2010 Year In Review

I just wanted to summarize the 2010 reading year with a summary of my favorites over the course of the year. While this year I did not set a goal of a book a week like I did last year, but I’m pretty sure I’ve well exceeded that goal. This has been a good year for books in my opinion, and I’m sure they will continue to keep rolling in for 2011. I just want to point out a few of my favorites.

Book of the Year – Clockwork Angel

My favorite book of this year was actually a difficult decision. Not only was there the dramatic conclusion to the Hunger Games Trilogy - Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins to consider, but there is also the 2nd book to the Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater, Linger, as well. Both of these books were wonderful reads and would be the other two books on my top three books of 2010.

Cassandra Clare is an author that I do not (well, DID not) heavily follow. I wasn’t watching for anything new from her. I had read The Immortal Instruments series and had really enjoyed it, but I had no idea Clockwork Angel was even in the works, let alone releasing. I just happened to see something about it on Audible.com and decided to use one of my credits on it. I’m very thankful I did. I love the characters of this book, but even more the world that Cassandra Clare created [had already established in her TMI series]. Rather than the story taking place in current time, Clockwork Angel takes you back in time a bit, probably 18th or early 19th century. It was very gothic. I continued to imagine the setting of the Sherlock Holmes movie while reading the book. Will and Jem are great assets to the story as well, the two are as opposite in their looks as a ying-yang symbol, and combined with Tessa – the wit pouring out of this book has you laughing out loud all the way through. That is why I must say that Clockwork Angel is my favorite book this year!

Favorite Completed Series – The Hunger Games

I actually hate that I couldn’t say that Mockingjay was my favorite book this year, especially since Hunger Games would have been my favorite in 2008 if not for the Breaking Dawn release, and Catching Fire was by far my favorite of 2009. But I cannot say that the book wasn’t excellent. It was wall-to-wall action, of course. Katniss and Peeta and even Gale played extremely important roles. In fact, it might have been Gale who ruined this book for #1. In both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I really liked Gale. So much so, that while I loved Peeta, I was actually on Team Gale right from the get-go. Then Gale jumped on the “war-boat” so to speak, and was willing to make sacrifices that seemed drastic and heartless. It started to seem like he cared more about the drama and winning than anything else. The book was also a little depressing. I’m not knocking it at all – how else would a war end? I feel that Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job telling a futuristic story and keeping it real. All of the things that happened in the book are things that really could happen. It would not have made sense if all the good guys came out unscathed, and everything was perfect. This entire series was absolutely wonderful, and while some of the other books I’ve read and completely love I would recommend only to people who maybe like that particular genre, this is a series that I would recommend to anyone.

I hear that this series is being made into a movie.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I have been rather disappointed with the Twilight movies so far.  Not because they are bad really, but just because some of the magic has been lost, and I'm not quite as interested in the books, movies, characters like I was once before.  I don't really want this to happen again with The Hunger Games.  I will say that I enjoy The Harry Potter movies, and you would think that would be encouraging.

Favorite Romance – Lover Mine

Yes, I still love vampires. I can’t help it! And what vampire lover can resist J.R. Ward’s vampire world? I have been a huge John Matthew fan from the moment he was introduced, so I really enjoyed reading his book. One of the things I enjoy about this series is that, while there are individual stories, the main story is an ongoing one. I think this is true for many series, (I.E. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books are similar). I’m looking forward to the next book, Lover Unleashed. I haven’t really been big into Pain’s character, but I’m still curious to find out what she does.

Runner-up for this spot would have to be The Search by Nora Roberts. The book was very entertaining, but her books are becoming very predictable and very formula driven. While the characters, places and scenarios change, the basic outline of her books remains the same.

Favorite Heroine: Katniss Everdeen

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love a butt-kicking female. Every time I read a Hunger Games novel I want to go out and learn to fight, or use a bow and arrow, or something that would give me an edge in case zombies try to attack. Katniss is everything I would like to be. She’s not wrapped up in herself, she cares for others and their well being. She’s not really wrapped up in boys, even though she sort of waivers between two – but you know how it is – times of stress, there’s got to be a bit of a tension reliever somehow. She wants what’s best for everyone, and she has some serious skills. While not unbeatable, she would defiantly offer up a challenge to anyone who would cross her.

I have no opinion as to who should play Katniss should a movie actually exist.  But I do like this image of Anna Popplewell.

Favorite Hero: Will Herondale

Of course I’m going to pick the dark haired/blue eyed troubled teenager. His secrets covered up by wit and false pretenses make him one of the more interesting characters of the year. I cannot wait for the next two books of this series and learn more about him and his deep dark secrets!

In my original Clockwork Angel blog, I said that I thought Ian Somerhalder would make a very good Will, but I think I've come up with a good (more age appropriate) fit.  How about Logan Lerman?   NOT that they are making this into a movie or anything.

Movie of the Year:  Alice in Wonderland 

This is a bit off topic I suppose.  But this was such a great movie; the characters (and actors), the colors, the story.  It was all just so perfect.  I love Tim Burton movies anyway, but I think this one is one of my favorites. 

Although, I will say that I love the movie How to Train Your Dragon.  It's my favorite animated movie thus far. 

What about 2011?? 

There are a lot of books coming out in 2011, and many I'm really looking forward to reading.  So I'm just going to list my top 3 anticipated books:

1.  Clockwork Prince - (this should be obvious I guess)

2.  Forever - I am sooo looking forward to more poetic words from Maggie Stiefvater.  I'm also looking forward to finding out more about her "secret novel."

3.  Across the Universe - I got to read the first chapter of this book, and I'm hooked.  I've been chomping at the bit for this book to come out.  Thankfully I just have another week or so to wait!  

Movies for 2011

1.  Red Riding Hood - I saw a preview for this before Harry Potter - The Deathly Hallows I.  I'm hooked, I have to see this movie like NOW! 

2.  The Three Muskeeters - This is going to be awesome, I just know it.

3.  Harry Potter - The Deathly Hallows II, and Breaking Dawn I.  I can't decide when one I want to see more, so I'm listing them both.  Sorry for cheating! :)


The Gift - James Patterson

The Gift (Witch & Wizard #2)The Gift by James Patterson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am confused about this series. I have looked at websites and read other reviews, and so far the feedback seems to be rather positive. I guess there are just some books you don’t like. It’s just unusual, because I’m usually in sync with other people, but this time I can’t be further away. I really, really do not like these books – this book specifically. I think with Witch and Wizard, it was new and somewhat enjoyable. I was hoping the story would have moved on from the last book. Really, I feel like this is the same book over again, only Whit and Wisty actually know about their powers instead of being oblivious.

The characters are all over the place. For example, Byron and Celia –Are they trying to help Whit and Wisty, or are they against them? It’s like this wavering plot point that seems like it’s suppose to be tricky, but is really annoying. Usually a character (Byron) only changes sides once, maybe has a change of heart and then will change twice, but he is completely riding the fence and has no idea who he’s working for or why. Then there are the cryptic messages from the parents and other “friends.” In any “war” situation, why would anyone give half advice? “You must give your gift away.” Like that is helpful. To whom? Why? How? Parents especially would never be that cryptic – especially when there is a master overlord in the picture. People who are for you wouldn’t try to relay information this way. It just doesn’t make any sense.

And as for the Master Overlord, The One Who is The One (hello cheesy name..but when he heads up an organization called the N.O, and has N.O.W troops running around, what do you expect?), this guy must be really dumb. I mean, how many times can you capture the same two kids only to let them escape? Seriously! And if you’re going to give a death sentence, don’t you think (considering how many times the two have escaped in the past) you would just do the deed right away instead of letting them “sit and think about it” for a few days. I won’t even touch on this menacing “test” at the end of the book. This guy would run screaming like a little girl if he were to meet Voldemort, and at least he knew how to play down the whole ego driven, power hungry thing, making a much more deadly villain.

As for the magic. It really is a little out of hand. Not only can Whit and Wisty change into animals, fish, birds, whatever; but they can cause things to appear out of thin air. They can change bomber planes (machines) into birds (alive). So what doesn’t seem to line-up is why is it so difficult to run and hide, or why worry about your energy running low? Surely you can create more food whenever you want it. Or, with this kind of power, why not go for invisibility and just take your time?

I am not sure what age group these books are suppose to be geared for, and maybe that is the problem here (with why I don’t like the books). Between the horrible text speak and teenagey talk that just sounds like the book is trying to “fit in” with all the other paranormal books out there, the characters come off sort of stiff and unbelievable. (If you want some good characters – check out some Cassandra Clare) Then there is an impromptu concert, that is supposed to be a benefit for The Resistance (or whatever they call themselves) and has what is suppose to be an encouraging, motivational speech given by Wisty….where is Katniss Everdeen when you need her anyway? I really can’t see this series working with a young adult crowd (which I would consider 16-20 somethings), but it probably would go over well with the 11-15ish age group. The book, for me, read like a Nickelodeon Sitcom.

I think I’ve made my point well enough. I don’t usually rip books apart like this. In fact, I don’t usually finish reading (or listening, in this case) to books I don’t like. I was just hoping for something to happen so that it would redeem itself. I feel like most of the hype is due to the author’s popularity and the media backing he’s able to get, rather than how well the books are written. With all the great books out there, I can’t even imagine picking up the next installment of this series. It just wouldn’t be worth my time.

View all my reviews


Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly

RevolutionRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andi Alpers is having a hard time with life, and living it in general.  Her dad has never really been a part of her life, and ever since her brother, Truman, was killed her mother has checked out as well.  Andi deals by popping antidepressant pills that sometimes cause her to hallucinate, drowning herself in her music or a guy, but every now and then she still finds herself standing at the edge of life looking for a way out.

Things begin to change when Andi's father gets a letter from her school informing him that she is failing most of her classes and that she is headed toward expulsion. At her house he feels Andi's mother is behaving clinically depressed and has her committed to a hospital, and whisks Andi off to Paris for her Winder Vacation.  It is in Paras where Andi discovers a diary from the eighteenth century girl by the name of Alexandrine Paradis.   Alexandrine's story begins to work itself into Andi's life so much that Andi finds herself unable to focus on much else.

This is one of those books that is very hard for me to actually rate, because on one hand I can't actually say that the book captivated me in such a way that I couldn't walk away.  I wasn't bored, while I was listening to it I was into the story and wanted to know what happened, but I had to stop I didn't find myself rushing back to it to find out what happens next.  On the other hand, this book had so many interwoven parts and was written so well that it is impossible to say that it wasn't a great book. 

I loved the music that was interwoven through this whole book.  The music took on it's own life and became such a great part of story.  I loved it when Andi went through an entire musical history of chord progressions.

I think the problem with this book was the underlying depression in it.  All the way up until the end, there really is not much relief, which makes sense for the type of book that it is.  Andi does her healing through Alexandrine's life, as well as with help from a friend.  She learns that she is actually afraid of dying and she learns how to move forward and begin living again, but all of this is saved for the very end.  The entire book is melancholy, while mixed with a bit of sarcasm here and there, it does make for a bit of a downer of a book.

It is worth it to read this book though.  The historical aspects are interesting, and the characters are real.  It is very well written.  I feel like despite it's darkness, the book does show hope and healing, and it also shows how it is important to stand up for what you believe in, even if it might be a lost cause.

View all my reviews


Happy Birthday to Jane Austin

I'm late at posting this.  Just in case you didn't know, today is Jane Austen's birthday.  As a way to celebrate, for the remainder of today (December 16th) and tomorrow (December 17th) all of Jane's ebooks are being offered for free at ebook purchasing sites (BN, Amazon, iTunes...etc.)  In addition to Jane Austen's books, the following books are being offered as well:

Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
The Darcys & the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins
The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan
Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

So hurry up and get your Austen kicks...free books, you can't beat it!

Happy Reading!


Juliet - Anne Fortier

JulietJuliet by Anne Fortier

Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.
This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?
Summary Source:  Barnes and Nobel website

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A retelling of the story of Romeo and Juliet so good, it's hard to pick the book down!

I loved this book. The retelling of Romeo and Juliet was very intriguing and interesting. I loved the instant passion between the old lovers right from the beginning. In fact, I think I actually liked this version of Romeo and Juliet even better than Shakespeare’s. I also enjoyed how the story continued to flashback/flash forward in alternating chapters. It was fun to “learn” the details of Romeo and Juliet's love right along with Julie, but also see what trouble she was getting herself into as well.

The mystery of Julie's ancestors unravels slowly but surely, this was very well written. It seems as though danger lurks around every corner of this story, and you can't seem to figure out who you can or cannot trust. So there is the feeling of constantly being on the edge when it comes to what's going to happen next. There were moments in the story when I felt like I was listening to an excerpt out of Indiana Jones.

The characters in Juliet were very well developed. I truly felt like we were looking at this book straight from Julie's eyes. If she missed a small detail, it's likely you did to, even if it was right there staring you in the face. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the development of Julie and “Romeo’s” relationship. There seemed to be almost no chemistry between the two at all, in my opinion. Somehow, since the sparks didn’t start right at the start, the characters just did not click the way I would have liked them to. This made the end of the story sort of fall flat. Perhaps Anne Fortier was a little too concerned with keeping the romantic scenes to a minimum, which left wanting more, for example, when they actually finally kissed there were no real descriptors or anything to help you to feel what Julie was feeling. To me the passage was a fancy way of saying “and we made out." The lack of chemistry could also have been because she was trying to keep Romeo's identity a mystery, therefore the characters had to remain on opposite ends of the book for a long time, too long for the reader to really get into the relationship. I guess I just wanted more here.

Despite my one misgiving over the book, I really did love it. I listened to it via audio (which explains my lack of naming characters - since I probably couldn't spell half of them), and the narrator was wonderful! I love the story of Romeo and Juliet, tragedy and all, and this book really just made it all the more beautiful. Juliet breathed even more life into an already excellent story.

View all my reviews


The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook - Matt Dunn

Ex-Boyfriend's HandbookEx-Boyfriend's Handbook by Matt Dunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Edwards girlfriend of ten years, Jane, has left him. There was no discussion, no fight, no warning; she just packed her stuff and left. She leaves a note explaining that Edward has let himself go in every way imaginable, and she can't live with it. He has 3 months to get his life in order for when she gets back, or else.

Because it's not done very often, I am a fan of books that are told from the male perspective and are also a part of a genre that I enjoy. The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook one ups that because it is, in fact, written by a male, which gives it a very different feel than normal. I would not call a romance novel by any stretch of the imagination - because it really does lack all the heat and passion that one would find in a romance novel, but it does include all attributes of boy-meets-girl, which I truly enjoy.

I really liked Edward, even in his fat, "I don't care" state of mine, he seemed like a very stand-up kind of guy. This, I guess, really is the point. The book really focused on how while being a good, faithful person really just isn't enough for women, especially when it seems like the guy has sort of checked out of life and is just living day-by-day as if there is another to come. Edward's growth through the book is wonderfully mapped out. I enjoyed joining him on his relationship epiphanies, when he has pealed back another layer of his life, and has taken the next step on figuring out where he has gone wrong.

Edward's best friend, Dan, is another story. As expected I'm sure, I do not like him. What an all around jerk! I think some of my favorite parts of the book are when Edward would say something to his lady admirers about him that was completely appalling and utterly untrue. I think I did most of my chuckling at these parts.

I honestly believe that this book would make a great movie. I could see it easily being converted into a romantic comedy quite successfully.

View all my reviews


Ape House - Sara Gruen

Ape HouseApe House by Sara Gruen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ape House was not exactly what I expected. I was expecting was a book about monkeys who are forced to take part in this reality TV show….and it is, to some degree. The book is actually about Isabel Duncan, the scientist who works with the bonobo monkeys, and has essentially made them her family, and John Thigpen, a journalist who was hoping to land an award winning story once he visits and discovers how remarkable the monkeys really are. It’s a story about how in one giant explosion, both if their lives fall apart, and then how they pick up the pieces again. The monkeys are at the heart of the book, but really are sort of a bi-product.

This is not to say I didn’t like the book. The story itself catches you early on. At the first interaction of with the bonobos you can’t help but want to move forward in the story and find out what happens. It started to slow down a bit for me right after the explosion, there seemed to be a lot of hem-hawing or fluff there…or so I thought. It is at this point that I realized the book was a little less about the monkeys and a little more about humans. It is around this time that I begin to have a vast dislike for Amanda, John’s wife. I can understand the depression and the desire to go off and do something, but she seemed to go through extremes and then went on a spending beige that – would never have flown in a normal household. Honestly the things that happen between John and Amanda in this book, I am not sure many marriages would survive. I DID like John a lot, and I really loved how much he loved Amanda, and continued to love her throughout, despite some of the crazy things going on. Near the end, John has a few of his own crazy moments – so I guess they really are perfect for each other.

I loved Isabel, her love and passion for the bonobos was evident, and I loved her drive. She did become a little paranoid of everyone, but with good reason. I mean, she was in a major explosion. I am so thankful she saw through her loser of a fiancé! It was really easy to see he was no good from the onset, it just took her a little bit longer to catch up with the rest of us. I am pretty sure that guy did not have an honorable bone in his body.

As far as the reality show goes…I thought it was as sad as it was made out to be. It really made me feel sorry for the bonobos for being so exploited. Yet, I really wouldn’t have put it past anyone to actually do something like that.

View all my reviews


Rebel Angels - Libba Bray

Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2)Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gemma, Felicity and Ann are back! In Rebel Angels it is Christmas time, and the girls get to go home for the holidays. Thankfully, a good portion of that time away will be spent together, so their new mission; finding the temple and containing the magic that Gemma let loose in the realms earlier in the year, will be that much easier.

Gemma is having new, cryptic and scary visions involving three white girls and someone that cannot be trusted. Between these visions, and the discovery of a young girl who was once part of the Order but is now placed at the mental hospital that Thomas, Gemma's brother, works at; the pieces of this mystery are slowly coming together.

I am a big fan of this book. It's a lot better than A Great and Terrible Beauty as the adventure picks up right where the other left off, and it is wall-to-wall suspense! I loved how, with the magic loose in the realms, you could see the corruption of the garden every time the girls went back. To me, it was like a distorted version of Alice in Wonderland though even more scary. A bad dream. It really was a wonderful visual for why the magic needed to be contained and protected.

Then there are Felicity and Ann. In this book you could see the desire and longing for their own control of the magic coming out, and how it is corrupting them. While Gemma is known to use the magic for her own uses, like trying to help her father, she is trying to keep her mind focused on the task at hand. Felicity and Ann are growing increasingly jealous of her, because they are wanting to use the magic for their own self-gain and without Gemma's; which to me is corruption in itself. I was a bit disheartened at Gemma's inability to stand up for herself and for what she believes in. Felicity and Ann are constantly pressuring her into doing things she shouldn't or doesn't even want to do. I would really like to see Gemma's character grow a backbone. This is not really the kind of role-model our teenagers need right now.

I must mention also, the very slight love triangle. I have already voiced my opinion of the ever popular love triangle fad that is running wild in all fantasy/teenagery novels....I'm not a fan. But in Rebel Angels it was done so delicately and rather appropriately. This was not an "Oh I LOVE HIM, but I also LOVE HIM," and then there is an epic battle for who the greater man is, scenerio. This was decision made by Gemma based on who she felt was best for her. A decision that is not influenced on society or the opinions of others, but based on her own gut feeling. This is a love story that I can respect. Wonderfully done!

The dramatic conclusion was a little predictable for me (she who reads over 100 books a year), but was very good none-the-less. I loved the end, and Gemma's one moment of "hey I do have a spine" when she stood up for what she knew was right for the moment. I really hope that The Sweet Far Thing continues with THIS Gemma!

View all my reviews


Devil's Desire - Laurie McBain

Devil's Desire by Laurie McBain

Elise is way down on her luck. She recently lost both of her parents in an accident, and her brother to the sea. She was forced to sell most of her possessions off to pay off debts, including her beloved horse, Ariel. At the opening of the book, she is living with her half-aunt, her last living relative, who treats her as though she rates below the servants. At best, her life is miserable.

Alix is the luckiest man alive, and the most notorious rogue. It isn’t wise to bet against him, because he has never been known to loose at anything; many say he’s made a pact with the devil himself. His biggest troubles are getting rid of his most recent lover, and the fact that he no longer finds his life fulfilling.

Elise and Alix's lives collide in a scandal. With no way out, they are forced to marry, settling for a semi-fulfilled life. What they get instead is much more passionate, adventurous and fulfilled than either of them imagined.

What I really enjoyed about Devil’s Desire was the chemistry between Elise and Alix. They are wonderful together, so much so that the book is best during the scenes where both are involved. Their banter and snide remarks toward each other do nothing but fan the sparks of attraction that fly between them. Their relationship, and it’s progress and growth throughout the book are what made it enjoyable to read. I loved Elise, she was a solid character from beginning to end. Alix was a bit harder. He was suppose to be a dark, sinister character; but in most of his interactions he was much too polite and well mannered to be the person everyone claimed he was through the entire book. He has his dark moments, but in his conversations and his thoughts and his dealings with other people he was very fair and reasonable, making the opinions of others seem unreasonable.

The storyline, to me, is very jagged. I could never tell what direction the book was going to go. At one point you’ll be following down one path – and you think you have an idea what might happen or where the story will turn, but then all of the sudden that path dead ends and you find yourself walking down another road all together. This made it difficult to take any part of the story as “important” because all too many times from the beginning all the way to the end, what just happened has no significance to what is going to happen. I feel a story should have a nice smooth line, foreshadowing, maybe a scene or two to explain the hows and whys. There also should not be so many villains (this story had seven that I can count right off the top of my head). Two of these villains ended up spewing their disgust and hatred in a very Scooby-doo fashion. At the point when they believed they had the upper hand and are going to “win” their battle they would spew their whole plan of action and all of it’s intricate details in one conversation. I find it much more fulfilling to have the mystery or details revealed as the story unravels. little hints laid down here and there for you to grasp on to until the end of the book.

As long as you're able to read through the storyline (and who knows, you may not agree with my assessment) this was a perfectly romantic book. Alix and Elise, as well as the happy ending, make this book worth the read.

Devil's Desire was published previously, but is being re-released in November by Sourcebooks, Inc. Romance lovers really should not hesitate!


The Red Scarf - Kate Furnivall

The Red ScarfThe Red Scarf by Kate Furnivall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When thinking about trying to summarize The Red Scarf for a review, I found it very difficult. Kate Furnivall has written such a completely intertwined story that pretty much every moment from beginning to end is significant. As I write reviews, in most cases I like to be sensitive and not give away pertinent information to anyone who may be reading the review. I might give away names of characters or a side plot or something, but not something that will ruin the entire book for the reader. Below is the summary from Barnesandnoble.com, and to me, it really does not do the book justice…but it also does not give anything away you don’t already learn within the first few chapters of the book:

Davinsky Labor Camp, Siberia, 1933: Only two things in this wretched place keep Sofia from giving up hope: the prospect of freedom, and the stories told by her friend and fellow prisoner Anna, of a charmed childhood in Petrograd, and her fervent girlhood love for a passionate revolutionary named Vasily.

After a perilous escape, Sofia endures months of desolation and hardship. But, clinging to a promise she made to Anna, she subsists on the belief that someday she will track down Vasily. In a remote village, she's nursed back to health by a Gypsy family, and there she finds more than refuge—she also finds Mikhail Pashin, who, her heart tells her, is Vasily in disguise. He's everything she has ever wanted—but he belongs to Anna.

After coming this far, Sofia is tantalizingly close to freedom, family—even a future. All that stands in her way is the secret past that could endanger everything she has come to hold dear...

In my opinion, Kate Furnivall is a master storyteller. Under any normal circumstances, I wouldn’t pick up the books she writes based on the summaries given, because I can tell, by the summary, that there is a lot of real life anguish that is going to happen which is what I usually avoid when picking out a book. Life is usually real enough for me. Plus, her books tend to be rather political in nature…which is a bit of a turn off for me as well. I don’t even know what made me pick up The Russian Concubine, my introduction to Kate’s work. I’m pretty sure it was an impulse buy at Half Price Books, but I am glad I gave her a chance. As I said, the books are political and they are usually about struggle, but the characters are so real and unbelievable strong, they suck you into their lives and do not let go. There is always an air of hope that is mixing and spinning in all the distress and injustice.

The Red Scarf was, to me, ultimately about friendship and love. Sophia struggles with her decisions to do what is right for herself or, in a sense, laying down her life for her friend. It is about survival. Anna spends most of her time just focusing on surviving, and never giving up hope. Sophia, too, must survive and find a way to save her best friend. I don’t know many people or friendships that are as tight as this friendship, but I love it because we should love each other in such a way that we would walk to the ends of the earth for them. Could you imagine the world we would live in if we did?

I really enjoyed the way this book was set up. Usually I’m not big on bouncing forward and backward in time, but the flashbacks in this book were appropriately placed and absolutely necessary. The book would have been too long and too slow moving had it been told from the beginning to end in a straight line. This was my biggest surprise of all though, the fact that the book never seemed to really slow down. Even if there were moments of “down time” they were fast moving and still pertinent to the story. There was absolutely no extra fluff anywhere in the story that I could tell. The story and it’s message are just beautiful, even in all of its harsh realities.

View all my reviews


Torment - Lauren Kate

Torment (Fallen, #2)Torment by Lauren Kate

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Torment is book two of the Fallen Novels by Lauren Kate. This book picks up pretty much right where Fallen left off. Lucinda (Luce) is sent to a new school, to make new friends and face new challenges. She is lying to her best friend, and her family, and she has no idea what is going on. Daniel is being cryptic about everything that is going on and is just not there whenever Luce needs him. Luce knows that everyone (Daniel, Cam, even her teachers) tell her to stay at school and to lay low is for her own good, Luce still can’t help but do a little investigating of her own to try and figure out what the big mystery really is. This sets her off on an exploration of her past lives, and on a path to discover who Daniel really is.

I am stuck. That is for certain. I must know what happens! The thing is, this book actually annoyed me a lot. To me Luce whined a lot, even if a lot of it was justifiable. She didn’t ask enough questions. I mean Steven (super hot demon-angel teacher at the new school) – hello, he was helping you, why not ask him more questions? He may not have answered, but he seemed willing enough to help. Why in the world can’t she follow directions? I mean, after the first ‘holy crap, I just about got myself killed’ moment, you could think she would learn…but nnooooo. Daniel was a big jerk because he just wouldn’t talk. Even if he couldn’t tell her everything, he could have at least told her some things – like, “oh yeah, there are people out to get you” or “hey, this school we just stuck you in to fend for yourself – it’s a shield. It will protect you!” That is the least he could have done. The shadows/announcers/portals. Honestly!? Can we pick ONE THING that they are. I can say much more on this topic – but it would give way too much away, but I did think that they were SO ‘useful’ in this book, it made them even more unbelievable – even for a fantasy novel.

So why does every book have to have a love triangle now? That is one plot that has been overdone. And this is the SECOND one for this series…I really hope a 3rd isn’t going to show up. I will say that I really liked Miles. His character was my favorite out of all of them in this book. I want to see good things for him in the future! The Twilight reference in the book “Team Daniel/Team Miles” was funny, and probably a little cheesy. I laughed, because I’m pretty easy going and okay with whatever in books, but I’m betting a whole lot of people rolled their eyes, slapped their head, groaned, etc.

What I’d like to see in the future? A little more maturity. I mean, if this is a “love of your life” type deal, GROW UP! Both parties! Relationships are based on communication and trust. I’m serious. More Steven. I’m okay with Francesca also, but I like Steven! Less running across time. More answers…like, what the heck, IS Luce human or no? What would have happened if the rebels had taken her? Stop beating around the bush, this isn’t LOST.

One last thing..and this may become a bit of a review tradition, IF I can find a good song each time. But I was listening to my IPod and this song came on, it seemed perfect for Daniel and Luce's relationship. Maroon 5’s "How." It’s on their new Hands all Over CD (highly recommended btw!)

View all my reviews


Falling Home - Karen White

Falling HomeFalling Home by Karen White

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lately I have been very choosey about ARCs that I agree to read. I find that it is a very narrow road for me, whether I will like a book or not, and I am not the kind of person who enjoys simply saying "I do not like this book," because someone took the time and energy to create the characters and the story and write it. Inevitably there are people who will like it, it's just in that instant, it wasn't me. This is a horrible way to preface this entry, because this is not what happened with this book. I am so very thankful I decided to say yes to reading this book. Technically, Falling Home isn't exactly a new book. It was first published in 2002, but has been reworked and is being republished November 2, 2010.

Falling Home was one of those books I hated to put down. Fortunately [and unfortunately] I got a stomach bug, stayed home from work and had an entire day to lay around reading it, so it wasn't really a problem.

Cassie is returning home to her small hometown in Georgia after 15 years away, returning to a life she has left behind. A life where her younger sister went off and eloped with her first love, and where the small town hustle and bustle has everyone knowing your business. She is reluctant to go back, but her father has suffered a heart attack and is not expected to make it, his dying wish is to have both of his daughters at home with him. According to Cassie, the only thing waiting for her at Walton is her past. What she does not expect to find is a community, a family, a life that she never knew she was missing, and who welcome her home with open arms.

I absolutely fell in love with this book! The characters are beautiful and fun. I did feel like I was reading the book version of Sweet Home Alabama at first because of the 'big-time girl going back to small-town life' story line, but there is so much more to this story about love and life, and learning from your past mistakes, and moving forward from past hurts. The book had me laughing, and crying and wanting to grab my kids and keep them as close to me as possible.

I loved how Karen White was able to create a picture that I could visualize and made me want it for myself. I could just see the old houses, the porch swings, and hear old porch doors slamming against the frame. I wanted to run in a field and catch lightening bugs, and be wrapped up in this community, even with it's downfalls. There were a few times I was actually wishing I was listening to an audio book, just so I could hear Sam's southern accent, which I imagined to be super sexy when he wanted it to be, and ultra-hick when he wanted it to as well. I would have loved to have been able to hear some of Cassie and Sam's verbal battles.

View all my reviews


A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gemma Doyle possesses great power that she knows nothing about. After witnessing her mother's dramatic suicide via an out of body experience, Gemma is shipped off to an all-girls finishing school so that she can be educated and trained to be a gentle sophisticated wife. It is there that she meets Ann, Felicity and Pippa; the three girls who become her closest friends and who help in her own exploration of her wonderfully, frightening gift.

Libba Bray did a great job at developing her characters in A Great and Terrible Beauty. The relationship between the four girls is so familiar and true to that age that you feel like they are your friends too, because in reality you either were someone just like them, or knew someone who was. It is these girls and their relationship that made me love this book. Each girl is broken in her own way; Gemma has lost both of her parents, her mother to her mysterious suicide, her father to addiction. Ann is an orphan with no wealth or hope of marrying, Felicity's mother ran off on her father to be with a painter in France, and her father sent her to finishing school never to return or visit. Pippa has a serious illness that marks her as faulty, thus giving her parents the drive to marry her off quickly to the highest bidder before it's too late; no matter how Pippa feels or who the person is. It is through these character flaws and challenges that the girls grow and become unique individuals. This is the story I love.

The story about the girls dabbling in a power they do not understand was a bit weak, in my opinion. It is interesting enough to keep you entertained and wondering 'what next?' After drawing the information and exploration of the power and realms out for several hundred pages, the ending felt very anti-climatic and rushed. I realize there are more books to be read, more story to be told; but I was disappointed with the development and ending of this storyline. I was also disappointed in Kartik's role in this book. He did help the girls a couple of times, but his part in the whole book was much more minor than I had hoped. He mostly just went around saying, "I am Rakshana," and making empty threats. The elaborate dreams of Gemma are interesting enough, but even if there was nothing in their relationship in their book, I had hoped for more of his involvement elsewhere.

View all my reviews


EXCITING - Preorder a Signed copy of Forever

I am very excited for the release of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater....isn't the cover beautiful?! If you haven't read this series...you don't know what your missing!

Pre-order your signed copy of Forever here: Fountain Bookstore (Click the link!)


Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by Finding Alaska. For me, it started out very young and teenager-ish, which is probably because…well, it’s a book about a bunch of teenagers, doing very teenage things. For a while I was thinking that I was just listening to a book that was going to be basically just that, teenagers doing teenage things; drinking, smoking, sex, and tormenting each other (yes, all of the above are included in this book). I figured there was going to be some great disaster and a lesson learned and wam-bam, you’ve got a book. The thing is, the book received several great reviews on audible.com that I just couldn’t give up on it. People saying how great a book it was – usually ”people” do know what they are talking about…well at least some of the time.

It took half the book – and then it happened, the great disaster I was talking about before. The thing is, it’s much greater than you wanted or expected. And John Green is a genius, because by this time, you’re laughing and enjoying yourself with these characters, so the blow is not just to the characters, but you feel it too.

So, no, this book is not about a bunch of teenagers, doing teenage-y things, no matter how much of it is included in the book. It’s a book about life. It’s a book about very young people attempting to discover the meaning of life, love, true friendship, having fun, tragedy, depression, and even God. I was so impressed with some of the things that the author included about God, and religion in general, and not just one but several different religions. I am a Christian, and while he was simply skimming the surface of religions and religious beliefs, John Green nailed some things on the head, or at least included things that nailed it on the head. My favorite religious section: the discussion about the lady (I can’t remember names right now – and since this is an audiobook, no book to reference) who wanted to destroy Heaven and Hell because she wanted people to love God not because he could get them into Heaven, keep them out of Hell, but because God is God!

I was reading the reviews on Audible, and many were saying that due to the mature nature of some of the stuff in the book, it probably isn’t for young teenagers. I would have to agree. There are moments when I felt like smoking and drinking and even sex was not glorified exactly, but it seemed normal. And it is, somewhat, but as adults and parents, we should attempt to move and motivate for it not to be normal. On the flip side, the consequences of some of these actions are shown throughout the book.

View all my reviews


Maybe This Time - Jennifer Crusie

Maybe This TimeMaybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book about Andie, a lady in her thirties who is just getting ready to move on with her life, and North - an ultra-busy, work-minded man. Andie and North are madly in love with each other (which is evident even from the very beginning) even though they've married, divorced, and supposedly moved on with their life. Andie meets with North for the first time in ten years with a gesture of closure that turns out to be a moment of new beginnings. This meeting spirals Andie's life into a new direction when he asks her to go and help to get the lives of his "wards" (Alice and Carter) back to some kind of normal. What Andie finds in Southern Ohio is much more than just two grief stricken, problem children.

I have enjoyed Jennifer Crusie's fun characters and witty dialogue in the past, and I was not disappointed with Maybe This Time either. I was laughing out loud quite a bit, between some of Alice's kid moments, and Andie's sarcasm - it's hard not to. This was a fun book with moments of seriousness, though not many. The story line is great and will keep you sucked in. A time or two I thought there were some inconsistencies with the story, but the relationship between North and Andie, the funny interludes, and well...just the whole thing held my attention the entire time.

Highly suggested!

View all my reviews


Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Infinity (Chronicles of Nick, #1)Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read...I think it's 3 other Sherrilyn Kenyon books, so I can't say I'm a big follower or anything, but for the most part I enjoy her writing style. Always lots of action packed in with lot of emotion. Acheron was the first book I read of hers ever, and I must say there is a special place in my heart for Acheron...all books need to have more of him in them!

So Infinity is about Nick Gautier, a normal looser teenager, tiny fish in a big pond if you will. He's surrounded by snobs, jerks, and rich brats, while he would be...well nerd might not cover it given the fact that he lets his mother dress him. I like Nick though, mostly. He seems like a typical teenage guy; in a mouthy, and 'every decent girl I see is the hottest one ever' sort of way. Strangely, I actually liked his mouthiness the most, I love sarcasm...and I'm probably going to eat my words when my kids are teenagers. But for now, I like it. The story was pretty good. I'm not all into zombies, but I know the teenagers are. In fact I recommended this book to a few zombie lovers I know, just because it was semi interesting.

To me, though, zombie seems even less likely than Vampires. I'm not all into that. And zombies created....well, how these were created (no I'm not going to give it away...sheesh), I just wasn't all into that. I did like how, despite his attitude, Nick was mostly a respectable young man. Especially toward his mother. Actually, he was so good - in fact - I had a hard time even believing it was possible for him to have been the evil he was suppose to be. I just didn't see it. I could see how Sherrilyn Kenyon was throwing it in there, and in his thoughts that she wrote out for him, but it just didn't jive with how he acted. So I, in sum, I felt like his character was uneven in a...maybe could have been written a little differently...kind of way. Not a, I'm a hormonal teenager and could be Mr. Nice Guy one minute and Frankenstein the next, kind of way.

Also, what the heck, where are the normal people in this book? It seems like in most paranormal books, the ratio is definitely in the human's favor. This one seemed like it was reversed to the degree that you would have had to be living under a rock not to realize what was going on. Which leads me to the authorities "zombie" explanation - a virus. If that was so, why would they keep a teenager locked up in jail. My thought, and this is just me...they probably would have taken him to a hospital and strapped him to a bed. But what do I know.

Anyway, so really. 3.5 stars is probably my real rating (But half stars are not an option, and I do think 3 is not enough). I liked it. The book was entertaining, and fills that "fantasy" desire I have, but I also felt like it was lacking in a way that Sherrilyn's other books just were not.

Oh, and so far...I'm not a big fan of Nekoda..not yet anyway.

View all my reviews


Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cassandra Clare does it again! I am wrapped up, sucked in, and sitting on pins and needles in the long wait for Clockwork Prince. I really adore the world that Cassandra Clare has created and continues to expand upon. I’m very excited to hear that The Immortal Instruments Series is going to continue as well. More Jace please!! (Of course…Will is definitely giving him a run for his money.)

Clockwork Angel is actually set before The Immortal Instruments Series, when – I can’t remember since I was listened to audio and I don’t have a book to reference, but we’re talking horse and buggy time frame, in London. The book opened on Tessa traveling from the States to London to meet up with her brother after the death of her Aunt, and then moves forward to her subsequent kidnapping. The first couple chapters actually moved a bit slow for me. Even the discovery and shaping of Tessa’s special ability seemed kind of ‘eh’ to me at this point, but as soon as witty Will enters the scene the book seems to beg for my attention and moves forward much more rapidly. I’m sure the banter between characters helped out quite a bit, and trust me – there’s a lot. The book basically moves forward from Tessa’s rescue to the plan to find her brother and discover why she was kidnapped in the first place. There are lots of little surprises and fun moments in the book. Interesting friends and enemies – all of which I want to keep quiet, because it’s not up to me to reveal them to you.

The characters really make the book for me. While I love Thomas and Charlotte, (and who wouldn’t, Thomas being the spacey young genius scientist/inventor, Charlotte being the young ambitious wife who runs the institute...you have to love them!) Tessa, Will and Jim really make this book worth the read. I was laughing through a good portion of the book – probably making my coworkers think I was schitso-crazy. I was also please to also to see some favorites from The Immortal Instruments, it’s always fun when authors do that.

One thing I love about Cassandra’s writing is the romantic scenes. She knows how to give you just enough to make you sigh, and then pull back to the point of frustration. If the story and its content doesn’t keep you reading the rest of the series, you will keep reading just to find out what happens romantically. It really doesn’t hurt that all her male characters are bad boy enough to make you smile, and handsome enough to make you swoon. (BTW, in my mind, Will was loosely based around Ian Somerhalder from Vampire Diaries Show..good fit, no? Well, he might be a little old, but I did say loosely.)

Props must be given to Jennifer Ehle for her narration. She did a beautiful job. While the accents aren’t as thick as I would have imagined if I had been reading it, but it was great regardless. Everyone had their own personality and, really, their own voice (which is impressive). I love a good narrator, and was very pleased with this book!

View all my reviews


Impossible by Nancy Werlin

ImpossibleImpossible by Nancy Werlin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What is actually funny about this book is, I knew that this was about a family curse, but I wasn't expecting the Fae. The reason this is funny is because I picked out the book to read a mostly normal - no fantasy book, it's also funny because I (obviously) read a lot of sci-fi/Fantasy - so in reality it's right of my alley.

Impossible was good for me, but not great. I really enjoyed the characters, and the bones of the story, but I really felt like there could have been so much more. More character interaction, more details about the story, more information about Lucy's mother. A little less rushed romance with Zach. A little less "and three months later...." which happened pretty frequently, much to my dismay.

I know that I JUST said that the romance between Lucy could have been a little less rushed, but there is a part of me that loves the blindness of it. It's definitely impractical, and not recommended for the most part (of course I was 21, and my husband was 19 when we married...so saying that is a bit hypocritical), but Zach really was a true friend to Lucy, and I loved him for it.

I can say that, not only have I been walking around for the last 3 days singing Scarborough Fair, but I also went ahead and added it to my iPod.

View all my reviews


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have told my husband that this was my most highly anticipated book of the year...which is why it took me so little time to read it, even if it took more time than I would have liked, but with kids, first day of school, house work, work, and other responsibilities, what are you going to do??

So, how does one end a saga about a thriving, spoiled capital with a dictator-like president and 12 (or 13 rather) districts who are basically slaves, and provide the Capitol's every need? Well, I'd say Suzanna Collins hit the nail right on the head. This is a book that I will never forget, even if there are some parts I wish I could.

This book is not sugar-coated by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it's so real that I would hesitate to let younger teens read this Saga. This is what makes the books so good though. Suzanne Collins has created a world that really could exist (and already has on some level - minus all the technology). There really is no good happy, big red bow type of way to get through it. I will be honest (and hope it comes to no shock to those of you who haven't read it yet) but people die. People you don't want to see die, die. There were moments I was crying.

Even still, this heavy, serious book had many parts where I was laughing out loud. Katniss is witty and funny - even at times where she doesn't mean to be. There was a game (Crazy Cat - and no this will not spoil anything) that was so silly, I couldn't help be be amused myself. Especially since I've played this game.

I want to speak to other aspects of the book - but they are really meant for a "discussion" and not a review blog. Talking about them will spoil it for you. I will say that if the characters of The Hunger Games Series were real to you before, they will be so even more so in Mockingjay. You get a better understanding of Gale. Sweet Gale, whom I have loved from the beginning. You see his true passion for everything against the Capital come out; good, bad, and ugly. You get even more up close and personal with Finnick. If you weren't in love with him before, you'll fall in love with him. He's such a good hearted person who has probably more reason than Katniss does for being involved in this revolution. Then Peeta, Peeta's strength is once again revealed. Prim grows up! Haymitch is still Haymitch; never and always reliable.

If I could have one last Hunger Games request it would be this: PLEASE DO NOT TURN THIS INTO A MOVIE! Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are the only movies I can say I have honestly liked as well as the book. Unless there is a ton of money and time invested in getting the perfect cast, and setting up the special effects, and making it at least somewhat viewer-appropriate, a movie will ruin this Saga.

View all my reviews


Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Dreamland Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dreamland was kind of a tough one for me this time around. I love Sarah Dessen. She's defiantly good at what she does. I just had a really hard time with the main character, Caitlin. Caitlin is the victim of abuse. The thing I had a hard time with is her contrasting characteristics. On one hand, she actually was a strong person, someone who never would have tolerated anything that she actually put up with. On the other hand, she was working so hard at being someone other than who she was, it was almost as if she trapped herself in the situation. Drug abuse didn't help matters. I have no personal experience with drugs, but I've known enough abusers to know that they do have a bit of a numbing effect about them, and I could see this coming out in Caitlin's character - she was allowing the drugs to help her fade out of herself, out of existence, so she no longer had control over who she used to be nor who she was becoming.

Why I had such a problem with Caitlin? She KNEW the abuse was wrong. She KNEW that the relationship could not get better, nor would it. She knew she was falling - but she could not find the drive to do anything about it. I found that very frustrating.

View all my reviews


That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That SummerThat Summer by Sarah Dessen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can honestly say that this is not my favorite Sarah Dessen book. This was her first novel, and you can really see that she has grown as a writer over the years. I did, however, read this book pretty much in one sitting. It isn't a very long book, and I was sick with some kind of stomach bug yesterday, so I wasn't doing a whole lot of moving around. Perfect time for reading!

That Summer is the story of Haven and her life one summer spanning from one wedding (her father's) to another (her sister's). So two very important people in her life, two very important events, with a whole lot of drama, craziness, revelation and growth squashed in the middle. Haven is a tall (almost 6 feet) and awkward fifteen year old. Her life seems to be going to pieces around her. On top of all of that, she seems to have no one to turn to. Her mother has a friend who has been helping her through divorce and subsequent re-marriage of her ex-husband. Haven's sister, Ashley, has found love and her own best friend in Lewis, her husband-to-be. Casey, Haven's best friend, has returned from 4-H camp boy-crazed and rebellious, so turning to her doesn't seem to be an option. Haven is feeling alone. When, Sumner, an old ex-boyfriend of Ashley's - Haven's favorite of them all, comes back into town and into her life, Haven turns to him for comfort and occasional advise. Sumner was around at a time when everything in Haven's life seemed to be perfect, and a time that she enjoys living in, even if it's only in her mind.

What Haven learns throughout this summer is how even when everything seems perfect, things aren't always what they appear. When life seems to be falling to pieces, it's okay to learn and grow and move forward.

View all my reviews >>


Grocery Shopping

It is a typical stereo-type that women love shopping. I can't say that I love shopping, but I do enjoy shopping. Especially if I'm out with my mom or with a friend. I'm not much for shopping alone. So I was thinking about this one day, why DO women love to shop? I do think it's the friendship, the talking, the looking around, being out and about, finding that special "no way I can pass this up" deal. Really though, there is just something about spending money, and getting something in return.

So I have 3 kids which makes us a family of 5. We eat. We eat a LOT! On a weekly basis we go through at least 2 dozen eggs, 3 gallons a milk, 1 jar of peanut butter, at least 1 box of cereal (sometimes more), a TON of oatmeal (because I have 2 kids who could eat the stuff morning, noon and night), and lots of chicken. This is just the beginning; both of my shopping list and of the madness, because right now my kids are only 6, 5, and 3. Imagine the shopping trip in another 5 years...I don't even want to THINK about it.

Needless to say, grocery shopping is not my favorite activity. It is almost accurate to say that I hate grocery shopping. Anyway, lately I've been trying to deal with this part of my brain that just groans on grocery day, and I've been trying to look at the bright side. I get to spend money! I get to go out and hunt for good deals, spend money, and have something to show for my effort.

I wish I could say that it worked.

On another front...I've been trying my hand at writing a book. I've got a basic story down - characters, supporting characters, and many of the scenes. I've written about 15 pages, and I've got many scenes directions, ideas swimming around in my head of where I want to take it.

Now, I haven't written anything since I was in college...9 years ago. While I did very well on what I did write, they were reports. They were not fiction. And I'm sure - if you read my blog at all (does anyone read my blog?) I don't have good grammar. While I've got many of the basics, I forget sometimes when a comma should be there and when it shouldn't (I'm a splicer) and outside of business e-mails at work, any other writing I've done has been on this blog, or Facebook or something equally - not important. I write how I talk, even if it's not how it's read. I use strange characters that in my head make sense in what I'm trying to portray, i.e. I use "-" to show that I've paused in my through process, it means I expect you to read a slight delay in my thinking. Whether that means anything to you or not, I guess I just don't care. I know how I want to sound. Anyway, I'm off topic. What I am saying is....I'm writing a book. I've written more than I ever have before, and while I want it to be good, I'm not keeping my hopes up for anything. A million people have tried or are trying, and only a few of those get published. I can honestly say I've read a few books that really shouldn't have been published.

That being said, maybe one day when I'm ready, maybe I'll share a bit or two of my work. We'll see.


Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have very mixed feelings about this book. One one hand, Nora + Patch = SEXY! Their very first "encounter" on the kitchen counter was...heartpounding. I love it. The chemistry between the two of them is the perfect mix of passion and fear.

Nora knows something is not right with Patch, however she takes way too long attempting to figure out what is going on. She definitely lies to herself a lot, or just places things on the back burner or something. The part that bothered me was the flow of the story, and the lack of making sure all the details lined up and the story progressed smoothly. I had moments when I was thinking (about Nora), is this chick for real? I.E.: walking into a restaurant and saying "hmmm, where have I heard of this place before." This was the CORNIEST LINE I HAVE EVER READ in a book...ever. And I've read a TON of books. So one must wonder, is this female lead really dumb? Why do I like her? Why does Patch like her? Or (because there are moments I really do like her) is there something we missed in her development? So yeah, I also felt like character development was lacking. This does not exclude Nora's mom; so is she over protective and will quit her job to make sure Nora is safe, or is she a mother who is never there and doesn't really have the reigns in on her daughter? Can't be both...it just doesn't work. And Vee...well, actually Vee was very consistent, the most of all the females. She was a loud mouth girl who needed to be taught to keep it shut! For the most part, all the males of the story were well developed and consistent...no issues there. :)

The thing is, I'll be looking forward to the next book, because I loved the chemistry. I'm not a Vee fan, but maybe she can redeem herself in the next book. What I really want is Patch to get his human wish. I hate the thought of him not being able to feel....

View all my reviews >>


Jessica's Guid to Dating on the Dark Side - Beth Fantaskey

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark SideJessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

What a great book. So much better than what I was expecting, if I must be honest. I was thinking a cutesy High School Vampire book. And it sort of was, but there were elements of seriousness about it as well. I was expecting chapter headers like, "lesson 1 - yadda yadda yadda." Instead what I got was chapters that ran together even on the same page, which made it even more impossible to put the book down - because I never really felt like I was at a good ending point. I rely way to heavily on chapters. :)I really enjoyed Jessica and Lucius' transformations throughout the book. Lucius comes to Pennsylvania (haha, typical Vampire setting I'd say) stiff and cordial and a bit weird really, but watching him move from that to a normal teenager is great. It makes the ending chapters a little hard for me though. I didn't like the move back into Vampire royalty with avenges. But it did make for a good book. Jessica (Antanasia) was also a great character. She was your typical, and logical teenager. I enjoyed watching her move into her role as well. I love Lucius' description of teenagers at school:"Although I sometimes secretly envy their ability to empty their minds completely for a full fifty minutes, reanimating only at the sound of the bell, like Pavlov's dogs. At which point they bark and yip about the hallways until classes start again." Yup, that's pretty much how I remember it too.Beth Fantaskey did a great job with the love story as well. Just enough to make your heart pound, but not too much that you wonder just why this book is for young adults. I look forward to more books by Beth!

View all my reviews >>


Book Review: Linger - Maggie Stiefvater

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Linger surprised me I think. The thing is, before I added this audiobook to my iPod, I just came off a Maggie Stiefvater reading spree anyway - I just completed Lament and Ballad, and while I liked them, enjoyed them even, I didn't love them. I found both really melancholy, which isn't my favorite type of book. I think I also had forgotten the feel of Shiver and how much I enjoyed it.

So as I was saying, I was surprised by Linger. The words are like poetry, Maggie paints a picture of everything through her words, and it wasn't too much. There are some books where the picture is painted, and painted, and painted and...well, you get it. I did feel at times the story line was moving slow, but at the same time not. Really, it's hard to explain exactly what I mean. I will say, that the suspense of the book didn't catch hold of me until it was almost at it's end, at which time I was scoffing at every little distraction that came my way. I will also say that I am the master at figuring out the foreshadowing....and that's ALL I'll say, because elaborating will ruin the book!

This is definitely a fantasy/scifi/romance (Supernatural Romance...that should be a genre I think) readers' perfect pick!

View all my reviews >>


The Search - Nora Roberts

The SearchThe Search by Nora Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is pretty safe to say I'm a big fan of Nora Roberts. It's kind of funny though, because her books follow the same basic pattern, but I always love the characters she writes, and their trades.

In The Search Fiona is a Dog Trainer, ultimately for search and rescue dogs. I really enjoyed the aspect of this the book and the way Nora Roberts goes into detail on how Fiona trains the dogs and what a big part of her life they are. Fiona is fun an witty. I just recently finished Angel Falls and I'm very happy that Fiona was a stronger person than Reece. Reece was okay, but I got tired of her pretty quickly. I LOVED Simon, almost as much as I love Luke Callahan from Honest Illusions. He was so perfectly calm and sarcastic about everything. He has his moments of passion, and when he does, whether it be because of love or anger, he was always wonderful. I laughed at him out loud while at work more than once.

What I WAS expecting, and what didn't happen was an ending sort of similar to The Black Hills which I guess would have been sort of repetitive and predictable (especially since I was predicting it), but I loved the ending of that book that I guess I was rooting for it.

I listed to this via audio book, and must give props to the narrator, Tanya Eby. She was fantastic! The moment Simon said, "I love you," had my heart dropping out, which is kind of funny since it was right in the middle of a fight. I love good audio readers, and I guess Tanya would end up on my "like" list.

View all my reviews >>



Soooo, I read my first eBook this week. I don't have a Nook, or a Kindle or any of those readers. I have an iPod Touch. Barnes and Noble has been giving away free eBooks for people who either have a Nook or their book application. Free Books! So of course I took advantage of the situation.

Of course the book I read was NOT one of the free ones. That would have made WAY too much sense. The book I read was City of Glass by Cassandra Clare. I had read City of Bones and City of Ashes almost back-to-back due to well times Swaptree trades. Unfortunately I did not get the 3rd book quite so easily. After reading City of Ashes there was NO WAY I was going to wait. I sat and debated about running out and getting the book at Target or Wal-Mart or where ever, or downloading the eBook. Convenience won out. I downloaded the book.

So my thoughts: eBooks aren't nearly as annoying as I thought they would be. I was expecting that because while an iPod Touch is awesome, the screen is still a bit small. I thought the lack of a larger screen would drive me nuts. It's so easy to "turn the page" that there was absolutely no annoyance what-so-ever. And talking about convenience, I didn't have to carry a book back and forth to work or wherever I went. I didn't forget the book at any of those places either. I take my iPod with me everywhere I go anyway, so naturally I had my book. While the cover of City of Glass was not bad at all, I have read books that had sort of embarrassing covers. With an eBook, there is none of that annoyance. No bulk. I'm feelin' the eBook love.

Until......I think about how much money I spent on the book. Probably about as much as I would have paid at Sam's Club, except now I'm stuck with the book that I probably won't read again (it's not one of THOSE type series that you just repeat constantly). I usually don't mind purchasing books because if I love them, then they stay in my collection. If I like them A LOT, but don't want to keep them, I trade. So I get a book for a book, and then some because once I have a book, that's just another book in circulation - so really, I buy one book and actually get several (with the cost of shipping of course). So yeah, eBooks do have their downfall. Especially for me, who's always lookin' to keep up my habit with as little out of pocket cost as possible (and keeping it legal!)


The Weight of Silence

The Weight of Silence The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am trying something new. This book was very good, and sucked me in from the very beginning, and I finished in the 2nd day of reading. I just couldn’t put it down. There was a discussion guide in the back of the book – so I decided to answer the questions in the discussion guide. So beware, while the discussion guide had done a fairly good job of not asking questions that give too much away – I’m sure that you will get a basic jest of the story and might consider the following spoilers!! Don’t read if you’re planning on reading the book!

1. Antonia describes herself as a bad mother while Louis reassures her that she is, indeed, a good mother. What evidence from the book supports each of their beliefs? How does Louis’s history with Antonia affect his own decisions as a husband and father?

Antonia is a good mother when it comes to almost everything that does not have to do with Griff. She plays with her kids, tells them stories, takes them for walks in the woods. Antonia has taken the advise of doctors and is working with Calli’s condition the best that she can. Unfortunately, where her husband’s concerned, Antonia has dropped the ball. While Griff may not mean to be abusive, and does not have intentions on hurting his kids, he does over and over again. Instead of looking at what he is doing and what he has done, Antonia chooses to turn a blind eye, thinking that ultimately Griff loves the kids and has no intention of hurting them.

From what we can tell in the book, Louis has dropped the ball in a desperate way. While it is obvious that Antonia still has affection for Louis, she has moved forward with her life and has continued to try and live the life that she wanted. Louis is in a constant looking back mode. He has moved back to his old town, even though as a young adult he indicated there was nothing there for him but Antonia, and it seems as though his thoughts and life might actually be preoccupied with Antonia. He is not seeing what he has, but is constantly looking at what he missed. Antonia shows she does that at times as well – but she is still right there with her family. Louis has shut his wife out of this part of his life, instead of communicating with her. He has put her in a situation where she will always feel second best. His fathering skills weren’t really addressed much, except by the wife – who says he’s never there for his son, Tanner. This could be a matter of perception, or it could be just another way Louis has shut out his current life as a result of living in the past.

2. Antonia and Louis’s long history together is integral to The Weight of Silence. As a deputy sheriff, what, if any, ethical or moral boundaries did Louis cross in search for Calli?

I’m not sure I can appropriately answer this question, as I’m not a cop and know nothing about protocol. Did Louis really break protocol when Calli showed up with Petra’s necklace? You’re dealing with panicked parents, would he have been able to stop Martin from going into the woods after her? In some cases I think it’s better to deal with people on a personal level than the impersonal take Officer Fitzgerald was taking. It eases some of the fear. But that’s just my take on it. I also didn’t feel like he was acting inappropriately toward Antonia, he was trying to help her. He may have been more emotionally involved himself than a cop should be on any case, but in small towns, is there a way not to be emotionally involved?

3. Ben and Calli grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father. Knowing that abuse is often passed from generation to generation, what do you think Ben’s and Calli’s chances of breaking the cycle of abuse in their future relationships? What instances from the book lead you to believe this?

This is a matter of the person, and the person’s decisions, as well as other factors. I also have an alcoholic father, and I also have a younger brother. In my instance, I have made the conscious decision to break the cycle. I saw what alcohol (and drugs) did to my family. I could see how my father changed when he drank. I saw the abuse that came as a result of that alcohol. I made the decision at a very young age that that was not how I wanted to live my life. My brother on the other hand was very young when my parents finally divorced, and did not get to witness as much as I did. His life was harder than mine in a lot of ways. He has recently shown signs that he is moving in the direction of substance abuse, but also since he was spared the chance to witness the physical abuse, he has not leaned in that direction at all. Lack of proper education has probably lead to him carrying on the cycle of substance abuse. Ben and Calli have both witnessed their father sober and drunk. He has felt the results of the abuse. Ben even timelines his father’s behavior by how many cans of beer he has drunk in the book. I feel for sure Ben has acknowledged the problem, and has the determination to move beyond the cycle. Calli, evidenced in her selective muteness, has a tendency to turn into herself and hide. I would think that she would be more likely to turn into substance abuse than Ben. She has also experienced the results of substance abuse, and seen it’s results. Ultimately, both of them have to make the choice not to do it. Especially in the teen years when there is so much peer pressure. I think it is in those years that one could loose control to the disease without even realizing it.

4. How does the death of Antonia’s mother play into the decisions Antonia made as a wife and mother? How do you think Antonia’s life would be different if her mother had lived?

Given that the last bit of advice Antonia’s mother gave to her was that the most important decision she had to make was her husband, and that it was more important to be a good wife than a good mother; I’d say her death played a lot into Antonia’s decisions for herself and her children. I’m a mother of 3 and happily married, and I still rely on my mother as a friend and I value her advise as a mother. Antonia’s mother could not have known what kind of marriage Antonia was going to get into. In fact, she had just assumed Antonia would marry Lou. Also, I feel her death played a huge role, because it is what ignited the fear in Antonia that Lou would leave her while at college, and she was afraid to be left waiting. She was losing people all around her and was feeling very scared, and not very self confident. Griff just happened along and made her feel loved and desired and he was there.

5. Martin Gregory, a proper, disciplined professor of economics, has always valued order, predictability and restraint in all areas of his life. How does his decision to seek retribution against the man he’s sure violated his daughter fit into his belief system?

Well, for starters, this man has broken that order and discipline. He has broken through the protection of everything being as it should be, and the safe feeling that comes with it. But also, I don’t think Martin was acting as that man at all. Rage and adrenaline was pounding through him, and the desire to protect (and the fact that he failed to protect) his daughter took over. Even he knew he wasn’t thinking straight.

6. Antonia, Louis, Martin and Petra’s perspectives are told in the first-person, present-tense point of view, while Calli’s is told in the third person, past tense. Why do you think the author decided to write the story this way?

Funny thing…I didn’t even notice this. I was so wrapped up into the story I didn’t care about what tense it was written in. Anyway, I suspect it’s because this is how Calli sees herself. She’s not a person with a voice, she is a story being told by someone else. She has lost control of her life, and can’t find it. Until then, it’s as if someone else is living (or reading) her life for her.

7. What does the title The Weight of Silence mean to you? How does the title relate to each of the main character’s lives?

Oh, this could take forever if I go through each character individually!!! Mainly I feel that Calli’s silence has affected many people around her. I think it probably intensified Griff’s anger and drinking problem. It has caused Antonia to question her parenting in areas that were she was actually doing a fine job, while at the same time she willingly ignored what she knew to be the problem. She blamed herself, but also admits (within her mind) that she has never asked what Griff said to her, or acknowledges that her husband has anything to do with it. She is constantly taking the blame and protecting Griff. Ben is left to the shadows. Lou is not communicating with his wife or living out the life that he has, living for the past. Martin and Fielda probably feel that their silence on their feelings toward Griff has lead to all of this, sucking their daughter into the mess.

8. Before Calli and Petra’s disappearance, the Willow Creek Woods was a haven for Calli, Ben and Toni. Calli, fearful of the forest after her ordeal, asks her mother if she ever got scared when walking in the woods. Toni replied, “It sent you back to me, didn’t it?” What did Toni mean by this?

Toni feels like the woods had nothing to do with the series of events. I also feel that they hold such good memories, right down to when Calli ran out okay for her view to be tainted. I think that she relied too heavily upon Ben and Calli’s knowledge and familiarity with the woods and failed to take a step back and realize how close to major danger Calli was in as a result of the cover of the woods.

9. Martin Gregory had worked so hard to leave behind his farming roots by becoming a college professor, but after Petra’s abduction and serious injuries, Martin subsequently moved with his family from Willow Creek to a farm. Why did Martin and Fielda decide to do this?

It what was best for them. Martin was familiar with farming, so he didn’t have to learn anything new. Petra likely needed more family support. It also probably is a way of shielding themselves from the outside world. The results of what happened to Petra is naturally to try and trap any bad thing out.

10. Toni describes Calli and Petra as “kindred spirits.” What makes their friendship so special? Do you think Calli and Petra’s friendship will last into adulthood? Why or why not? Who do you consider to be your kindred spirit? Why?

Calli and Petra understand each other, and they do not judge each other. Their differences do not get in the way of their friendship. I believe they have a lasting friendship, they have been through a lot with each other. While there might be falling-outs in the future, they will always be friends.

My husband would be the closest thing to a kindred spirit I have. He understands me, trusts me whole heartedly, and I him. We have a very loving and close bond that I can’t imagine ever growing old.

View all my reviews >>