Books of the Month: December 2013

December was a great reading month for me.  I read so many excellent books!  These four novels were my favorites.  They're all pretty different from each other, and all were five-star reads!

Pieces For You by Genna Rulon.  Read my review here.  I loved this emotional, moving, romantic contemporary NA fiction novel.  Genna Rulon is a new favorite author of mine.

Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby.  Read my review here.  This adult contemporary fiction novel was full of interesting characters, self-discovery, and my favorite: character growth.  I sped through it in a day, desperate to see Rose get her well-deserved HEA. 

The Worlds We Make (Fallen World #3) by Megan Crewe.  I got to read the conclusion to the Fallen World series early and it was outstanding.  I love Megan Crewe's writing style, world-building, and characterization!  Look for my review closer to the February 2014 release date. 

Uncaged by Joe Gazzam.  Read my review hereThis YA thriller was so exciting!  It centered on members of the Scared Straight program.  Uncaged was full of surprises and a very thrilling plot.  I loved it!

What were your favorite December reads?

Madi's Minis Volume II: Divergent, Insurgent, Stork, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

When we chose this book to read for Book Club (Of COURSE I’m in Book Club!!) I was super excited! The book didn’t disappoint! The book was fast paced, awesome setting, and the love story????TOTAL KICK-BUTT-AWESOME-SAUCE! Even though I was mad at Tris at times… Divergent is totes (totes: teenage term for “Totally”) in the running for best read of the month. (And yes I just made that up).  Stars: 5

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth
This book is a great follow up to Divergent! I would sit down to read and when I looked up, it was 3 hours later. 3 HOURS! That’s how good this book was. But Tris and her boyfriend (I’m leaving out the name just in case) would fight a lot and that made me really sad! I still loved it, but not as good as DivergentStars: 4.5

Stork by Wendy Delsol

This book is REALLY good! I thought the book cover didn’t give enough information about the BEST PART OF THE WHOLE BOOK! The book has this concept that the storks (You know the cartoons about the birds that give people babies) aren’t birds but people! SUPER COOL! I love this book! The plot is AWESOME and the characters are great.  Stars: 4.5

Paper Towns by John Green
John Green is my favorite author IN THE WHOLE WORLD! I had read this book a long ago but I didn’t remember it! So naturally I re-read it! The thing I love about John Green’s books is that after I finish it, I’m a better person than I was when I started the book. Paper Towns did not disappoint. I love the characters, I love the setting, I love the message. Fair warning there is some profane language in this book. Even though I didn’t love how long he looked for Margo, I want to buy this book in hardcover, just so I can have it in my hands. Stars: 4
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

As you probably read in the previous review, I love ALL of John Green’s stuff. This book included. But out of all of John Green’s works, this one is my least favorite. I think it’s because the main character is kind of a wimp. (And I like tough main characters). But the message of this book was just was good as the others. Stars: 4






Book Review: Lovely Vicious (Lovely Vicious #1) by Sara Wolf

Fire meets ice. Love meets hate. Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to the Buttcrack-of-Nowhere Ohio to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing – Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.

The game board: East Summit High.

The reward: Something neither of them expected.

Release Date: November 5, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli
Lovely Vicious was such a unique book.  I really enjoyed it!  Isis' voice made this book fun to read.  She felt like a real teen, instead of an author masquerading as a teen.  I liked that.  Isis is spunky and sassy, which made me like her even more.  She's a quick thinker and always has a witty retort at the ready.  I wish I was quick on my feet like that, but I'm not; however, I love reading about people who are.

Isis' fiery personality is really a cover-up for her emotional baggage.  She suffered a traumatic event over three years ago, which is hinted at, yet the exact details were not given.  I have an idea what happened, but Wolf kept the reader in the dark about the details.  Isis has vowed never to love again, and keeps a tally of the time since she made her vow.  Each chapter starts with how long it's been since Isis vowed to never love again, for example: Three years, 20 weeks, 6 days.  It was a neat way to start the chapters, and it helped mark the passage of time in the book.  Lovely Vicious takes place over several months, which gave the story a longer arc and more depth.

Isis' counterpart is Jack.  He's called the Ice Prince of her high school.  Isis and Jack clash from the very first time they meet.  Isis declares war on Jack after Jack makes her friend Kayla cry.  This war was pretty intense---they did things I would never considered doing in high school, or ever, really---and it provided the main plot conflict of the story. 

But Lovely Vicious was more than just a feud between two people who secretly like each other.  There was a mystery in the story, surrounding a girl named Sophia.  I enjoyed trying to figure out Sophia's role in the story.  The one thing I didn't like about this book was how adult parts of it were.  I'm not talking about bedroom scenes, but there was one aspect of the story that was surprisingly adult in nature.

The book ends on an unexpected turn of events, and it left me really excited to read the next book in the series.  Wolf's writing made Lovely Vicious a fun and memorable book to read.  I recommend it for fans of contemporary YA.



Book Review: Uncaged by Joe Gazzam

Jason seems destined to screw things up. After capping off a burglary and a bar fight with a car wreck, he quickly finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And since his father's the governor, that means his punishment is about as public as it gets. Jason's thrown into the first Scared Straight program Florida has ever run in their updated, state-of-the-art Blackenbush Penitentiary. Along with a documentary crew led by Sasha, a young woman in way over her head, and a handful of other kids a year and a strike away from jail, Jason comes face to face with his inevitable future on the other side of a heavily guarded prison wall.

But that's just the beginning. The tour has barely begun when one of the inmates makes a move. Before long the entire penitentiary is under siege, surrounded by the feds and overrun with prisoners let loose from their cells. Jason slips away with Sasha in the chaos, but they won't be able to escape without help. And the only thing worse than being stuck in prison, is being stuck in a prison run by the inmates.

Release Date: October 11, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli

I haven't read many YA thrillers, but the ones I have read (like The Girl in the Wall and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die), I've really enjoyed.  Uncaged was no exception.  I loved this exciting and sometimes downright scary novel!  And I'm not just talking about the cover, although the cover does freak me out a little.  This was one of those times I was happy to be reading an e-book and not see the cover each time I picked up the book.  It's appropriate to the story but the eye just scares me!

I had a vague idea of what the Scared Straight program was, but never considered the specifics of it.  I loved that Scared Straight---along with a really surprising and well-planned prison break---was the premise of this book.  It made Uncaged unique and fun to read. 

Jason is the governor's son and he's been getting into trouble since his mom died.  He's acting out, doing dumb things.  The governor enrolls Jason in the Scared Straight program: Jason, along with other teens, will go into a prison and be a prisoner for a few hours.  The idea is that actually being booked into prison, and being locked up, if only for a few hours, will be a wake-up call for the young men to change their ways.

I liked that Jason is a realistic, everyday teen.  He's not heroic or selfless; instead, he's selfish and a little hedonistic.  Jason's emotional maturity was appropriate for his age.  So often in YA literature, the protagonists are too adult: too smart, too emotionally mature, too altrustic.  I liked that Gazzam wrote Jason as a normal teen.

Uncaged had a really exciting plot which was full of surprises.  There was a lot of depth to the plot, which I loved.  I never quite knew what would happen next.  Gazzam's pacing was perfect: Uncaged was intense and the "I'm only reading one more page" feeling stayed with me for the entirety of the book.  Uncaged reminded me of some of my favorite television shows, like Prison Break and 24.  It had that same feeling of heightened emotions, great pacing and an intricate plot. 

The conflict resolution was perfect for the story.  I loved the epilogue and how the characters' lives were changed.  Despite the majority of this book taking place in one day's time, I felt like there was a lot of character growth, which made me happy.

If you're a fan of YA thrillers, I highly recommend Uncaged.  I'm looking forward to reading more from Joe Gazzam!

Book Review: Twigs by Alison Ashley Formento

One pint-sized girl. Ten supersized crises. And it’s high noon.

They call her “Twigs,” because she’ll never hit five feet tall. Although she was born early, and a stiff breeze could knock her over, Twigs has a mighty spirit. She needs it, as life throws a whole bucket of rotten luck at her: Dad’s an absentee drunk; Mom’s obsessed with her new deaf boyfriend (and Twigs can’t tell what they’re saying to each other). Little sister Marlee is trying to date her way through the entire high school; Twigs’ true love may be a long-distance loser after a single week away at college, and suddenly, older brother Matt is missing in Iraq. It all comes together when a couple of thugs in a drugstore aisle lash out, and Twigs must fight to save the life of the father who denied her.

Release Date: September 18, 2013
Age Group: NA
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli

Twigs had the disadvantage of being read immediately after UnSouled by Neal Shusterman.  Which was one of my favorite books of the year.  I read Twigs while I was in a book-hangover state, knowing that I was bound to view it unfairly after reading UnSouled.  I should have taken my own advice and "not" read a review request right after UnSouled, but I'm not great at taking advice.  Even when it's my own.  Especially my own.  

Anyway, Twigs is about an 18-year old girl named Madeline but who is called Twigs because of her tiny size.  I liked Twigs as a character and liked her thinking about life.  She is honest with both herself and everyone around her.  Think about it: how many people make a habit of always saying what they think?  Not many.  But Twigs does and that was my favorite part of her character.

What made this book special was the way Formento developed the characters.  Everyone had a distinct purpose in the book and added a lot of depth to the story.  My favorite character was Helen, just because she was so unpredictable.

I felt like Twigs moved slowly.  It was a long book for a contemporary NA read, and it got kind of bogged down in the middle.  All the action happened at the end, and I would have liked more of the "after," instead of most of the book being about the journey.  Although that may have been Formento's point: life is about the journey, not the destination.

Overall, I enjoyed Twigs.  I probably would have liked it even more had I not read UnSouled the day before Twigs.  I enjoyed Formento's writing and would read her again.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  We hope your Christmas celebrations are full of joy, and great books, of course!

The Originals: Move over Damon, Elijah has stepped in!

We have been long-time fans of the CW series, The Vampire Diaries.  We could not have been happier when the CW announced their TVD spin-off, The Originals.  An entire show devoted to Klaus, Elijah, and Rebecca?  Yes, please! Did we mention Elijah? #eyecandy #itsallabouttheaccent

So far the season has been so much better than we expected.  It's the best 42 minutes of our week!...watching the latest episode on the CW's website for Kelli and Hulu for Nat.

Besides the intricate plot, the excellent acting, the exquisite wardrobe, oh, and ELIJAH, The Originals has a more mature feel than TVD and we love that.  

While watching the mid-season finale---seriously, we have to wait a month for new episodes?---we came to several realizations:
  1. ELIJAH IS OUR NEW DAMON.  Enough said. #hashtagthat
  2. I want to be dressed by the wardrobe people on this show.  I love how they dress Rebecca and Cami in those loose, flowy tops. They would really help camouflage my baby bump (which I still have after giving birth 2.5 years ago).
  3. Despite my avowed declaration to hate him, Klaus is growing on me.
  4. The Originals is so good, it's making me completely ambivalent about The Vampire Diaries.  It's similar to how I felt about Twilight after reading Vampire Academy.  This is scary!
This image alone could have been the body of this post.

Book Review: Fracture Me (Shatter Me #2.5) by Tahereh Mafi

In this electrifying sixty-page companion novella to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, discover the fate of the Omega Point rebels as they go up against The Reestablishment. Set during and soon after the final moments of Unravel Me, Fracture Me is told from Adam's perspective.

As Omega Point prepares to launch an all-out assault on The Reestablishment soldiers stationed in Sector 45, Adam's focus couldn't be further from the upcoming battle. He's reeling from his breakup with Juliette, scared for his best friend's life, and as concerned as ever for his brother James's safety. And just as Adam begins to wonder if this life is really for him, the alarms sound. It's time for war.

On the battlefield, it seems like the odds are in their favor—but taking down Warner, Adam's newly discovered half brother, won't be that easy. The Reestablishment can't tolerate a rebellion, and they'll do anything to crush the resistance . . . including killing everyone Adam has ever cared about.

Fracture Me sets the stage for Ignite Me, the explosive finale in Tahereh Mafi's epic dystopian series. It's a novella not to be missed by fans who crave action-packed stories with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu.
Release Date: December 17, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli & Madi
Kelli's Review:
Some series just stand out from the others in the genre.  They are memorable, more than memorable: unforgettable.  Shatter Me is one of those series.  The emotions, the writing style, the plot, it's all outstanding!

I was so excited when I started Fracture Me.  I'm not usually a fan of novellas, but the novellas in the Shatter Me series have all been really satisfying, especially the one told from Warner's perspective.  I enjoyed Fracture Me, but something was missing.  I think it's the fact that this story retells the events from the end of Unravel Me.  I wanted a fresh story, not a retelling of previously told events from a different perspective.  Of course, I still loved the book and I sped through it like I was being held at gunpoint, being forced to read as fast as possible, but I finished the book wanting more to the story.

My favorite thing about this novella was the teaser for book three, Ignite Me.  Mafi includes the first two chapters of Ignite Me.  Each page of this teaser was like unexpectedly finding money...I would have paid double the price of this ebook to have a third chapter included!  I really cannot wait to read the finale to this outstanding series---I know Mafi will not disappoint my extremely high expectations! 
Madi's Review (with supporting quotes):
My conclusion: She's going to choose Warner. TAKE THAT ADAM! Look, Warner's just the better choice! He understands her, he's not moodier than a teenage girl on her period, AND he's hotter. It's a no brainer! Fracture Me just confirmed my suspicions. I HAVE PROOF! 
"My first love." Location 804.
Madi: She didn't say, "My current love"!

"But I know I have a responsibility to Juliette.  What would she do if I weren't there to help her?  She needs me." Location 655.
Madi:  RESPONSIBILITY??? Uh, no.  YOU "LOVE" HER.  It shouldn't be a responsibility.  Get Warner back.

"I love Juliette.  I really do.  I want to help her and support her and be there for her.  I want us to have a future together.  But sometimes I wonder if it's ever going to happen." Location 675.
Madi: HA it won't!!  Warner trumps you!

"Kenji grins.  "Okay, then.  Let's go get our girl back." "My girl." I correct him.  "She's my girl."  "Right. Minus the part where she's not actually your girl. Not anymore."  Location 437
Madi: This book confirmed that Juliette will choose Warner!!!! WARNER WILL WIN! ADAM HAS NO CHANCE! It's TOTALLY Beauty and the Beast! Juliette is both Belle AND the Beast!! Ditto with Warner! ITS MEANT TO BE! 

Did you read Fracture Me? 
What are your thoughts on this series and the love triangle?


Book Review: The Human (The Eden Trilogy #2) by Keary Taylor

The city of New Eden is cleared, but it won’t stay that way forever. The Bane continue to advance in horrific ways that will wipe humanity from the face of the Earth. A storm is coming, one none of them could have dared imagine.

When a group of outsiders come to the city, everyone is on edge. They have too many questions and not enough answers about where they are from or what they want. Just because they are human doesn’t mean they can be trusted.

Eve made a choice–one that could have deadly repercussions. Desperate hearts bring about desperate actions. Now she must make another decision as her world continues to crumble: come to terms with who she really is, or risk her sanity. She thought she had unlocked all the secrets from her past, but there are truths still buried that leave her questioning what is real and what is not.

Release Date: June 18, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased

I enjoyed book one in the Eden trilogy, The Bane (read my review here) but found it to be a little slow moving.  Taylor starts book two, The Human, by jumping right into the action, and the pace never slowed down for the entire book.  I loved that!  

The Human was action-packed, to say the least.  There was so much going on, and it was all very life-and-death, that it made the book feel very intense and fast-paced.  I love it when books have that feel to them.  I found The Bane easy to put down, but The Human was one of those books that I sped through, because it was just that good.

I liked Eve in book one, but I couldn't really identify with her.  I understand her so much better after reading The Human.  I really like Eve now, and admire her for her selflessness, strength, and devotion to saving the human race.  Learning more about Eve's tortured past really opened her character up to me.  I felt so badly for her, once I learned more about her history.

The actual premise of the human-turned-cyborg Bane was so neat.  I really like the world Taylor has created and her plot was so full of twists that I was continually surprised throughout this book.

The love story was also very well-done.  Taylor hit just the right balance of love and action.  I liked that while Eve is in love, it doesn't keep her from fulfilling her obligations to the citizens of New Eden.  What I mean is that I like that Eve is in love without it consuming her every thought and action.

If you haven't read Keary Taylor before, and you like a good sci-fi/dystopia, I highly recommend the Eden trilogy!

Book Review: The Christmas Town by Elyse Douglas

Traveling home for Christmas, two young women in their 20s are forced to drive together during a snowstorm, and they get lost. They cross a covered bridge and, suddenly, they enter the past, finding themselves in a small picturesque Vermont town in 1943. They meet two handsome soldiers, who are about to be sent off to war, and they fall in love with them, while also struggling to find a way to return home to their own time.

With the soldiers’ help, on Christmas Eve, the two women finally have one chance to return to their own time, but they are caught between their love for the soldiers, and their desire to return to the present. At the last moment, they must make the difficult decision and, because it is Christmas, a miracle happens.
Release Date: October 11, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
I love reading Christmas-themed stories during the holidays, and The Christmas Town was a perfect holiday read: light, sweet, and full of warm-fuzzy feelings. 

I liked this book from the first page and that opinion held true for the entire story.  There are two female lead characters in The Christmas Town: Jackie and Megan.  Jackie and Megan were very different from each other but their temperaments complemented each other perfectly: Megan makes impulsive decisions based on her feelings, and Jackie is rational, and thinks everything through.  Watching the two women move from acquaintances to dear friends was my favorite part of the story.   

The romance in The Christmas Town was sweet and very tasteful.  I liked that Jackie and Megan's relationships were not the focus of the book, but they were an important part of the plot.  The time-travel aspect added a fun layer of depth to the story, and with much of the book taking place in 1943, that fulfilled my yearning for a historical fiction read. 

There were a lot of things to like about The Christmas Town.  The element of predictability kept me from giving this book five stars; but if you take it for what it is: a feel-good story great for the holidays, you'll love it.



Book Review: Sugar Spun Sister (Sweet Dreams #1) by Anna Garner

Life isn’t exactly sweet for Cricket Whittier. Her boss hates her, her work is soul-destroying, and the sexy guy she’s hooking up with doesn’t want to date her. But this girl is far from hopeless. When Cricket’s in the kitchen with her ice cream maker and a few choice ingredients, her troubles slip away as she becomes a delectable dessert-designing powerhouse. She loves it so much, she dreams of opening her own ice cream shop one day.

As it turns out, “one day” just might be closer than she thinks. Propelled by the help and encouragement of her best friends, Lindsay and Nora, Cricket starts making plans to set up shop. Which is easier said than done what with the internal squabbling, the sky-high costs, her parents forecasting failure and her increasingly complicated love life. Despite all these hurdles, will Cricket be able to make her sweet dreams come true?

Release Date: 
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli

This is my second time reading Anna Garner (read my review of Lying to Meet You here) and I loved Sugar Spun Sister just as much as Lying to Meet You---something I really didn't think could happen!

Sugar Spun Sister is Cricket Whittier's story.  Cricket has a boring job with a boss who hates her.  Her boss thrives on making Cricket's life miserable.  To top that off, Cricket's flame, Jimmy, just wants to be "friends with benefits" while she wants a relationship.  But, Cricket has a something of her own: her passion is creating unique ice cream flavors out of her kitchen at home.  It's her outlet, her way to de-stress and work through her troubles.  Cricket is creative with her flavor combinations, and her friends and family laud her creations.  Cricket dreams of having her own ice cream shop...someday.

Cricket's two best friends, Lindsay and Nora, are very encouraging of Cricket's ice cream dreams (I'm sorry, but I could not help the rhyme!).  In fact, Nora practically railroads Cricket into making her dreams a reality.  But it's all done in friendship and Cricket ends up happy for her friends' help.  

What I loved about this book was that it was so much more than a love story.  It's a story about a woman following her passion, doing what inspires her, and making her dreams come true.  I love that Cricket works so hard on her ice cream shop: nothing falls in her lap or is given to her.  Every success she has is a result of her hard work and dedication.  

Besides Cricket's career aspirations, Sugar Spun Sister is a story about three best friends and the men in their lives.  And what interesting men they were!  From Cricket's relationship with Jimmy, to Nora's clueless husband, and Lindsay's pseudo-boyfriend, there were a lot of love stories to follow in this book.  I loved that Cricket is surprised at the end, by realizing that what she thought she wanted out of a relationship was not what was best for her at all.  

Cricket's family life was another source of humor and levity.  Her parents live off the land in a sort of hippie lifestyle.  Her siblings are all very uniquely named, and they were very interesting and unique characters. 

I love Garner's pacing.  It's perfect, and her writing continually has me saying, "just one more chapter," until I look up and it's hours later and I've finished the book!  There were many finely-tuned details that made this book special.  From the yoga instructor coming to help the girls relax before their opening, to the guys they hire to man the ice-cream shop, and the inclusion of the recipes at the beginning of the chapters, Garner excels at adding these special touches.  The addition of the recipes made this story even more creative (I kept wondering if Garner came up with the flavors by herself, because if she did, she is certainly multi-talented).  By the way, the recipes were completely mouth-watering and had me standing in the ice cream aisle at my local grocery store, wishing for one of Cricket's exotic flavor combinations.

I love that Sugar Spun Sister is the first in a series.  Each book will feature one member of the  trio of best friends.  I can't wait to read more about these funny, confident and smart women!  

Christmas Giveway!

We're giving away a hard copy of a children's holiday novel, A Visit from Santa Clops or The Fright Before Christmas. 
Anyone in the US or Canada can enter to win this holiday picture book!  This giveaway ends 12/27, and the winner will be contacted via email.  The winner has 72 hours to respond to the email and claim their prize.

About the book:

A Visit From Santa Clops or The Fright Before Christmas is a monstrous take on the holiday classic The Night Before Christmas. In this new adaptation, Santa Clops, the beastly one-eyed cousin of Kris Kringle, stops by a slumbering family's house on Christmas Eve to put some coal in the stockings of the children that live there.
The startled father must confront the ogre on behalf of his kids whom he knows were nice and not naughty. The result is a new holiday classic." rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Review: Pieces for You by Genna Rulon

Pieces For You (For You, #2)Summary:
Samantha Whitney survived unimaginable tragedy only to discover she had been betrayed by a man who claimed to love her. Shattered, Sam spends months at a safe haven trying to piece herself back together. Ready or not, the time has come for her to return home.

As Sam struggles to resume a life that no longer feels familiar, she finds unwavering support in an unexpected, familiar face. Confronting Sam’s raw emotions and open wounds head-on, Griffin manages to take two steps forward for every step she retreats.

But when Sam is once again threatened, Griffin must decide how far he is willing to go to protect the woman he wants…knowing the cost of her safety is the risk of losing her.
Pieces For You is a captivating journey of survival, healing, and sacrifice—teeming with honesty, humor, unexpected twists, and love’s unsurpassed endurance.
Release Date: December 17, 2013
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli
I loved Genna Rulon's debut novel, Only For You, the first in the For You series (read my review HERE).  With bated breath, I waited for Samantha's story.  If you've read Only For You, you'll understand why I was waiting with bated breath: Sam undergoes a trauma at the end of book one and Pieces For You is her story.  I'm so happy to report that Pieces For You was every bit as good as Only For You.  Rulon escapes the sophomore book syndrome with ease, delivering a sequel just as compelling as the first book in the series. 

I really didn't think I could love another couple as much as I loved Everleigh and Hunter from book one.  Speaking of Huntleigh (their couple name, bestowed upon them by Sam), I loved that they were a vital part of Pieces For You.  I would have been thrilled for a couple of cameos of their HEA, but Rulon went one step further and gave me a front-row seat to their happiness.  I loved her for that, and I loved getting to read about Everleigh and Hunter really enjoying each other and settling into their relationship with a deep level of honesty and respect for each other.

As much as I liked seeing the characters from book one, Sam and Griffin's relationship made this story so special.  I fell in love with Griffin right along with Sam.  He was so perfect for her, so caring, loving and patient.  I loved how he treated her as he would something precious and irreplaceable (because she is!), and yet he never treated her with kid gloves after her attack, like many people would be apt to do. 

There was so much positive character growth in this book.  Pieces For You is truly a journey of healing for Sam, one that was emotional, moving, and inspiring.  I loved watching Sam put her life back together.  Sam fights hard for each piece of her old self, and while she'll never be the Sam she was before her brutal attack, she grows into a different person, one with empathy, strength and fortitude.  I really admired Sam and was thrilled at her growth and eventual happiness.

I love Rulon's writing style.  Her writing is smart, sassy, and concise.  There are no superfluous scenes, or extra "fluff" as I like to call it.  Each scene furthers the plot development, often in ways I don't realize at the time.  Her dialogue is just right: realistic without being full of slang or abbreviations (ugh, I hate those), and she always hits the right note on the repartee between lovers and friends.  Every interaction felt real, not contrived.  Reading her books is like watching events unfold in real life, instead of knowing that what I'm reading is fiction (because of the way the story's written).  I love that about her writing and this series!

One of the things I always notice about books in the New Adult genre are the bedroom scenes: are there too many, are they too "much", are they an expression of love between characters, instead of just lust?  These are the things I think about, and what I value in these particular scenes.  I'm happy to say that Rulon, once again, gets this right too: the love scenes were a tender yet passionate expression of the relationship between the two main characters.  They were definitely more adult than YA (as they should be, as Pieces For You is NA), but completely appropriate for the story, and very well-done. 

Like in Only For You, the minor characters made this story special, especially Meg.  I really, really want to know more about Meg!  I'm hoping that book three will be Meg's story.  I can see her becoming an essential part of the 'For You' gang. 

Pieces For You was one of my favorite reads this month, and Genna Rulon has been elevated to auto-buy status for me.  If she writes it, I'll buy it!  I can't think of one thing I'd change about this book: it was perfect.  I highly recommend this series, and can't wait for book three!


Release Day for Pieces For You by Genna Rulon

  Today's an exciting day!  The second installment in Genna Rulon's For You series was released today.  Pieces For You was one of my favorite reads in 2013, and I'm totally in love with this series.  If you're a fan of contemporary fiction, give this series a try: it's excellent!  

Below are some of my favorite quotes from Pieces For You.  The images and quotes were provided by the author---and they are perfect teasers for the story, which is full of depth and emotion.

Author Bio:
Genna Rulon is an up-and-coming contemporary romance author who loves nothing more than a good love story. 
During her 15 years in the corporate world, Genna, inspired by her love of reading, fantasized about penning her own stories.  Encouraged by her favorite authors, many of whom are indie writers and self-published, she committed to pursue her aspirations of writing her own novels.
Genna was raised on Long Island in New York, where she still resides, surrounded by the most amazing family and friends.  Married to a wonderful man who patiently tolerates her ramblings about whichever book she is currently working on, even feigning interest relatively convincingly!  Genna is blessed with two little boys who do their best to thwart mommy's writing time with their hilarious antics and charming extrapolations.
All of Genna’s reviews are brought to you courtesy of copious amounts of coffee and Disney Junior (something has to entertain the boys when mommy is writing).
You can find Genna online at:
Be sure to join the mailing list for updates about future books, as well as giveaways, and other fun facts.
Genna would love to hear from you, and will personally respond to all messages! 
You can contact her as follows:
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Mini Reviews: Anna and the French Kiss; Lola and the Boy Next Door; Forever; City of Bones

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I stayed away from this book for the longest time. Why? Because it said French kiss in the name. HOW RIDICULOUS IS THAT? I’m glad I didn’t stay away because could possibly be the BEST BOOK IN THE HISTORY OF YA ROMANCES! THE BEST! I love love love ( a thousand times love) this book! St. Clair is now my number one fictional boyfriend!!! I love the setting, the character development, THE EVERYTHING! If I had to choose a book to read for all time and eternity, this book would almost beat Anne of Green Gables…almost.  Stars: 5

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
This book was right next to Anna and the French Kiss in the library so I thought it was a sequel. It’s not. It DOES have Anna and St. Clair in it though! YAY! But I was skeptic about it at first. All I was thinking was I WANT ST. CLAIR! But I fell in love with the characters in this book. Cricket is now my fictional boyfriend. I really liked Lola. I found myself wanting to be in her place. Love this book.  Stars: 4.5

Forever by Judy Blume
I recongnized this author so I was excited to read this book. I was dissapointed. The feel of this book was awkward and bland. At it was ALL about you know what!!! Is that that what she thinks teenagers think about all the time? It was ridiculous! I refused to finish it! (Plus it was boring).  Stars: 1

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
This book was a sad affair for me. This is because, I knew the plot twist. I KNEW IT!!! It ruined it for me! But if you didn’t hear about the most amazing plot twist in the history of literature, then you should read it. The plot was engaging, the characters were awesome. I really wish I didn’t know the plot twist!!! (Does anyone know where I can get my memories erased?? Haha just kidding!) GAHHHH!!!!!  Stars: I can’t rate it! My experience was tainted!





Mini Reviews: Return to Me, The Cuckoo's Calling

Return to Me by Justina ChenSeveral years ago, I read and loved Justina Chen's North of Beautiful.  I haven't read any more of her books since then, but I've been meaning to.  I'm so glad I picked up Return to Me.  It was such a great read, full of beautiful imagery, Chen's unique descriptive prose, and well-developed characters.  There was nothing I didn't like about this book, and it embodies everything I love about contemporary YA.  The book was an emotional journey and I found myself tearing up several times.  Highly recommended!  Rating: 5/5 stars

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling.
I bought The Cuckoo's Calling for Kindle when it went on sale the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I confess that I bought it solely because JK Rowling wrote it.  I figured, it was $3.99, why not?  The Cuckoo's Calling was a good read, but not as good as I'd expected it to be.  It's a true mystery, about a private detective called Cormoran Strike, who is solving the murder/suicide of a popular model, nicknamed Cuckoo.  The book is set in London, which I loved, and it was full of great imagery.  I really got the feeling that I was right there in London along with Strike and Robin (his secretary/assistant).  What I didn't like about this book was that it was slow, and it had an excessive amount of unnecessarily large words.  I kept thinking, "Okay, JK Rowling, we all get that you are either a) smarter than the rest of us, or, b) know how to use a thesaurus.  You can stop with the adjectives."  I had to look up about two or three words per chapter and that got old.  Instead of feeling a little bit educated, I ended up feeling agitated at having to stop the flow of reading to keep looking up words.  Besides these two complaints, the book was good, and I'd probably keep reading the series, if I could get the second book for a good price.  Rating: 3.5/5 stars