Thursday, July 29, 2010

Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott Summary:

It's been seventy-five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her. And she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone, and Amy doesn't want to talk about it. No one knew Julia like she did. No one gets what life is without her.

No one understands what it's like to know that it's all your fault.

Amy's shrink thinks she should keep a journal but instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia. And as she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past holds its own secrets--and that the present deserves a chance.


I hadn’t read a single book by Elizabeth Scott until just last month and now I am reading through her entire catalog at a rapid pace. So far no two are the same and they are all factastic.

The novel opens with Amy being released from rehab and struggling to deal with the guilt she feels over her the death of her best friend, Julia. She takes the journal she is supposed to be keeping and uses it to write letters to Julia. As she remembers more and more about the final weeks leading up to Julia’s death her emotions change constantly, loving, hating and missing her best friend.

The journal entries are interspersed with the main text and it adds an authentic layer to the text.

Amy’s voice is so honest and sarcastic that she makes a great protagonist, even if she is sometimes unreliable. We see everything through her eyes, through her guilt and her alcohol abuse so sometimes it is hard to know if it is the entire truth or her version but I loved every second of that.

Every character in the book, not just Amy and Julia, are incredibly detailed and well rounded. Amy’s well-meaning but self-indulgent parents and the people Amy connects with (or doesn’t) when she goes back to school are all nuanced and deep and make for a well-rounded world.

The novel is striking, authentic and moving and another great read from Elizabeth Scott.

This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Random Real World connections

So the other night on twitter I got in to a random conversation with the lovely Heidi R Kling and Eleni of La Femme Readers about my connection with a certain Real World New Orleans cast member. With a little urging from them (and a little need to fill some blog space this week while I am on vacation) I give you: How I know Ashlee from the Real World.

As I have mentioned before I recently moved to NC and work in college athletics. Well I got started on this particular career path while in college in Boston. I loved my time at Northeastern University and became very close with a lot of the student athletes while I worked in athletics throughout my time as a student. One of them was a women's basketball player: Ashlee!

Ashlee was also a communications major while I was studying journalism so some classes overlapped and we both worked for the student radio station. For a big school we ran in some pretty small circles. Now she is the sane one on this season of the Real World and it is hilarious to see her on television every week.
Me and Ashlee last May and then me and Ashlee with two of NU's men's basketball players Manny and Chris

Here is her profile from MTV Meet Ashlee: "Meet twenty-three year old single girl basketball player Ashlee."

So there is my fun story for the day. Do you know anyone who randomly ended up on reality television?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer: 1 ARC Tours

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer

Abby Goodwin is sure her sister Maya isn't a murderer. But her parents don't agree. Her friends don't agree. And the cops definitely don't agree. Maya is a drop-out, a stoner, a girl who's obsessed with her tutor, Jefferson Andrews...until he ends up dead. Maya runs away, and leaves Abby following the trail of clues. Each piece of evidence points to Maya, but it also appears that Jefferson had secrets of his own. And enemies. Like his brother, who Abby becomes involved with...until he falls under suspicion.

Is Abby getting closer to finding the true murderer? Or is someone leading her down a twisted false path?


This book surprised me, in a really good way. I started out thinking the book was a really straight forward mystery that did a great job of showing how the family dynamic changed in the face of incredibly tragedy but there is so much more to it.

Schrefer does something really interesting in this novel, playing with the readers tendency to trust the narrator. I always do, I assume that what I am being told by the narrator is the truth but what happens if the narrator is too close to the story. It added a whole new layer to the book that I didn't see coming and was really happy with.

It is a story about what happens when a family gets wrapped up in a murder investigation, and the family relationships are really well written and explained. In the final third of the novel, Schrefer turns the whole plot on its head and really surprised me in a reader. He also does it in a really subtle way that added even more suspense.

I expected a straight forward murder mystery with some family drama thrown in, which I would have been fine with and enjoyed. What I got was more, and I couldn't put it down. This is a definite read for any mystery lovers out there.

I reviewed this book as part of the 1 ARC Tour.

This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge

If anyone else has reviewed this book leave a link in the comments. I would love to know what you thought.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Crossed Out by Kim Baccellia: Book It Forward ARC Tour

Crossed Out by Kim Baccellia


Stephanie Stewart didn't ask for her gift of guiding the deceased to the other side but she's stuck with it. Why can't dead people just follow that bright light and leave her alone? When Mr. Undead wants to use her special talent for his own evil purposes, her little gift becomes a major liability.

Every once in a while it happens, I have to write a bad review and let me tell you I never like doing it but here we go. I will do my best to state exactly what I didn't like so that it doesn't seem like I am needlessly bashing a book.

I felt like the book lacked originality, Steph is guiding the dead to the other side which I have been seeing quite a bit of in paranormal YA and of course a bad guy is trying to use her but getting her to fall for him while the good guy is trying to save her and of course is in love with her. Yeah, that pretty much sums up the plot. Well it does when you add in that she is trying to avoid using her gifts and there is a magical teacher that happens to arrive in her life at just the right time.

The story was predictable and I felt it didn't bring anything new or fun to the genre. It lacked the humor of Stacey Jay's You Are So Undead To Me or the drama and intrigue of Evermore by Alyson Noel.

I think if it was the first paranormal YA book I ever picked up I would have liked it, but there is much better out there so this one could easily be skipped. The writing was pretty good though so I won't rule out anything else by this author.

I reviewed this book as part of the Book It Forward ARC Tour.
This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In My Mailbox- July 25

As always In My Mailbox is hosted by the amazing The Story Siren. See her blog for more details.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting Summary:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.


I have no clue why but I seem to absolutely fall in love with debut authors the last two years and The Body Finder quickly added itself to my favorite books of 2010. The book is incredibly original and the best mix of mystery and love story I have read in a while. It is the perfect combination of edge of your seat thrill ride and heart-melting love story and I couldn’t put it down.

Violet has a gift I can’t even begin to imagine dealing with, she can sense dead bodies and also the imprints left on those who have killed. They appear as colors, smells or sounds and every one is different. To me this is the most original paranormal ability that I have come across, and there is a lot of paranormal out there right now. Her ability lands her smack in the middle of a murder investigation but it is hardly her biggest problem.

She is also in love with her best friend Jay and their relationship is so much fun to read about and Jay might be one of the best book boyfriends ever, while still being realistic. He isn’t perfect but he is awesome and incredibly protective of Violet, which is good because she goes off chasing murderers and that can lead to some sticky situations.

I also really like how much the setting of the book plays in to the plot. Mount Rainier and Lake Tapps and all the other locations become another character in the book and it really adds a lot. Derting’s description of them is amazingly well done.

I don’t often talk about covers but I really love this one. I think it is gorgeous and to me it looks like it could be one of the colors of echoes Violet sees on somebody. I also love that the cover for the sequel, Desires of the Dead has been released and it keeps the same theme. So pretty!

This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge and 2010 Debut Authors Challenge

Friday, July 23, 2010

Best Friend Guest Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

It is time for another edition of Best Friend Guest Review with my lovely best friend JTR! If you missed the earlier ones check them out here and as always leave her lots of love and encouragement so she comes back for more.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments: Book One

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a girl I met once, so I really had no idea what her taste of books was like (although we had briefly bonded over our mutual love of the Harry Potter series so I knew that was a good sign) and I had no idea what this series was about.

It turns out it’s about a bunch of my favorite things: unrequited teen love, vampires and supernatural worlds, kick-butt (Erika Lynn interjecting here: this is why she is my best friend, I would have said kick-ass) evil vanquishers, New York City, boys with daddy issues. What’s not to like?

It was a slow burn for me at first getting into the world of Clary, a teenage girl who thinks she leads a normal life in Brooklyn by dragging her side-kick best friend Simon to dance clubs and hanging out at hipster poetry cafés. Everything changes once Clary witnesses a bizarre murder/demon slaying, her mother is kidnapped and a mysterious, arrogant boy named Jace opens her eyes further to the supernatural world around her.

I admit I still feel the story is a bit predictable, and the background of the Shadowhunters is definitely reflective of a number of other fantasy novels, but it is the strength of Cassandra Clare’s characters that keep me reading. As Clary, Jace, Simon and Jace’s adopted brother and sister Alec and Isabelle gallivant across Manhattan to try to discover what’s happened to Clary’s mom, it is the incestuous (in at least one case literally) relationships and teen angst that drive their motivations as much as their Shadowhunter training and demon prejudices. As the pentagonal love situation tries to work itself out, I find I have also become fully invested in the fantasy of this hidden world that exists in the shadows of our reality. And I want to continue following Clary and Jace as they hunt down the mysterious Valentine and uncover more about the secret lives and connection they both never knew they had.

And for the record, I now know that most people seem to be all about Team Jace – but I am for Simon all the way. I guess I’m just a sucker for the nice best friend whose love will probably always be unrequited, but he continues to express it anyway. (If you couldn’t guess I’m also a firm supporter of Team Jacob in that other little known series about vampires or something.)

The quote that solidified me being a fan of this book:

Clary: “All my life I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me. Something missing or damaged. Now I know-”

Magnus (a warlock): “I didn’t damaged you … every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow, royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants. The difference in your case is that it’s true. You are different. Maybe not better – but different. And it’s no picnic being different.”

P.S. I read this and City of Ashes virtually back-to-back. In fact I had a little difficulty separating them out, but you definitely will be hearing from me about the second in this series soon. If it’s any indication I immediately put the third book in the series on hold at my library after Erika Lynn (barely) talked me out of spending $25 to get the hardcover at the bookstore. Paperback is out in August, I might still be tempted to buy.

Erika Lynn again, after hearing how much JTR loved this series I went and got the first one from the library, I am about to see what all the fuss is about.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff: Book It Forward ARC Tours

Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret – he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants. A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world.

The Replacement is creepy, and let me tell you I mean that in the most praise-worthy way possible. It isn’t like scary movie, hide under the pillow creepy. No it is creepy in a way that draws you in and makes you part of the town so you can literally feel the rain and sense everything Mackie does. Brenna Yovanoff creates a world that is so creepy and realistic it actually made me uncomfortable at times because the descriptions felt so real. She manages to write beautifully about a very ugly world.

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book base on the description, but I really did think it is an incredibly original and imaginative novel. The first thing I loved is that the protagonist is a male, which I find is so rare in YA (see this post for more on that) and he is a complex, well-rounded character and not some simple stereotype.

Another thing I loved is that Yovanoff created a truly original setting in the town of Gentry. I have never read a book with a setting quite like this town and she did such an incredible job of describing it that I could literally feel like I was in the world. She described every scene using all the senses, I could smell the woodsy leaves she constantly talked about and felt damp and soggy from all the rain. She did an incredible job.

Yovanoff also drops the reader right in to the world and it does take about 90 pages to really figure out who everyone is and how they fit in to the town’s very strange dynamics. There were times early on that I was frustrated and confused but it all came together and became a very cohesive narrative.

Mackie’s supporting cast are also incredibly well-developed and realistic characters, I love his sisters Emma who is so loving and compassionate, his best friend Roswell who is steadfast and loyal and Tate who pushes Mackie toward the truth.

With this complex, original novel Yovanoff has set the bar incredibly high for whatever she comes out with next. I’m convinced she is the female version of Tim Burton and he will jump all over the chance to make this in to a movie.

The Replacement will be released on Sept. 21, 2010.
I reviewed this book as part of the Book It Forward ARC Tour.
This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge and 2010 Debut Authors Challenge

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Good Cause and A Giveaway

Operation "I Heart Joy Like BR80" is in full swing, and this is a cause I love! It's to support an organization called Joy 2 the World, which generates micro-credit loans for the women of Ghana to encourage independence and empowerment. Besides giving loans to women for small business start-ups, they also help build wells for clean water (as opposed to river water), create pre-k schools with hot meals, and awards scholarships to those attending school.

The Misadventure's In Candyland is running a huge contest in support of Joy 2 the World, and the list of prizes is pretty incredible. Go help a good cause!

Eat Pray Love 4 - India

Finish India, where she prays a lot. Richard is a major character in this part of the book. He really is a true friend and is brutally honest. I think everyone has a Richard, maybe write a post about that person in your life as well as any general discussion about this section.

This section has always been two things to me: the part I can relate to the least and the part I admire the most. I couldn't even begin to imagine going to the ashram and sitting in silence. I don't think I have ever had or will ever have the self control for that. However, there is no arguing that it worked for her. It is also the hardest part of the book for me to read because it forces me to think about really uncomfortable things, feelings and emotions that we all try to bury. But it is the dealing of these emotions that make me a better version of myself than I was when I first read the book.

I love Richard, he is my favorite part of this book. Some of his lines are my favorite in the entire thing including "See, now that's your problem. You're wishin' too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be." which have become words I try and live by every single day. I have had a few Richards in my life, people who are unfailingly honest and bring out the best in me. For the purposes of this I will tell that my very best friend in the entire world is Jessica and she is definitely that person more than anyone else and I am very lucky to have her, even if we live thousands of miles apart. She also happens to write guest reviews occasionally that you should check out.

Felicia's Thoughts

I don’t think that I have a friend that brutally honest as ‘Richard from Texas’ was to Liz. I have a couple of people that might come close though. One of those people, my husband, whose real name Richard too, is one person I rely on to tell me the truth. I consider my husband my friend and someone who would be honest with me if I ask him. I don’t know if he would be brutally honest, with me, but honest enough I think. My other friend is a woman I consider my best friend, someone I’ve known since my high school days. I have no doubt that she is someone that would be honest with me about anything I ask her. In my opinion, the reason that ‘Richard from Texas’ could be so brutally honest with Liz is because he really didn’t know her that well. I mean, yes, he knew her, and he understood her (or so it seemed), but they were not friends for a very long time. They met and became friend in just a short matter of months, so I think that is the reason he could be so honest with her, because he only knew of her what he saw and what she told him. There still was a bit of distance in their relationship and because of that he was able to be brutally honest with Liz. I think the closer you are to a person, the less likely you want to hurt them if what you have to tell them might rub them the wrong way. I think we are honest to a certain point with people we have a history with versus those that we don’t.

This is section was the one I was most apprehensive about. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect so I (tried) to continue to keep an open mind. This section was kinda interesting, kinda boring (reminded me of reading a text book at school at some points), and kinda funny (Richard from Texas was funny). But ultimately, I could not connect with Liz in this section. Sure, I understood this was her journey to find God/her spiritual self and I get that. It just felt abstract to me. There was nothing that called to me, nothing that spoke to my inner self that said ‘Ahh… so that’s what she’s talking about’. So, I was left with a feel of, ‘yeah, ok, but what do you want me to do with that information?’. I found her chanting and mediation techniques vaguely interesting. I used to meditate (and do yoga, but it was mainly for exercise, not to connect to the spiritual), but I couldn’t quiet my mind enough to continue with it, so I stopped. I assumed this part is to get you to examine your own spiritual connection. So I did, briefly. I do pray nightly, but it’s mostly for others. I’m still working on my own spiritual connection and I figure it will come in time. Now that we are through this section, I’m almost (almost) eager to see what her ‘Love’ is all about.

Everyone should link up and share what they thought of India.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Break Reading Challenge Activity #9 - Your Book In Pictiures

"A picture is worth a thousand words." We've all heard that quote over the years and now it is time to put it to the test. Here is what you have to do:

1. Think about the book you are reading right now (or one you just finished) and choose key scenes, settings, and characters that would give people a good idea what the story is about.
2. Using the Internet, find pictures to represent those scenes, settings, and characters.
3. Create a blog post using the pictures. Incorporate a little text to help out the reader, but remember, the pictures are the most important aspect of this activity.I chose the Scarlett Wakefield books Kiss Me Kill Me and Kisses and Lies which I just finished and reviewed. The main mystery is that a boy dies while kissing Scarlett and some of the most important clues to his death are an epipen, peanut oil and a designer handbag. The first book is set primarily in London and much of the action in the second book happens in a Scottish castle. Scarlett is a gymnast and it is a very important skill for her and finally the maze is a part of her school, the Wakefield Academy. So there it is, the books in pictures.

See what other images people came up with for the books they are currently reading.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grace by Elizabeth Scott: Traveling ARC Tours

Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom.

In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.


I never thought I would pick up a YA book about a suicide bomber and devour it in one sitting. Elizabeth Scott has crafted an incredibly original novel about a young girl born in to the type of ideological war that engulfs so much of the world and makes her story relatable, moving and downright brilliant.

Grace is on a train with a stranger, Kerr, both hiding in plain sight as they try to get to the border and escape their death-filled lives. As the plot moves forward, Scott peels back layer after layer of their pasts and how they have been intertwined for years.

Scott’s writing is minimal and poetic, revealing only the exact details that somehow form the big pictures. This is a piece of art where the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

Grace is engaging and moving enough to be read for pleasure but also smart and insightful enough that I can see it being read in both history and English classes. It has genuine insight in to an all-to-relevant world and an ending that will leave you both hopeful and haunted.

Grace will be released on September 16. ARC was reviewed as part of Traveling ARC Tours.
This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In My Mailbox - July 18

As always In My Mailbox is hosted by the amazing The Story Siren. See her blog for more details.

Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala (Review)
Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter (Review)
Bailey Kelsey at ceruleannotions
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Crossed Out by Kim Baccellia
Book It Forward ARC Tours
Grace by Elizabeth Scott
Traveling ARC Tours
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Kathy at Bermudia Onion
Chimera by Rob Thurman
The Knight Agency
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams
Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie Vigue
White Cat by Holly Black
Elizabeth Scott (and there is a question for you Ms. Scott)
Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink
The Gift by James Patterson
Monster High by Lisi Harrison
The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan
Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
32 Candles by Ernessa Carter
Bookin With Bingo

Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson

Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson


After discovering that someone saw what looked like Dan’s emergency EpiPen in A-lister Plum’s designer handbag, Scarlett and her tough American sidekick, Taylor, sneak into a posh London nightclub, where Plum has a private table. Scarlett is stunned to discover a piece of evidence that might implicate another girl in Plum’s exclusive circle, Lucy Raleigh. Which means Scarlett must cast a wider net in order to catch the right suspect.

Back at school, groundskeeper Jase is hoping to take Scarlett’s mind off her troubles with some heart-stopping kisses. Scarlett can’t help but feel guilty for indulging in romantic rendezvous when she should be hunting down Dan’s killer. However, once Scarlett finds out how Lucy is connected to Dan, she knows she must drop everything and travel to the McAndrew estate in Scotland to hunt for more clues. But when she arrives, Scarlett becomes the target of a dangerous hunt herself.


I was seriously frustrated with the first book of the series, Kiss Me Kill Me but Kisses and Lies fixed all the problems I had with book one. First of all there was a conclusion, the mystery was solved, I know who killed Dan and let me tell you it was a shocker.

Kisses and Lies had all the things I really enjoyed from Kiss Me Kill Me, Scarlett as a great main character, further development of her friends Taylor and Jase, it was fun and well written and then I got what I wanted the first time: plot development.

Scarlett’s trip to Scotland give the story motivation and development that never happened in book one and there is actually a resolution to who killed Dan. The clues from book one are important but we learn so much more in book two and this book could really stand on its own.

Dan’s family has some serious skeletons hidden in the castle and as Scarlett uncovers them and figures out who killed Dan the book is impossible to put down. It is entertaining and suspenseful with just enough humor. And I was totally surprised with who the killer ended up being and what the motivation was

This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson

Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson


When 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield transfers from St. Tabby’s to Wakefield Hall Collegiate, she is relieved that no one knows her dark, haunting secret. A few months ago, Scarlett was invited to an elite party with a guest list full of the hottest names in British society, including Dan McAndrew. Before the party, Scarlett had only imagined what it would be like to have her first kiss with Dan, but on the penthouse terrace, Dan leaned in close and she no longer had to wonder. Their kiss was beautiful and perfect and magical, and then . . . Dan McAndrew took his last breath as she held him in her arms. No one knows how or why Dan died, and everyone at St. Tabby’s believes Scarlett had something to do with it. But now that she’s safely hidden away at Wakefield Hall, Scarlett would rather forget that it ever happened. Only she can’t. Especially when she receives an anonymous note that will set her on the path to clearing her name and finding out what really happened to the first and last boy she kissed.


I had a hard time with the beginning of this novel but by the end I really loved it. It was a slow start for me, I felt like there was too much background information and not enough action to begin the book, especially since the synopsis tells us what the major conflict is going to be. I really felt like I was half-way through the book and hadn’t really learned anything new or important.

However, once Dan died the story really picked up and I was very interested. Scarlett is a great protagonist, and I love living this story through her. She is funny and brave but realistic enough that going through this ordeal with her is very understandable.

While I loved the characters in the book, and the idea of the story I was really frustrated at the end. I felt like nothing was actually resolved and at the end of the book I knew just about nothing more than I had from the synopsis. Its like this book existed merely as a prequel to Kisses and Lies. I love reading books in a series but the main conflict in this book is never resolved, it is all back story and no action which is really frustrating. Thankfully, I already had the second book in the series so I was able to read them consecutively which made me less angry but if I didn’t I would have been seriously ticked off. My review of the second book will come soon, and I really liked it.

I wanted to really like Kiss Me Kill Me. The writing is great, the characters are great but I was really frustrated with how the plot never amounted to more than the summary on the back of the book.

This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2010 Debut Author Challenge

The 2010 Debut Author Challenge is being hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren.

The objective is to read a set number of YA (Young Adult) or MG (Middle Grade) novels from debut authors published this year. I'm going to challenge everyone to read at least 12 debut novels! Click here to read all the details.

I am a little late to the party but I am going to play along anyway and here are the debuts I want to read. I will link to my reviews as I complete them.

1. Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala
2. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
3. All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
4. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
5.The Mark by Jen Nadol
6. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
7. Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bessette
8. Swallow by Tonya Plank
9. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
10. The Line by Teri Hall
11. Claire De Lune by Christine Johnson
12. Freefall by Mindi Scott
13. Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick
14. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala

Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one...

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own. Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

It is very rare that I find a book so engaging that it literally pulls me in to the pages and the world around me stops. In my ridiculously busy schedule I can rarely pick up a book and read it cover to cover in one sitting, life just gets in the way.

However, life had to wait tonight as I started reading Tell Me A Secret and everything else literally disappeared. I didn't eat dinner, I didn't watch the Home Run Derby (if you have ever met me in real life you know this is a HUGE deal), I didn't do anything but read every word of this amazing novel.

Now if you are having trouble following what I am saying, I don't blame you, I am having trouble thinking clearly having finished this book just minutes ago but I will just lay it out there. THIS.BOOK.IS.BEYOND.PERFECT.

Cupala has managed to write a book that is both heartbreaking and full of hope, and impossible to put down. She writes about the secrets of a teenage girl, the trials of a family and how both birth and death can change everything in an instant.

Rand has lost her sister and is now pregnant and still in high school and the journey she takes the reader on is perfectly written. Cupala makes sure we feel every single emotion Rand does, from the happy to the sad to the angry to the heartbreaking, and yes I cried while I read this.

One of my favorite things about the book is that every character has multiple names, and they all represent different parts of their lives. It is in these small details that the book is even more incredible.

Every character, from Rand to her mother to her boyfriend and her best friend, has so many layers and twists that create a depth I've rarely seen in a single novel. It usually takes many books in a series to create the kind of well-rounded characters there are in Tell Me A Secret.

I can make you one promise, you will not be able to put this book down.

I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of this book at Cupala's website but everyone should go buy this book right now. It is a truly original YA novel from an incredibly talented debut author. I can hardly wait for whatever she puts out next.

This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge and 2010 Debut Authors Challenge

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eat Pray Love 3 or What's Your Word?

Having finished Italy discuss what the first phase of the journey has been like. Something fun could be that in Chapter 33 while sitting in an outdoor café in Rome, Gilbert’s friend declares that every city—and every person—has a word. Rome’s is “sex,” the Vatican’s “power”; Gilbert declares New York’s to be “achieve,” but only later stumbles upon her own word, antevasin, Sanskrit for “one who lives at the border.” What is your word? Is it possible to choose a word that retains its truth for a lifetime?

The first part of the book is so much about her healing in Italy. She has to learn how to smile, laugh and enjoy life again before she can really begin the hard stuff. I love this part of the book because she fights her depression and just does what I wish I could do. Travels around Italy, learning the language (of which I have a basic knowledge), eating the food and just enjoying the country. I firmly believe we would have a lot less depression if we could all treat it this way.

As for my word, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this since the first time I read the book. I have even asked my friends what my word is but of course I haven’t yet found the perfect one. I often end up back at fuerza, which is strength in Italian but it hasn’t seemed perfect yet. Trust me, when I do find my word I am getting it inked on my body somewhere. When I asked my friends a lot of them said independent. And while that feels close as well, it doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe part of it is that those are different words for different phases of my life and I am still looking for something all encompassing.

One particularly close friend said my word is sassy. I think that’s funny but there is no way I am owning it as my word.

The next part of the journey is totally different. And I hope you all enjoy!

Summer Break Reading Challenge Activity #8

This Activity involves you creating a Read-a-Like List. You can choose any topic/theme that you want and there isn't any specific number of titles required. Just be sure there are enough so it can be considered a list.

Lately I have realized that I have been reading a lot of books set in schools. Now granted, they were both series but I really liked them and the school became a character, which I thought was great. Also, both times I have thought, this is great but it has nothing on Hogwarts!

The Gallagher Girls Series by Ally Carter: the Gallagher Academy is a very important character in itself and of course the main characters know every inch of the building, including the secret passages.

Lauren Henderson's Kiss Me Kill Me and Kisses and Lies. The Wakefield Academy becomes its very own character and of course Scarlett's advantage is that she grew up on the grounds and knows them better than anyone.

I am sure there are more but these are the ones I have read recently and both times I have thought, I love when the school has its own personality. I wish I went to either of these schools, or Hogwarts!

In My Mailbox- July 11

Or the one in which I sound like an idiot. I blame exhaustion and too much sun!
As always In My Mailbox is hosted by the amazing The Story Siren. See her blog for more details.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Break Reading Challenge Activity #7 - Reading Update

Here is what I have been up to this summer and I am only counting books read or reviewed after the first activity on June 24.

Read and Reviewed:
I'd Tell You I'd Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Trust Me by Brenda Novak
Stop Me by Brenda Novak
Watch Me by Brenda Novak
Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay
Cross My Heart And Hope To Spy by Ally Carter
Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Beige by Cecil Castelluci
The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak

Read and Not Yet Reviewed
Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson
The Perfect Liar by Brenda Novak

Currently Read
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

I have only read 3/11 from my original reading list but I have read enough that I am okay with my list changing. Plus a lot of what I'm reading I am loving so it is really okay to change the game plan.

How is your progress?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Eat Pray Love 2 or the one where I over share

After reading the book for a week what are your first impressions? So much of this part of the book is about Liz’s battle of modern vs. traditional, where do you fall on the spectrum. Are you married with children or do you never want to get married, or like most I would guess are you somewhere in between?

Here is the part where I lay it all out there so maybe people can begin to understand why I love this book. I can’t tell you what my first impressions are because I have read this book so many times but I can tell you what happened the first time I read it.

I was 21 years old and a totally different person than I am now. I had made a habit out of letting people in to my life that would drain on my resources, emotionally and physically, because it was always about them, never a give-and-take. At 21 I had friends who weren’t very good to me and was in a horrible relationship. Basically, I was miserable, about to graduate college, terrified of the real world and felt more alone than I can possibly explain. And then I was out buying up books for quarters at tag sales and came across a bag of books for a dollar. I didn’t care what was in it, who could pass that up. I bought the bag and somewhere down in the bottom was a copy of Eat Pray Love. I threw it in my suitcase and headed back to school (I had bought it while home visiting the family).

I don’t know what made me pick it up and start reading one day while sitting at my favorite bench on campus. As I worked my way through the first few sections all I could think was HOLY SHIT! Now excuse my language but that is the only way I have to convey how I really felt. My life was so difference from Gilberts but our issues were very similar and to fix both would take drastic work. I think I might have actually started crying sitting on that bench. Seriously, I was that moved.

Now, I understand that some people find her to be whiny at the beginning of the novel and as I read it now, with my life totally different (in a good way), I can see that. But then, when I was 21 and so miserable I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning she wasn’t whining. She was telling the completely unfiltered truth and I knew I needed to try that.

Now just as a disclaimer, I started slowly but efficiently getting rid of all the unhealthy people in my life. It wasn’t easy and it took time but now, over two years later, my life is so much better I hardly recognize the person who left all kinds of markings in my copy of EPL. This book helped me make serious changes and I am not really sure if I would have done it had I not stumbled upon this book. Gilbert has yoga. I have books.
Now maybe that is way more than I should share with the whole internet but enough people in my life already know about it so I don’t really care.

As for the modern vs. traditional part, well I am so far on the modern side sometimes I feel like living in the south is the dumbest thing I ever did. I am one of the very few little girls I knew who didn’t play with baby dolls and pretend she was a mommy, I never pictured my wedding day and I never thought “I like that name, I will keep it in mind for my future children.”

I have never once in my life wished I could get married. I am told (over and over and over and over) that this will change as I get older and that would be fine, but I really don’t want to get married. I love being single and my life is great this way. I have a career that requires a lot of travel and I work nights and weekends from September to June. Working in college athletics is amazing, fun and rewarding. This spring I worked with a baseball team and sometimes it felt like I had 30 kids, trust me I worry about them like a parent sometimes and I am certainly proud like a parent when they do well.

Moving to North Carolina a year ago was a major shock for me, I grew up in NY and went to college in Boston. I couldn’t understand why everyone down here was 25 and already married, or at least engaged, it was crazy to me. And my I don’t want to get married and I really don’t want kids attitude took them all by storm for sure. It has been a fun year of explaining my life philosophies and trying to be open minded to theirs.

Okay, enough ranting. If anyone actually made it to the bottom of this post, thank you, now head over to The Book Vixen to see what everyone else thinks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak

The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak


A mother faces her greatest fear.

Zoe Duncan’s thirteen-year-old daughter goes missing from her own backyard while she's home sick from school. The police suspect Samantha’s a runaway—she’s not happy about her mother’s upcoming marriage—but Zoe knows Sam would never do that.

Terrified of losing the person she loves most, Zoe is willing to do anything to bring Sam home, even if it means giving up her job, her nice home and her relationship with the man she thought she wanted….

A detective faces his hardest case.

Jonathan Stivers is a private investigator who donates his time to The Last Stand, a victims’ charity in Sacramento. He’s good at what he does, the best. Which is why he’s called on to help Zoe Duncan find her missing daughter. But never has he had fewer leads to work with—or been more attracted to a client. He’s sure of only one thing: Sam was taken by someone close to the family. He doesn’t realize how close until he realizes that the “perfect” couple next door is anything but…

Brenda Novak wrote the Last Stand series in two parts. The first three books, Trust Me, Stop Me and Watch Me are about the three women who opened the Last Stand, a non-profit that helps victims of violent crimes. The first three books were their stories and I was completely captivated by them, reading all three in a weekend.

After I finished them I learned three more books had been written, The Perfect Couple, The Perfect Liar and The Perfect Murder. They all have ties to the first three but are very different.

The Perfect Couple was a good book but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the first three books in the series. This time the book is much more about the villains then the members of the Last Stand. Jonathan, a private detective who has been a major help to the Last Stand is the tie in this time and while he is a major character he isn’t the focus.

He is helping a woman, Zoe, whose daughter was kidnapped by her neighbors, although she has no idea her daughter is so close. Naturally Jonathan and Zoe are attracted to each other and the moments they share are some of my favorite in the book.

Tiffany and Colin are the seemingly perfect couple next door who have more than a few secrets. None of this is a spoiler since you find out they are the kidnappers from the very beginning. What Novak does so well is tell the story with shifting points of view. We see the story from every character’s point of view which is both interesting and adds to the suspense. When Zoe is in the same house as her missing daughter you want to scream at her because she is sharing a meal with the kidnappers and we are getting the story from every possible angle.

While the changing points of view is consistent with the first three books, we get way more of the villains in The Perfect Couple and somehow is took something away for me. I really liked Jonathan as the link the The Last Stand but I didn’t get enough of him. He was completely overshadowed by Colin and Tiffany and their crazyness.

I think as a stand alone novel I would have really enjoyed The Perfect Couple but because I was expecting it to follow the same pattern as the first three books I didn’t like it as much. I am hoping that I will be able to readjust my expectations and enjoy the final two books in the series.

This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heavenly Trailer

Check out the awesome trailer for Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens and then head to her blog and sign up to win a copy. I can't wait to read it!

Summer Break Reading Challenge Activity #6

The assignment for the Summer Break Reading Challenge today is to answer the ever important question: Who are your literature heart throbs?

Marcus Flutie
A major character in Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling Series (Sloppy First, Second Helpings etc.) he is equal parts bad boy and soulful writer. In the FAQ on her website McCafferty said he is "the fantasy I hoped the real life guys would turn out to be–but didn’t. So in a way, I’m living through Jessica, just like you are." Yeah I have a big fat literary crush on him.

Alex Cross
A crime-fighting detective and super dad who loves his grandmother and still mourns the death of his wife. Yeah James Patterson nailed this man. I prefer not to picture Alex Cross as Morgan Freeman who played him in Along Came a Spider. I prefer the image in my head.

Damon Salvatore
What can I say, I am not immune to the vampires, I just prefer mine a little more badass than Edward. Damon from the Vampire Diaries is definitely my favorite vampire and Ian Somerhalder only made me love him more.

Of course I also love Harry Potter and I am firmly on team Jacob but I thought a lot of people would pick them so I tried to think a little outside the box. Apparently I like my fictional men a little on the brooding side. Who are your fictional crushes?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Best Friend Guest Review: So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

It is time for another edition of Best Friend Guest Review with my lovely best friend JTR! If you missed the earlier ones check them out here and as always leave her lots of love and encouragement so she comes back for more.

So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

I was introduced to Scott Westerfeld with the Uglies series last year when Erika Lynn, the blogger extraordinaire of Kiss My Book insisted I would love it. She was of course right and I devoured the entire series even the bonus book Extras. I loved Westerfeld’s characters and his penchant for suspense and mystery in crafting his adventures. So I have been interested in reading more his books ever since. At B&N my decision came down to Peeps (his vampire novel) and So Yesterday (a book about trendsetters and consumerism). Now I have recently overdosed – in a good way – on vampires after reading Charlaine Harris’ entire Sookie Stackhouse series over the past month, so So Yesterday was the book for me.

So Yesterday is set in our world of focus groups and corporate advertising domination. It follows Hunter, a teenage trendsetter whose job is to observe and find the latest “it” thing. He reports what’s cool to “the client” – a mega corporation that shall remain nameless. Hunter’s life gets thrown for a loop when he meets Jen – an innovator or inventor of cool things. When Hunter’s boss gets kidnapped, he and Jen get caught up in a tangled web of mystery as they try to find her and in the process discover the anti-client – a group determined to undermine to consumerism obsessions of modern day society.

If it sounds a little convoluted that’s because it is. I have trouble relating to Hunter. His lack of drive makes him the ultimate follower, which is perfect for his trendsetting observation skills, but is frustrating as he seems to just bob around after Jen’s spontaneous decisions for most of the book. The best part of the book is Westerfeld’s wordplay – he never once says the name of a product but you know through his descriptions exactly what movie franchise or shoe brand he is referring to. It is a little unnerving how easy it is to understand his double speak and really show how programmed we all are into the consumerism that surrounds us. I also enjoyed Hunter’s tangents and explanations of the history of certain trends, like who were the first people to wear the color purple. I love books that leave me with lasting little nuggets of information. You never know when an occasion will call for these pieces of trivia.

Overall, the book was a disappointment mainly because of my high expectations after the Uglies series. It was still what I call a perfect subway read: a book I can enjoy for the 20 minutes I’m on the train going to and from work, but that I don’t enjoy so much that I feel compelled to read and walk as I go the rest of the way to the office. Trust me, as a new New York City gal the books that make me want to read and walk are very dangerous – those cabs don’t stop for anything!

Favorite quote from So Yesterday “Still, you can’t blame the client for following the first rule of consumerism. Never give us what we really want. Cut the dream into pieces and scatter them like ashes. Dole out the empty promises. Package our aspirations and sell them to us, cheaply made enough to fall apart.”

Kinda depressing isn’t it.

Thanks again for stopping by BFF! I miss you!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain trailer and contest

Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine, is holding a contest at her blog where you can win up to 11 books for helping her book trailer get a ton of hits. It is pretty fabulous so take a watch then head over to her blog. I am really excited to read The Dark Divine!

About the Dark Divine

A Prodigal Son
A Dangerous Love
A Deadly Secret

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel's returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.

Enna Isilee over at Squeaky Books is having a contest giving away Bree Despain's The Dark Divine! Head on over to Ennalee's blog (Click Here) to find out how to win. In the meantime, check out this awesome trailer for the book!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beige by Cecil Castellucci

When she’s exiled from Canada to sunny Los Angeles, Katy figures she’ll bury her nose in a book and ignore the fact that she’s spending two weeks with her father. Her father, Beaut Ratner—punk name: the Rat—is a recovered addict and the drummer of the famously infamous band, Suck. Even though she doesn’t want to be there, even though she feels abandoned by her mom, even though the Rat isn’t anything she’d call a father,
Katy is a nice girl. She’s quiet and polite. She smiles. Another kind of girl, one like doom-and-gloom Lake—lead singer for an all-girl band and the Rat’s idea of a chaperone—might take off, break the rules, scrawl manifestoes on the walls. Or she might pound on the skins and cymbals, let it all out, because sometimes the beat’s better than crying. Sometimes it’s the same thing. But music is dangerous and Katy isn’t that kind of girl. So what kind of girl is she?

I bought this book last summer at The Strand when I was in NYC visiting my BFF. It made the move with me to North Carolina just a few weeks later and for the last year has been sitting on my bookshelf so modestly. I am not sure what finally made me pull it down and give it a shot but I am really glad I did and feeling a little dumb for having waited so long. I really enjoyed this book and any fan of Audrey, Wait! (which I clearly was) needs to read this.

Katy is beige. She is boring and blends in. That is until she goes to live with her rocker Dad, The Rat, and her whole world changes. Sure all the life changes and the ending are fairly predictable but the way Cecil Castellucci infuses the California punk rock scene in to the story is pure genius.

The book reads really fast, I finished it in one afternoon by the pool, but all the characters are fully developed and extreme. Either, extremely sweet and sentimental or extremely difficult, everyone in the novel is extreme. The characters are fully developed and easily relatable and The Rat, Lake, Garth and Trixie all add something amazing to the world Katy is thrown in to.

Each chapter title is the name of a song and there are so many references to music in the novel that it really made me want to download a ton of songs and name it the Beige playlist.

I also really appreciated that Castellucci tackled the darker sides of the music business head on. She didn’t dance around topics like sex and drugs, instead she made sure readers were aware that they were part of the world and showed the very real effect they have on people.

So many things to really love about this book and with that I am off to see if my library has any of Castellucci’s other books!

Has anyone read Beige or anything else by Castellucci? Leave your reviews in the comments.

This book goes toward my Summer Break Reading Challenge.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Eat Pray Love Book Club Activity #1

The Book Vixen is hosting a book club for Eat Pray Love, which is one of my all-time favorite books. I can not begin to explain to you how much I love this book, but I will try over the course of the next month. You can still join in if you would like, just head over to the Book Vixen and sign up.

Today's assignment: What preconceived notions do you have of the book as a first time reader? What have you heard about it? What do you anticipate going into it? Why do you want to read it?

This is where my answer will be different then everyone else because I am on the only one in the book club who has read the book before. I honestly can't remember what my feelings were going in to the book but I read the book at a time in my life where I sort of felt like I was falling apart. They were not good times, and there was something about reading this book, about another woman going through the same thing that was incredibly powerful. I don't know if I would love this book nearly as much if I read it at a different time in my life, a time like now when everything is more pulled together.

Now, I anticipate that there will be people in the book club who don't love it as fiercely as I do, and there may be people who don't even like it and that is fine. I also can't wait to re-read it now, I have read it multiple times, and I often go back to it when I am having a tough day and just read some of my favorite passages but it will be interesting to read it cover to cover and discuss it now and see how differently I feel about it.

There will be EPL Book Club posts on July 8, July 11, July 20 and July 31. Also be on the lookout for a special vlog that I will do to show you my worn and ragged, but loved, copy of the book in the next few days.

Head over to The Book Vixen and see what everyone else is anticipating from the book.

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