Friday, December 30, 2011

This Ex-Mas I'll Give It To Someone Special

Published: October 6th, 2009
Ex-Mas: A Love/Hate Story
By: Kate Brian
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
ISBN-13: 9781416991519


Two Exes. One holiday adventure. Merry Ex-Mas?

Seventeen-year-old Lila Beckwith's parents just left for vacation, and Lila's all set to throw the holiday party of the season. But when her Christmas-obsessed little brother, Cooper, discovers that global warming is melting the North Pole, he and his best friend, Tyler, take off on a runaway mission to save Santa.

Lila has to get Cooper safely home before her parents get back on Christmas Eve. But the only person who can help her is Tyler's older brother, Beau — a.k.a. Lila's musician, anti-everything ex-boyfriend.

It'll take more than a Christmas miracle for Lila and Beau to overcome their differences and find their fugitive brothers. But could a journey destined for disaster help these polar opposites fall in love...all over again?

Review

   Lila Beckwith has been looking forward the opportunity to throw a part since she became friends with Carly Hollander and gained popularity.  But all of that is ruined when right before her parents leave for her Aunt and Uncle's house, her snooping little brother Cooper announces that her saw party plans on her computer.  Lila gets grounded and has to cancel the party so she won't loose the car her parents have promised her for her 18th birthday.  To get back at her brother, she shows him a class assignment about global warming entitled "Save Santa."  When Lila goes to get Cooper from his friend Tyler's house (also her ex-boyfriend Beau's younger brother), she discovers that he and Tyler have stolen her iPhone.  They decided to run away to the North Pole and warn Santa.  Now Lila and Beau have to put aside their differences and deal with each other as they race North, trying to catch the boys before they manage to leave the country.  Also, they have to be back in time for Christmas Eve when Lila's parents get back or she's toast.  At first I thought Lila was a complete and utter brat.  I did not like and her and couldn't sympathize.  But as she melts toward Beau again and learns what a mistake she made changing herself to be friends with Carly and be Eric's girlfriend, I melted too.  Lila has done and said stupid things, but she's just an insecure teenaged girl who thinks she isn't good enough when she's just herself.  I ended up really liking this book, it had a truly sweet heart to it and the characters were funny and real.  It was a fun, fluffy holiday read that I would recommend to anyone who wants to just enjoy a book without any deep connotations.

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars
Book # 1 of Challenge COMPLETE

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

New Year's Giveaway Dec. 30 - Jan. 27


  Everyone, you've all been wonderful this year!  Since I've hit the fifty follower mark (YAY!) and I've yet to host a giveaway, I figured I'd better get on the train so to speak.  This is a giveaway celebrating my survival of this year and the beginning of another.  Plus, I get to share some of my favorite things with all of you!  Here are the prizes:

First Prize

The Winner's choice of TWO of my Top 10 Books of  2011 (will most likely be in Hardcover or eBook, as most haven't been released in paperback yet.  The choices are (they are linked to their Goodreads pages):




    

 

Second Prize

   The Winner will get their choice of ONE of the books listed above.  I think there are some good ones to choose from! :)

The Rules of the Game

-Giveaway is OPEN TO US ONLY (I apologize if this eliminates any of you guys, but shipping ain't cheap and I decided to go through Amazon for convenience sake.  Forgive me please.  I'm a poor college student! :()
-MUST be a GFC follower or a Networked Blogs follower.
-Just leave a comment, with your email address AND your first and second choice books if you win, to be entered.  I WILL CONFIRM when I email you for your address, just to be safe!
-I will then use random.org to pick the winners and email the winners directly for their addresses. They will have 48 hours to respond or other winners will be chosen.
-Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM CST on 01/27.

Best of luck to all of you wonderful people! :)

2012 YA Mythology Challenge


   So peeps, I'm really excited about this challenge that I've signed up for on this blog called For Those About to Read!  It's a challenge to read 10 YA or Middle-Grade books that have any type of mythology woven into the story (Greek, Norse, Egyptian, etc).  If you want to find out more about it, click here.  Happy reading my friends! :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Follow Me Friday # 4


   So, Follow my Blog Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and AlisonCanRead. It's where you answer the weekly question and then link yourself and you go and check out other blogs of your interest.

Q: The New Year is here — and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

A:  I want to build up my following for sure.  I've gotten a good start this year, but I want to share books with as many people as possible.  Also, I need to start being more proactive about getting ARCs from publishers.  Ebooks have been abundant, but I haven't tried for ARCs yet, because I still have a pretty small following.  I need to learn more about HTML coding and tricking out my blog (Widgets scare the beejeezus out of me!).  Lastly, I want to be more involved in the blogging community as a whole.  Which once I finish school this summer will hopefully be possible! :)

The Dawn of A New Era

Published: October 11th, 2011
Awake at Dawn
By: C.C. Hunter
St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN-13: 9780312624682


Now that she’s settled in at Shadow Falls Camp, Kylie Galen’s determined to discover the extent of her supernatural abilities. But with a ghost insisting someone Kylie loves is about die, a rogue vampire on a murdering rampage, and her sixth sense telling her someone is watching her, Kylie’s quest for answers is quickly put on hold.
To make matters worse, just when she’s about to give her heart to Derek, a half-fairy, he starts pulling away. When Lucas, a werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past, returns, Kylie’s feels more conflicted than ever. Her weekend with her mom should have been the just the break Kylie needs, but it turns out to be her breaking point. Someone from the dark side of the supernatural world has plans for Kylie--and it'll take all her resources to get back to Shadow Falls alive...

Review

   Kylie has finally begun to settle in at Shadow Falls, but she still feels like she doesn't quite belong.  Still unsure of what supernatural subcategory she belongs in, Kylie feels at loose ends.  She still has her friends Della and Miranda to try and help her figure it out.  Also, Kylie has decided to search for her birth father Daniel's biological parents, by finding his adoptive ones.  She's having a hard time tracking them down though.  Derek is confusing her and Lucas is still on her mind even though he's gone.  Kylie is also getting creeped out because someone's been following her and she has no idea who it is.  When she starts growing up and out overnight, she freaks out.  Her new super-strength is a little much to process.  Holliday is desperately trying to find funding to keep the camp open while rebuffing offers from Burnett, the vampire that she shares a mutual attraction with.  Kylie is in constant conflict, trying to keep the peace between her best friends Miranda (a witch) and Della (a vampire).  Oh and her cat Socks keeps getting transformed into a skunk - don't ask.  Her best friend from home, Sara, is ignoring her and she doesn't know why.  There's also a ghost trailing her, warning her that "she'll die if you don't save her."  Will Kylie find her grandparents, learn what she is and be able to save 'her', whoever that may be?  I did enjoy this book and I honestly loved the change in Kylie's relationship with her Mom (although the 180 did give me a little bit of whiplash).  The things that really bogged this book down for me were the constant crying jags, misunderstandings with Derek, problems (mean insults) between Della and Miranda, and the general angstiness of the book overall.  It definitely has sequel syndrome, but it kept me reading despite that.  I am going to read the next book and would still recommend the series to newcomers.
VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Seizure of Your Destiny

Published: October 18th, 2011
Seizure
By: Kathy Reichs
Razorbill
ISBN-13: 9780099543886


Ever since Tory Brennan and her friends rescued Cooper, a kidnapped wolf pup with a rare strain of canine parvovirus, they've turned from regular kids into a crime-solving pack. But now the very place that brought them together - the Loggerhead Island Research Institute - is out of funding and will have to shut down. That is, unless the Virals can figure out a way to save it.

So when Tory learns of an old Charleston legend about a famous she-pirate, Anne Bonney, whose fortune was never found, she can't believe her luck - buried treasure is exactly what she needs to save the Institute on Loggerhead! Trouble is, she and her friends aren't the only ones looking for it. And this time, the Virals' special powers may not be enough to dig them out of trouble . . .


Review

  Tory Brennan and her friends are a pack now that they've all been transformed by the strain of parvovirus they caught from wolfdog Cooper.  But even with their adventures seemingly over, the gang still has trouble on the horizon.  The Loggerhead Research Institute that brought them together (where all their parents happen to be employed) is in danger of shutting down, due to inadequate funding at the higher up levels.  Each one of the pack will be forced to move and separated from one another, unless they are able to find a way to save the island from being sold off piece by piece, developed and all the animals extinguished.  It just so happens that there could be a way, but it involves finding the lost treasure of pirate Anne Bonny, from the early 1700s.   But finding it involves mutliple breakings of the law and some dangerous explorations into unstable sea caves and crocodile infested islands.  Oh, not to mention the fact that someone else is after the treasure and they won't stop until they have it.  Even if it means Tory and her friends have to die for them to get it.  So, I truly enjoyed this book!  It was a great follow up to the first book in the series and Kathy Reichs can definitely turn pages.  This book was full of adventure and science, with a lot of humor on the friendship side of things.  Plus there was an interesting side-plot about everyone figuring out the extent of their powers, how to control them and how Tory is able to get into everyone else's minds.  I liked how Hi had to bait Ben for his powers to flare.  Some of the stuff he said was horrible, but Ben's reactions were priceless.  Shelton was just as much of a scaredy cat as ever and the Tripod were the same old, mean-girl debutantes as before.  I thought this was a well conceived, smartly executed, fun story that was definitely worth the read.  I can't wait to see where Tory and the gang go next! 

VERDICT:  4.5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Listen Closely Wednesdays (LCW) # 2

http://diamondinroughcoal.blogspot.com
   Hi everyone! As my followers have by now learned, I am passionate about Young Adult books. But I also love many other forms of expression, including music. I truly believe in the quote that is pictured above and as such have decided to create a weekly meme that is dedicated to sharing music that I believe in, music that has touched me, made me laugh/cry or just plain feel something more. Every week, Listen Closely Wednesdays will talk about five songs that have been important to me that week, why they made the list and I will post all pertinent info about the song itself as well. If you wish to do this on your own blog, please credit me. It is something that I would love to share but I do want to be recognized as this having been my own, original idea. On that note, feel free to comment about the things I share with you or about the music that's on your mind at the time. I'd love to hear all about it! Without further adieu, let's kick off this weeks Listen Closely Wednesday!

Five Songs That Have Kept My Mood Lifted High This Week

1.  'Breathless' Sung by: Shayne Ward
- This song is NOT available on American iTunes.  Anna is a very naughty music listener, who is not always a follower of the rules.  DO NOT do as she does folks.  You can hear it on Youtube! :)

-Reason Behind It: Every time I listen to this song I picture the scene in the Korean drama 'You're Beautiful' where the main guy is listening to this song, twirling in a field...and then a wild pig chases him and scares the crap out of him!  I love that show and this song is beautiful, but it makes me laugh.


2.  'Band Aid' sung by: Pixie Lott
- This is not available on American iTunes, but it is available on Amazon.com, on the album "Turn It Up Louder" by Pixie Lott.  It's an import because she's British and subsequently awesome!

-Reason Behind It: I love Pixie even when I'm having a low week, but this song is upbeat and the lyrics are fun.  Plus, any song named 'Band Aid' can't inspire ill feelings.  It can only make you laugh and smile.  I have a thing for British music and that helps too.  I actually think Shayne Ward is a Brit too.....


3.  'Sandcastles' sung by: Kate Voegele
- This song is available on iTunes and a whole bunch of other places on the album "Gravity Happens" (2011) by Kate Voegele.

- Reason Behind It: It reminds me to be grateful for everything that I have, versus being sad about the things I'm lacking.  It also makes me feel something deep inside and the lyrics honestly describe wanting things to be simple rather than having to make life decisions and become an adult.  I have the laid-back persona that is inherent in this song which can be good and bad.


4.  'The Creep' sung by: The Lonely Island featuring Nicki Minaj and John Waters
- This song is available on iTunes and a lot of other places, on the album "Turtleneck and Chain" by The Lonely Island.  As a band The Lonely Island is famous for their songs on SNL mostly and I think they're pretty funny. 

-Reason Behind It: This song is pretty funny on lyrics alone, but the video is what clinches it for me every time.  Who knows why I find it so awesome - maybe it's because I'm a hardcore John Waters fan and I love the fact that he's in on the joke.  Also, that dance is the stuff viral videos are made of. 



5.  'Dancing Crazy' sung by: Miranda Cosgrove
- This song is available on iTunes and many other places on the album "High Maitenance - EP."  Not a hard song to find, after all she was a Disney Channel star!

-Reason Behind It: I know, I know!  A Disney Channel kid, what the H-E-Double was I thinking, right?  Well this song is just plain catchy and fun!  THAT'S what I was thinking!  Plus the music video is fun too.  You should check it out, if only for an excuse to dance.



   That's all for this weeks edition of Listen Closely Wednesdays. I'm honored if you decided to read this post and I would love to hear your thoughts. Happy listening my friends! :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Top Ten Books of 2011

 

   So, we raked in a lot of pretty choice diamonds this year in our reading!  Before I began this blog, I gave myself a challenge on Goodreads to read 225 books this year - and I started in February.  The last ten months have given me 221 so far, and I am still moving toward the finish with less than a week to complete my goal.  I have a LOT of books to choose my top ten from.  But there are ones that I have never even seen mentioned in the blogosphere that some of you might find interesting.  So I will make a link for the Goodreads page of each book after the title and author is listed.  Here comes my heartbreaking work of making a list and checking it twice, only to be left with my definite favorites:

My Top 10 Books of 2011

10.  Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher (Goodreads)

9.  Wildefire by Karsten Knight (Goodreads)

8.  Nightspell by Leah Cypess (Goodreads)

7.  Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando (Goodreads)

6.  Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury (Goodreads)

5.  So Shelly by Ty Roth (Goodreads)

4.  A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (Goodreads)

3.  Rippler by Cidney Swanson (Goodreads)

2.  My Life As a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland (Goodreads)

1.  Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (Goodreads)

Well peeps, what do you think of my top 10 books of 2011?  I know there are some you probably think deserve to be on here which is why I have a bonus feature: Top 10 Books That Didn't Quite Make the List.  Thought you'd want to be reassured that I don't quite live under a rock!

Top 10 Books That Didn't Quite Make the List (Not In Any Particular Order)

1.  Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Goodreads)

2.  Forgotten by Cat Patrick (Goodreads)

3.  Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (Goodreads)

4.  The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Goodreads)

5.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Goodreads)

6.  Chime by Franny Billingsley (Goodreads)

7.  Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Goodreads)

8.  Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa M. Klein (Goodreads)

9.  Timeless by Alexandra Monir (Goodreads)

10.  Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann (Goodreads)

   There they are, the diamonds of 2011 that are at the top of the bunch.  Y'all should definitely take a look at some of the ones you might not have read, they are all great books, even if they're not as extremely well known as some to be published this year.  What books made your lists?


Dusty Reads # 1


   Dusty Reads is a weekly meme, hosted by Xpresso Reads, that features a book that's been sitting unread on your home shelf for quite awhile.  To participate or find out more about it, click on the picture above and it will take you to this weeks post on Xpresso Reads' blog.  Hope you'll all decide to join in!

My Pick This Week:

The Demon King
Cinda Williams Chima
Released November, 2009

Goodreads / Amazon

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell. For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against them. Han soon learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of relative freedom with her father’s family at Demonai camp – riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties.

Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her--plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.

This book sounds right up my alley!  I honestly don't know why I haven't gotten to it yet.  Have any of you guys read it before?  I'd be interested to know what you think of it! :)  Is it worth it or not?

The Road Diverged Into Two Paths

Published: December 11th, 2011
A Tale of Two Proms (Bard Academy # 4)
By: Cara Lockwood
TKA Distribution
ISBN-13: 9781937776237


It was the best of prom, it was the worst of prom.

Miranda Tate returns for her senior year at Bard Academy and she is counting on two things: Prom with her boyfriend, Heathcliff, and then graduation from the haunted boarding school where fictional characters come to life. Fate, however, has other plans.

When Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff's long-lost love, appears on campus, suddenly everything she thought she knew about Heathcliff is changed forever. Catherine seems determined to win Heathcliff back, even if that means destroying Bard Academy and banishing its ghostly teachers - for good.
Miranda and her friends face their most daunting challenge, yet, which will take them for the first time inside the classics that have powered their mysterious boarding school. It's up to them to save Bard Academy - and prom. Can Miranda change her destiny and Heathcliff's? Or is this one story that was written in the stars?


Review

   Miranda Tate has survived a lot during her years at Bard Academy.  Now she is finally closing in on graduation after a completely uneventful Senior year.  But she does have a decision to make: go away to college at Ivy League school Penn State, or stay on the island and marry Heathcliff who has just proposed to her.  Because he's a fictional character and tied to his story, Heathcliff is unable to leave the island.  Does Miranda have to choose between a life well lived and true love?  She may not get the chance to find out, because strange things are happening at Bard again.  This time Catherine Earnshaw is behind them, determined to punish Miranda for taking Heathcliff from her (even though she thinks that he's basically no better than garbage).  Catherine's plan to "improve the classics" has negative consequences for everyone.  But there are even more surprises in store, including Heathcliff's almost double, Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities who is brought forth by a surprising personage.  Also, it turns out Catherine is there by someone else's design to keep Miranda and Heathcliff apart.  Miranda and her sister Lindsay have to leave school for a family emergency, but when they return the school itself has disappeared and so have all the students.  With the vault of magic books also missing, the few that Miranda still has access to will mean the difference between rescuing her friends and saving the school, and having the world end because of Cathy's plot destabilizing the portals between fiction and reality.  Will everyone come out of it alive?  Also, will Cathy manage to get Heathcliff once more for herself and what role will Sydney play in all this.  The teachers (dead authors with unfinished business) also have a few tricks left up their sleeves before the last page is turned.  I honestly thought it was a really strong conclusion to the series.  I liked the plot twists and the imagination behind all of it.  It kept me just as intrigued as ever.  But the romance between Heath and Miranda lagged quite a bit for me.  It ended up too angsty and Sydney Carton was my bright spot.  I practically howled in rage at what he ends up doing at the close of the novel.  I would recommend this for people who have read the first three books only.  If this sounds like your kind of book, read the other ones first!!!
VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money was exchanged for this review.  This book was published December 11th, 2011.*

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Not A Lucky Star

Published: September 29th, 2011
The Name of the Star
By: Maureen Johnson
Putnam Juvenile
ISBN-13: 9780399256608


The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Review

   Aurora 'Rory' Deveaux is headed into uncertainty, preparing to spend her Senior year of High School at a London boarding school while her parents are on sabbatical in Bristol.  Rory is from Louisiana and feels like a fish out of water at times, but for the most part settles in quite nicely.  She gets along well with her roommate Jazza and has a potential romance brewing with Jerome, a boy who is sending clear signals of interest.  But there is something happening outside the school that is beginning to seep in - the murders of Jack the Ripper from the 1800s are being recreated in modern day London.  Jerome becomes slightly obsessed and one night after sneaking out, on her way back in Rory sees a man no one else notices, even when he stands right in front of them.  The next morning another body is found on the school campus and Rory goes to the police as a witness.  From there things go really strange.  Rory becomes involved with a unit of undercover, paranormally bent, slightly too young cops who reveal that young people who have had near death experiences can sometimes develop the ability to see spirits.  Turns out Rory is one of these people.   Guess she should have taken almost choking in the dining hall more seriously, huh?  The Ripper becomes more of an encumbrance as he makes it crystal clear that he wants Rory's attention and will stop at nothing to get it.  Will she and her friends make it out alive?  So this book kind of threw me off at first, as I didn't know what to really expect of Maureen Johnson.  But then I began to get really into the story.  Rory is a truly engaging and likeable character and Jazza is truly sweet, like the immortal Jane Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, excepting her immensely obvious dislike of her former roommate and headgirl, Charlotte (who is a total prig).  The mystery is intriguing and there is just enough realism in with the paranormal to keep it completely balanced.  The cliffhanger is killing me and I desperately want the next book!  I recommend this for readers who enjoy a blend of genres, such as paranormal, historical, adventure, romance and contemporary fiction.  Plus the boarding school element is pretty damn awesome! :)

VERDICT: 4.5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Sunday, December 25, 2011

In My Mailbox # 8


   In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that I picked up from The Story Siren's blog. If you don't know what this is, it is a way for us bloggers to show our followers what books we've received this week in the mail, bought somewhere or gotten from the library or elsewhere! :)
   Happy Holidays everyone!  I hope you had a great Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or whatever else you may celebrate at this time of year.  Well peeps, its happened.....I GOT A KINDLE TOUCH FOR CHRISTMAS!!!  Now it will be sooooooo much easier to read e-books that I seem to get in droves.  I got quite a few free books from Amazon and a few from NetGalley.  Also, I got a new book for Christmas and some from the Library.  On with the books:

Books I Got Free From Amazon and Netgalley (E-books)

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos (Goodreads / Amazon)
Jenny Pox (The Paranormals, Book 1) by J.L. Bryan (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Humming Room by Ellen Potter (Goodreads / Amazon)
Life is But a Dream by Brian James (Goodreads / Amazon)
Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns (Goodreads / Amazon)
Promise (Soul Savers) by Kristie Cook (Goodreads / Amazon)
Redemption by R.K. Ryals (Goodreads / Amazon)
Scary Mary by S.A. Hunter (Goodreads / Amazon)
Secrets of An Accidental Duchess by Jennifer Haymore (Goodreads / Amazon)
Silver Moon by Rebecca A. Rogers (Goodreads / Amazon)
Smokeless Fire by Samantha Young (Goodreads / Amazon)
Throne by Philip Tucker (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Wicked Heroine: Legend of the Shanallar Book One by Jasmine Giacomo (Goodreads / Amazon)

Books I Got From the Library

Crave by Melissa Darnell (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (Goodreads / Amazon)
Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow: Four Novellas by Daniel Nayeri (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Flint Heart by Katherine Paterson and John Paterson (Goodreads / Amazon)

Book I Got for Christmas

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (Goodreads / Amazon)
  

   That's all for this week's edition of In My Mailbox peeps! :)  I got a lot of exciting books this week and I'm looking greatly forward to reading them and sharing my thoughts with you all!  I have upcoming reviews for The Name of the Star and Ex-Mas, both of which I will have up within the next couple of days.  Happy reading and a wonderful New Year to y'all - we're so close to it!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Follow Me Friday #3


   So, Follow my Blog Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and AlisonCanRead.  It's where you answer the weekly question and then link yourself and you go and check out other blogs of your interest.

Q: If you had to spend eternity inside the pages of a book which book would you choose and why?

A:  This is a REALLY tough question!!!  I think this will be an ever-changing answer for me, but as of now I would have to say Chameleon by: Cidney Swanson (Book 2 in the Ripple Series).  It would be dangerous, but if I had the ability to ripple the adventure would outweigh the danger.  Plus Will, Sam and Micke are awesome.  And I'd definitely give a lot for the time to pick the brain of a six-hundred year old man like Sir Walter!!! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chameleon...You Come and Go

Published: September 1st, 2011
Chameleon
By: Cidney Swanson
Williams Press
ISBN-13: 9780983562184


Sixteen-year-old Samantha Ruiz has a lot on her mind. The crush who kissed her but changed his mind. The BFF who thinks Sam is in an abusive relationship. The geneticist who wanted Sam dead but now wants her ALIVE. And of course, Sam’s still dealing with a tendency to disappear into thin air.
When Sam learns of her nemesis Helmann’s Nazi-like plan to establish a Thousand-Year Reign, she’s determined to fight him. Along with Will and Mickie, Sam flees to France to meet Sir Walter—their best hope for stopping Helmann’s brave new world.
But Sam isn’t any safer in France. Someone is following her. Someone invisible. Sam will have to figure out how to hide from an enemy she can’t even see.


Review

   When we left off last in Rippler, Samantha's life had been turned upside down.  She had discovered that her genetic material was something others were being killed for, that her Mother's death was no accident and the beginnings of insight into Helmann's truly twisted mind/experiments.  Her best friend Gwyn is ignoring her because of a wrongful notion that Will is an abusive boyfriend and Sam's just allowing it to happen.  Plus, Will had kissed her finally.  Now, Sam is dealing with the fact that Helmann's daughter Helga is trying to find her for nerfarious purposed and Will is acting like the kiss never happened.  Micke, Will and Sam go on a class trip to France and use it as an opportunity to meet with Waldhart de Rochefort, their ally (also known as Sir Walter).  There are some startling revelations, including the fact that Sam's hunch was right - when rippling they exist outside of time.  Sir Walter is over six-hundred years old and so is Helmann - they are cousins!  Things only get more interesting from there.  Throw in some journal entries from Helga AND Helmann, a multiple personality-disordered henchman and a perilous battle for their lives and you have some heart-stopping adventure.  I truly fell even more deeply in love with these characters than I thought possible.  I had a deep affection at the end of the first book, but by the time this one was over I was close to being moved to tears.  Cidney Swanson has a powerful way with words.  There were some truly gorgeous passages in this novel.  Chameleon is the perfect example of exactly what a good young adult book should be.  She is going places and I am truly honored that I was given the chance to read her works.  I am desperate for the third book now!  I have to know what happens!   I recommend this book and the one before it so highly I barely have the words.  Check it out or you'll regret missing the boat. 

Check out my review for the first book in the series: Rippler

VERDICT: 5/5  Stars and a PERMANENT place in my heart

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the author herself, via LibraryThing. No money was exchanged for this review. The publication date of this book was September 1st, 2011.*

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Listen Closely Wednesdays (LCW) # 1

http://diamondinroughcoal.blogspot.com

   Hi everyone!  As my followers have by now learned, I am passionate about Young Adult books.  But I also love many other forms of expression, including music.  I truly believe in the quote that is pictured above and as such have decided to create a weekly meme that is dedicated to sharing music that I believe in, music that has touched me, made me laugh/cry or just plain feel something more.    Every week, Listen Closely Wednesdays will talk about five songs that have been important to me that week, why they made the list and I will post all pertinent info about the song itself as well.  If you wish to do this on your own blog, please credit me.  It is something that I would love to share but I do want to be recognized as this having been my own, original idea.  On that note, feel free to comment about the things I share with you or about the music that's on your mind at the time.  I'd love to hear all about it!  Without further adieu, let's kick off the first ever LCW! :)

Five Songs That Have Made Me Not Completely Hate Working Retail During the Week Before/Of Christmas (Specifically Working in a Toy Department, a.k.a. Hell-on-Earth)

1.    'Mele Kalikimaka' Sung by: Bing Crosby 
-This song is available on iTunes (and probably MANY other places), on the album "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby (with the occasional guest collaborations)

-Reason Behind It: Every time I hear this song, I imagine being on an island, "a land where palm trees sway" instead of being ready to lose my mind on the next person who asks me if we have any more Fijit friends or Angry Birds board games in stock.  Plus, Bing's voice is a happy place for me at anytime of the year.  Living in Michigan means that at this time of year, with the nasty weather, I am ALWAYS wishing for a Mele Kalikimaka holiday - even when there is no holiday left.


2.  'I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas' Sung by: Gayla Peevy
-This song is available on iTunes (and God knows where else), more specifically on the album "Vintage Childrens Favourites" by Various Artists (alongside such gems as "You're a Pink Toothbrush" and "Pickin' a Chicken"...I'm actually being serious right now, promise!)

-Reason Behind It: I have always loved gag songs, especially this one and "The Streak" sung by Ray Stevens.  They are hilarious, often have very odd or nonsensical lyrics and keep you laughinf with strange expressions on your face the entire time.  Plus, an added bonus is that everytime I think of a child actually getting a hippopotamus for Christmas, I imagine some of my more rotten customers with children being trampled.  Screw holiday spirit, yes, I realize I'm evil.  Deal with it and it will eventually pass. 


3.  'Blue Christmas' Sung by: Elvis Presley
-This song is available on iTunes (and anywhere else Elvis has been heard of, i.e. everywhere on Earth just about) on a few albums, "Elvis Christmas" (2006), "Elvis' Christmas Album" (1957) to name just a couple.

-Reason Behind It:  This is my first Christmas without my Grandpa Vernon, my maternal Grandfather.  My Grandma Barb, his wife, has been obsessed with Elvis since LONG before I was even a subconcious pondering in my parents' oddly shaped thoughts.    It is an obsession that I have proudly inherited and display like a banner.  But even with the previous love for it, this song has special meaning for me this year because of my Grandpa.  I wasn't extremely close to him, but I do miss him still.


4.  'Kidnap the Sandy Claws' sung by: Catherine O'Hara, Danny Elfman & Paul Reubens
-This is available on iTunes (and anywhere else the soundtrack for "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is sold.  Work of genius may I just say...) on the album "Nightmare Before Christmas" by Various Artists.

-Reason Behind It: Although I have not always disliked the holiday season so much as I do now, even as a child I was fascinated by the film, "The Nightmare Before Christmas."  I loved the music, the visuals, the story and the feelings it evoked in me.  It still makes me feel connected to the holidays in a way I usually don't.  Plus, it is pretty fascinating to think about Halloween meeting Christmas and trying to take it over!  I love 'Kidnap the Sandy Claws' most though because of the purely gleeful, thrill of mischief the thought of hog-tieing 'that big red lobster man' gives me, even as an adult.  The lyrics are clever also. 


5.  'Narcissitic Cannibal' sung by: Korn featuring Skrillex and Kill The Noise
-This is available on iTunes (plus many other places I'm sure, since it's quite a popular song) on the album "The Path of Totality" (2011) by Korn (with quite a few collaborations).

-Reason Behind It: The lyrics have just struck a chord in me lately.  I guess sometimes the monotony of my life below the poverty line gets to me.  I have a home, a good family situation and more than a lot of people monetarily above me could ever dream of.  But sometimes I feel trapped by circumstance, which is normal for the human race from what I imagine.  Still, doesn't diminish the feelings even when you can rationalize them.  And I've been feeling it a lot lately.  Here's the chorus:
"Sometimes I hate
The life I made
Everything is wrong every time
Pushing on, I can't escape
Everything that comes my way
Haunting me taking it's sweet time
Holding on, I'm lost in a haze
Fighting life 'til the end of my days"




   That's all for this weeks edition of Listen Closely Wednesdays.  I'm honored if you decided to read this post and I would love to hear your thoughts.  Happy listening my friends! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Unwritten Future

Published: October 19th, 2011
The Mers
By: Ami Blackwelder
CreateSpace
ISBN-13: 9781466455153


A Mermaid Dystopian
What lies beneath the surface? One hundred years from now, the world has changed and brought with it, new forms of life. Who are the Mers? Who is Mira? Mira always knew she was different. Growing up with Mers, she never quite fit in. When Mira breaks the rules and takes Niren across the border that divides Ellis Island and New Jersey, a border that divides two vastly different worlds, she thought the journey to find out who she really is would be an easy one. But as the world in Jersey proves to be a convoluted mix of Aristocrats who hate the Mers, Pirates who want to sell them, and Magi who want to use them...finding her true identity will be a challenge, especially when her best friend Niren is a Mer willing to fight to the death.


Review

   Mira is a teenage girl living in a shattered world, a world that survived a massive flood and is mostly made up of water now.  Humans have been evolving to adapt to their new environment, some being born with gills and webbed hands/feet.  This has caused wars between the newly evolved humans, named Mers, and the humans who have stayed the same.  The wars are supposedley over, but the races remain separated and pirates steal away unsuspecting Mers to sell their bodies piece by piece to the wealthy humans who use them to try and live forever.  Mira has realized that even though she lives as a Mer, she isn't one.  All she wants is to know where she comes from and who her real parents are.  But all Mira manages to do when she steals away to the human side of the divide is cause major trouble for all the Mers, especially her best friend Nerin and his sister Nerissa.  It sparks the remnants of the war, threatening to blow up the powder keg of resentments lying in wait.  Who will be left standing in the end, humans or Mers?  This was an extremely interesting read and I liked the plotline.  It was like nothing I've ever read before and I can honestly say it's the first Mermaid-dystopian I've ever heard of!  The beauty of the language and the plot couldn't make up for the truly lacking dialogue and the two-dimensional characters who I never really cared about at all.  I read disinterestedley because I was not emotionally connected to Mira enought to care whether she won or not.  And that is a deal-breaker for me.  I would recommend this to curiosity seekers looking for something truly different and younger teens who might be swept up in Mira and Nerin's romance.

VERDICT: 2/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the author herself, via LibraryThing. No money was exchanged for this review. The publication date of this book was October 19th, 2011.*

Monday, December 19, 2011

In My Mailbox # 7


   In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that I picked up from The Story Siren's  blog. If you don't know what this is, it is a way for us bloggers to show our followers what books we've received this week in the mail, bought somewhere or gotten from the library or elsewhere! :)
   So, I don't have as many this week and most of them are e-books from www.smashwords.com which is an awesome website.  I also have a few books from the library and one from NetGalley, which I am SO excited about it isn't even funny!  I have had a pretty good week and I'm excited to get down to business where the books are concerned! :)  Are you ready?  Here it goes:

Books I Got From NetGalley and Smashwords (E-Books)

A Tale of Two Proms by Cara Lockwood (Goodreads / Amazon)
Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon (Goodreads / Amazon)
Vampires Drool!  Zombies Rule! by Rusty Fischer (Goodreads / Smashwords)
Parallel Worlds: Nothing is as it seems by Heather Macauley Noell (Goodreads / Amazon)
Meant to Be by Tiffany King (Goodreads / Amazon)
Marked: Soul Guardians, Book One by Kim Richardson (Goodreads / Amazon)
Every Last Kiss by Courtney Cole (Goodreads / Amazon)
Raven by Suzy Turner (Goodreads / Amazon)
Anathema by K.A. Tucker (Goodreads / Amazon)
How to Make a Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. Willis (Goodreads / Amazon)
Time Gangsters by Berin Stephens (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Pearl Savage by Tamara Rose Blodgett (Goodreads / Amazon)
Intrigue by Stacey Rychener (Goodreads / Amazon)
Eden by Jessica Lee (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Rock Star's Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy (Goodreads / Amazon)
Anathema by Megg Jensen (Goodreads / Amazon)
Clockwise by Elle Strauss (Goodreads / Amazon)
Cinderella's Secret Diary by Ron Vitale (Goodreads / Amazon)
Teen Witches: Gathering by Arianna Silver (Goodreads / Amazon)

Books I Got From the Library

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Goodreads / Amazon)
Lost Voices by Sarah Porter (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Goodreads / Amazon)
Last Breath by Rachel Caine (Goodreads  / Amazon)

That's all for this week's installment of In My Mailbox!  Lots of e-books to catch up on and plenty of reviews to share in the near future.  As for upcoming ones, The Mers and Audition are both on my to-write about list.  I have time to read now that the semester is over and my shows are all on mid-season break.  The only other thing I'm even watching is The Road to Avonlea.  Plus, Christmas is fast approaching so I'm thinking of doing a giveaway for The Legacy of Eden.  Happy reading and I'll catch you later! :)

Family Ties That Strangle

Expected Publication: January 24th, 2012
The Legacy of Eden
By: Nelle Davy
MIRABooks
ISBN-13: 9780778329558



For generations, Aurelia was the crowning glory of more than three thousand acres of Iowa farmland and golden cornfields. The estate was a monument to matriarch Lavinia Hathaway's dream to elevate the family name—no matter what relative or stranger she had to destroy in the process. It was a desperation that wrought the downfall of the Hathaways—and the once-prosperous farm.
Now the last inhabitant of the decaying old home has died—alone. None of the surviving members of the Hathaway family want anything to do with the farm, the land or the memories.
Especially Meredith Pincetti. Now living in New York City, for seventeen years Lavinia's youngest grandchild has tried to forget everything about her family and her past. But with the receipt of a pleading letter, Meredith is again thrust into conflict with the legacy that destroyed her family's once-great name.
Back at Aurelia, Meredith must confront the rise and fall of the Hathaway family…and her own part in their mottled history.

Review

   Meredith Pincetti (it used to be Hathaway, but she took her Mother's maiden name) thought she was done with Aurelia for the rest of her lifetime.  She has managed to push down into oblivion the mostly disturbing memories of her time there.  But now that Cal Jr. her oldest cousin is dead, the farm is without an owner and in serious disrepair.  Either Meredith or one of her older sisters must return to take care of matters and choose what they want from the house before it's sold.  But it means reliving all of the memories that have haunted her for almost twenty years.  This book was an interesting family chronicle that spent much more time in the past than the present.  Most of the story is Meredith being told things by her Grandmother Lavinia, who is a very twisted and manipulative woman.  The family has had it's share of troubles and nasty conflicts over three generations.  All of these things have shaped a bitter relationship between Meredith and her sisters, Ava and Claudia.  I liked the backstory, but I felt like the ending was very anti-climactic for the way the build-up progressed.  I was disappointed, because I had been truly engrossed and couldn't wait to see what happens.  But I feel like I went to the end for nothing.  I would recommend this to avid readers of depressing adult fiction who don't mind ambiguous endings.

VERDICT: 3/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money was exchanged for this review. The expected publication of this book is January 24th, 2012.*

Friday, December 16, 2011

Follow Me Friday # 2


   So, Follow my Blog Friday is a meme held by Parajunkie and it's where you answer the weekly question and then link yourself and you go and check out other blogs of your interest.

Q: When you’ve read a book, what do you do with it? (Keep it, give it away, donate it, sell it, swap it..?)

A: It really depends on how much I love, like or hate the book and how desperate I am for book space.  When the bookshelves start to bow downwards, I know it's time to give in and donate some of them.  I NEVER sell my books.  I either donate to the library, Salvation Army or trade it in at the used bookstore.  Love my books though... :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Girl of Hidden Talents

Published: November 11th, 2011
Not Quite Ordinary
By: Ariana Knight
Independently Published
No IBSN-13 # Found


Sarah, the most ordinary of ordinary girls, is thrown into a world she never dreamed could exist. After discovering a stack of hidden letters from an estranged grandmother, she learns an extraordinary secret - her family comes from a long line of powerful witches. She finds herself caught up in a world of sorcery and danger - a world where she is surprisingly gifted. Sadly, her newfound confidence is shattered after tragedy strikes, and she must decide whether to continue her practice of witchcraft, or return to her painfully ordinary, but safe life.


Review

   Sarah knows that she is nothing special.  Everything about her is average and she feels like the human equivalent of the color beige.  She has what seems like the perfect family life, but always is left feeling inferior to her Mother and sister Jenny.  All Sarah wants is for something new and exciting to happen.  She also wants to find out once and for all why her Father is keeping her from her Grandmother and lying to her about where she is, leading Sarah to believe that her Grandmother is mentally ill.  But Sarah gets more than she bargained for when she finds Lily and learns that she really is more than ordinary.  It turns out that witchcraft runs in the Wishart family bloodline and Sarah is destined to be a great warrior for the white witches in a war against the dark practitioners.  It will be up to Sarah, who has been without virtually any training to save the world as they know it.  With the help of her friends Matt and Aurora, can Sarah defeat those who would destroy her?  Especially after two devastating blows hit her one after the other.  This book has a sweet and simple story to it that is interesting.  I liked it, but it felt like the writing and characterizations were stilted and unrealistic.  The follow-through felt very young and I think this book would do well for a pre-teen audience more so than younger teenagers.  It was not one that I fell in love with and I don't think that I will read the next one.  That said, it was NOT a waste of my time.  It was cute and worth it.

VERDICT: 3/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the author herself, via LibraryThing. No money was exchanged for this review. The publication date of this book was November 11th, 2011.*