Sunday, March 31, 2013

In My Mailbox (87)

This is a meme that I first heard about from Kristi over at The Story Siren and immediately wanted to jump on board. I'm always picking up new books, because I never tire of reading, but the other thing I like about this meme is that it gives everyone an opportunity to check out what other book fanatics, bloggers, etc... got for themselves. I've gotten great recommendations from this meme and hope that keeps up in the future.

Here's what I got, what did you guys get this week?

For Review:

The Last Academy by Anne Applegate (Thanks to Point)

Curtis Sittenfeld's PREP meets THE SIXTH SENSE in this spine-tingling, unforgettable debut.

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam--and readers--stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.

Mercenary (Little Death Bringer, #1) by Catherine Banks

Being raised by the King and Queen of the Elves has given Marin quite a diverse background. Burdened by her humanity and femininity, she must push herself and train every day just to hold her own against the elves around her. Amadis, Queen of the Elves, continues to try to turn Marin into a lady, but the one thing Marin desperately wants is to be the first girl to graduate Macon Academy to be a mercenary. Just when she thinks the goal is within reach, a kidnapping attempt puts those around her in fear. Why would someone want to kidnap her? And what is this fire building within her that she never noticed before? 

Her worries seem to be compiling as not only the kidnapping attempts make her uneasy, but now her feelings for her best friend, Favian, are changing in a way she does not understand. She must begin to deal with the surmounting issues of her femininity, her ever increasing passion for fighting, her feelings for Favian, and the reason there are people trying to kidnap her.

Blood-Kissed Sky (Darkness Before Dawn Trilogy, #2) by J.A. London

There's nowhere left to hide. 

I thought vampires were our enemies - they controlled our lives, isolated our cities, and demanded our blood - until I met Victor. With Victor taking over as the new Lord Valentine, things were supposed to get better. Instead, they're worse than ever. 

Day Walkers, a new breed of vampires who can walk in the sun, are terrorizing the city. Blood supplies are low, and if Victor's vampires don't get enough, they will become infected with the Thirst - a disease that will turn them into mindless killers. 

To stop it, I must journey across the desolate wasteland to the very place where the sickness began. I can only hope that the answers that await me are enough to save us all... before it's too late.

Runes by Ednah Walters (Thanks to Firetrail publishing)

Seventeen-year-old Raine Cooper has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s disappearance, her mother’s erratic behavior and the possibility of her boyfriend relocating. The last thing she needs is Torin St. James—a mysterious new neighbor with a wicked smile and uncanny way of reading her.

Raine is drawn to Torin’s dark sexiness against her better judgment, until he saves her life with weird marks and she realizes he is different. But by healing her, Torin changes something inside Raine. Now she can’t stop thinking about him. Half the time, she’s not sure whether to fall into his arms or run.

Scared, she sets out to find out what Torin is. But the closer she gets to the truth the more she uncovers something sinister about Torin. What Torin is goes back to an ancient mythology and Raine is somehow part of it. Not only are she and her friends in danger, she must choose a side, but the wrong choice will cost Raine her life.

Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather L. Reid (Thanks to Month9Books)

It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton (Thanks to Flux)

I can’t weep. I can’t fear. I’ve grown talented at pretending.

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?

Friday, March 29, 2013

ARC Review: A Touch of Scarlet (Unbound, #2) by Eve Marie Mont

The compelling heroine of Eve Marie Mont’s novel A Breath of Eyre returns to find truth and fiction merging through the pages of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, The Scarlet Letter…

Emma Townsend is back at prestigious Lockwood Prep, but her world has altered immeasurably since her tumultuous sophomore year. The best change of all: her boyfriend, Gray. And though Gray is leaving for Coast Guard training, Emma feels newly optimistic, even if the pain of her mother’s long-ago death still casts a shadow.

Yet Emma isn’t the only one who’s changed. Her friend and roommate, Michelle, is strangely remote, and old alliances are shifting in disconcerting ways. Soon Emma’s long-distance relationship with Gray is straining under the pressure, and Emma wonders if she’s cracking too. How else to explain the vivid dreams of Hester Prynne she’s been having since she started reading The Scarlet Letter? Or the way she’s found herself waking in the woods? As her life begins to echo events in the novel, Emma will be forced to choose between virtue and love. But can she forge a new future without breaking her heart?

There's growth in this's the main thing I came away with after I finished the last page.  I know a lot of people expect to retelling of an age old classic when they pick this title up, but they'd be wrong.  While Mont uses old stories in her work, its not the same.  Instead she weaves the classics into these fresh story lines in order to deepen the meaning, help her character develop and ultimately create a unique spin on not just her work but also the way readers might view these literature staples.

I'll admit that the series opener, A Breath of Eyre remains my favorite within the series, but I still appreciated where Mont took her characters and readers with this sequel.  There certainly was enough going on with the characters this time around and not just Emma.  I have to admit that I would have liked to have seen and read more about Gray this time around.  I felt like I was experiencing the long distance relationship first hand right along with Emma.

I'm eager to see what Mont brings to the series next in A Phantom Enchantment and must again tip my hat to her for her creativity, fresh outlook and fun characters.  I loved watching the characters grow throughout this installment and look forward to more.

I gave A Touch of Scarlet (Unbound, #2) 3 shamrocks!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Post: Author Jennifer Murgia

Young or Not, It’s OK to Crush on YA

When I visit an author’s website, the BIO tab is one of the first things my mouse clicks. I find that little glimpse into their personal life intriguing . . . who are they, really? Are they normal like me? Do they love movies and wearing slippers all day, and visiting the beach . . . because nine times out of ten when we fall in love with a book, we tend to forget the person behind it. That the writer, perhaps alone at their keyboard, sipping coffee, has woven such an intricate world, a story so splendid, we often find ourselves surprised at how normal they really are.

Among my favorites are Robin LaFever, Libba Bray, Cyn Balog, Lauren Oliver, James Dashner and Molly Cochran, in case you wanted to know, and the books they’ve penned hold high regard on my shelf. And with many thanks to Katelyn here at Bookshelf Sophisticate, who has asked me to shed some light on how I got my start as an author, this is a little story on how I fell in love with Young Adult fiction and wrote my own book.

Long ago, I used to read.  And then I had kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I still read a lot—only the books were thick, chunky board books with bright baby-friendly colors and simple sight words. For a long while, I couldn’t find the time to read for myself, and I missed it terribly. Little by little that time presented itself back to me, and, while I was super excited (we’re talking roaming the aisles of B&N with money burning in my pocket excited), I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I wanted to read. I was suddenly lost.

As a teen I had felt the need to immerse myself in intellectual literature –I was almost a grown up, after all, and I had a lot of grown up books to sift through—Anne Rice, Milan Kundera, to name a few. But as an adult, I found myself gravitating toward a genre I’d never explored before, and I was a little nervous about it. What would someone think, finding a grown woman perusing the spines of books in the teen section at the bookstore, choosing not one or two, but as many as five books to take home with her? That was me, slinking around the shelves, pretending to buy gifts for my niece’s instead of loading my arms with books that were for no one else but myself. I devoured A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. It was the first Young Adult book I’d ever read, and it was quickly followed by Spirit by JP Hightman, and A Great and Terrible Beauty  by Libba Bray. To my surprise, I’d finally found a new love. After story time when my children were sound asleep, I’d arm myself with my stash of books! At long last, I had found what was missing – and strangely, something I never saw coming, was that missing link was me.

Young Adult Fiction read by a teen is entertainment and escape . . .  Young Adult Fiction read by an adult is something else entirely. It’s a portal where the person you used to be, or thought you were, still thrives and smiles from between the pages, reminding you she’s still there. I’ve quickly learned why I loved this genre so much, realizing how your teenage years shape you. Those were years of many firsts: first kiss, first love, loyal friends, feelings and emotions too large to ignore. You’re no longer a kid, yet not quite an adult. You still believe in magic and the impossible, and those few years before you’re thrust into the adult world are ones you’ll never forget. A lifetime can sift past, but inside, those years are what count. Those are the ones you wish you could relive.

I realized that those years had prepared me for who I am today, and as much as I’d like to believe I’ve grown up and changed, I’m still that girl. I’m still waiting for something brilliant and beautiful to happen with my life, because after all, I too believed in magic. And that’s when it hit me—something  I hadn’t done in a long time, but always wanted, something that no matter how old I got, or how hectic my life became—wouldn’t go away. Writing.  

The summer of 2007 brought an idea to mind—a love between a very normal girl and a boy, who was more than human. The love they shared was unconditional, only it was impossible. And while they couldn’t really be together, they were with each other constantly. That idea became my first book Angel Star. Lemniscate followed a year later, and this month, I’ll put the finishing touch on my series with a prequel—a little novella called The Bliss. Exactly two weeks from the release, I’ll release another YA novel, but don’t worry I’ll share that soon!

That girl inside me? She never went away. She’d been waiting patiently for me to discover another first—writing. She urged me to wake up and realize a dream I had once felt slip away was still very much alive. She urged me to see that girl I once was, embrace her, and take her youth and spirit and sense of humor, and place her between pages and paragraphs, and watch her grow all over again. And I’ll be forever grateful I did.

**Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today Jennifer!!!!  It's always great to have you and please come back really soon!  If you guys haven't checked out her Angel Star series get on that immediately and check out her recent prequel to the series, The Bliss!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Countdown: July 2013 (3)

So July has always marked that middle point for me in the Summer where we're in the thick of it, I'm usually complaining about the heat and seeking shelter anywhere air conditioning can be found at full blast, and hopefully a vacation is in the works to give me a break from reality.  If a vacation hasn't been planned or is still a ways off, I always look to my books to get me through the high temperatures and regret that I no longer get my summers off, all part of being an adult and all that.  Not really what it's cracked up to be....this being responsible and productive bit.  So I'm always on the lookout for reads that I consider mini vacations, breaks from the bump and grind of every day life.  We've got fireworks, good BBQ foods, usually a few parties thrown and good reads all around!

Countdown Pick #1:  Breaking Glass by Lisa Amowitz (07/09/2013)

On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, hes not sure whether they're real or if he's losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.

I kind of like that there isn't too much to go on with this book's description because my mind is going all sorts of crazy trying to think of all the possibilities of where this book will take it's readers.  It sounds like it has the potential to be loaded with suspense and action as well as a good bit of mystery and I'm always looking for something to add to my list that might break it up from what I'm normally finding myself reading.  It's always nice to change things up once in a while.

Countdown Pick #2:  All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry (07/30/2013)

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.

How good does this one sound?  And the first installment in a trilogy at that?  I'm excited and curious to find out more about this narrator that we're not given the name of, and the triangle that seems to develop between her best friend and this boy named Jack.  Can't wait to see what kinds of dark and twisted stuff these characters find themselves in the middle of and how they're going to get themselves out.

Countdown Pick #3:  45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson (07/11/2013)

Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother. 

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

Early reviews have had nothing but positive and downright glowing things to say in regards to this future release and I'm totally on board!  Since I've recently in the past year or so have had several friends walking down the aisle I've become intimately acquainted with all things related to being a bridesmaids or maid of honor.  I'd love the chance to commiserate with these characters and maybe get a laugh or two out of the experience as well.

Countdown Pick #4:  The Forgotten (The Lux Guardians, #1) by Saruuh Kelsey (07/30/2013)

Good and goodness will prevail.

Honour and Horatia Frie are twins living in a world of wreck and ruin. 

Forgotten London is a dismal place of containment, rationing, and a four-family-per-house regulation. Twenty five years ago the world was set ablaze when solar flares obliterated three quarters of the Earth’s population and wiped out whole continents in one blow. The flares brought with them The Sixteen Strains: agonizing and fatal diseases that plague each of the forty one zones of Forgotten London and the rest of the world. The only places that escaped fatal damage were two countries now known as The Cities – States and Bharat. The rest of the world – The Forgotten Lands – is contained within borders for the people’s protection against even deadlier Strains outside the barrier. But fifteen year old Honour thinks differently. He thinks that they’re kept inside the fence for other, more menacing reasons. He thinks that States are planning to kill them. 

Branwell and Bennet Ravel are twins living in a world of danger and secrecy.

In Victorian London, years before the solar flares hit, the Ravels’ world has just been turned upside down. Their father, poisoned by something even genius Branwell can’t determine, has passed away. His dying words were unnerving orders to keep each other safe no matter the cost, and to hide everything he has ever invented. When one of his creations goes missing – a device named The Lux that can generate unlimited energy – the twins are shocked to discover that their very own government has stolen it and, according to their father’s journals, are planning to use it to create unfathomable explosions to destroy their world.

The Ravel twins will have to find and reclaim The Lux if they are to stop their world’s planned destruction, but when they’re transported to an unfamiliar, derelict world, the search for the device will become harder than ever. Honour and Horatia, against all odds, will have to find a way to stop States before the remainder of Earth is eradicated and their world is lost for good, or somehow get every single citizen of Forgotten London outside of the fence.

Looks like we've got another dystopian release on our hands you guys!  I'm always up for another book to add to my library in what's quickly becoming one of my favorite genres and this one sounds like a good place to start.

Countdown Pick #5:  Indelible (The Twixt, #1) by Dawn Metcalf (07/30/2013)

Some things are permanent.


And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future...and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies…


This one doesn't require me to say much, other than the fact that these countdowns can sometimes turn out to be not so much fun!  I keep coming across these great future releases and realize that they won't be hitting the shelf for what feels like a very long time....definitely a bummer!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'd Recommend

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This feature was created because they're particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish (and who isn't?). They're all about creating new lists including a little bit of everything and I've been meaning to participate for so long but always seemed to get behind.  So here we are and hopefully you'll head over to their page and check out what everyone else put up for this week's Top Ten.

Recommendations are hard but how can you resist a TTT like this when you're a total bibliophile like myself?  The answer is you can't.  So I went through Goodreads and scanned my lists of what I've read since joining and picked a few of my favorites.  No particular order and I know there are tons I've left out but there's nothing that can be done about that.  So here are ten good ones I'd highly recommend checking out if you haven't already.

Recommendation #1:  Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1) by Jamie McGuire


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 wants—and needs—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.

It's fresh in my head and I think will always be on top of my favorites list.  There was just something about Pigeon and Travis that stayed with me.  They were the most dysfunctional couple but so real and lovable too.  The sequel from Travis' point of view, Walking Disaster, was icing on the cake.  Read this pronto if you haven't already and pick up the sequel in April a.s.a.p. because it's worth it!

Recommendation #2:  Fire (Graceling Realm, #2) by Kristin Cashore

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there's more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren't afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

An amazing world with amazing possibilities.  The characters Cashore created with Fire and the royal family along with Fire's makeshift family were impossible to resist.  They broke my heart and pulled at me with every turn of the page.  It was pure magic.

Recommendation #3:  Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I know this is a well known title and needs no help in the promotion department, but for me it blew the doors right open and had me falling love with the dystopian genre.  I thought I loved The Hunger Games series but when I read this book it paled in comparison.  I simply could not catch my breath from the first page to the very last.

Recommendation #4:  Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1) by Richelle Mead

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

It's hard to pick a favorite book from this series because they were all so good, but I decided on the series opener because that's where it all started.  Mead takes her readers on emotional roller coaster rides but it's always worth it in the end.

Recommendation #5:  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. 

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. 

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?

Its probably one of the most different, addicting, suspenseful, and enthusiasm-inducing book I've read in a very long time.  I just don't think there's another book like it out there.  Maybe you have to be a child of the 80s to get to the excitement level I did surrounding the material but regardless its amazing and totally under the radar in my opinion.

Recommendation #6:  Poison Study (Study, #1) by Maria V. Snyder

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison...

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...

I can't have a list like this without at least one of Snyder's titles on it.  Every world she creates is more wonderful than the next but this title and the rest of the series are forever my favorites.  Sheer brilliance from her scenery to her plot, her main characters as well as the supporting case.  It's all perfect.

Recommendation #7:  Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Restless souls and empty hearts

Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca visiting her dreams.

Nico can't stop. He's always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca's ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.

Thank you for changing my mind regarding prose Lisa Schroeder.  Sitting through lit classes as an English literature major was not always fun and poetry and prose were involved in the lessons I liked the least.  Never really in my wheelhouse, but Schroeder changed my mind and showed me the light so to speak.

Recommendation #8:  Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Not every book is going to be all love and romance, or laugh out loud comedy.  Sometimes the right book comes along and speaks to you.  I use reading as a break from reality and enjoy a great happy ending, but while Asher put me through a very sad and emotional read with this one, it was also too powerful and moving not to be a permanent favorite of mine.  It isn't one I'm going to re-read anytime soon, if ever, but it's one I'm proud to have on my shelf and a part of my library.

Recommendation #9:  Angel Star (Angel Star, #1) by Jennifer Murgia

Seventeen-year-old Teagan McNeel falls for captivating Garreth Adams and soon discovers that her crush has an eight-point star etched into the palm of his right hand; the mark of an angel. But where there is light, dark follows, and she and Garreth suddenly find themselves vulnerable to a dark angel's malicious plan that could threaten not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows.

Divinely woven together, Angel Star takes readers on a reflective journey when one angel's sacrifice collides with another angel's vicious ambition in a way that is sure to have readers searching for their own willpower.

For bringing angels back!  I love a good story of good versus evil and angels versus the other guys, and Murgia does it to perfection.  I couldn't put it down and didn't want to.  It had all the elements I wanted and her writing brought it all together and it packed a big punch!

Recommendation #10:  Obsidian (Lux, #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don't kill him first, that is.

For leaving me torn.  The cliffhangers at the end were almost too much for me.  Who would have thought aliens could be so much fun to root for right?  I laughed and cried and finally cursed...because the next installment wasn't out yet.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Blog Tour: Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2) by Jamie McGuire

Finally, the highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Can you love someone too much?
Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

Not what I was expecting.  I knew we were going to get Travis' point of view this go around but I figured we'd get the same scenes with the alternate perspective.  So while some familiar scenes made their appearance, there was so much more and I was expecting or prepared for that.  Between glimpses into a time when Travis was younger, deeper looks at the bonds holding the Maddox family together, and the elaboration of what happens after Travis and Pigeon's second trip to Vegas, I was floored!

McGuire had me falling in love with her characters in Beautiful Disaster, but in this follow up they ended up feeling like family.  I will say there was a little more of a sadness hanging over some pieces in these pages because McGuire shows us Travis' constant internal struggle.  We see more of how Travis' mom's death brought these strong and larger than life men down to their knees and it's heartbreaking at times.  But their ability to lean on each other in order to carry on was also inspiring and amazing.

The romance was back as well as a male's perspective and take of how confusing women can seem to them.  But honestly it was the ending that pushed me over the edge.  I'm so glad McGuire decided not to stop in the same place, but to go further ahead in their story.  There were surprises for sure and I'm anxious to see how readers will react.

I had no doubt this book would be amazing and that I'd love every minute of it, but despite the bar being set oh so high, somehow McGuire managed to surpass even that!  I cannot recommend this read enough, so when April 2nd rolls around, don't walk to the store to get your!

I gave Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2) 5 shamrocks!!!!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In My Mailbox (86)

This is a meme that I first heard about from Kristi over at The Story Siren and immediately wanted to jump on board. I'm always picking up new books, because I never tire of reading, but the other thing I like about this meme is that it gives everyone an opportunity to check out what other book fanatics, bloggers, etc... got for themselves. I've gotten great recommendations from this meme and hope that keeps up in the future.

Here's what I got, what did you guys get this week?

For Review:

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols (Thanks to MTV Books)

From the author of the “real page-turner” (Seventeen) Such a Rush comes an unforgettable new drama that follows friends-turned-lovers as they navigate the passions, heartbreaks, and intrigue of country music fame.

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn (Thanks to St. Martins Griffin)

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . . 

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. 

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable. 

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. 

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1) by Richelle Mead (Thanks to Lyric)

Blood doesn't lie...

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...


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