Sunday, June 30, 2013


Book:  Parallel
Author:  Lauren Miller
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  B+

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach. (Cover and description from
Initial reaction
Holy alternate universe, Batman!  I need to think about this idea!

Cover story
I like this cover.  I love the way the 2 sides of the face are slightly different.  You know, symbolism! : )  The title is good as well.

What’s the Story?
The more I read, the more I liked this book. At first, I was sort of ho-hum about it, but then as it neared the end, I found myself so entranced with the story.  Let’s face it—the idea rocks!  I mean, a cosmic twist in which you are suddenly aware of a parallel universe and your own parallel self?  And she keeps changing your reality?  It took me a while to get into the book, but I think it’s because the two storylines had to be established.  But once this book grabbed me, whoa!  Hold on to your hats, people!  It really grabbed me and it was a roller coaster ride!

The angst factor is pretty high in this one, though, which made it a little difficult to read. I felt Abby’s anxiety as she woke up every morning, wondering if her reality was going to be the same as it was yesterday.  It was very nerve-wracking.  When I say it was difficult to read, I mean it was difficult in the way I felt that HP and the Order of the Phoenix was difficult.  I felt all the anger, nervousness and anxiety that the main character felt as if it were my own.  I just had to keep barreling on in order to see what the heck was going to be the next reality.

Now, I must say that there were times when Abby really got on my nerves.  I mean in a really, really bad way.  In fact, for quite a while, I really didn’t like her.  She seemed whiny and self-centered.  Of course, the nice thing is that as the book progressed, so did she, and I found her to be much more likeable as the story moved along.  Which is a good thing in a book, right?

I loved the edgy science talk in the book as well.  I mean, the whole concept of parallel universes is totally cool, and having a college professor and a geeky best friend there to explain the physics of it all was pretty awesome.  It was a fun concept to ponder as a I read.

All in all, I really enjoyed Parallel.  It was an awesome story line with a fantastic concept.  I think the author did a really good job of making a complicated idea work in execution.  That was not an easy thing to do.  Even though Abby irritated me in the beginning,  I'm glad I stuck with this one and read it to the end.

The Soundtrack

Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis

Otherside by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

I Miss You by Björk

It’s Alright with Me by Harry Connick Jr.

Parallel Lives by Revolver

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is B+.  I thought the author pulled the story off magnificently.  The main character was really annoying at first, but once I got into the story, this book was unputdownable!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I received no money or other compensation for this review.  Not even a parallel me who is younger and thinner.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Rules for Disappearing

Book:  The Rules for Disappearing
Author:  Ashley Elston
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival. (Cover and description from

Initial Impression
I have no idea why this book has gotten negative reviews.  This book rocked!

Cover Story
I like it!  There are no people kissing and the cover actually seems to go with the story.  Win! 

What’s the Story?
So Meg (not her real name) and her family are part of the Witness Protection Plan.  She has no idea why, but she thinks it’s something her dad did.  She thinks that he must have been caught and he’s going to exchange testimony for his freedom.  But she doesn’t know that for sure.  What she does know for sure is that she is tired of moving.  She has already moved 4 times and the story opens with the 5th move that the family is making.  To somewhere in the middle of Nowhere, Louisiana.

I really, really liked this story.  At first, Meg seemed a little jaded, but really, who wouldn’t be if you had been through what she has been through?  As I read more and more of her story, I liked her more and more because I realized just what a horrible situation this would be for anyone, but especially for kids.

This time around, Meg decides that she isn’t going to interact with anyone or get to know anyone because she’ll just have to move again in a month anyhow.  Of course, things don’t go as planned and these kids in Louisiana are just too friendly.  (Which, btw, is actually the way it is in small towns in the South.)  She ends up getting involved with a boy named Ethan, who is the cutest redneck ever.  Now, I have to say that Ethan gives Tucker Avery a run for his money in the most swoon worthy country boy contest.  And Ethan has a Louisiana accent to boot!

In any case, as the novel progresses, things get worse and Meg feels as if she is being followed and watched.  She also finds out why they are in the Witness Protection Program and then ALL. HELL. BREAKS. LOOSE!!!!

I can’t go into any details because I don’t want to spoil this book for you.  But let it suffice to say that this one was a real nail biter.  I was sitting on the edge of my seat just wondering what was going to happen next.  And then the ending!!  GAH!!!  The ending almost had me screaming in frustration until I remembered seeing a second book in the series.  I ran to Goodreads to make sure, and I breathed a little sigh of relief when I saw it.

The Soundtrack

The Great Escape by Boys Like Girls

Dirty Little Secret by The All-American Rejects

I’m Like a Bird by Nelly Furtado

Secret Agent Man by Blues Traveler

Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap

Strong Enough by Sheryl Crow

Secret by Maroon 5

I may have gone a little overboard with this one on the soundtrack. : )

The Final Grade
My final grade for this one is an A.  I really enjoyed this book.  It kept me interested and had me hanging on the edge of my seat, unable to wait and see what would happen next!  And there’s a sequel!  Hooray!!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  I received no money or other compensation for my review.  Not even a hot guy with a sweet Southern accent.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Nantucket Blue

Book:  Nantucket Blue
Author:  Leila Howland
Publisher:  Disney Hyperion
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue. (Book cover and description from

Initial impression
Wow!  That was really good!

Cover story
Booooooo!!!!  I hate kissing covers!  They are so cliché! And make a book with some substance seem like a bad romance novel.  I like the title though.  Just get rid of the couple.

What’s the Story?
So, Cricket has a best friend, Jules, who comes from a wealthy family.  Cricket doesn’t, but they seem to not care about it.  And this summer, Jules has invited to Cricket to join her family in their summer home on Nantucket!  But all they plans fall apart when Jules’ mom suddenly dies and for reasons unbeknownst to Cricket, Jules pulls away from her.  Cricket decides that she is going to Nantucket anyway because her friend needs her
 This is where I need to stop and talk about Cricket and Jules.  I had a hard time liking either one of them at first.  Eventually, I grew to love Cricket, but I think Jules was a spoiled, catty mean girl who did not deserve Cricket’s friendship.  And I got really upset with Cricket for just laying down like a door mat and letting Jules run right over her.  Luckily, this is a coming-of-age novel and Cricket learns to stand on her own 2 feet, but for a while?  Yeah, I thought I was going to have to slap some sense into her.

So Cricket arranges this job to be a nanny with a really wealthy family on Nantucket, but when she arrives, the job has fallen through.  That’s how she ends up cleaning toilets and changing sheets in a small inn on Nantucket.  But that inn is a lifesaver!  The people at the inn are so wonderful and those characters saved Cricket, and me, from the obnoxious Jules with Cricket as her poor puppy dog.

Liz is probably the best of these inn characters.  She is also a maid at the inn and she befriends Cricket and teaches how to be more assertive.  Liz kicks butt!!  Gavin is the manager and George is the writer staying at the inn.  He and Cricket develop a friendship and he helps her mature in a totally different way, trusting her to help with his book and showing her that she is intelligent and capable.

The romance in this book was awesome sauce!  I liked Zach from the moment he showed up and I never understood what Cricket saw in Jay Logan.  The love story was so well-written (well, the whole novel was) that it was one of those books that gave you butterflies in your stomach every time the cute boy showed up!!

I’ve never been to Nantucket, but now I am dying to go.  I have spent some time in New England since my husband is from Massachusetts, and I loved all the small details with New England references. (Del’s rocks!)  I think I am probably going to look for some vacation places in Nantucket for next year…..if there are any for us regular folks, that is!

I really thought that this was a well-written coming-of-age summer novel.  Cricket really grew and matured as a character.  The secondary characters were wonderful and the romance was swoon-worthy.  This novel explores family relationships, friendships, first loves, independence and finding oneself and it manages to pull all of it off beautifully.  And in a beautiful setting as well.  I highly recommend that you pick this one up!

The Soundtrack (I may have gone a bit overboard with this one….)

Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow

Summer Love by We the Kings

The Beach by All Time Low

Thunder by Boys Like Girls

Summer’s Almost Gone by The Doors

Thank You by Simple Plan

Honey and the Bee by Owl City

First Time by Lifehouse

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A.  I love it when characters grow and mature and arrive at the end of the book as better people.  And when it happens over a summer in Nantucket?  Even better! This book has a good story, good characters and a fabulous setting.  What more could you ask for?

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I received no compensation, financial or otherwise, for this review.  Not even a postcard of Nantucket!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How My Summer Went Up in Flames

Book:  How My Summer Went Up in Flames
Author:  Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  A

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

Initial impression
Girlfriend’s got some sass!  I like it!

Cover story
I like this cover.  A lot.  It captures the whole road trip motif and also captures Rosie perfectly with that gas can. The cover is funny and light-hearted, just like the novel.

What’s the Story?
So, Rosie is a Jersey girl.  She’s not the skanky kind like Snookie (who isn’t even from New Jersey, btw), but the spunky kind!  Girlfriend has some spirit and after her boyfriend dumps her, she accidentally sets his car on fire.  And she might have been continuously calling and texting him and sometimes showing up where he is.  Just a little.

All of this results in a restraining order for dear Rosie.  Now, her best friend and neighbor Matty is going on a trip with 2 of his friends to drop off Logan, the older friend, at college in Colorado.  So they have a whole road trip planned from New Jersey to Colorado and Matty suggests that Rosie go with them so that she doesn’t get in any more trouble before her court date.

Rosie is not so open to this idea at first, but eventually comes around.  Spencer and Logan are both sort of geeky, but Logan is, of course, very nice to look at!  So off they all go on the summer road trip!

This book has what many road trip novels have:  mishaps and mayhem, fights, heart to heart talks, unplanned stops, etc.  But somehow, this novel had a certain je ne sais quoi.  For one thing, the writing was phenomenal!  This did not read like a first time author’s book.  I was really able to relate to Rosie, even though I’ve never set an ex-boyfriend’s car on fire.  But let’s admit it—there are some that we all would have liked to have done that to, right??

Rosie’s sass just makes you love her.  I loved to watch her giving those boys some lip.  Not just any girl can survive a cross country road trip with 3 teenaged boys, but Rosie held her own and then some with them.  I was cheering for her the entire way!

The ending was somewhat predictable, but like on any good road trip, you may know where you are headed, but getting there is at least half the fun!  And the getting there in this novel was REALLY fun!  This is definitely one of my all time favorite road trip novels.  If you’re going on a road trip this summer, I definitely recommend picking this one up to take with you for the ride!

The Soundtrack

Smile by Lily Allen

I’m on Top of the World by Imagine Dragons

Kiss Me Slowly by Parachute

Paper Doll by John Mayer

Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (you can’t have a book about a Jersey girl on a road trip without the Boss, right?)

Jersey Girl by Tom Waits

Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A.  It has everything a good road trip novel should have and just a little bit more.  This book will make you want to jump in your car and head on your own road trip….maybe all the way to New Jersey!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Book:  Winger
Author:  Andrew Smith
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
Grade:  This book honestly transcends a grade, but if I must, it’s an A+++++

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

Initial reaction
::stunned silence::  I need a few minutes to collect my thoughts on this one.

Cover story
This book suffers from the “Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” problem.  A hideous cover that holds a beautiful and rare gem inside.  At first, I almost didn’t read this one, but after reading it, I realize the cover is PERFECT!!!

What’s the Story?
I’m not even sure that my review can do this book any justice.  This is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my lifetime.  It is powerful.  It is funny.  It is embarrassing.  It is awkward.  It is heart-wrenching.  It is touching.  In other words, it is life.  And it captures life as an adolescent boy so perfectly.

This book felt so real to me.  Reading through the eyes of Ryan Dean was phenomenal.  Well, if you consider the viewpoint of a 14 year old boy genius to be phenomenal!  Seriously, this book seemed to exactly capture that time and its confusion, awkwardness, tension and joy.  By the end of the book, I was just in love with Ryan Dean as all the other people in the book.

This book really reminded me of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  I think it’s the male narrator voice that I love.  Why?  Because it manages to take serious subjects and address them with a lightheartedness that is still blunt and straight to the point.  In many ways, you don’t even realize just what sorts of life-changing topics are being addressed because of the humor in the narration.  Then you realize that you have been dealing with all kinds of serious issues since the beginning of the book.  It’s just that boys don’t get whiny about them like girls.  Boys just take things as they come until they finally punch someone.  That sums up Ryan Dean and it actually sums up this book.  It just deals with the story and then it punches you.

Watching Ryan Dean grow up and navigate the issues facing him was like watching a beautiful flower growing from seed to bloom.  I just knew that even though he was starting out as a sort of ugly sprout, in the end, he would be breathtaking.  And he was.  This book is a poignant coming of age novel, but it is also much more.  By the end of the book, I loved those rough and tumble rugby players from O-Hall as if they were my own boys.  And I was devastated by the ending.  Yet, in spite of the horrible event that takes place, I still closed the book feeling hopeful for Ryan Dean and his friends.  They suffered through something horrible, but they all grew and changed and became better people during the novel.  That is one of the most uplifting parts of reading good literature.  Even in the face of a tragedy, the hero becomes a better man.

I don’t even know what else to say about this novel.  It’s a story that is so powerful that it has left me grasping for words to describe it.  All I can do is say that everyone should read it.  You won’t regret it.

The Soundtrack

I’m Just a Kid by Simple Plan

Teenagers by My Chemical Romance

Stop This Train by John Mayer

Wake Up by The Arcade Fire

In This Diary by The Ataris

She Is Love by Parachute

Oh It Is Love by Hellogoodbye

Light Years by Pearl Jam

Field of Innocence by Evanescence

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A+.  It’s actually much higher than that, but since that’s my highest grade, it will have to do.  This book honestly transcends a grade.  Just go read it.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Eternity Cure

Book:  The Eternity Cure
Author:  Julie Kagawa
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Date: Available now
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A+

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike. (description from Goodreads)

Initial reaction
Why, Julie, why????  ::sobs uncontrollably::

Cover story
I like this cover, although it doesn’t really match the first one, which I also liked.  But it’s a good cover and I would be happy to show it out in public.  I like the title too.  It’s catchy and I think it will pique readers’ interest.  This is also a great cover and title for boys.  It’s not girly at all, so it won’t be off-putting.

What’s the Story?
This novel picks up where The Immortal Rules left off.  It’s been a few months, but Allison is searching for Kanin, her creator, who is being held captive by a pscho-vamp.  Along the way, she runs into her vampire brother, Jackal, who is also the crazy vampire lord that killed a bunch of the humans in the first book.  So that’s where we stand.

Reviewing second books in a trilogy is always so, so hard because I am so afraid of spoilers, but I’ll try to keep this one as spoiler-free as possible.  And this book is going to be hard to review without spoilers, so if the review seems a little lacking, understand that the reason is so that you, the reader, can enjoy your own journey with this book.

Julie Kagawa is a master and now she is truly a master of the vampire novel.  Seriously, I rank these vampire novels right up there with Anne Rice.  Kagawa, like Rice, manages to capture the complexities of the vampiric existence.  The myriad of emotions and the love-hate relationship vampires have with humans and one another.  She also manages to show the many different sides of vampires and she does it without making vampires seem like good guys or bad guys.  They simply ARE.

The Immortal Rules was really about getting to know the humans that inhabit this fictitious world.  Even though Allison became a vampire, she spent most of the book with humans.  In The Eternity Cure, this is the reader’s glimpse into the world of the vampires.  We get to see the good, the bad and the ugly here and come to understand that, just as in the human world, there are really no absolutes.  Even the seemingly “bad” vampires have pasts that have made them who they are.  Just as in any good literature, the reader is left questioning “Who is the monster and who is the man”? (with apologies to Disney for stealing that line!)  But that is what good books should make us do.  We should re-think our paradigms and realize that humans, and vampires, cannot be pigeon-holed into “good” or “bad”.  That is one of the things I enjoyed most about this novel.

I am so glad that I got to spend some more time with Jackal.  He is such an interesting character.  Of course, Zeke shows up again in this novel and I loved seeing his character develop more as well as his relationship with Allison.  There were some surprising characters that reappeared and there were moments that completely broke my heart and left me almost bereft.  Yet, there were also moments that were completely uplifting.  This novel took me through a myriad of emotions and left me breathless by the end.  I cannot wait for the next novel.

The Soundtrack

The Rescue by American Hi-Fi

Flying High by Jem

Honey and the Moon by Joseph Arthur

Stop and Stare by One Republic

Brave by Idina Menzel

Hey World (Don’t Give Up) by Michael Franti

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A+.  Even though parts of it broke my heart, I loved every moment of it and I can’t wait to get the next book and see what sort of awesomeness Julie Kagawa has in store for me!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Book:  Moonset (Legacy of Moonset #1)
Author:  Scott Tracey
Publisher:  Flux
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

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 . . .

Initial reaction
It was refreshing to have a book narrated by a boy……plus the coven politics were fun!

Cover story
I love this cover.  It is what drew me to the book to begin with and the title is intriguing. This is definitely a cover that would not send boys running away as fast as they can.

What’s the Story?

So, there were some elements that reminded me a bit of Harry Potter, but not really.  That doesn’t make much sense, but let me explain.  No, there is no time to explain, let me sum up…..(sorry, can’t resist Princess Bride references.)

There has been a war in the wizard community.  The coven of Moonset, which had many talented witches, turned dark and tried to usurp power.  They were defeated and destroyed with the exception of their 5 children.  So what does the magical community do with these kids?  They ship them around from place to place and they shun them.  And that, dear friends, is where our story begins…

You can see the original premise is similar to the HP plotline, but the execution is completely different.  I really enjoyed this book, a lot!  I think that the idea of who is “bad” becomes very nuanced in this book, and I won’t be surprised if later on in the series, we find out that Moonset wasn’t as evil as it’s been made out to be.
This was a book that I had a hard time putting down.  There was a touch of romance, but really it was more about the plot and action.  I really liked watching develop as a person and a young man.  In many ways, this was also a coming-of-age novel for Justin.  He really learned to stand up, be strong and protect his family.  At the beginning of the novel, he was very insecure and felt that other members of his family were more dynamic and interesting.  But Justin has this sort of quiet strength that makes him very likeable.  I’m really glad this story was narrated from his point of view.  If it had been from his sister’s, I think it would have gotten on my nerves.

The nice thing about narration from the boy’s point of view is that we get a bit of humor and macabre mixed into the narrative.  That was true in this book.  Justin is, at times, just a boy and his thoughts and reactions reflect that and it kept the book from getting bogged down in a depressing story.

Some of the other members of the witch community were interesting and I’m not sure about Quinn, the guardian that is assigned to the 5 siblings.  I am curious to see how he develops as a character in the next book.  At first I thought he would become Jenna’s love interest, but I’m starting to wonder if he is more like a mentor character for Justin.

All in all, I think this was a solid start to a new series.  I am anxiously awaiting the next book.

The Soundtrack

Witches Dream by Mason Jennings (the lyrics don’t really fit, but the feeling of the song does, and it’s about witches.  ::shrugs::)

Season of the Witch by Hole

Welcome to My Life by Simple Plan

Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day

We Are Family by The Corrs

Keep Holding On by Glee cast

The Final Grade

My final grade for this book is an A.  This is a solid first book for what looks like a very interesting series.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Follow me on Bloglovin'......

Ah, procrastination!  That is my middle name!  I have needed to do this forever, I just haven't.  So a huge shout out to Lauren over at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf for putting up a post about the end of Google Reader on July 1st and moving over to Bloglovin'.  She gave me just the kick in the rear that I needed and also made it easy for me by including all the links I would need!  Lauren, you rock!

So I will be moving my RSS feed over to Bloglovin'.  You can follow me there and if you are getting my feed on Google Reader, you can easily join Bloglovin' and then move all your Google Reader blog feeds right over with just one click!  In fact, if you click on the link to Lauren's blog above, she has all the steps you need!

Here's my link to follow me through Bloglovin':

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hope to see all of you on the other side of July 1!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé

Book:  The Sweetest Dark
Author:  Shana Abé
Date: Now available
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

For fans of Lauren Kate and Libba Bray, The Sweetest Dark is filled with thrilling romance, exciting adventure, and ancient magic. Shana Abé brilliantly captures the drama of post-Victorian England, while unfolding a passionate love story that defies time.
“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.” 
Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.
England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.
Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.
Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, 
The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.

Initial reaction
That was a breathe of fresh air!  Something completely different!

Cover story
I really like this cover and I like the title.  Hooray!

What’s the Story?
This book was so refreshingly different.  I don’t want to give the whole premise away, but let me just say that this is a type of paranormal that is not found frequently.  In fact, I can only think of one other series that deals with this sort of supernatural being and I haven’t read it, so this was my first encounter with this particular sort of supernatural in a novel.

In many ways, this book’s style reminded me of The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab.  There is an almost dream-like quality to the narrative.  It was as if the edges of the story were slightly blurred or foggy, if that makes sense.  When I read a book, I always “see” the story like a film running through my head, and in this book, that film had a blurred quality, very smudged around the edges, if you will.

I’m usually not a huge fan of historical paranormal (The Infernal Devices notwithstanding!), but I really enjoyed this one.  The backdrop of World War I made this story interesting.  I also think it is what allowed the story to work so well.  These characters were just perfect for this time setting.

There was a love triangle, but not really, because I don’t think there was the same pull toward each of the male characters.  In a very Celtic manner, it deals with love as a tragic destiny.  There were parts that broke my heart and yet, I can’t wait to continue reading the story.  The same thing happens to me every time I read Tristan and Isolde or a King Arthur story; I know that it’s not going to end well, but I love it all the same.  I’m not sure if any of this story is part of Celtic lore, but it feels as if it could be!

I really, really enjoyed this book and I am anxiously looking forward to the next book in the series.

The Soundtrack

Breathe Again by Sara Bareilles

All of My Days by Alexi Murdoch

Haste No More by Mumford and Sons

Bleeding Love by Mystery Jets

Shine by Alexi Murdoch

The Final Grade

My final grade for this book is an A.  I loved it.  It was different and it was profoundly heartbreaking, but I enjoyed it immensely in spite of that. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise

Book: The Boyfriend App
Author:  Katie Sise
Publisher:  Balzar + Bray
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  A-

In The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise, super-smart, somewhat geeky Audrey McCarthy can’t wait to get out of high school. Her father’s death and the transformation of her one-time BFF, Blake Dawkins, into her worst nightmare have her longing for the new start college will bring.

But college takes money. So Audrey decides she has to win the competition for the best app designed by a high schooler—and the $200,000 that comes with it. She develops something she calls the Boyfriend App, and suddenly she’s the talk of the school and getting kissed by the hottest boys around. But can the Boyfriend App bring Audrey true love?

Initial reaction
Go Geeks!!!

Cover story
Actually, I love this cover.  It is perfect for the story and it is completely related to the plot of the book.  Imagine that.  There’s no kissing either!  I’m not crazy about the color scheme, but I’ll take it!  And the title is ok, too.  It’s not really imaginative, but it works.

What’s the story?
I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would.  No, wait, that’s not exactly right.  I knew it would be cute and fun, and it was.  But it is much more of a coming-of-age story than total brain candy.  It’s still on the sweet side, but with a little more substance than I first thought.

First, there is Audrey.  She and her friends are total computer geeks, complete with the tech talk.  I’m glad that I’m married to a computer geek because I actually knew what Linux is!!!  The tech talk could get a little complicated, so keep Google and Wikipedia close by. J

Next, there are Audrey’s friends.  Aiden, Mindy and Nigit are her geeky school friends and they were wonderful.  Lindsey, her cousin, is the total opposite of Audrey and her friends, but I just loved Lindsey!  She writes a fashion blog and was totally plastic, but with a heart of gold.

I think that what makes this book so good is this exquisite cast of characters.  They are sort of larger than life and very complex.  Katie manages to write them in a way that moves them beyond the cardboard cut-out cliques they represent.  Even the mean girl has a back story.  I think that because these characters are so grounded and feel so real, the over-the-top nature of the plot can still work.  Because believe me when I tell you, things get a little insane in the middle part of the book!

There were times when Audrey seemed so dense that I just wanted to smack her!  Girlfriend had a lot of growing up to do.  And she did it in this book.  I love it when I can close the book and see that the character has progressed as a human being and I feel good about where everything stands.  I reached the end of this book with a giant smile on my face, and that pretty much sums it up, right?

This is a fun book with great characters and the theme is very current and relatable for teens (and for everyone, really.  There are 30 somethings that would love an app that would find their perfect match!)  There are times when the plot gets a little out of control, but honestly?  I didn’t even care.  I was so invested in the characters by the time that happened that I just kept right on reading.

The Soundtrack

The Middle by Jimmy Eat World

Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus

At My Most Beautiful by REM

Only One by Yellowcard

Buddy Holly by Weezer

She Blinded Me with Science by Thomas Dolby

The Final Grade

My grade for this one was an A-.  The minus is because of the way the story got so convoluted, but regardless of the unbelievability of it, I loved the story all the same.