Month in Review: July 2013

Book Reviews (13):
Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger
A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger
The Truth About Letting Go by Leigh Talbert Moore
The New Crown by Jason Sandberg
The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) by Richelle Mead
Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse #13) by Charlaine Harris
Unraveling (Unraveling #1) by Elizabeth Norris
Unbreakable (Unraveling #2) by Elizabeth Norris 
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Facade (The Games #2) by Nyrae Dawn
Imaginable (Intangible #2) by J. Meyers 
The Breathing Series by Rebecca Donovan

Guest Posts/Giveaways:
Author Leighton Summers: Stupid By Choice
Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop: A Really Awesome Mess
Books of the Month: July 2013
 
Books Read (28):
Unbreakable (Unraveling #2) by Elizabeth Norris 
Imaginable (Intangible #2) by J. Meyers
Out of Breath (Breathing #3) by Rebecca Donovan
Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson
Lying to Meet You by Anna Gardner
Losing Hope (Hopeless #2) by Colleen Hoover 
Charade (The Games #1) by Nyrae Dawn
Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi
Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5) by Tahereh Mafi
Unravel Me (shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi
Facade (The Games #2) by Nyrae Dawn
Elite (Eagle Elite #1) by Rachel Van Dyken
Even in Darkness (Between #3) by Cyndi Tefft 
One Tiny Lie (Ten Tiny Breaths #2) by K.A. Tucker
My Forever by Jolene Perry
Sometimes Never (Sometimes Never #1) by Cheryl McIntyre 
Everybody Has a Story by Heather Wardell
The Human (The Eden Trilogy #2) by Keary Taylor 
Bewitching (The Kendra Chronicles) by Alex Flinn
Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar
Last Off by Laughton Chandler
Rise (Eve #3) by Anna Carey
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord (Throne of Glass #0.1) by Sarah Mass
The Assassin and the Desert (Throne of Glass #0.2) by Sarah Mass
The Assassin and the Underworld (Throne of Glass #0.3) by Sarah Mass
The Assassin and the Empire (Throne of Glass #0.4) by Sarah Mass
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah Mass (re-read)
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle


Thanks to a month full of illness, I had a lot of reading time.  I don't think I've ever read this many books in one month before: I averaged a book per day!  

Author Jason Sandberg created this custom image for me as a thank-you for reviewing his new book, The New Crown.  Isn't it cute?


How was your July?






Books of the Month: July 2013

Each month, I like to tell you about my favorite books I read that month.  This month, I loved several books (I read so many good ones that I could not narrow it down to just one).  Click the book titles to go to their respective Goodreads pages.
 

Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson
Publication: November 5, 2013
 
This book was simply outstanding!  I'm still thinking of it, weeks later.  I'll post my review closer to the release date.

Summary for Lies You Wanted to Hear:
A deeply moving, beautifully-written picture of how the smallest crack in a relationship slowly, over decades, becomes a canyon too wide to bridge.
When Lucy meets Matt on a blind date, Matt is instantly hooked; he sees Lucy as the fun, sexy, and wickedly smart girl of his dreams. Although she’s still getting over an old lover, Lucy is won over by Matt’s sweet, thoughtful nature. But 20 years later, alone in an empty house trying to imagine the lives of her two young children, Lucy comes to realize that the little lies you tell can create more damage than the truth you’re hiding.



Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi
Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5 by Tahereh Mafi
Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi

I'm late to the party on this series, and can't believe I've missed out on such a great series until now.  I loved every minute of these books and can't wait to see where Mafi takes the story next!

What were your favorite books this month?





  



Series Review: The Breathing Series by Rebecca Donovan

I sped through Rebecca Donovan's Breathing series too quickly to stop and write individual reviews for each book in the series.  I really loved this intense, heart-stopping series.  I thought Rebecca Donovan did an excellent job characterizing Emma and writing about difficult subjects: abuse, mental illness, and addiction.  Donovan approaches these issues without trepidation, and their inclusion in the series is what made the books so unforgettable and emotional.

My recurring thought as I read these books was: how much can one person handle before they break?  Emma has had so much loss, heartbreak and hardship in her life.  She has no one who truly loves her, yet her circumstances never change who she is at her core: a good, loving, loyal person. 

Donovan excels at writing emotion, and it felt like the books got more emotional the more I read.  Each book was so intense, and I found myself feeling so many of Emma's emotions.  My heart would race as I read, desperate to find out what would happen to Emma next.

I had a couple of complaints about the series.  First, because of the heavy subject matter and intensity of the books, they were not always easy to read.  There were a lot of hard times to get through, and I would have liked to read about more "good times" after the conflict resolution.  What I mean is that I wanted to spend more time with Emma once she finally got her well-deserved happy ending.  Speaking of endings, I loved that the endings of the books were realistic instead of your typical rainbows and sunshine happily ever afters.  My second complaint is a minor one, but it recurred throughout the series and it started to bug me.  The phrase "flipped her eyes to..." was overused.  I've never even read or heard that phrase before, and every time I read it, the flow of the story stopped for me as I remembered, "oh, that's how Donovan describes a glance."

Despite my two complaints, overall, I really enjoyed these books.  I highly recommend this series, and I would definitely read Rebecca Donovan again.  I'm glad I bought these books, and very glad I read them!


Book Review: Imaginable (Intangible #2) by J. Meyers

Summary: 
Twins Sera and Luke Raine’s unusual abilities are growing. Sera is healing vampires now, making them human again. And, at times, Luke can actually change the future he Sees.

But Sera’s healing has dangerous consequences, and though Luke is altering the outcome of more visions, he can’t control them yet.

Now Sera is in danger as the dark creatures of the Realm seek to use her. As Luke struggles to master his gift in order to save his sister, he discovers even more about his powers.

And what he learns just may put him in greater danger than Sera has ever been.

Release Date: April 1, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author

Review:
I've had Imaginable on my Kindle for a while now, and I'm so glad that I finally got around to reading it.  I really enjoyed this paranormal book!  Meyers has created a unique world where Sera and Luke are gifted with abilities that affect paranormal creatures.  Sera can change vampires back into humans and Luke can see the future.  

I love Sera and Luke's close relationship, and the way they interact together.  They support each other tremendously and are always there for each other.  Imaginable was more about Sera than Luke, and it looks like book three will be focused on Luke.  I liked watching the twins grow into their abilities and use them for good purposes.

The cast of paranormal creatures was complex and each character was well-written.  The characterization of minor characters means a lot to me, and Meyers does a great job developing each player in the story.  

The premise of the book, as well as the two worlds: our world and the Realm, was interesting and well-written.  It gave the book more depth, and I loved the imagery of the Realm.

Imaginable was fast-paced and intense.  Sera is fighting for her life for much of the book, and that made for a thrilling read.  I love Sera's strength and compassion.  She is a very likable character.  

No YA paranormal series would be complete without a love story, and the Intangible series is no exception.  I liked that the main focus is not on romance, though.  It made for a more interesting read.

I recommend this series and eagerly await book three! 



Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

Thank you to I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Colorimetry for hosting the spontaneous Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop!

We're giving away a hardcover copy of Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin's A Really Awesome Mess.  


Thank you to Media Masters Publicity for providing the giveaway copy to our readers!  This giveaway is open to residents of the US only.  

Summary:
Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.
A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

Book Review: Facade (The Games #2) by Nyrae Dawn

Summary: 
Can love save them?

After her father commits a crime that shatters her family, eighteen-year-old Delaney Cross is tired of pretending everything is all right. Packing up her car, she sets out to find the people her father hurt. Her search leads her to places she’s never been—and into the arms of Adrian Westfall.

To the outside world, Adrian is a sexy, charming ladies’ man. But his playboy persona is just an act. Secretly his soul is tortured by a memory too painful to share. Only Delaney seems to see through his fa├žade to the real man underneath. And for the first time in his life, Adrian feels he can begin to open up about his past.

Together, Adrian and Delaney share a passionate love they never expected to find. Yet both still harbor their own secrets. When the dark truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer together—or tear them apart forever?

Release Date: July 2, 2013
Age Group: New Adult
Source: NetGalley

Review:
I liked book one in The Games series, Charade, but it didn't stand out among others in the genre for me.  It was a good read, but not outstanding.  I think the actual charade between Colt and Chey just didn't ring true for me.  I picked up Facade, expecting a good but not great read, and was so surprised at how much I loved it.  

I don't usually cry while reading, but Facade really tugged at my heartstrings.  I think the fact that Adrian's pain over losing two year-old Ashton to a car accident made the book so personal for me.  I have a two year-old and the thought of losing her, especially given that Ashton was run over by a car while playing in his own front yard, is unthinkable.  I don't know how I could go on living, and thought Adrian's struggle to get through the days was very plausible.  

The fact that I really related to the characters in Facade was a big part in how much I loved the book.  I found Facade to be such an intense read.  If the book was just about Adrian, it still would have been a great read.  But, Delaney and Maddox are also main characters, and they have their own history of heartbreak and loss.  I thought that all of the characters were so easy to relate to and likable.  I found myself rooting for them to find some sort of happiness or at the very least, peace.  

Dawn's characters have so much depth.  I love that!  I love it when there are many layers to a character, and when I can't predict how they'll act and respond to certain situations.  I also love a slow build to a romantic relationship.  I'm no fan of love at first sight and Dawn really delivered with the love story.  It was realistic and so romantic.  

I really loved everything about Facade and can't think of a single thing Dawn could have done differently.  I can't wait to read book three, Maddox's story!

 

Book Review: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Summary: 
A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.


Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.


A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

Release Date: July 23, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

Review:
A Really Awesome Mess was a great read!  It was heartfelt, funny, and full of honest observations about life.  

The characters were the best part of this book. They were well-developed, realistic, and diverse.  I love reading about all different types of people, and I really love reading about people with all different types of problems.  And this book had that in spades: the setting is a reform school.  Each character was at Heartland Academy for a different reason, and their own individual issues made for an interesting read.  I loved seeing the characters work through their issues in healthy ways.  I hate "love cures all" types of books, so to see people grow and change through hard work, therapy, and shifting their mindsets was really encouraging to read about.

You might think that a character-driven book like this one would be a slower read, but it wasn't.  The conflict resolution in each character's life provided enough intensity that the story moved at a great pace.  The ending was perfect, I couldn't have asked for a more appropriate and satisfying end to the book.

A Really Awesome Mess was a great, fulfilling read that made me feel good while reading it.  It made me smile, and tear up a few times, and overall I had a great time reading it.  The writing style was very open and easy to read.  The voices were fresh and honest---two of my favorite things.  I would recommend this book to anyone!   
 


Book Review: Unbreakable (Unraveling #2) by Elizabeth Norris

Summary: 
Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she’ll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths—and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn’t turn himself over within five days.

And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about—someone from her own world—has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they’re lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she’s in way over her head—and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?

Release Date:  April 23, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

Review:
I didn't think there was any way Unbreakable could be better than Unraveling, but it was!  It was even more action-packed, emotional and fast-paced.  Some authors really "bring it" and Elizabeth Norris is one of them.  I closed the cover with a sigh of contentment, knowing I'd just finished an excellent book, and looking forward to Norris' next novel.  

Janelle is an even stronger heroine in Unbreakable than she was in Unraveling.  She is tough, can compartmentalize her emotions in order to do the right thing, the best thing for others, and she is so smart.  I really admired her!  Ben was the softer one of the pair, I think.  He's more emotional and more open with his feelings than Janelle is.  I liked that so much: the heroine is not a love-struck fool in this series, like in so many others.  

The book starts off with a bang and the pace never lets up.  Like Unbreakable, Janelle is fighting time to save the people she loves.  The chapters are titled with the clock counting down the days, hours, and minutes.  (That feature reminded me of 24, and added an extra layer of intensity to the story).  The somewhat short chapters along with the countdown at the beginning of each chapter just made read even faster.  And it made me say "one more chapter" so many times, until I finally finished the book.  

I love the premise of the multiverse.  It's something I've never read about or even really thought about before.  The inclusion of the doubles made the book even more exciting and even a little terrifying.  There were so many small details that added up to make an outstanding novel.  

I love this series and recommend it to fans of dysotpia, sci-fi and even contemporary YA.  I can't wait to see what Norris comes up with next!



Book Review: Unraveling (Unraveling #1) by Elizabeth Norris

Summary: 
Sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle's mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.

And that was before she died...and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth's destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet
.

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

Review:
Oh, this was a good book!  It was intense, fast-paced, and full of surprises.  It ended on a good note, leaving me wanting more, but with enough closure so that I didn't feel like I couldn't rest until I got to read book two.

I read Unraveling pretty quickly, despite its hefty size.  Once I got into the story, I just couldn't put the book down.  I admired Janelle and thought she was a perfect main character.  I like it when characters acknowledge their flaws and then work on improving them.  Janelle did that with several aspects of her behavior and I liked reading about her personal growth.

The love story was very sweet and well-done.  It added to the story without being a distraction.  I like the way Norris writes emotions: the love scenes were touching while staying at a YA level.  

I enjoyed the sci-fi element of the story.  It was almost dystopian in its intensity and I loved that part of the plot.  It was unique and very interesting to read about.  Parts of this book reminded me of Beth Revis' Across the Universe series, in the best of ways.

There were many small details in Unraveling that added to the depth of the story.  The characters' histories and personal lives were well developed, as well as their relationships with each other.  Unraveling felt like much more than a typical YA read to me.  I really loved everything about it.  I highly recommend it and can't wait to dive into book two: Unbreakable.   

 

Book Review: Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse #13) by Charlaine Harris

Summary: 
Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse, #13)There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart...

Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough...

Release Date: May 7, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Source:Purchased

Review:
I've been a long-time fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series.  I've been following the series for about six years now, and love it when May finally arrives, along with the latest Sookie book.  So, I was really excited to read the latest and final installment.

I have been saying for a long time that I thought Sookie would end up with Sam or another human.  Read my predictions here, here, and here.  I think that Sookie wants a family and that she wants to eventually distance herself from the vampire world.  After seeing her sweet interactions and caring for her cousin and fellow telepath Hunter, I knew that there was no way Sookie would end up without kids.  So, I was very invested in seeing how her love life concluded.  I was happy with Harris' treatment of that part of the story.

I have loved this series as a whole, especially the nuanced characters and detailed storyline, but the books have been hit and miss for me.  I loved the last book, Deadlocked, but thought Dead Ever After was a low point for the series.

The writing style was completely different from the previous books.  Instead of a sole first-person narrative, Dead Ever After jumps from Sookie's point of view to a third-person POV, mostly involving interactions with "the devil."  I hate it when books jump around like that!  There are demons in this series, yes, and I'm okay with that, but the inclusion of the real devil was out of the blue.  And it did not feel true to the tone of the rest of the series.

I enjoyed getting to read about each of my favorite characters from the series one last time.  Just about every character shows up to help Sookie in her latest time of need (Sookie getting in trouble/death threats is a common plot device in this series).  It was fun to watch everyone help Sookie out one last time.

Overall, I liked this book but was disappointed: I thought Harris could have done a better job and at times I even thought to myself, "she's phoning it in here."



    

Book Review: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) by Richelle Mead

Summary: 
In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive—this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

Release Date:  February 12, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased

Review:
I really can't think of any series that I love more than Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series.  I have never loved a spin-off this much.  

I always thought Adrian was weak and whiny in Vampire Academy.  I was so scared that he and Rose would end up together.  I liked him okay, but knew he was not Rose's perfect match.  There was no room for anyone but Dimitri in my heart.  

But, in Bloodlines, I started to like Adrian.  My feelings for him have grown from a grudging acceptance as Adrian as a main character to a genuine respect and admiration for him throughout this series.  I have been rooting for Syndey to acknowledge her feelings for Adrian for a long time.  I love seeing Adrian stand alone, instead of constantly in Dimitri's shadow.  He has done a lot of growing in this series, and I love that.  

I had a big problem with Sydney's body image issues in the first two books.  She is a constant dieter and feels big in a size 4.  (Boy, I wish I had that problem!)  Sydney starts to loosen up just a little in The Indigo Spell.  She even eats wedding cake---hey, baby steps, right?  She is feeling like it's okay that she actually gained a pound and is not obsessing as much about her size as she did in the first two books.  I still maintain that I would like to see Sydney have a different character flaw, but hopefully this will be a big area of character growth for her.

I thought that The Indigo Spell had a more interesting plot than the first two books in the series.  I especially liked the inclusion of magic and Sydney's involvement with magic.  I liked seeing a softer side to Sydney and think there is real promise for this aspect of the story. 

But my favorite part of this book was the love story, as always, Mead really delivered there.  The emotion and slow build to the love story was the best!  There will never be another Dimitri, but Adrian is great in his own way.  

If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend it.  I can't wait for book four!

  


Book Review: The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

Summary: 
“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.
 
In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

Release Date: June 11, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

Review:
I've read only a few YA thrillers, so I don't have a lot of basis for comparison, but I thought The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die was the best YA thriller I've ever read.  It was fast paced, full of action and suspense, and kept me guessing until the end.

The character development was great, especially Cady's strength.  She is tough, and never gives up, and I love that in a character.  I liked that Henry kept the reader in the dark as to Cady's story, and I got to figure things out right along with Cady.  The twist at the end was totally unexpected, and added a lot of depth to the story.

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is an exciting read, and I liked everything about it.  My only complaint is that I wish the book would have been longer--it was so good that I just wanted it to keep going.  I would recommend this book to anyone and will most definitely read April Henry again! 


Book Review: The New Crown by Jason Sandberg

Summary: 
Julietta the Carpenter can build almost anything using wood, metal or fabric.  Her skills are put to the test when she runs afoul of her corrupt King.  This new fairy tale introduces a resourceful heroine to the boys and girls of today.
 
Release Date: April 20, 2013
Age Group: Children
Source: Review copy from author

Review:
This is the second book of Jason Sandberg's that I've read: I reviewed Candy and the Cankersaur earlier this year (read my review here).  I enjoyed The New Crown just as much as Candy and the Cankersaur, if not more.

The New Crown introduces a smart, enterprising heroine who takes care of herself and creates her own happy ending through her actions.  I like that she does not depend on a prince or man to swoop in and save the day.  I think exposing our children, especially daughters, to strong heroines early in life is important, and The New Crown does just that.  Beyond the strong message of the book, The New Crown has a great story and beautiful illustrations, which gave a lot of life to the book.  

Sandberg writes children's fiction for today's generation, but with a nostalgic feel to it.  I really like that quality of his writing.  Something about his books makes me think back to my own childhood, and that makes reading his books special for me.  I love reading with my two year old, and love that she loves books as much as I do.  


Sandberg's books are available in digital format at this time.  Check them out on his website here.  I look forward to when I can purchase hard copies of his books to keep on Kaitlyn's bookshelf.  (Yes, my two year old has her own bookcase and its contents rival mine).

I loved The New Crown and would recommend it to fans of children's fiction and think it's appropriate for age two and up, although younger children will enjoy looking at the vibrant illustrations, even if they don't follow the story.

 

Book Review: The Truth About Letting Go (The Truth #2) by Leigh Talbert Moore

Summary: 
Ashley Lockett has always followed the rules. She's always done the right thing and played it safe until her ideal life is shattered when her dad dies suddenly.

Fueled by anger and grief, she vows to do everything opposite of how she lived before. Then she meets Jordan. He has big dreams, he's had a crush on Ashley for years, and he's a great kisser. But he's also safe.

Enter Colt. He is not safe, and he's more than willing to help Ashley fulfill her vow.

Release Date: February 21, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

Review:
I didn't realize until after I finished this book that there was a prequel, The Truth About Faking.  I wish I would have read that book first, I think it would have made The Truth About Letting Go a more powerful read for me.

I liked The Truth About Letting Go.  It was simply written, easy to read, and a good read.  I love a nice contemporary fiction and this book fit the bill.  I read it during a hard time in my personal life and it was nice to have an easy-to-follow read.  Sometimes I like keeping my books contemporary, because I don't have to remember any 'rules' in a paranormal setting.  

I liked the premise of this book, it was a common one and Ashley seemed to follow the natural path of wanting to change her life after a traumatic event.  I thought the conflict resolution was handled well and I was satisfied with that.  The love story was very sweet and was my favorite part of the book.

Overall, I enjoyed The Truth About Letting Go.  It felt a little young for me, so it wasn't one of my favorites, but it was a good read and I would recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction.



Book Review: A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger

Summary: 
Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess.

Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.

Telling a story of a rarely recognized segment of eating disorder sufferers—young men—A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a book for fans of the complex characters and emotional truths in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.

Release Date: June 18, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

Review:
What a book!  I was surprised by A Trick of the Light.  I knew it was going to be about a young man with an eating disorder (did you know that there are over 1 million men in the US struggling with eating disorders?  I learned that from this book), but I did not realize that the book was going to be told from the eating disorder's point of view.  That really surprised me when I figured out who the narrator was.  I naturally thought that Mike would be the narrator.  

A Trick of the Light was not an easy book to read.  It is what I like to call emotionally heavy.  It made me sad for much of time I was reading it, and I had to put it down to take breaks.  Otherwise I was just too sucked into the story and stayed sad even when I wasn't reading.  I loved that Metzger brings a little-known problem to light with her story.  It was good to read about eating disorders from a male perspective.  And I could tell both from the writing and from the notations at the end that Metzger really did her research while writing this book.  I love that, it makes me feel like I'm reading for education as well as entertainment.  A Trick of the Light is one of those books that I think should be required reading for high school students.  It seems like eating disorders in males are under-diagnosed as well as under-treated and I think it would help teens to read about a young man with this problem.

I liked that Mike changes so much throughout the book.  The ending was just perfect: it wrapped things up but left the exact details sort of open.  I like that.  It was also a very realistic ending, with appropriate conflict resolution.  I liked Metzger's writing style and the way she handles this gripping subject.  I thought this was a great book and would recommend it.



Book Review: Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5) by Gail Carriger

Summary: 
Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

Release Date: March 1, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: Purchased

Review:
What a fantastic end to a great series!  I was so happy the entire time I was reading Timeless.  I didn't want the story to end, it was so good.  I found myself trying to read more slowly, to make the pleasure last, but in the end, I just had to know what happened so I sped my reading pace back up.

I just love the way Carriger writes.  Her writing is smart, witty and just a lot of fun.  I smile a lot while reading her books, and usually laugh out loud several times during each novel.  I love that!

But the Parasol Protectorate is not all fluff.  There is a substantial plot, which is very deeply layered and grows throughout the series.  I love the way everything came together at the end.

The secondary characters are what made this series great for me.  I love Alexia for her pragmatism, but she doesn't inspire a rabid following: she's just too sensible and unemotional.  Becoming a mother does soften her up quite a bit, though.  But, my favorite parts of this series featured Ivy and Lord Akeldama.  I thought their story arcs were so well done, especially the surprise about Ivy at the end.

I would highly recommend the Parasol Protectorate.  I really look forward to reading more from Gail Carriger. 

Books of the Month: June 2013

I love reading "favorites" lists and I have posted my favorite books of the month in the past.  However, I have not kept up with this feature consistently.  I'm going to try to keep this feature going, when I have the time to put the post together.  

June was a slow(ish) reading month for me, but I did read some great books.  My favorites were:

Unraveling (Unraveling #1) by Elizabeth Norris
I loved everything about Unraveling and can't believe I was so late to the party on this book (it came out over a year ago!).

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
This was such a great read, very character-driven and emotional. I loved it!   

Keep an eye out for my reviews of these awesome books!