Monday, December 31, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Maguire

Book:  Beautiful Disaster
Author:  Jamie Maguire
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster (originally self-published)
Date:  Available now
Source:  purchased
My grade:  A+

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
(cover and description from

Initial reaction
I’m confused by some of the negative reviews of this book.  Did they read the same book I just read?

Cover story
I love the title and cover of this book. The title sums up everything and the cover is gorgeous.  This is a book that I would pull out and read in public places without feeling like people were staring.

What’s the Story?
I. Loved. This. Book.

Now I see what all the fuss was about.  Well, sort of.  I see why people were raving about how great this book was.  I still don’t understand the people who talk about Travis being controlling and abusive.  Not sure where that is coming from, but I’ll get to that later.

This is one of those intense stories that will keep you attached to the book until you finish.  Even now, days after I finished reading the book, I’m still thinking about it.  Yes, this is one of those types of books. 

It’s hard for me to say that I loved the characters in this book.  I really didn’t, but I loved the story.  I honestly felt more sympathy for Travis, but he could be a real jerk at times.  I think that is where people are getting this whole “abusive” thing.  To those people I say:  Dude, there is a difference between being abusive and just being an asshole!  Sometimes, Travis was a jealous asshole with a temper.  But Abby was a total tease who played lots of mind games.  So in many ways, these two deserved each other!

This was not a book about an abusive relationship, but it was a book about an unhealthy one.  Both Abby and Travis have issues and in some ways that makes them perfect for one another, but it also brings up many problems in the relationship.  Sometimes Travis is to blame, but sometimes Abby is to blame.  I think they each shoulder half the responsibility for the problems in the relationship.  If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know how you feel and why.

I think the issue with this book is really that people who are too young to read it are the ones reading it.  It is NOT a YA book and even though the characters would probably place it in new adult, I think that as a reader, you need a certain amount of maturity to understand that relationships have problems, some people have tempers or insecurities that will cause those problems and in the real world, people have to learn to deal with those.  Travis is not the first man to have some issues with his temper, but he doesn’t abuse Abby in any way.  Abby has some real commitment issues and she does jerk Travis around a lot, but in the end, she comes around.  This is the messy stuff of relationships in the real world.  This is not a shining example of a wonderful relationship, but it sure as hell is an example of a real one.

I loved this book and I really foresee myself reading it again at some point in time.  It’s one of the best I’ve read this year.


As you can see, this book inspired me musically.  I may have gotten a little carried away here.  I would apologize, but I’m not really sorry. : )

Always on My Mind by Willie Nelson

Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis

Brand New Day by Joshua Radin

If I’m Honest by Missy Higgins

Hot and Cold by Katy Perry (This song is just perfect for Abby.)

Where I Stood by Missy Higgins

Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

Goodbye My Lover  by James Blunt

The Final Grade
My grade for this book is an A+.  This was a captivating story about 2 broken people and their real world relationship.  It kept me turning pages late into the night.  At times, it left me aching for 2 broken people, but it also gave me hope and left me with that totally satisfied feeling when I turned the last page.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012-Day 2

So, I really didn't even attempt to keep up with the schedule.  But I'm posting since it's better late than never, right?

Today's list is:

Top 10 Covers of 2012

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Maguire

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

 Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers

Honorable Mentions

Lucky Fools by Coert Vorhees

The Glimpse by Claire Merle

What do you think of my covers?  Love them?  Hate them?  Leave me a comment and let me know!  I'd love to hear what some of your favorite covers were this year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Best of 2012 Day 1

Hooray!  Today is the start of the Top 10 of 2012, hosted by Two Chicks on Books.  Toiday's Top 10 is the best books I read in 2012.  Well, I'm never one to follow the rules, so I actually have a top 15.  It was the best I could do! 

I’ve had a great reading year!  The book that totally blew me away and surprised me with the way it grabbed me and yanked me in was Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill.  If I had a sleeper hit for a book, that was it!  Otherwise, the rest are in no particular order and I couldn’t even attempt to put them in one!

Also, in an effort to save you having to read through me waxing poetic about each of these books, I’ve linked you up to my review, k? : )

  Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Wraith by Angel Lawson


Unspoken  by Sarah Rees Brennan


Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle



My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Divergent/ Insurgent by Veronica Roth


Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Onyx/ Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

 Looking for Alaska by John Green

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

 The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

 Kill Me Softly bySarah Cross

 Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

These were some of the best I've read.  What about yours?

Friday, December 21, 2012

V is Virgin Blog Tour

Welcome to the Into the Mystic stop on the V is for Virgin Blog Tour!  Check out the book description and my review!  There is also a Rafflecopter after the review!

Book:  V is for Virgin
Author:  Kelly Oram
Date:  December 11, 2013
Publisher:  Bluefields
Source:  blog tour
My rating: A-

When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation.

After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy.

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over?
(cover and description from

Initial reaction
That was totally unrealistic at the end, but totally sweet and wonderful!

Cover story
Actually, I sort of like this cover.  I like the way the necklace from the story is worked into the title and cover.  This works.  I love it when covers actually reflect the book storyline.

What’s the story?
This book had a premise that I found intriguing, so I signed on to do the blog tour and read and review it.  I’m really glad I did!  This was a fun book with a message, but it never got preachy and it wasn’t at all overly religious.  That made it work for me. 

I could totally see the whole YouTube fiasco actually happening.  When Val goes off on her ex-boyfriend in the cafeteria, I was totally cheering her on!  And I know that in this day and age, that scenario would really take place.  I loved it that Val stood up for herself that way and throughout the book, I found myself constantly shaking my fist with a chorus of “You go girl!”.

OK, this is where I have to make a confession.  This probably makes me a total pervert, but I was constantly rooting for Bella and Edward to just go ahead and do the deed, already!  That scene in Eclipse where he hitches her leg up over his hip had me in fits and I was more than a little miffed that it was such a tease scene.  But in this book?  I was totally rooting for Val to stick to her guns and wait.  It made me feel like maybe I wasn’t quite the pervert I thought I was…….maybe. : )

I liked the male characters a lot.  Kyle was a perfect bad boy persona, but he also was fun and interesting.  I liked Isaac, but honestly?  I didn’t like him nearly as much as Kyle.  He was kind of boring, but I think that was the whole point.

The epilogue was really just a huge self-indulgence, but really?  I loved it!  It was about as unrealistic as half-vampire mutant babies and explaining to your dad that you’re different without really saying you’re a vampire……oops!  Did I say that out loud?  Since the fiasco known as Breaking Dawn was published, I’ve really had a thing for those self-indulgent, unrealistic things in books.  That is why this book got an A-, but honestly this epilogue was really not like BD.  It was more like the Deathly Hallows epilogue, which, though self-indulgent, still left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling all over.

Overall, this is a fun book with a sassy main character that will have you standing up and cheering for virginity.  If that’s not something we need more of in YA lit, then I don’t know what is!

The Soundtrack

Heart of Innocence by Jessica Simpson

(Yes, I did actually list a Jessica Simpson song.  I don’t like her, but the lyrics fit, so ::shrugs::)

Don’t Tell Me by Avril Lavigne

The Walk by Imogen Heap

Monopoly by Shawn Colvin

Powered by

Of course, no soundtrack for this novel would be complete without the best song ever written about standing up for yourself:  Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley

Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is A-.  Even though some parts of it are a little unrealistic, it is a totally feel-good novel that will have you rooting for the main character…..and maybe picking up your own V or A jewelry! : )

$30 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Open Internationally
Ends 1/6/13

(Not sure why my rafflecopter code isn't displaying correctly, but just click on the link and it takes you to the right rafflecopter, ok?)" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the rest of this book tour!
V is for Virgin Tour Schedule

December 11th
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer - Review
Book Passion for Life - Review & Author Interview
Emily's Crammed Bookshelf - Interview
Good Choice Reading - Review

December 12th
Parsimonious Posh - Interview
Peace from Pieces - Interview
Freda's Voice - Review
The Girls With Glasses - Video Interview

December 13th
The Reading Date - Review
Alluring Reads - Review
Tribute Books - Interview
Froze8's Blog - Interview

December 14th
The Bookmark Blog - Review
3Ps in a Pod - Review & Guest Post
A Life Bound by Books - Review & Interview

December 15th
StoreyBook Reviews - Review
YA Book Addict - Review

December 16th
Books Beside My Bedside - Review
Oh, the Books You'll Read - Review
Mera's YA Book List - Tens List & Excerpt

December 17th
Getting Your Read On - Review
icefairy's Treasure Chest - Guest Post
Booksellers Without Borders NY - Review
Amethyst Daydreams - Review

December 18th
Laurie's Thoughts & Reviews - Interview & Excerpt
Cindy C Bennett - Guest Post

December 19th
Cuzinlogic - Interview
Emi Gayle - Interview

December 20th
Why Not? Because I Said So - Review & Guest Post
Me and Reading - Review

December 21st
My Guilty Obsession - Review
Into the Mystic - Review
Brooklyn Berry Designs - Review
Burning Impossibly Bright - Guest Post

December 22nd
Book Brats - Review & Guest Post
The Cozy Reading Corner - Interview
The Reader's Commute - Review

December 23rd
Bibliophilia, Please - Interview or Guest Post
Crossroads Reviews - Review
FLY HIGH! - Guest Post

December 24th
Reviewing Shelf - Review
Bookworm Lisa - Review & Interview or Tens List

December 26th
Every Free Chance Book Reviews - Review
Mom With a Kindle - Interview or Guest Post
LDS Forever Friends Book Nook - Review
The Itzel Library - Review

December 27th
Reader Girls - Excerpt
Karey White - Review
Paulette's Papers - Tens List
Reading Lark - Guest Post

December 28th
Day by Day in Our World - Review
Debbie's Inkspectations - Review
My Devotional Thoughts - Review
We Fancy Books - Review

January 2nd
Wall-to-Wall Books - Review & Author Interview

Books Over Boys - Review 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Book:  The Darkest Minds
Author:  Alexandra Bracken
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
Date:  December 18, 2012
Source:  publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A+

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
(description and cover from
Initial reaction
What a ride!  And I think I’m in love…..

Cover story
I LOVE THIS COVER!  It is everything that a cover should be.  It has bold colors that catch the eye and the symbol on the front is an integral part of the story.  Just looking at this cover piques my curiosity and makes me want to read it.  The title does the same thing.

What’s the story?
This was one really cool dystopian.  I loved the whole idea of teens developing these super powers from the illness.  That was a new twist in this genre and it was very interesting to read.

This book had me literally holding my breath and sitting on the edge of my seat throughout long portions of the story.  It was like going through a Halloween haunted house; I never knew what was going to jump out at them next!  I thought the world building was phenomenal and I could really buy into the whole scenario.

One of the things I really liked is that the author didn’t give me all the information up front.  I had to work through the book and pick up bits and pieces before all was revealed.  That was a really cool way to find out about the back story and while I was picking up clues, I was also experiencing a fantastic game of cat and mouse with Ruby and the other teens and various and sundry evil adult groups.  I was exhausted by the time I finished.

Be aware that once you pick this book up, you will not want to put it down.

I fell in love with so many characters in this book.  I loved Ruby and thought she was a kick-butt heroine, but Chubs and Suzume were equally compelling.  I enjoyed watching the trust and friendship build within the whole group. 

Then there was Liam.  Gah!  Where do I begin with Liam?  He was a fabulous character.  Probably because there wasn’t anything really extraordinary about him, but as we have unfortunately seen in recent days, it’s ordinary people stepping up to do incredibly brave and heroic things that really makes someone a hero.  And if that is the case, Liam is the real hero of this novel.  It was inspiring to see a normal teenaged boy rise up to the challenge and help so many people and care for them.  He wasn’t constantly smirking, making smart comments or otherwise bad boying it up.  No, he was just a guy who became so much more in the face of adversity and that made him REAL to me.  I am totally in love with this boy.  Of course, the way he calls Ruby “darlin’” in his NC accent is a little helpful as well.  Seriously, though?  Liam is like one of the firefighters on 9-11 rushing into the Twin Towers while everyone else rushes out.  He doesn’t think of himself first, he thinks of everyone else first and that probably makes him the most beautiful soul in the book and perhaps the most beautiful soul I’ve read all year. 

The ending totally sucker punched me right in the gut.  I’m pretty sure I would pay exorbitant sums of money to get my hands on the next book NOW.  So remember that I warned you about that ending and the cliffhanger that comes with it.  But it was totally worth it!


Every Day Super Hero by Smash Mouth

Your Guardian Angel by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Hero by Chad Kroeger and Scott Josey

We Can Be Heroes by The Wallflowers

Hero/Heroine by Boys Like Girls

Decisions, Decisions by The Starting Line

Walk Away by Ben Harper

The Final Grade
My final grade for this one is A+.  This book is not to be missed.  Go get yourself an early Christmas present and then forget about the Christmas shopping, cookie baking and other holiday activities because this book will pull you in and keep you there.  And you will be glad.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Love and Other Perishable Items

Book:  Love and Other Perishable Items
Author:  Laura Buzo
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date:  December 18, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  B+

Love is awkward, Amelia should know.

From the moment she sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It's problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, is 15.

Amelia isn't stupid. She knows it's not gonna happen. So she plays it cool around Chris—at least, as cool as she can. Working checkout together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloging the many injustices of growing up. As time goes on, Amelia's crush doesn't seem so one-sided anymore. But if Chris likes her back, what then? Can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Through a year of befuddling firsts—first love, first job, first party, and first hangover—debut author Laura Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up.
(cover and description from

Initial reaction
Yep, that’s exactly how it works…..::sighs::  too bad.

Cover story
I loved this title.  The title is what made me click on it to read more about it.  I also like the cover.  It’s catchy, it’s pretty and it’s not cliché.  I love the handwriting of the title.  It makes the book cover look like some high school girl doodle art.  This is one of my favorite covers from 2012, I’m pretty sure.  There is not one thing on this cover that is cringe-worthy and I would totally read this in public places with adults present.

What’s the Story?
You know the story.  You may have lived the story or are possibly living the story now.  Young high school girl falls in love with perfect, older, unattainable boy and learns the heartache of first love/crush.  That is this story.

The great thing about this book?  It made me feel so nostalgic.  Laura Buzo did a bang-up job of capturing that feeling you have as a young teenaged girl pining after a real-live guy who is just out of your reach.  I mean, she nailed it.  The obsession, the heart fail, the pining and the reality check.  It was all there, just like I remembered it.  In fact, it was so well-done that it made me even more happy that I NEVER have to go through that again!!!!

I liked Amelia.  She was just like a 15 year old girl should be.  I felt for her with the home situation, but like all 15 year olds, she handled it with grace and composure……wait!  I mean she handled it with attitude and eye rolls!  Seriously though, I liked her a lot for a 15 year old girl.  In fact, sometimes I liked her a lot more than the 15 year old girl that is residing in my home. : )

Chris was a wonderful object of affection/obsession.  I can see why Amelia fell for him.  I think I fell for him also.  Of course, he still needed to do some growing himself, but I knew that he would grow up to be an incredible man.

The reason that this book is a B+ for me is because there were places where the story seemed to just drag a little bit.  There really was not a major conflict in the plot, so sometimes the description of Amelia’s obsession got a little ho-hum for my taste.  And I’m just going to go ahead and admit it.  This book read like an 80’s John Hughes movie, full of teen anguish and teenaged epiphanies, so I really, really wanted the Jake Ryan ending!!!  Please, Laura Buzo!!  Would you write a Jake Ryan ending and send it to me??

Overall, this was a simple story that managed to capture the beauty and the melancholy of life as a teenaged girl.  It was a lovely read, even though it sort of broke my heart.  Yet, the ending was full of optimism for Amelia and all the wonderful experiences she has ahead of her. 

The Soundtrack

Yep, you guessed it!  I’m going with a totally John Hughes inspired soundtrack here!  All of these songs can be found on the soundtracks for teen classic movies like “Pretty in Pink”, “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club”.  The soundtrack of my adolescence…….

If You Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want by Slow Moving Millie (cover of The Smiths original)

Sixteen Candles by The Stray Cats

If You Were Here by Thompson Twins

Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds

We Are Not Alone by Karla Devito

Oh Yeah by Yello (My tribute to the 80’s soundtrack couldn’t be complete without this one.  Even though it really doesn’t relate to this book at all…..)

The Final Grade
My grade for this one is a B+.  There were a few places where it was a bit slow, but overall, I really enjoyed reading it…..and remembering my own awkward days as a 15 year old girl.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Book:  Epic Fail
Author:  Claire LaZebnik
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Date:  2011
Source:  purchased
My grade:  B

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Cast in point:

- As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school--not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.
- As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn't exactly on everyone's must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise's beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince's best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.
(picture and description from

Initial reaction
This novel was like a movie version of your favorite book.  It was good, but it just wasn’t as satisfying as the original.

Cover story

What’s the Story?
So, this is a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice.  And I am a huge, huge, huge Jane Austen fan.  So of course, I felt that I needed to read this one.

I liked it.  It was very close to the original.  In fact, in some ways, it was almost too close to the original.  But, where Jane Austen really fleshed out her storyline, Claire LaZebnik sort of glossed over things.  Honestly, I think I probably enjoyed this book BECAUSE I had read the original.  When a major plot point showed up, I had Jane Austen’s original astute observations to go back to, because there was not a lot of that type of thing in this book.

This was a very quick read.  It is only 179 pages, so I read it in almost one sitting, except that I finally fell asleep reading in bed.  Not because it was boring, but because I’m old.  The book managed to capture all the major occurrences from the original story, but it really hopped quickly from one to the other.  At 179 pages, there was definitely room to expand and that’s really what the author needed to do.

I liked the characters, but mostly because I liked Jane Austen’s characters.  It was easy to spot who was whom in the story and this actually did a good job of setting up modern day examples of the happenings from the original book.

I enjoyed this one, but probably because I love the original Pride and Prejudice.  I’m not sure how it would come across to someone who hasn’t read the original.  It’s definitely not better than Ms. Austen’s, but it was a quick, fun read.

The Soundtrack

King of Anything by Sara Bareilles

Sort Of by Ingrid Michaelson

Change of Season by Sweet Thing

Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You by Muse

I Hate Myself for Loving You by Joan Jett

I’d Rather Be With You by Joshua Radin

The Final Grade
My grade for this one is a B.  It was cute and fun and fans of Pride and Prejudice will enjoy watching the comedy of errors play out in modern times while those that are not fans of Jane Austen might find themselves wondering what the original is like.