to treat Kacey's problems made the story feel very realistic.  

One big thing I didn't like about Ten Tiny Breaths was that it felt predictable.  I knew Trent's secret long before Kacey did.  I also was not completely in love with the ending.  It felt a little rote to me.  

While I did have a couple of problems with this book, overall I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to fans of the New Adult genre.  I would definitely read K.A. Tucker again.   

Book Review: Bold by Julia Swift and Andrew Landis

Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash and vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her new-found courage is tested when she meets Will, who just moved to her Air Force desert town after his journalist father’s disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha’s brush with and secret knowledge of death.
Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered suburban world. But will they discover there is a difference between being bold and being stupid before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?

Release Date: July 4, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from authors
Reviewed By: Kelli

I decided to read Bold because I was intrigued by the premise.  I like the idea of living life to the fullest, and was interested in how Sasha would change her life after her near-death experience. 

Bold was a good, clean read with a great message.  I liked that it's contemporary fiction, but not just a love story.  I appreciated the focus on self-awareness and self-change.  There was a lot of character growth, which is one of my favorite things to read about.

I didn't like the dishonesty between the two main characters, which felt like it went on for too much of the book.  Some of the parts didn't flow well, and I found myself reading certain segments twice to make sure I wasn't missing anything.  Maybe this was due to the fact that Bold is written by two authors instead of one, or maybe it was just me.

Overall, I really did enjoy Bold.  It was different from other books in the genre, with fresh voices, and well-developed characters.  I'd recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction.

Book Review: Andi Unexpected (Andi Boggs Novel #1) by Amanda Flower

Twelve-year-old Andora 'Andi' Boggs and her fourteen-year-old sister Bethany move to rural Ohio to live with their eccentric twenty-something aunt after the sudden death of their parents. While dealing with her grief, Andi discovers proof of another Andora Boggs in the family tree whose existence was hidden in a Depression-era trunk in the attic. With help from her new friend and neighbor, Colin Carter, Andi is determined to find out who this first Andora was and what happened to her.

Release Date: September 24, 2013
Age Group: Middle Grade
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli

This was such a cute book!  I really enjoyed Andi Unexpected.  It was a light-hearted, clean read with a mystery element.  I finished the book with a smile on my face, and I'm smiling now as I write my review.  

I don't usually read much middle grade fiction, but when I do I always seem to enjoy it.  It sometimes feels just too young for me, but Andi Unexpected was so enjoyable and Andi's character so fun, that I was drawn in to the story and had a great time reading it.

Andi and her new neighbor Colin are cleaning out her aunt's attic and come upon a trunk with the name Andora on it.  This is Andi's full name, and Andora's trunk belongs to another Andora, who lived during the Great Depression.  Andi and Colin seek to discover the history behind the first Andora, and their investigation stirs the interest of a couple of adults in town, one of which has sinister intentions.

I really enjoyed Andi's voice.  She's been through a lot, losing her parents, yet never loses her enthusiasm or zest for life.  The writing style was just right and Flower hit the right balance between character development and moving the plot along.

The characters were well-developed, the writing moved at a good pace, and the story had a couple of surprises.  Andi Unexpected will appeal to fans of Nancy Drew and mystery novels.  It's a great start to what looks to be a sweet, energetic series.  

Book Review: Captives (The Safe Lands #1) by Jill Williamson


One choice could destroy them all. When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he'd find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many---including his fiancee, Jem---taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago ... and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar's dreams.

Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands' walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands' facade before it's too late?

Release date: April 2, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed by: Madi B
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! That’s 3 more loves than usual; sadly that’s not from my brain. It’s actually from The Fault in Our Stars  by John Green.  I loved the plot, the characters, the, well, the EVERYTHING! I fell in love with Mason! (Not real love but the special kind of love you feel for fictional characters. Geez, mom.)
The way the author narrates each chapter from a different perspective. Naturally you like one perspective better than the other. I liked hearing the girl's perspective! (Hmm, I wonder why).  The girls keep getting showered with gifts and since I feel like I'm one of them, in my mind I’m saying “thank you, you’re too kind.” THAT’S how realistic Captives is! I also loved Jemma and Levi’s love story (All the Princess Bride references???? AND Anne of Green Gables references???? HECK FREAKIN YES!!!). It was interesting to hear from Omar’s perspective because he gets hooked on drugs. That sounds really weird but I’ve never done drugs and never will do drugs so it was kinda interesting! Its like how sometimes you feel what the characters feel! Then someone says something along the lines of “I don’t know why anyone would blah blah blah” then you’re all like “I KNOW!!! It’s because blah blah blah” Then the other person says “WOW! That was so deep! I didn’t know that happened to you!” then you have say “Uhhhh that’s because it didn’t."

In books based in the future, the characters start either inside or outside the utopian government then work to get in or out.  But in this book there’s both! So if you’re normally for one or the other.. this is the perfect book for you! Although it would be awkward sometimes for me because something awesome would happen and I’d say “OH MY GOSH EVERYONE IN THE WORLD SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!” then my friends would say “What’s it about?” and then I'm like.. “well this is awkward..” because in the safe lands they all have this virus so no one can have babies there. So they capture (thus the title) this village and bring the residents to the capitol to use to make test tube babies. Saying all of that makes for a very awkward situation.

Overall, I’m really glad I have a copy of this book because I want to read it again and again.

Series Review: The Hybrid Chronicles by Kat Zhang

Summary for What's Left of Me (Book One)
Summary for Once We Were (Book Two) 

I have Melissa of I Swim for Oceans to thank for introducing me to this outstanding series.  Thank you, Melissa!  After reading the summary for What's Left of Me, I knew I had to read this series.  It reminded me of Stephenie Meyer's The Host, one of my all-time favorite books, and after being so disappointed in The Host movie, I was itching for a good story similar to The Host.  I was actually considering re-reading The Host, but when I read about The Hybrid Chronicles on Melissa's blog, I decided to read this series instead.  And I'm so glad I did---these two books are outstanding!

I was drawn in to the story from the very first page.  I immediately liked Addie and Eva, especially Eva.  I thought the premise of two souls in one body was so well-executed.  It's not the same as in Meyer's world, where aliens are overtaking humans.  Instead, everyone is born with two souls, and the dominant soul takes over, usually by age four to to five but almost always by age 12.  The recessive soul simply fades away into oblivion.  But sometimes, the recessive soul does not fade away, and people are left with two souls in one body.  These people are called hybrids and they are outlawed and reviled in America.  America was founded on the basis of being a haven for the single-souled, and the government seeks to eliminate all hybrids, either by imprisoning them in institutions or subjecting them to inhumane experiments to kill their second soul.
Addie is one such hybrid, with Eva trapped inside of her.  Addie keeps the secret from everyone, even her parents.  No one knows that Eva did not fade away, that she's still there.  Addie meets a friend at school who is also a hybrid, and they start to work on letting Eva take control of their body and let Eva speak.  Because for the last three years, Eva has been trapped and can only speak to Addie in their mind.  This sounds really "out there" but I promise the story reads so well and this all feels really natural in Zhang's world.  I loved the idea of one body with two souls, essentially two minds.  It was just so intriguing.

The first book, What's Left of Me, focuses on the struggle of Eva and Addie sharing one body.  They end up in a "hospital" and are terrified that Eva will be surgically removed from Addie's body.  Their struggle to escape is the conflict for book one.  Book two, Once We Were was quite different.  The girls are evolving; Eva can now take over their body and speak and move for herself.  Things get quite interesting when both Eva and Addie fall in love with two different people.  It's sort of a love quadrangle, except neither girl has feelings for the other's paramour.  

Both books were great reads, and I really can't pick a favorite between the two.  Each book was different, but so so good.  I can't wait for book three, due out next year.  Try this series---you won't be disappointed!


Book Review: Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits by Joyce Meyer

From nail biting to cell phone addiction, procrastination to overspending, bad habits seem to outnumber the good ones. Unfortunately, we pay a price for bad habits that outweighs the immediate gratification that they bring.

In this book, Joyce Meyer starts by examining the nature of habits. The first habit - and most important one to have - is the God Habit. By making it a habit to start your day by reading the Bible and communing with God, asking for His help in your efforts and His strength and sustenance, the stage is set for overcoming the habits you want to break and establishing new ones in their place.

She then explores how to break bad habits by examining the destructive negative behavior patterns.

The author moves on to discuss fourteen good habits and devotes a chapter to each. By the end of the chapter, the reader has a specific roadmap to follow until the behavior has become automatic (the definition of a habit). It's like following a GPS to get you to a new place. After traveling the same route several times, the GPS isn't needed for you to find your destination. The 'habit' of following the right route is ingrained.

Among the habits discussed are:
The God Habit
The Habit of Being Decisive
The Health Habit
The Happy Habit
The Habit of Faith
The Habit of Excellence
The Habit of Being Responsible
The Generosity Habit
The Hurry Habit
The Discipline Habit
The Confidence Habit

Release Date: April 2, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli

I'm usually not one to read nonfiction or self-help books, but having really enjoyed Esther Lovejoy's The Sweet Side of Suffering earlier this year, I decided to read Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits when I saw it offered on NetGalley.  Who doesn't have a few habits they need to change?  I have several that I wanted to address, and needed a push in the right direction in order to make changes in my life.  

I've never read Joyce Meyer before, but I have watched her preach on television.  She has a very direct manner of speaking, and that translates into her writing as well. If The Sweet Side of Suffering is compassionate guidance in the right direction to change your life, Joyce Meyer's writing is almost like being shaken awake.

Meyer is very forthright and her voice resonates through the pages.  I could almost hear her saying "Wake up!  Change!  Do better!" as I was reading.  There are some people who like this approach and some people who prefer more of a nudge in the right direction.  I generally prefer to be gently instructed, but there are some habits where I needed a real push, and Meyer provided that for me.

The writing is clear, candid, and effective.  I liked how the book is broken up into specific chapters, each chapter addressing one habit.  The reader can choose to read the chapters that interest them, or read the entire book.  The way the book is written also makes it easy to set it down and come back to it later, without feeling lost or having the feeling of needing to catch up on anything.

The one thing I didn't like about this book was that I felt preached to at times.  I don't like that feeling, and maybe it was just me being defensive about my own bad habits, but sometimes I felt like Meyer was "talking down" to me. 

I enjoyed Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits and I'm happy to say that it gave me the tools to make some positive changes in my own life.  I'm glad I read this book and would definitely read Joyce Meyer again.

Book Review: Going Home by Jamie Lynn Yeager

Jared Anderson can’t seem to escape the death of his little brother. Every mistake Jared makes is one his brother, Bryce, never had the chance to. And in a family plagued with resentments and unspoken words ... the pain is getting too much to bear.

Sometimes it was just easier to feel nothing.

Trying to dull his feelings, Jared turns to alcohol and so-called friends, but learns that popularity comes with a price. Caught in a personal war, Jared knows that something must change before he loses himself forever. However, reinventing what was left of him seems like an impossible task.

With the sudden appearance of an unwelcome stranger, Jared begins to wonder if the very person he is running from is the only one who can save him.

A story of change, hope, and the healing powers of a family’s forgiveness and love.

Release Date: June 12, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli

Jamie Lynn Yeager's Going Home is such a tender and emotional story.  I loved it!  Since I've become a mother, stories about losing a child really hit close to home for me.  You'd think that I would shy away from books about loss, but I have read more on this subject in the past two years than ever before.  I can't even imagine what it would be like to lose your child, and find myself really empathizing with the families in these stories.

Going Home is told from Jared's perspective and while I usually don't love a male narrator, it really worked for this story.  I loved how there was more to Jared than meets the eye.  His flippant attitude towards everything begins to slowly change, and he desires a better connection with his family and those around him.  The person driving this change is a girl at school whom he perceives to be "above him."  Jared wants to be a better person and wants to prove his worth to Payton and for her to reciprocate his feelings.

Jared's psychology class is studying the stages of change, and he takes that model of growth to heart and uses it, along with the class project about changing one area of your life, to turn his life around.  I loved that Jared grows so much throughout the story.  

Going Home has a subtle faith message and is a very clean story.  It's one I would recommend for anyone, because there are no questionable sex scenes.  It's nice to have a change of pace from the usual contemporary YA story, and Going Home was unique in that regard.  

I really liked Yeager's writing style.  It was full of emotion and depth.  She did a great job with the characterization, and I found myself very invested in the story.  There were a couple of times during the book where I started to tear up (I love it when a book is powerful enough to make me cry!).  

Going Home is a sweet story, well-written, and a different take on contemporary YA.  I really enjoyed it and would definitely read Jamie Lynn Yeager again. 

Book Review: Red by Alison Cherry

Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

Release Date: October 8, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

The premise of Red is so unique.  I've never read anything quite like this book!  I loved how different the story was, and the fact that Alison Cherry takes a risk, deviating from the norm in young adult fiction.

Felicity lives in the town of Scarlet, which is a refuge for redheads.  The town was created as a place for redheads to live, marry and produce more redheads, thus preventing the extinction of natural red hair.  There is a hierarchy in the town, with the people with the darkest red hair at the top, the strawberry blondes (called strawbies) in the middle, and the blondes and brunettes at the bottom.  The redheads, called Reds, get the best of everything in the town of Scarlet.  They get preferential treatment wherever they go, such as going to the front of the line in dressing rooms at the mall, the best tables in the cafeteria, everything you can imagine.  I really could not believe the disparity in the town, based solely on hair color.   

Felicity has a huge secret though.  Her dark red hair, which makes her one of the most popular girls in school, is dyed.  She's actually a strawberry blonde, which in any other town would be no big deal, but in Scarlet, it's a social death sentence.  If Felicity's secret got out, she would be ostracized by everyone (or so she fears).  

Red felt shallow at times.  I think this is due to the actual premise of the book, which, while unique, still lends itself to implausibility and superficiality.  It wasn't until the very end of the story that things got serious and I wish that gravitas would have come a little earlier.

I liked a lot about Red.  I liked the friendship between Felicity and her two best friends.  I liked their interactions and thought they were funny together.  I liked the character growth, and the sweet (albeit predictable) love story.  I liked how Felicity finds her voice and stands up for herself, which showed a lot of change and strength for her character. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Red and would recommend it to fans of contemporary YA.

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

We're happy to be a part of I Am A Reader, Not A Writer's annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop.  Our giveaway for this hop is a:

$15 Amazon e-gift card!
Giveaway Rules:
  1. Anyone age 13 and over can enter to win.  
  2. This giveaway is open internationally.
  3. The only requirement to enter this giveaway is that you have a valid email address.
  4. The winner will be emailed and will have 72 hours to reply and claim their prize.  
  5. If there is no reply within 72 hours another winner will be chosen.
You can get extra entries by following Nat's daughter, Kendra, on Instagram.  Kendra is a seven year-old skateboarding prodigy and recently started her own Instragram account.  She is thrilled each time she gets a new follower!