Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

Book:  How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True
Author:  Sarah Strohmeyer
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen
Date:  Now available
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  A

From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

Initial reaction
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!  This book is like petting kittens!

Cover story
Bleh!!!  I hate kissing covers! They make me feel like quoting Fred Savage....."Is this a kissing book?"   I can’t even talk about the title because I HATE the cover!

What’s the Story?
Once I got past the cover (thank goodness I was reading an e-book), I really enjoyed this book.  The word that comes to mind immediately is….delightful!  This book is not going to change your life.  It’s not going to make you want to run out and change the world.  But then again, maybe it will.  Because this book is going to just give you lots of warm fuzzies. 

So, this is the story—Zoe and her cousin are going to spend a summer working at a theme park.  They are also working to try and win a big grant of $25,000 to pay for college.  Zoe has just lost her mom in the last couple of years, so this is going to be a chance for her to go out and have some fun again.  Also, she wants to help her cousin Jess win the grant.

The usual cast of high school characters are there, except now the mean girls wear princess dresses.  Of course there are the hot guys, because we know that all high school guys look like Abercrombie models, right?  So there are plenty of clich├ęs to go around here.  But you know what I liked?  I loved the Queen!  This is the woman that Zoe works for all summer as a personal assistant.  This woman was a trip and a half!  The book blurb is spot on:  Imagine The Devil Wears Prada in a theme park and I think you’ll understand where I’m going.  I mean, the Queen was pretty horrid, but in an interesting sort of way.

There was a bit of a mystery involved in the novel, but not too much.  I did, however, love the ending because it wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  I mean, the title tells you that Zoe’s dreams come mostly true, so the happy ending is not a surprise, but the whole way that it “went down” was equal parts surprising, hysterical and fast-paced.  I ate up every single red herring that was thrown my way and then got an awesome surprise at the end!

I think that’s what made me like this book so much.  It was light-hearted and fun.  It was about theme parks, which I love.  The high school characters were pretty standard, but the theme park angle and the character of the Queen made this novel a lot better than standard for me.  Plus, Zoe’s voice is right on target with a mix of teenage girl angst, enthusiasm and humor.  This book is a perfect way to kick off your summer vacation.

Love Rollercoaster by Red Hot Chili Peppers (sorry, couldn’t resist this one!)

Life Is a Roller Coaster by Ronan Keating (This one doesn’t fit exactly, but I like the theme park motif!)

Firework by Katy Perry

It Must Be Summer by Fountains of Wayne

Fallin’ for You by Colbie Caillat

Here’s to the Night by Eve 6

The Final Grade

My final grade for this one is an A.  It was exactly what a light, fun contemporary read should be.  Glad I read it to kick off my summer!  I will definitely be reading some more Sarah Strohmeyer books.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald

Book:  Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood
Author:  Abby McDonald
Date:  Now available
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  C

Abby McDonald gives L.A. the Jane Austen treatment in this contemporary take on Sense and Sensibility.

Hallie and Grace Weston have never exactly seen life eye to eye. So when their father dies and leaves everything to his new wife, forcing the girls to pack up and leave San Francisco for a relative’s house in shiny Beverly Hills, the two sisters take to their changing lot in typically different styles. Shy, responsible Grace manages to make friends with an upbeat, enterprising girl named Palmer but still yearns for her old life — and the maybe-almost-crush she left behind. Meanwhile, drama queen Hallie is throwing herself headlong into life — and love — in L.A., spending every second with gorgeous musician Dakota and warding off the attention of brooding vet Brandon. But is Hallie blinded by the stars in her eyes? And is Grace doomed to forever hug the sidelines?

Initial reaction
Not everyone should mess around with Jane Austen.  Just sayin’…….

Cover story
It’s alright.  It fits the story but it isn’t exactly unique.  I don’t really care for the title, because really, would the characters know that they are a Jane Austen re-telling?  They did that to grab people like me….HUGE Jane Austen fans!

What’s the Story?
I love Jane Austen beyond reason.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve read my old copy of Pride and Prejudice or even watched Colin Firth come out of that pond……::sighs:: But I digress.  I have read all of Jane Austen’s novels, seen most of the film adaptations and whenever I see a re-telling, I feel a huge compulsion to read it right away.  So this one grabbed my attention immediately.

This is a re-telling of Sense and Sensibility.  And the author had great source material to work with, obviously, which is probably how this one ended up with a B+.  I mean, I ended up liking the story, but I didn’t love this one.  I love Sense and Sensibility.  This one seemed too obviously based on the original, if you know what I mean.  I like re-tellings, but it’s nice when the author tries to be a little bit original.  Some parts of this were original, but not tons.  Here are some examples:

  1. I liked that Willoughby was a rock musician.  That was a stroke of brilliance!
  2. It was interesting that Col. Brandon was a young guy back from Iraq.  I actually like it that he’s not a billion years older than Hallie.

Then, there were things that either didn’t work or I didn’t understand:

  1. Why Beverly Hills?  It seems to me that they are supposed to be falling into poverty, not living in their uncle’s posh guest house with a new aunt who pampers them with spa visits.
  2. I’m not sure why it was turned into a big deal that the girls were bi-racial.  It just felt out of place.  Like it was put there to make a statement instead of being an organic part of the story.  I mean, I normally don’t even think about the race of the characters, so when this one really stood out to me, it became distracting. And I’m great with books making statements, but I want a book to make a statement with some subtlety unless it’s absolutely meant to smack you in the face, like Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, for example.

So this book was a mixed bag for me.  I liked the way the author modernized the male suitors and I must admit, this Colonel Brandon was waaaaaaay better than the one who wooed Kate Winslet.  (I’m so sorry, Alan Rickman!  I love you, but your age difference with Kate just squicked me out……)  But it felt like this was just a re-hashing of the original that didn’t stand up to the genius of Jane Austen’s version.   I think that I would have to just send readers straight to Sense and Sensibility instead.  Or if you want a clever Jane Austen re-telling, pick up Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg. 

The Soundtrack

This soundtrack was hard for me, because I was less than inspired by this book.  But here goes nothing:

Anthem (Leonard Cohen cover) by Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen

I Was Gonna Marry You by Tristan Prettyman

Fidelity by Regina Spektor

Realize by Colbie Caillat

Better Things by Fountains of Wayne

The Final Grade

My final grade for this book is a C.  It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t stunning either.  It was about average.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?  is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  It's designed to let readers know what books you have just finished reading and what books are next on your TBR pile.

Two weeks of school left, peeps!!!  I can't wait to get out of school and catch up on some reading!!  Yes!!

So, my reading has been sort of slow this week because the end of the school is insane for me.  But this is what's going on:

I just finished---

Moonset (Legacy of Moonset #1) by Scott Tracey

I really liked this one.  I can't wait to get my hands on the next one!  I was pleasantly surprised because I didn't think I would like this one quite so much.  It is narrated by a guy too, which was a nice change of pace.

I'm currently reading---

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly)  Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

I am loving this book.  It's a perfect summer read--fun and light-hearted.  But that cover needs some work.....ugh!

Next up for me---

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

So what are you reading?  Any suggestions for what I should be reading??

Sunday, May 19, 2013

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Book:  This Is What Happy Looks Like
Author:  Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher:  Poppy
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
Grade:  A

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs? 

Initial reaction
Oh, how I love chick lit when it’s well done!!  And this one was sooooo well done!

Cover story
Love, love, love it!  The title is cute and catchy and the cover is cute and catchy.  Just perfect for a book that is cute and catchy!

What’s the Story?

Ellie lives in a small town in Maine and one day, she accidentally receives an email that got sent to the wrong address.  To make a long story short, she starts emailing the boy (they do figure out that they are a boy and a girl pretty quickly!), never knowing that he is really a very famous teen movie star.  When he sees an opportunity to move his current film on location to Ellie’s town, he does it because he really likes talking to her in emails and wants to see what could happen in person.

This is where the story picks up and then moves into the ins and outs of dating a celebrity.  There are some rather unusual complications in this story, however.  I won’t give them away, but just let it suffice to say that nothing about this relationship is easy.

The story and the characters however, are easy……easy to love!!  I really liked Ellie.  She felt very down-to-earth and she dealt with the complexities and hardships of her life without letting them get her down or make her jaded.  In fact, it was probably the hardships she had growing up that prepared her for the hardships of a relationship with a celebrity.

I loved Graham as well.  He wasn’t conceited at all and he complimented Ellie very well.  I felt sorry for him a lot.  He was just a guy who liked to act and had to deal with lots of other crap in order to do what he loved.

One thing that was nice about this book was seeing glimpses of how Ellie and Graham built their relationship over months of emailing one another.  And even so, it wasn’t insta-love when they first meet.  It was a gradual getting to know one another all over again.  But that was the best part!  You know those books that give you flutters in your tummy because you feel exactly what the girl is feeling?  This was one of those books!  I just wanted to stay in this world forever. 

Just to give you a hint of how much I loved this book, there are only a couple other contemporaries that I have loved this much.  For me, this book ranks right up there with Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and Ditched by Robin Mellom.  I loved those 3 contemporaries and this one is now in that group.

If you want a fun contemporary with a beautiful love story and 2 really down-to-earth characters, this one is it.  And now I have to run read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

The Soundtrack

A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton

Dreams by The Cranberries

Oh, Is It Love? By Hellogoodbye

Kiss Me by Six Pence None the Richer

I Knew I Loved You by Savage Garden

When You Say Nothing at All by Alison Krauss

The Final Grade

My final grade for this book is an A.  It’s been a week and a half since I read it and I’m sitting here writing this review with a huge grin on my face because of how much I enjoyed this book.  If that’s not a good reason, I don’t know what is!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Revel by Maurissa Guibord

Book:  Revel
Author:  Maurissa Guibord
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  B+

There’s an island off the coast of Maine that’s not on any modern map.

Shrouded in mist and protected by a deadly reef, Trespass Island is home to a community of people who guard the island and its secrets from outsiders. Seventeen-year-old Delia grew up in Kansas, but has come here in search of her family and answers to her questions: Why didn’t her mother ever talk about Trespass Island? Why did she fear the open water? But Delia’s not welcome and soon finds herself enmeshed in a frightening and supernatural world where ancient Greek symbols adorn the buildings and secret ceremonies take place on the beach at night.

Sean Gunn, a handsome young lobsterman, befriends Delia and seems willing to risk his life to protect her. But it’s Jax, the coldly elusive young man she meets at the water’s edge, who finally makes Delia understand the real dangers of life on the island. Delia is going to have to fight to survive. Because there are monsters here. And no one ever leaves Trespass alive.

Initial reaction
I liked this twist in the story elements.  Plus, I like mythology!

Cover Story
I like the title and after reading the book, I understand it, which is always a plus.  I also like this cover.  It has the water, which is important and it has the girl, but luckily, there’s no girl in the water in a prom dress!!!

What’s the Story?
Delia is an orphan.  Her mother passed away and she doesn’t know who her father is.  She goes from foster home to foster home until finally, she decides to search out her grandmother on this mysterious island off the coast of Maine called Trespass Island.  She has a bit of trouble getting there because no one ever goes there, but she finally makes it.  Her Gran is anything but happy to see her at first and tries to send her back to the mainland.  This is when all hell breaks loose and the story takes off.

I really enjoyed this one.  I am a longtime lover of Greek mythology, from the first time my grubby little elementary school hands picked up a copy of D’Aulaire’s Greek Mythology.  That book was my constant companion throughout elementary school and I think I still have parts of it memorized.  So, I love books that have Greek mythology and I especially love books that have good twists on the Greek mythology.  Revel is one of those books.

Now, my husband just laughs out loud when we show up in the YA section of the bookstore and he sees “Paranormal Teen Romance” followed by “Vampires”, “Werewolves” and “Fairies”.  But he about busted a gut when he saw “Mermaids” added to that on the shelf one day.  And I know why.  People imagine Ariel and Prince Eric in book form.  Let me assure you that Revel is not The Little Mermaid.  In fact, it was pretty creepy in some parts and pretty grotesque throughout.  It utilizes a lot of sea lore mixed in with the mythology and I really like the novel’s take on the siren mythology.

In fact, one of the only things that took away from this novel’s storyline for me was the dreaded…….(drum roll, please)……LOVE TRIANGLE!!!  I am so over that, people!  I just don’t like them any more and I didn’t like this one either.  A lot of books are starting to either not have a second love interest or they have one that is so overwhelmingly better that it doesn’t matter anymore.  Not this one.  Stop doing this to me!  My heart is too old for this!

Other than the 2 love interests that I liked for different reasons, this book felt like it had a pretty solid story line.  There was adventure, conflict, self-discovery and a huge calamity to overcome.  Even though it wrapped up rather nicely, there’s room for the story to continue and I have to say that I would be happy to read some more in this world.  So, if you like Greek mythology and stories that offer a little something different, this is a good novel to pick up.

The Soundtrack

Silence by Sarah MacLachlan

Mystery by Beth Orton

Home by Jack Johnson

Beyond the Sea by Celtic Woman

Crystal by Stevie Nicks

The Old Ways by Loreena McKennitt

Mermaid by Woodland

The Final Grade
My final grade for this is B+.  It lost some points for a terrible love triangle, but other than that, I really enjoyed this book.  I hope there is another planned.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?  is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  It's designed to let readers know what books you have just finished reading and what books are next on your TBR pile.

I haven't done one of these in a few weeks, so I'm trying to get going again!

Right now, I'm reading:

Moonset (Legacy of Moonset #1)
Scott Tracey

Moonset, a coven of such promise . . . Until they turned to the darkness.

After the terrorist witch coven known as Moonset was destroyed fifteen years ago—during a secret war against the witch Congress—five children were left behind, saddled with a legacy of darkness. Sixteen-year-old Justin Daggett, son of a powerful Moonset warlock, has been raised alongside the other orphans by the witch Congress, who fear the children will one day continue the destruction their parents started.

A deadly assault by a wraith, claiming to work for Moonset’s most dangerous disciple, Cullen Bridger, forces the five teens to be evacuated to Carrow Mill. But when dark magic wreaks havoc in their new hometown, Justin and his siblings are immediately suspected. Justin sets out to discover if someone is trying to frame the Moonset orphans . . . or if Bridger has finally come out of hiding to reclaim the legacy of Moonset. He learns there are secrets in Carrow Mill connected to Moonset’s origins, and keeping the orphans safe isn’t the only reason the Congress relocated them . . .

I just finished reading these books:

This Is What Happy Looks Like 
by Jennifer E. Smith

by Maurissa Guibord

After I read Moonset, the next books are:

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True 
by Sarah Strohmeyer

The Sweetest Dark 
by Shana Abe

What's next on your TBR pile?

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Book:  If You Find Me
Author:  Emily Murdoch
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date:  Now available
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A+

There are some things you can’t leave behind…
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Initial reaction
I’m not sure any review can adequately sum up this novel.

Cover story
While the title and cover are perfect for this novel, I’m not sure that anything so trite should matter when it comes to this book.

What’s the story?
How to do justice for this book with one of my silly reviews???  I don’t know if I can, actually.  I struggled first of all with a grade.  How can I give an A+ to such a horrifying novel?  But how could I give it any less?  This is one of those books that is so powerful and, dare I say it, life-changing that it feels wrong to give it a grade.  But because of that very thing, it deserves nothing less than the highest grade possible.

First, I need to warn you, that this is not a book to be picked up lightly.  This story was heart-wrenching at the very least.  This book will make you both rejoice in the resilience of the human spirit and weep at the atrocities that humans are capable of committing.  This is a book that will haunt me for years…..

I grew to love Carey and Nessa so, so much.  As a mother, I just wanted to grab them up, hug them and never let them go again.  I wanted to show them that people could be kind and good to them and shower them in all sorts of wonderful, good things.  It broke my heart as a reader and as a mother that I couldn’t do that.  It was all the more horrifying for me as I discovered more and more about just how terrible their ordeal really had been.  (I also wanted to make my own 15 year old sit down and read this so that she could understand just how lucky she is to have a wonderful family and home, but that’s a whole other story…)

The descriptions in this book of Carey and Nessa’s life in the woods are so realistic that it is disconcerting.  The narrative is gritty and raw and doesn’t really cover up any of the ugliness they endured.  I felt as if I could even smell what their life was like.  It was amazing, actually, that Emily Murdoch was able to so realistically describe this world that the girls lived in.  Amazing and horrifying…..

I can’t really say that this is a book that anyone will enjoy, because if you enjoy it, you probably need therapy.  However, it is a book that will resound with readers because of its intensity and its honest brutality.  And in the end, it is a book full of hope in the ability of the human spirit to survive under the most horrific of circumstances.  This is a book that will leave you a changed person.

The soundtrack
This may be the hardest soundtrack I’ve ever made…..

Full of Grace by Sarah MacLachlan

Deliver Me by Sarah Brightman

Bad Wisdom by Suzanne Vega

Honestly Okay by Dido

This Is to Mother You by Sinead O’Connor

Fire on Babylon by Sinead O’Connor

The final grade
My final grade for this book is an A+.  This book will touch you deeply and profoundly.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spring Blog Carnival Has Arrived--Welcome to the Fun House!!

Welcome to the Fun House, my stop on the Spring Blog Carnival!

With summer almost upon us, I'm ready for some fun reading, so I'm sponsoring a challenge and giveaway that's funny!  You can win your choice of one of these funny YA books:

    Beauty Queens                                     Going Bovine 
    by Libba Bray                                         by Libba Bray 

The Absolutely True                             My Most Excellent
Diary of a Part-Time                              Year:  A Novel of 
Indian by Sherman                                Love, Mary Poppins
Alexie                                                       and Fenway Park by
                                                                  Steve Kluger

Carter Finally Gets It                                  Swim the Fly
by Brent Crawford                                      by Don Calame

Curveball: The Year                                   The Earth, My Butt
I Lost My Grip                                            and Other Big  
by Jordan Sonnenblick                              Round Things by
                                                                      Carolyn Mackler

So how do you win one of these books?  By sharing something funny, of course!  I am always looking for funny things from the Internet, so I want some help finding them!  In the comments, leave me a link to the funniest thing you've found recently on the Internet.  It could be a picture, a story, a youtube video or anything!  Then when you've left the link, just enter using the Rafflecopter!  Good luck and I hope you have fun in the Fun House!

When you're finished, visit the other booths in the Spring Blog Carnival!

1. Land of Make Believe Booth at Candace's Book Blog  18. Dunking Booth at Cover2CoverBlog  35. Down the Rabbit Hole Booth at Willing to See Less  
2. Kissing Booth at Pure Imagination  19. Face Painting Booth at JennReneeRead  36. Zombie Maze Booth at Steph's Stacks  
3. Haunted House at Reading Angels  20. Ring Toss Booth at Harley Bear Book Blog  37. Guess the Weight Booth at Dizneeee's World of Books  
4. Alpha Arcade at Crazy Four Books  21. Lucky Dip Booth at The Girl in a Cafe  38. Bewitched Bookworms Booth  
5. Karaoke Booth at Actin' Up with Books  22. Fishing Booth at I am a Reader Not a Writer  39. Strongman Booth at The Blue Stocking Society  
6. Ticket Booth at Writer Quirk  23. Southland Booth at Adventures In YA Publishing  40. Top Secret Booth at Book- Marks The Spot  
7. Moonlit Grove Booth at Psah to Reality  24. Daisy Chain Story Booth at Books Make Me Happy  41. Tilt-A-Whirl at Ed and Em's Reviews  
8. Belle of the Ball at Paperback Princess  25. Food Booth at Rainy Day Ramblings  42. Palm Reading Booth at lilybloombooks  
9. Queen's Court Booth at Alyssa Auch  26. Magic Carpet Ride at TSK TSK What to Read  43. Horse Rides at Oh, Chrys!  
10. Tunnel of Love at The Daily Bookmark  27. Zipper Booth at Forever 17 Books  44. Hall of Mirrors at WinterHaven Books  
11. Mud Run at The Book Swarm  28. Bumper Cars at A Bookish Heart  45. Second Chances Booth at Debbie's World of Books  
12. Ferris Wheel at Ink Skies  29. The Charade of Masks Carnival Auction at A Bookish Escape  46. Poetry Booth at Basia's Bookshelf  
13. Killer Cliff Booth at Bookittyblog  30. Shooting Gallery at At Random  47. Mythology Booth at Seeing Night Reviews  
14. Dragon Booth at On Starships and Dragon Wings  31. Hot Cocoa Booth at Books on the Bay  48. Make-Over Booth at Pink Polka Dot Book Blog  
15. Bed and Biscuit Booth at Manga Maniac Cafe  32. Reading Rollercoaster at Melissa Turner Lee  49. Weaponry and Dangerous Magic Booth at Amy's Book Den  
16. Match-Making Booth at Emily's Crammed Bookshelf  33. Freak Show Booth at Ticket to Anywhere  50. Popcorn Booth at Snowdrop Dreams of Books  
17. Globetrotter's Booth at YA Booklover Blog  34. Fun House at Into the Mystic  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Collector by Victoria Scott

Book:  The Collector (Dante Walker #1)
Author:  Victoria Scott
Publisher:  Entangled
Date:  now available
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A-

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.

Initial reaction
Oh Dante!  Do I love you or do I hate you?  As a teen girl, I would have thought you were the s**t, but as the mom of a teen daughter, you really scare me.

Cover story
I really liked this title because I thought it was short, sweet and to the point.  The cover is so-so.  I mean, let’s face it, boyfriend on the front is easy on the eyes, but this one is screaming bad romance cover, so I would have to put it inside of a copy of War and Peace if I were reading it as an actual book instead of on my Nook.

What’s the Story?

So, Dante Walker is a Collector, which means he’s sort of like a Mafia hit man, but he works for Satan, running around on earth collecting souls for Hell.  And dude really is like a Mafia hit man.  The only thing he’s missing is an Italian last name, because he has the first name covered.  Imagine Jersey Shore collecting souls for the devil, and you’ve probably hit it.

Which is why this book so got on my nerves at the beginning.  I hate Jersey Shore.  I think those guys are total idiots, so I was seriously concerned that I just wouldn’t make it to the end.  But then, something miraculous happened.

Dante started to experience growth as a human being.  Or as a demon.  Whatever.

In fact, Dante’s amount of character growth was probably comparable to the amount of meaningless hook-ups experienced by the whole cast of Jersey Shore.  And suddenly, he was no longer making me think of Pauly D, which was a very good thing.  In fact, I started to actually like him.

He’s been sent to collect the soul of poor, hapless Charlie Cooper.  He’s not sure why, because Charlie is such a good, good girl.  She’s a little less than average in the looks department, she has frizzy hair and she limps.  But inside, she’s a beautiful soul.

I loved watching the relationship between these 2 develop.  I loved the way Dante started interacting with her friends.  I really enjoyed watching Dante change as a person.  So by the time I reached the end of the novel, I was so glad that I had read it.  I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series.

The Soundtrack

All Night Long by Buckcherry

Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf

That Man by Caro Emerald

Echo by Jason Walker

Holding On and Letting Go by Ross Copperman

Can’t Go Back by Rosi Golan

(I feel like I need to comment on the fact that so many Vampire Diaries songs are on my soundtrack.  Dante is very much like Damon.  I mean, they're like brothers from another mother.)

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A-.  Once Dante lost his Jersey Shore-ness, I loved him and I loved the story.