Wednesday, November 30, 2011

IMM: Living Violet

So I can only assume that most people who read book blogs are also members of Goodreads. If not, you totally should be! Thanks to entering contest on their site, I won me an advance, autographed copy of "Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles)" by Jaime Reed.


I'm really excited to read and review this one and will have the review up in a week. If  you can't wait, you can pre-order the book from Amazon! To check out more about the author, please go to http://www.jaimereedbooks.com/

Lastly, there is STILL TIME to win your own copy! Jaime is going away one a week until the release date (12/27/11). Just clicky on this link.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: Never read anything by the author before and this was a bargain book.
Synopsis: Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice. Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

(Mini) Review: Let me begin by saying that I was totally hooked on this book about 5 pages in, and it's very rare for me to be so into a book so quickly. Having read nothing from the author before, I was very pleasantly surprised by the subject matter of this book, as well as the create world-building.

Elizabeth Hall is dead. Instead of ending up in a heaven-like world where one lives on a cloud and is surrounded by angels, Liz finds herself in a world called Elsewhere that mirrors Earth but isn't exactly the place that she had left behind.  I found Zevin's interpretation of what happens after you die to be really original. Part of the reason why this book was such a page turner for me was because of how much I wanted to know about this world.

For a long while, Elizabeth is really depressed and accepting of her status as a member of the deceased. The struggles she goes through are just what one would expect of a person who died to young - never being able to grow up and enjoy all that life awaits them.I felt like I was there with Liz on her emotional journey of denial and acceptance.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. The story works, and the supporting characters really do a wonderful job of really building Liz up as she learns acceptance. Although a book about death, "Elsewhere" brings a refreshingly positive outlook to life, in general, which is always something I enjoy.

Teaser Tuesday (November 29th)

The rules:

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

"He cocked his head, watching as she carefully licked those lush lips, preparing her argument, no doubt. He felt the beat of the pulse beneath his skin, his body's response to her feminine vitality."


- p. 19 Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt (Mass-market paperback)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Title: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Publisher: Leisure Books
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 2/5

Why I picked it: Came highly recommended at Smexy Books.
Synopsis: The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.
Review: Maybe this book was a prime example of myself expecting far more from a book than it delivered...and I wanted to like it SO MUCH. But nope.  As I think I wrote not too long ago in another review, all romance/fantasy/sci-fi books ask that you suspend a certain amount of belief when reading them. Where I have a problem is when events happen so fast, so perfectly, or so out-of-the blue that I find myself going "Come on! Seriously?" This book was brimming with such things - to the point where I felt Ashley was trying to cram as much different plots and sub-plots as possible. But before I start ranting and raving about the actual events that occur in the book, let me begin with the characters.

Ah, Ian Mackenzie. Tragic hero with a dubious past. Unlike other romance books, this one really makes a focus on the male lead as being unwell - not just eccentric by that time's societal norms but really - there's something wrong with him. I did not care for Ian at all. I didn't like his bluntness and I did not find him endearing in the least.  I felt bad for his experiences and the reasons behind why he is the way he is but yeah...not enough for him to be desirable.

Beth, our female protagonist, came off completely unbelievable. Formerly the wife of a vicar, apparently she lost all sense of propriety just because this crazy man coaxed it out of her. I found her to be weak and generally unlikeable.

In terms of the plot - ugh. There is a murder in which Ian is the prime suspect. An overzealous detective, with a secret of his own, makes it his job to uncover the truth behind the crime and to discredit the Mackenzie family once and for all. They way everything unfolds is just so unbelievable that the last 100 or so pages had me rolling my eyes as events kept piling on and on.

The last reason why I didn't particularly care for this book was the relationship between Ian and Beth. It wasn't convincing - and what's a good romance read if you can't get behind the main love story?

Overall this was a 2-star read for me because the steamy scenes were super steamy and the book kept my attention well enough for the first half.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Twenty Boy Summer

According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

So I know I JUST finished reading this book, but because I loved it ever so much (check out my review here), I'm having another giveaway!! To enter, please fill out the below form AND leave me a comment on this post answering the question: What was your favorite place to vacation? Or, where would you like to go on your dream vacation?

Contest ends November 11th. One winner will be selected at random. US/CAN only.

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Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Chick Lit
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: It's a banned book...so automatic appeal there.

Synopsis:According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Review: I have to really compose myself before writing this review because "Twenty Boy Summer" really impacted me. And I'm not ashamed to admit that - even being like 13 years older than the target audience. Sarah Ockler really blew me away with her story about love, loss, and that kinda awkward time that being a teen girl is really all about.

On the day of her 15th birthday, Anna's wish comes true and she gets kissed by Matt - a close friend and also the brother of her best friend, Frankie. The kiss turns into many more as Matt and Anna steal moments of urgency that can only be associated with first lust. The intensity of their moments is conveyed in a way that made me really feel that rush of desire and innocent love. Instead of telling Frankie about their new connection, Anna and Matt decide to keep a secret - for fear of how she will take it. Matt, as Frankie's brother, decides that he will be the one to tell her during their annual summer vacation to California. With that, he makes Anna promise that she won't say a word beforehand. Before the secret relationship can be revealed, an accident happens and Matt does not survive. Anna decides to keep her last promise to him and does not reveal her secret to Frankie.

The book really picks up about  a year after the tragedy when Frankie and Anna are getting ready for summer vacation. This year, Anna is accompanying Frankie and her parents to California, and both girls vow to have the best summer ever -  a summer filled with twenty boys, one of whom Anna plans to lose her virginity to. Frankie, the more "advanced" of the two girls orchestrates the plan and puts it into motion, while Anna is more just along for the ride.

What really makes the book is Ockler's impeccable writing and how she is able to put descriptive words to the exact emotions,  sense of loss,  and of  the not-belonging that teenagers face - especially teenage girls. One of my favorite lines in the book is:



"Tonight, when Frankie sits at the table and innocently knocks over her glass of Diet Coke, Aunt Jayne starts to cry, and the translucent veil of general okayness evaporates to reveal the honest, ugly parts underneath."


I just cannot gush enough about how well-written this book was. It really brought be back to having similar emotions and experiences, in that sort of cusp of womanhood when you're starting to realize the power of your sexuality and the impact of lust. I can see why this book ends up on Banned Books lists, but I really don't think it should. The lessons it teaches far outweigh the implications that it makes. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone, especially anyone who currently is, or has ever been, a teenage girl.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another Giveaway @Stuck in YA Blog

And in light of all this giveaway madness, I just HAD to post about this huge giveaway that is currently going on at a blog I follow - Stuck in YA.

Please check out this link for an opportunity to win SEVEN YA titles.

Pretty awesome, no?

Zompacolypse 2011 Trick-or-Treat Hop! Winner

Paranormal Wastelands 



And we have a winner!!


Congrats to AmyS., who commented that they would be dressing up as a zombie this year. Awesome costume choice! Zombies never go out of style. Amy, please check your email for further information. If I do not hear back in the next 72-hours, a new winner will be chose.

Thank you everyone who participated. This Halloween Hop has been really fun and I look forward to hosting more book-related giveaways in the very near future. Stay tuned!