Thursday, March 31, 2011


So as I hinted earlier, I have some news to announce.  I thought I'd give you a sneak peek, since I'm so excited and can't wait until tomorrow to announce it.    See April is a wonderful month.  Spring is unfolding, school is beginning to finish, and......  it's a month to celebrate ME.  April is my birthday month, and I am so happy to have it here.  I'm big on holidays, and so my birthday is something special to me.  I can't help it.  Every time I get something in the mail (even if it's a coupon from a store saying Happy Birthday), I get really excited.  It makes me feel special.  And, I want to share that excitement with YOU.  Think of it as my way to share my birthday cake virtually with you (and in the best form of presents - books).  This April, I will be hosting a different giveaway with presents for you each week.  I'm going to be featuring some of my favorite books.  The giveaways will run Friday to Friday, and I'll try to announce winners within a couple of days of the closing date.  The first one will start tomorrow, which is my birthday.  (No it's not a joke.  No I don't celebrate April Fool's Day.  Yes, I was born on April 1st.  I only celebrate my birthday.  Moving on....)  So come back tomorrow to enter for the first one!

So.. a sneak peek:
13 (at least, I may add a couple more) books
from 9 authors
open internationally
divided into five different giveaways
including both young adult and adult fiction
all hand-picked from my favorite books
celebrating my birthday!

See, aren't you excited?  I know I am.  Since there will be several in a row, I am only going to do one entry per person.  Being a follower won't be required, but is always appreciated.  So, whose in?  Come back tomorrow to enter the first giveaway!

P.S. I wanted to change the blog into birthday mode, but I'm not exactly sure that this is what I want.  What do you guys think?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: Little Women

Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
449 pages
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters--Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth-- and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War.

My Thoughts:
So I couldn't find a summery that I was happy with, so I ended up with the short one.  But in the spirit of being realistic, I'm not sure there is anyone who does not know the basic story of Little Women.  That being said, it's incredibly hard to sit down and write a review of a classic such as Little Women.   I mean, what am I going to say: eh, I didn't think it was that good of a story.  It's a classic.  No matter what I say, it will still be a classic.  So instead of writing a review of sorts, I decided to simply comment on my thoughts as sort of a discussion.  If you have never read Little Women, seen the movie, and have no idea what the story consists of, I would probably advise you not to continue reading, as this will probably have "spoilers."  Those who know the story, I am not going to talk about anything that you don't already know.

When I was a child, I read the book Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.  I think it's funny that I read the "sequels" and not the original Little Women.  But from what I remember, the writing was basically the same.  Alcott writes in a writer-to-reader way, as though you are sitting in the same room listening to her tell a story.  It's more informal than I'm used to, but it still made for a good story.

As far as the novel goes, I love the story of Little Women.  It's a heartwarming story of four sisters and how they grow up.  There's Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.  Each one distinctly different.    I love how each one develops in their differences and yet still remain friends.   I enjoyed reading about Meg, as she gets married and raises her family in "poverty" and yet finds happiness.  Jo, who is loosely based on Alcott herself, tries to find her authorship.  Beth, who is a homebody, aids the poor.  And Amy, always striving for to be one of society, ends up exactly where she wanted and yet in a place she never imagined.

The qualms that most people come up with regarding Little Women generally fall into three categories:  A) Beth dying, B) Jo getting married, and C) Amy ending up with Laurie.  I can't say much about Beth.  Honestly, there was such foreshadowing about her death - i.e. she never did anything but be sick and take care of the house.  I don't know, I just expected it.

Secondly, Jo getting married.  I've read several reviews about how Jo gave up her dream to be a slave to her husband, etc.  It just did not seem that way to me.  First of all, she gave up writing long before she fell in love with Fredrick.  I mean, she moved back home (doing what, I don't know.  Sorry, sometimes they just don't seem to do anything.  It's weird for me, since I've worked since I was 16.) and only wrote for her family.  But secondly, Jo never really wrote solely for writing sake.  She always was doing something else and writing in her spare time.  It just seemed to me that she was continuing on in her same path: living her life and writing as a "hobby." 

Finally, I never thought Jo should end up with Laurie.  They were too similar.  They seemed more like brother and sister.  Plus, I think that the book did way more justice to the Laurie/Amy relationship that the movie did.  I just remember the movie being like... Jo says no to Laurie.  Laurie goes to Europe.  Oh, hi Amy!  Then they get married.  It just seemed so random.  But in the book, I feel like there was so much more development that I missed in the movie.  And the development made the Laurie/Amy relationship make so much more sense.  (P.S. I think Alcott could have done without some of the Amy's the second choice insider comments.  But minus that, I enjoyed the Laurie/Amy thing way more in the book.)  Amy was Laurie's way of getting over Jo.  She was one of the only ones who understood, and yet she wouldn't let him get by with just being a sad person all the time.  She kicked him into shape.  She was the friend he needed, and he realized that she was his person.  The one he needed.  I thought it was cute.  And perhaps, my opinion is unpopular, but I stand by it.  I like Amy and Laurie together.

So there are my few thoughts on Little Women.  Honestly, I think everybody should read it, because it is a classic.  It's like Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, and The Scarlet Letter.  It should just be read.  It reminds me of the all-American tale.  I've never read Great Expectations (it's on my list, I promise).  But I can say that Little Women, though a little slower than some books I'm used to, isn't that hard of a read.  So if you are feeling educational one day, you might think about picking it up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Delirious

Daniel Palmer
371 pages
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One day, Charlie Giles is an up-and-coming electronics superstar. The next, he's a prime homicide suspect as his former employers are picked off one by one. Charlie watches his life unravel as his company and inventions are wrenched from his control, and his family is decimated. With nowhere else to turn, he enlists his schizophrenic brother to uncover the dark family secrets that lie at the heart of the unfolding terror. "Delirious" is a mind-bending story where the line between what is real and what is imagined twists and addictive literary puzzle that every reader will want to solve.

My Thoughts:
I received this novel from a Twitter contest that I won.  The author sent it to me, signed and everything!  Technically, it’s my first ARC.  I was really excited to read it.

This novel is Daniel Palmer’s fictional debut.  There’s a blurb on the back of my ARC that speaks of a former life of e-commerce and a musician.  It was so fun to have known that because it made the book even more interesting, as I knew that the author had experience in the character’s background - adding authenticity.  I’ve never really read a book as a “debut novel” expecting less or something.  So I don’t know if others do, but every if you do, this novel surpassed my greatest expectations.  It was an incredible mystery and thriller, and it definitely did not show any flaws from a newbie.

It took me a bit to get into the novel, simply because it is different from some of my latest reads.  But once I got past, oh page 15 or 20, I could not stop reading.  It’s an adult thriller/mystery type.  Different than my recent Kathy Reichs novels, the mystery revolves around the main character.  And even the reader has no clue as to what is going on.  Though the story is not told in first person, it revolves mostly around the main character, Charlie, and it does not go outside of what he knows.  (As opposed to those novels that go from different viewpoints, both the “good side” and the “bad side;” and the reader knows stuff the characters don’t.)  I certainly did not figure it out.

Basically, this novel is about Charlie.  Mental illness runs in his family, and as several different (very odd) things happen in his life, he begins to question his sanity - wondering if what he experienced was real or simply a part of an unraveling mind.  The plot has many twists and turns.  I was definitely intrigued throughout the whole novel.

Both the characters Charlie and Joe (his brother) are well written.  You truly get a feel for the person of Charlie, as well as Joe.  But the technical talk of Charlie’s business, internet/computer stuff, was not overwhelming.  I was greatly impressed (and relieved) to find that I wasn’t confused and did not have to have things explained when it came to the computer speech.  But I did not feel like it was written for a kindergartener either.  It was very appropriate and well written.

My favorite character happened to be Dr. Rachel Evans.  She is Charlie’s brother’s psychologist.  She reminded me a bit of myself, and she was the character that I most related to.  But I loved the medical involvement in the story (she talks a lot about psychology, mental illnesses, and you see some of how the mental health “industry” works).  Since I’m a nurse, I’ve been the treat-er (having completed some clinicals at a psychiatric hospital), and I had never thought about how things seemed to patients.  Since Charlie’s brother Joe has schizophrenia, Rachel is the “expert opinion” to give light to the psychological possibilities.  It adds another intriguing element to the book.

Ultimately, I loved this novel.  It was an excellent read, and I cannot wait to see what else Daniel Palmer will write.  It took me a bit of time to read it, only because my time was limited due to overtime and such.  But even at work, I was pondering the novel and could not get it out of my head.  I honestly cannot think of any negative factors to fuss about - except that I did not want it to end.  I thought it was totally awesome.  I definitely would recommend it to any mystery lovers.  Well, unless you abhor mysteries, but I would recommend it to everyone.  I think of very few people who would not enjoy this incredible novel.  I know I will definitely be passing it on to all of my family members.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What are you reading Monday? (9)

This week was a bit of an odd week.  I read all week, but as my internet was super slow, I ended up working on my blog on Pages instead of actually on the blog.  I'm hoping the internet shapes up this week, so I can post all of those reviews I've written.  I only received a couple of books this week, but still super exciting, as they were books I wanted!  "It's Monday, What are you reading?" is hosted by One Person's Journey through a World of Books.  "In My Mailbox" is created by Kristi at The Story Siren.  I like to use a mix of the two.  (All links provided are to the book's Goodreads page.)

Books Finished This Week:
  • Delirious - Daniel Palmer
  • Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
New Books:

From the wonderful April at Good Books and Good Wine sent me the ARCs of Wither by Lauren DeStefano and The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan.  I've heard wonderful things about both books, so I can't wait to get to reading them.

Coming Up This Week:

  • Powerless: The Synthesis - Jason Letts
  • Solid - Shelley Workinger
  • The Dark Divine - Bree Despain
  • The Color Purple - Alice Walker
I guess I technically had a slow week of reading, as I only read two books.  But they were awesome books.  I worked overtime this week, so the week felt jam-packed to me.  I have a bit of a slow week coming up with an awesome weekend happening.  Stay tuned for some exciting news! 

How did everyone's week go?  Any good books I should know about?  Can't wait to see what you guys got into this week.

Review: Baltimore Blues

Baltimore Blues
Laura Lippman
336 pages
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz's death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer's notoriety—and his taste for illicit midday trysts—makes the case front-page news in every local paper except the Star, which crashed and burned before Abramowitz did.
A former Star reporter who knows every inch of this town—from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill—now-unemployed journalist Tess Monaghan also knows the primary suspect: cuckolded fiancĂ© Darryl "Rock" Paxton. The time is ripe for a career move, so when rowing buddy Rock wants to hire her to do some unorthodox snooping to help clear his name, Tess agrees. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows. And Tess's own name could end up on the ever-expanding list of Baltimore dead.

My Thoughts:
I received this recommendation from a friend Twitter recently.  Because it was $0.99 on Amazon, I simply could not resist buying it.  I had read Laura Lippman once before, and I loved her I'd Know You Anywhere.  When I found out that she wrote a long series, I had to check it out!

This novel is the first in the Tess Monaghan series.  It is set in Baltimore (duh), which I actually have never visited.  I read some reviews that mentioned that Lippman has lived in Baltimore, which I think is cool.  Perhaps if I had been to Baltimore, I would have gotten more of the culture references.  I got a little weary of the Baltimore landmark inserts, mainly because I just felt a little lost.  It reminded me of reading The Lord of the Rings when I had to keep going back to the front of the book to see the map.  Maybe a personal pet peeve, but I was a little annoyed.

I have to say that my overall feeling for this novel was “eh.”  Maybe I had my hopes too high because I had read her awesome new release.  But I simply was not impressed with the mystery.  I kept reading because I wanted to know the answers, but I did not get excited until the very end. 
I remember thinking after everything was set up “that’s all?  That’s what the whole book is about?”  And there were more details to come and everything, but I felt that more effort was made to set up the background of the series than the mystery of this first novel.  I just thought that the potential for the mystery was there, but it was not explored to full capacity.  I wasn't sure how everything fit together, and parts of the mystery still do not make complete sense to me.  There was not a part that explained everything and how it fit together. 

Tess was simply not a character I could like in this novel.  Perhaps Lippman is setting up the background for the next novels, but I sorta disliked her.  She was lazy and annoying.  And I’m not sure how smoking pot and continually letting an ex use her makes her lovable.  I just did not get it.  I can see how her character has room for improvement, so hopefully in the next books she will improve.

But I have to say that my favorite characters were all of the supporting characters.  I loved how quirky everyone was.  It reminded me of Stephanie Plum and her pack.  I loved the community Lippman created.  Everyone had a distinct personality, and the surrounding characters provided several of the laughs I enjoyed.

Overall, I liked the novel, but it had too many pet peeves of mine to make it a favorite.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, as I think it has lots of potential for improve.  If you aren’t like me, and don’t tend to find pet peeves in novels, you may like it.  I’d recommend it really for Lippman fans right now.  Perhaps once I read the second book, I’ll have more to say.  I'm hoping it's one of the those books that I will like more in retrospect.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Reading Thing 2011

Good evening, peeps.  (well, it's evening when I'm working on this post.)  One of the things I love about the book blog community is how we will take whatever excuse available to have a challenge and encourage each other in reading.  That being said, Fall Into Reading (the vall version of this event) was my favorite challenge of last year.  So when Callapidder Days decided to host Spring Reading Thing again this year, I was all "HECK YES!"

Basically Spring Reading Thing is an event that runs the length of spring and in which we challenge ourselves to push a little more.  Doesn't matter what the challenge is, just something personal for us to attempt to achieve.  Last fall, I challenged myself to read 50 books.  I fell far short, but I learned a lot about my reading habits. So as my overall goal for this year is to read at least 100 books, I thought that I should make my goals in the Spring Reading Thing to help me accomplish my goals.  I so far have read 22 books, a little behind, but completely accomplishable.  I have decided to challenge myself to get a little ahead and read 35 books during the Spring Reading Thing.  Either way, it’s getting to be beautiful outside, so wonderful porch reading weather.  I’ve have complied a list of some books I want to get read in the next couple of weeks.  Figured I get these read and then have several “slots” for fun, spontaneous reading.
  1.  Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky
  2.  Under the SKin - Michel Faber
  3.  Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
  4.  The Color Purple - Alice Walker
  5.  Matched - Ally Condie
  6.  Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
  7.  Firelight - Sophie Jordan
  8.  The Synthesis - Jason Letts
  9.  The Dark Divine - Bree Despain
  10.  Portal - Imogen Rose
  11.  Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
  12.  Delirious - Daniel Palmer
  13.  The Saphire Talsimen -Brenda Pandos
  14.  Solid - Shelley Workinger
  15.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
Anybody else participating in Spring Reading Thing?  What are your reading goals for this spring?  I'm so glad that spring is finally here, and I believe I have some awesome books set up to read this spring.  What about you?

Review: The Body Finder

The Body Finder
Kimberly Derting
366 pages
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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 left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope 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.

My Thoughts:
The first thing that drew me to this book was it’s beautiful cover.  The summery only made it sound more interesting.  The wonderful Lori at Pure Imagination insisted that I push this book to the top of my to-read list, and I have to say that I was sooo appreciative.  It’s one of the best young adult novels that I’ve read in a long while, if not forever.  Ms. Derting has written an incredible story with superb writing and insight into teenage world.

I think the thing I love the most about The Body Finder is how Derting adds mystery to a “normal” teenage life.  Derting writes the mystery within a wonderful fun romance and “real life” type story of Violet and Jay.  At first, I was a little frustrated at how little investigating and pieces to the mystery there were.  But the more I thought about it, the story is written from the point of view of Violet.  Who, as a teenager, would not have been a main part in the investigation.  Derting writes it realistically - Violet only knew as much as her uncle, chief of police, would tell her.  She didn’t give me all the pieces to the puzzle, but it made for more intrigue because I only knew as much as Violet, and therefore didn’t solve the mystery (though I did have a thought of who it might be - felt so smart at the end).  It made for an awesome young adult mystery.

Ok, so as a girl, I’m totally allowed to love romance stories.  So, I’m just going to take ahold of my gender and gush for a bit.  I LOVE the Jay and Violet story.  It was definitely squeal and sigh worthy.  So the basic idea is that Jay and Violet have been best buds since they could walk, but now that they are both teenagers, things are starting to change as they get to know each other as young adults.  I love Violet and her wonderful reactions.  She gets all nervous and blushes and thinks about Jay at the most awkward times.  I love it!  And their mutual friends just make it so much more wonderfully funny.  It reminded me of the fun moments of high school.  I don’t want to say more, but just know that you should go read it, even if it is only for the awesome cute romance that is Jay and Violet.

So here’s a bit of a small tangent.  I was browsing twitter while writing this review, as I have a short attention span.  I definitely found a review of The Body Finder that starts out with: “Move over Edward, here comes Jay Heaton!”  I love it!  So true.  Though I never really crushed on Edward like some people, I’m definitely crushing on Jay.

Anyway, The Body Finder is awesome.  One of the best books I’ve read probably forever.  It was a mystery.  But filled with sweet cute fall-in-love story with a sweet guy who is honest and protective (incredibly swoon-worthy).  Derting wrote an awesome novel that I read in like day and a half - even while working.  So instead of getting sleep, I read and only got four hours of sleep in preparation for my 12 hour shift.  (I giggled in EKG class because of it, and it wasn’t because I was learning about premature ventricular contractions.) It was that good.  I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars, because though it may never become a classic, it was amazing.  And I already reread the ending and parts I liked.   I can’t wait to read Desires of the Dead!  I know that I will continue to read anything that Kimberly Derting writes.  Her ideas are awesome, and her writing thoroughly enforces a great idea and makes it a wonderful novel.  She’s definitely quickly becoming a favorite writer of mine.

More of The Body Finder and Kimberly Derting:
Goodreads: The Body Finder
Goodreads: Kimberly Derting
Review: Pure Imagination
Review: The Book Vixen
Novel Novice: Book of the Month page

What are you reading Monday? (8)

I don't know about you guys, but I had an awesome week of books!  I was on a roll last week with reading, and due to my excitement about new books, it's continued!  I devoured several books this week, and my TBR-I have pile is still growing.  I can't wait to read them and share them with you.   I don't normally get books I didn't buy or get at the library, so excuse my over-the-top excitement.  It was a boring week at work....   "It's Monday, What are you reading?" is hosted by One Person's Journey through a World of Books.  "In My Mailbox" is created by Kristi at The Story Siren.  I like to use a mix of the two.  (All links provided are to the book's Goodreads page.)

Books Finished this Week:
  • The Body Finder (Body Finder, 1) - Kimberly Derting
  • Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan, 1) - Laura Lippman
  • The Liar Society (Liar Society, 1) - Lisa and Laura Roeker
  • Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
New Books:
I got an ARC from Shelley Workinger.  I was super excited because I've heard great things about this book.  AND... It was signed!  Even had a note to me.... :)

I was really excited.  It's the first ARC that I've gotten that I haven't won in a contest.  I know, small things right.  It's been a super boring week at work.....

Book Soulmates  is hosting an awesome event each month called "Random Acts of Kindness" or R.A.K.  This week was my first time to receive a R.A.K.
No, I didn't get a kindle, but that would be a very awesome R.A.K.  Instead, I got three new ebooks:
  • Matched (Ally Condie)
  • Firelight (Sophie Jordan)
  • Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins)
This R.A.K. was from the wonderful Ivy at Ivy Reads.  I was soooo excited to get these books, as they have been on the top of my TBR list for a long time.  I can't wait to get into them!  She totally made my day, and I can't thank her enough.  Thank you, Ivy!!! 

The neat thing about R.A.K. is that you can still sign up.  March sign ups run throughout March, so you can still participate and do something nice for another blogger.  Sign Ups can be found here.

Coming Up This Week:
  • Delirious - Danie Palmer
  • Powerless: Synthesis - Jason Letts
  • Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
So this week was a week of firsts for me.  It was quite exciting, but I do have a super busy at work coming up, so I tried to not set my goals too high.  Who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself.  What did you guys get this week?  What will you be diving into for the next couple of days?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Review: Deadly Decisions

Deadly Decisions  
Kathy Reichs
395 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Kathy Reichs' forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan is arguably the best of the current crop of thriller pathologists; her third outing, Deadly Decisions, pits her reconstructive skills against a bunch of Hell's Angels with a taste for ultra-violence. Hardly has she pieced together the jigsaw fragments of identical twins, before she finds herself engaged in identifying the teenage girl whose skull and long bones turned up near the grave of some earlier victims of inter-gang strife. Her sweetheart Ryan is under investigation for corruption; her nephew is sleeping on the sofa and showing an unholy fascination with bikes and bikers; and Tempe is having a series of really bad hair days. In addition to the usual fascinating material about the identification of human bones, Reichs tells us all about the way in which biker gangs have become a serious part of the criminal underworld, a subculture with a taste for mayhem and with rules it is death to break. Tempe is on her usual brittle good form--a woman torn between her cold clinical intelligence and a crusading desire to avenge the helpless that regularly brings her into conflict with more quietly committed colleagues. This is an excellent thriller that combines real intelligence with a radical social anger. --Roz Kaveney 

My Thoughts:
It's been a couple of weeks since I read this book, as I went right into the fourth book in the series before writing reviews.  I was watching Bones on my day off, and it reminded me how much I enjoyed Kathy Reichs' novels.  Deadly Decisions was no different.

I enjoyed this novel quite a bit as it combined mystery, science, and a unique approach to Tempe Brennan.  Different than the other two novels, the story was interesting and unique in it's concept of biker-related crime.  As Tempe's  main go-to guy Ryan was under investigation, she was forced to go through different channels for investigation, making the plot less predictable.

As I have read from other reviewers, the mystery is a bit far-fetched in some of the connections.  But, as I have said before, I always think mysteries are full of random connections.  This novel was a bit different in that though a family member was involved, the outcome of that involvement was not the same as the beginning two.  I'm sure this is making no sense, but without spoilers, just take me on my word that this one is different.

I think the major part of enjoyment for me in this novel is the science that is applied to solving a mystery.  Though others may disagree with me, it's why I love Bones as well.  I find the different approaches to studying the bones interesting, especially as Tempe looks into a twins and systematically searching for bones underground.  Though Ms. Reichs did not add the normal, fun romance intrigue into this novel (as Ryan is busy being under investigation), the novel did not suffer.  I still found it to be fast-paced, generally unpredictable, and scientifically interesting.

I rated this novel a 4 out of 5 because I read the entire thing in one day and I greatly enjoyed it.  After having read several of Reichs' novels, I can happily say that in a couple of years I will want to read them again (having forgotten all of the little details).  I loved Deadly Decisions, and I would rate Kathy Reichs as one of my favorite mystery novelists.  Though it had flaws (hence no 5), I would recommend it to any mystery lover and fan of crime TV shows.  It's like having your own script and backstage pass to any mystery show for you to enjoy at your leisure.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Enquiring Minds Want to Know (16)

Each week Dollycas's Thoughts hosts the meme "Enquiring Minds Want to Know." She posts questions for us to answer each week in order for us bloggers and readers to get to know each other beyond our books.  Check out her's and others answers here.

1. What is your family background regarding nationality?
Though I know a little bit about my family's nationality, it's never been really important in my life.  My dad's heritage is English, and my mom's side of the family came from Norway.  Though, the neat thing about my mom's family is that my grandfather lived in North Dakota, the youngest of 8 (I believe).  He tells stories of digging tunnels to the bar in 7 feet of snow.

2. Have you ever eaten corned beef and cabbage, the traditionally meal of St. Patrick's Day or drank green colored beer?
That would be a negative on both accounts.  I've never actually celebrated St. Patty's Day.  And I'm only celebrating tonight with popcorn and basketball, as I have to work early tomorrow (really early as I don't normally work during the day).

3. St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in many cities in the U.S. and around the world, are there any celebrations happening near you?
You know, honestly I have no idea.  Sorry, I'm a bit too practical tonight with no celebrating.  I'm not even wearing green.  (Totally rocking red and blue in spirit of my Bruins - Belmont Bruins!)
Anybody enjoying St. Patty's Day more than me?  Hope you guys have (safe) fun!  Have one for me.  :)

Review: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire 
Kerrelyn Sparks
371 pages
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

So what if he's a bit older and usually regards a human female as dinner, not a dinner date? Yes, Roman Draganesti is a vampire, but a vampire who lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn't have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop–sided eater for all eternity.

Things aren't going well for Shanna Whelan either...After witnessing a gruesome murder by the Russian mafia, she's next on their hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral because she's afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she's found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman's fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her...

My Thoughts:
This novel is the first book in Kerrelyn Sparks' series called Love at Stake.   There are 11 books in the series.  I've actually read the fifth book in the series, though when I started this book, I didn't know they were connected.  Once again, appealing to my theory that I can only read books from series in order.

After I read Twilight, which was my first vampire novel, I have to say that it took me a long time to get adjusted to differing "Vampire Theories" (my own term, though there is probably an actual technical term for it somewhere).  I call Vampire Theories all the basic plot details that surround the vampire characters, such as whether or not they drink human blood or hunt animals instead, whether they cannot go in the sunlight due to being burned or sparkling, whether they sleep in the daytime or not at all, etc.  You get the picture.  Because Twilight was my first, I originally was devoted to that Vampire Theory.  Thus, when I first read a Kerrelyn Sparks book, I didn't like it.  Now that I started at the beginning of the series and with a much more open mind to small details that don't really matter all that much, I can say that I was able to enjoy the story for what it is.

Love at Stake is a series of novels that surround a group of vampires that generally revolve around the company Romatech Industries.  The owner of Romatech is Roman, the main character in this book.  But there are also the vampires that surround him, his security team, friends, and other workers in the company, as well as other major vampires from other countries.  Sparks created a close-knit community revolving around Romatech Industires, and each novel is about a different character in the community.  But the thing I enjoyed about the beginning of the series is the many interesting different characters.  Unlike some love series that have to continue to introduce new characters to create new books, Ms. Sparks created a wealth of interesting characters that play a major part in the stories.  Just because I had also read the fifth novel, I could see those that come to play further in the series.  It made for an enjoyable, fun read, getting to know everyone from the beginning.

One major thing that bugged me about this novel is the sex.  Ok, so I know that this may be a personal rant and others may disagree, so I'm just going to state that this is my opinion and I am only offering it up for thoughts.  One thing that has always bothered me about romance novels is how out-of-place sex can seem.  I will say this for Ms. Sparks, she did a wonderful job creating a romance novel in which the sexual aspect wasn't the entire story.  But really?  Of course, if I were the main character, I totally am going to pause, after a major break in the mystery, while people might be in danger, and have long, impassioned sex with my new-found love.  I'm sorry, but it just seemed unrealistic and a tad ridiculous.  I'm just saying the timing was way off.  But I will give a bit of a disclaimer: there was some steam in this novel, and I would think twice before recommending it to younger readers.  

But, after saying that, the story between Roman and Shanna was cute.  There were several laugh-out-loud moments, and I greatly enjoyed their banter back-and-forth.  Roman was a more developed character than I expected him to be, and it was nice to see a take into his background.  It made him more realistic as a character.

I enjoyed this novel as a fun, light read that gave me lots of laughs and a few "ah" moments.  The mystery was not entirely unpredictable, but it gave some suspense to the story.  I enjoyed the romance, though I think it was the humor and surrounding characters that really made the story.  I will continue to read the books in the series, simply because I want to see what happens to those characters I've gotten to know.  I gave the book a 3 out of 5 stars because I enjoyed it, but I probably won't read it again.  I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Exciting Book Happenings!

So the more I browse the book blogging community (because, let's face it, there's nothing on TV at 4:30 am), the more exciting events I find.  Instead of lumping them all together, I though I'd do a couple different posts on them, especially since some aren't until August.

I found this on a blog I was reading this morning, and I clicked on the button because of the awesomely cute tag.  The Cornucopia of Dystopia.  What an awesome name!  Anyway, basically this is an event hosted by a bunch of bloggers featuring several novels of dystopia.  Ever since I read The Hunger Games, I am a total fan of dystopia.  And I am excited to be following such a great event and finding out more about some books that are on my TBR list.  Plus, my bday is coming up, so....  maybe I can talk my family into getting me some books!  Here's the DL:

The event is hosted by The Bookish Type and A Tapestry of Words from March 21st through April 18th.  They will be featuring eight different novels.  Seventeen total bloggers will be involved with reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways about these books.
Books featured:
  1. Bumped by Megan McCafferty
  2. Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
  3. XVI by Julia Karr
  4. Possession by Elana Johnson
  5. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  6. Delirum by Lauren Oliver
  7. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
  8. Dark Parties by Sara Grant
Looks good, right?  Seventeen boggers have worked together to provide an awesomely compact schedule with several things for each day!  I know I am adding those events to my calendar right now.  Head over to The Bookish Type's post on the event for the complete schedule.  Hope you guys are as excited as I am!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: Prom and Prejudice

Prom and Prejudice
Elizabeth Eulberg
288 pages
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?
Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

My Thoughts:
The awesomeness of this novel definitely started from the first sentence.  Any fan of Jane Austen will get this incredible start to the novel - as it is a very similar, very clever version of the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.
The wonderfulness of this novel just continued from there.  I LOVED this book!  Be prepared for some major gushing because it's going to come full force.  I read the entire book in one setting, and I have to say that right now it's my favorite book of the year.

For those of you who know me personally, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book of all time.  I've read it three times.  My sister and I have watched the original (6 hour) BBC version of Pride and Prejudice at least three times, I think four actually.  My dog's name is Bennett (who is currently kicking me out of my spot on the couch because he found something interesting to dig at) from my favorite character Miss Elizabeth Bennet.  Believe me, the impact of Jane Austen and her characters from Pride and Prejudice don't stop there in my life.  They are neverending.

That being said, I was a bit wary, though excited about reading Prom and Prejudice.  The story looked cute, but really, who could measure up to the incredibly awesomeness of Jane Austen?  Oh, believe me, my worries were completely unfounded.  Ms. Eulberg took an incredible love story, transported it to modern times and even added a bit of originality to it.

The book is written in first person from Lizzie's standpoint.  And though I loved Elizabeth Bennett from Austen, I loved getting to know this version of Lizzie.  She was funny and down-to-earth, stubborn and prejudice against the rich.  She had flaws that could be seen by everyone except her.  She was lovable, and I greatly enjoyed watching her grow as she learns from her mistakes and finds new surprises.  It was wonderful reading such a great modern representation of Austen's character.

Will Darcy - yes, Darcy in Ms. Austen's book is very swoon worthy (Colin Firth, anyone?).  But because Eulberg chose the setting of a modern ivy prep school, we get to know Will Darcy more as he is able to "befriend" Lizzie and be more present in this setting.  I was in love with him almost immediately, and I sighed and squealed almost every time he entered the scene.  I always wanted more of Elizabeth-Darcy in Pride and Prejudice and Eulberg delivers.  I don't want to say more in case of my tendency for spoilers, but it was such a well written love story.

In my opinion, one of the best traits of Ms. Eulberg's novel is the setting of Longbourn Academy.  I read in an interview that she needed a setting that included class differences, thus became the ivy-exclusive prep school of Longbourn Academy, an all-girls boarding school where father's salaries, trust funds, and designer clothing are the most important things.  Longbourn, an academy that focuses on the arts, also had a huge focus on Prom, which was the social event of the year.  At first, I thought... prom?  That could be kind of dumb.  But, Eulberg wrote the setting wonderfully, and by the second chapter I was enthralled.  Having went to a prep high school where CEO's daughters of major companies went and where movies have been made about other alumni, Eulberg did an excellent job of creating Longbourn Acadmey to be a character of its own.  It often reminded me of my high school on steroids (because though I was definitely acquainted with the power of the wealthy, I got to go home at the end of the day and live in the real world).  The amount of wealth and snobbery was excellent, and I could picture the school vividly.  The setting was perfect.

My final gushing point is Eulberg's ability to rewrite a classic and yet add a new, fresh twist.  She took a timeless class love story and gave it enough small differences that it was original and yet still classic.  Though I've read Pride and Prejudice multiple times, I still laughed and found myself squealing at the fresh, new points in the story.  She adds layers to the story that make me want to use a phrase I once heard from foreign peddlars, "It's same same, but different."  And it was.  It was the same basic story, same basic characters.  But it was different.  Different and fresh setting.  Small different changes that added to my views of the characters.  Though Austen did not write a modern story or add different plot layers that Eulberg did, I found myself saying, "That's exactly like something Elizabeth would do."   Or laughing at Caroline Bingley because her characterization is completely consistent (and hilarious) with what Austen wrote.  It was same, same but different in a wonderfully perfect way.

Honestly, I loved Prom and Prejudice.  I already find myself wanting to read it again, so that I can savor the wonderful writing and ingeniousness of Elizabeth Eulberg.  I can't find anything negative to say about it, because I found it like Mary Poppins, "perfect in every way."  I would recommend it to any fan of Austen.  Frankly, I would recommend it to any female that enjoys a chick flick,  because it's like the wonderful parts of You've Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, and Pretty Women all wrapped up into one awesome read.  It will make you smile, laugh, sigh, and maybe even squeal a little bit at the wonderful love story of Lizzie Bennet and Will Darcy and their friends at Longbourn Academy.  If you have any money at all, go buy it.  It will be one that you will want an on-hand copy for every time that a stupid boy dumps you and you need a good, sweet, cute love story to eat ice cream with.  I know I for sure will be wearing out my copy of the book.
More of Prom and Prejudice and Elizabeth Eulberg:
Ok so once again, I probably went overboard with the links.  I am trying to amp up my reviews a tad, so that if you like or don't like what I have to say, you have other outlets to research the book.  Anyway, I could have had probably a hundred links on this book.  Seriously, I found so many different reviews!  But, I linked to a few bloggers that I myself stalk trust.  Also, Novel Novice featured Prom and Prejudice last month as their book of the month, so they have several incredible posts about the book.  I linked to the interviews, and then I gave you the basic site with all the other links for those who are obsessed like me.  Hope you enjoy!
Goodreads: Prom and Prejudice
Goodreads: Elizabeth Eulberg
Review: The Neverending Bookshelf
Review: Candace's Book Blog 
Review: The Story Siren
Interview: Novel Novice Part I
Interview: Novel Novice Part II
Interview: Novel Novice Part III
Book of the Month feature: Novel Novice

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely
Melissa Marr
328 pages
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

All teenagers have problems, but few of them can match those of Aislinn, who has the power to see faeries. Quite understandably, she wishes that she could share her friends' obliviousness and tries hard to avoid these invisible intruders. But one faery in particular refuses to leave her alone. Keenan the Summer King is convinced beyond all reasoning that Aislinn is the queen he has been seeking for nine centuries. What's a 21st-century girl to do when she's stalked by a suitor nobody else can see? A debut fantasy romance for the ages; superlative summer read.

My Thoughts: 
First of all, lets take a moment to admire the beautiful cover of this book.  "Ah....."  Isn't is lovely?  My first attraction to this book was the awesome cover.  I'm excited that the sequels in this series have equally awesome covers.

While I am not new to the fantasy/paranormal genre, I have to admit that this was a first reading about faeries.  While I have read descriptions of books about the Fey people, I've never been tempted to pick up one until now.  And even after reading this novel, I have to say, eh, still not my favorite paranormal creature.  I don't know.  I just found them weird.  There were so many types in the novel that I couldn't really keep them straight, couldn't really imagine them, and I really only found fondness in my heart for two of the Fey people (Donia and Evan, her guard), but I'll get to that later.

I read this one review on goodreads that started with "I love Melissa Marr but I hate Keenan."  And I have to admit that by the end of the book I was screaming, "Ahem sister friend!"  I enjoyed this book.  I just think I would have enjoyed the book if Keenan was either not in it or a completely different character.  I hated him.  He was arrogant, selfish, and completely oblivious to others.  He just rubbed me wrong.

That being said, I loved Aislinn.  I loved Seth.  I loved them together, and I loved their story.  I thought Aislinn was a great main character.  She was strong, able to think for herself, willing to admit when she needed help, and ultimately honest.  She didn't lie to Seth or to Keenan for her own benefit.  I thought she handled the massive changes happening around her very well, and she even had character - she was funny and interesting.  And I think that Seth was a perfect opposing character for her.  He was calm, the ever-present best friend, and wonderfully loyal.  He did not jump to conclusions or call her crazy.  He listened and gave her the benefit of the doubt.  What I would give to have a guy like that!  Plus, the fact that he lived in railroad cars was incredible!  I just loved him as a character.
I thought Melissa Marr did an excellent job creating a fantasy story with complicated twists.  I enjoyed the story, though it was really the characters of Aislinn and Seth that sucked me into the book.  I thought Marr's word pictures of Donia were great, and I was truly surprised by the ending and how it affected Donia, Aislinn, and Seth (sorry, I could care less about Keenan).  Donia was an incredible character that I felt was necessary, but that Ms. Marr took to a whole new level.  Instead of making her simply there, she made her beautiful, sympathetic, and lovable.  Melissa Marr's writing was incredible, and I will definitely be reading the sequel to this book.

The major drawbacks I had to this story were a few:  A) Keenan (read the above rant), B) the Fey (again, read above),  C) the flow of the story:  Really I thought the beginning of the novel was a bit slow and the ending happened too fast.  It was like she took too long building up to a plot that she did not fully explore when she got there.  I was just wanting more from the ending.  Excuse me, but I really wanted the bad guys to suffered.  But then again, my version of the book ended "early" in that I was reading on my kindle and didn't realize that the bonus content made the actual book end at 81%.  Hello, people!   I was not ready for it to be finished.  I had 19% left!

Ultimately, I gave this book a 3.5 rating.  Though I don't really like 1/2 ratings, I felt this one deserved it because I really did enjoy it more than most "good" books.  It had the makings of a great book with a few flaws, so I thought it did deserve the 3.5 rating.   I will be getting the next book in the series to read; I just might wait until the library has it as I'm not sure I'll read it twice.  I would recommend it to any YA fantasy lovers.

Calling all Gleeks!

Recently, I've become a huge fan of Twitter.  I know, it was inevitable.  Anyway, one of my favorite things about Twitter is the awesome ability to stalk follow authors.  It's pretty cool, in that often they are hilarious and fun and surprisingly down-to-earth.  Well, one of my favorite authors to follow is Sara Bennett Wealer.  She wrote this beautiful book to the left there called Rival.  It is in fact her debut novel.  I haven't had the chance to read it, but it looks incredible.  And, after reading Prom and Prejudice, which has a bit of a music sideline story, I can't wait to get my hands on Rival.  Here's the summery from Goodreads:
What if your worst enemy turned out to be the best friend you ever had?

Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.

Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.

The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.

As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?
So it looks like a great YA book, with added music intrigue, which I love.  Now, here comes the awesome part.  Sara Bennett Wealer has started a TwitterQuest to get the word out about her book Rival to Glee lovers.  Now I happen to love Glee.  The music and choreography is wonderful, and I would not be lying if I told you that I have a playlist just for Glee music.  So I personally think that Ms. Wealer's idea is brilliant.  The best part:  She's giving away prizes!  That's right, signed prizes!  Her plan: to have Twitter users combine the hashtags #Rival and #Glee in some clever way to expose the book to Glee lovers.  The times:  March 15th and March 22nd (both Tuesdays when Glee airs) from 8 pm to midnight.  She is going to follow both hashtags and enter any twitter user (once) into her drawing for numerous prize packs.  How fun is that.  Now, I unfortunately have the horrible life of a nurse, ok the horrible schedule of a nurse, and will be working both nights.  So I will be tweeting early (possibly from work, though that probably won't happen), which is why I'm advertising to you guys.  I think it's a great idea, so I thought I'd share the brilliance so you can join in too.  (And send a couple extra tweets for me...)  Hope to be reading about your twitter awesomeness when I drag myself home Wednesday AM.

Here's additional info:
Sara Bennett Wealer's blog post about it, including the twitter IDs of the Glee stars and the DL on the prize packs.
Goodreads: Rival
Goodreads: Sara Bennett Wealer

Twitter IDs (including some of my other favorite authors):
Me - @hannahmatkins
Sara Bennett Wealer - @sarabennettwealer
Sarah Dessen -@sarahdessen
Kimberly Derting - @kimberlyderting
Elizabeth Eulberg - @elizeulberg
Lisa and Laura Roecker - @landlroecker

What are you reading Monday? (7)

Ok, I just realized that it's been over four months since I've done a Reading post.  Wow.  Well, recently I've been really enjoying other book bloggers IMM and It's Monday, what are you reading posts, so I thought I'd try to be more regular on this as well.  "It's Monday, What are you reading?" is hosted by One Person's Journey through a World of Books.  "In My Mailbox" is created by Kristi at The Story Siren.  I like to use a mix of the two.  (All links provided are to the book's Goodreads page.)

Books Finished This Week:
  • Wish (Wish, 1) - Alexandra Bullen
  • Dreaming Anastasia (Dreaming Anastasia, 1) - Joy Preble
  • Prom and Prejudice - Elizabeth Eulberg
  • How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire (Love at Stake, 1) - Kerrelyn Sparks
  • Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely, 1) - Melissa Marr
New Books:
Coming Up this Week (hopefully):
  • Delirium (Daniel Palmer)
  • Baltimore Blues (Laura Lippman)
  • The Body Finder (Kimberly Derting)
  • Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) - almost half way finished, I hoped to finish it this week 
So what did everyone else get in their mailboxes and plan to read this week?  As you can see, I went on a bit of a Kindle buying spree.  But I spent $28 and got 8 books... I consider that a great buy.  Got some great books, and I can't wait to dive into them.  How about you?  Any recommendations on what I should read next?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Enquiring Minds Want to Know (15)

Each week Dollycas's Thoughts hosts the meme "Enquiring Minds Want to Know." She posts questions for us to answer each week in order for us bloggers and readers to get to know each other beyond our books.  Check out her's and others answers here.

1. Author Jessica Park commented this week on Facebook that "Naming characters takes me almost as long as it does to write the book." which led me to start thinking about names. Is there a story behind your first name?

As most of you probably know, my name is Hannah Marie.  Um, I'm not sure how my parents decided on my name.  But I do know that my name (well both of my pre-birth names) were picked from the Bible.  My parents did not find out whether they were having a boy or girl (with both of their "born" children - two adopted siblings... they already knew their genders).  So my names were Hannah or Samuel.  Interestingly, (or an old family story) my Christmas stocking was made by my grandmother before I was born, so it has two sides - Hannah and Sam.  I don't honestly know where Marie came from...

2. Do you think parents today give more thought to the names they give their children than our parents did?
oh, time out...  Isn't that an adorable picture I found?  I found it on a mother's blog.  I love it!  
Anyway....  I'm not sure it's so much that parents give more thought to the names as that they attempt/want a more original name.  My sister works in the NICU and my mom's a teacher, so I hear all kinds of stories of crazy names.  Maybe it's because I'm not a parent, but seriously, there are what, like 7 billion people in the world.  The chances that your kid will have an original, unique name are like slim-to-none.  So, when I pick out my kids names, I hope to find something pretty and something that will not make my kids hate me.  I love the idea of family names, but I'm attempting to be a good "future wife" and not pick out my names while I'm single and have no prospects for marriage/kids anytime soon (as opposed to my sister, who has at least four names picked out... uh, don't tell my brother-in-law).  :)  Mostly I just don't want my kids to hate their name.  I mean, I have a generally common name - Hannah.  There were three Hannahs and one Anna in my kindergarten class - so I became Hannah Marie.  No harm, no foul...  The only thing I hate about the name - having an association with Hannah Montana (just because I am 22 guys... don't really want to be compared to a child celebrity).

3. What is the most unusual child's name you have noticed recently?
So, probably not the most unusual name but the one that stuck out for me was: Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards).  I think it's pretty, but I have a hard time associating it with anything other than an attempt to be unique, which bugs me.  Maybe if it becomes more popular, I'll jump on the bandwagen.  However, moving to a new area of the country has introduced me to many names that I'd never heard of (but I was kindly informed that they were VERY common here):  Luella, Imogen, Jada, oh I had a long list and now I can't think of any others......  Anyway, you get the picture.

Exciting Upcoming Book Happenings!

So, as almost all of us are aware, the book blogging world is a wonderful community that loves to share our love of books.  That being said, there are several upcoming book events that I am super excited about, and I hope I will have the chance to share with you.


First up is the Spring Reading Thing 2011, hosted by the wonderful Katrina at Callapidder Days.  She also hosted the Fall Into Reading last fall that I took part in, and it was one of my favorite events.  I'm excited to have a new "challenge" in which to participate and encourage/challenge myself to get (more) into reading this spring.  The challenge will run from March 20th through June 20thHere
are the details, and I believe Katrina will be having sign ups soon.  I will be posting my participation page at some point soon (I haven't picked out my books yet!).  Anyone else joining?

The next wonderful event going on is Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-thon happening on April 9th.  This read-a-thon is hosted twice a year (spring and fall) and runs for 24 hours (duh).  During the read-a-thon, there are cheerleaders, mini-challenges, and best of all - lots of reading!  I participated in the fall as a reader, and this year I hope to take a bigger part in it (as last fast I found out about it like the day before).   It's incredibly fun.  A great way to get lots of reading done, as well as an awesome community event that makes you feel wonderful as you connect with other readers and bloggers.  Sign-ups are up here.  Plus, you can get buttons, browse through the previous event's posts, and find out more at the website here.

Are there any other spring or upcoming events happening?  Whose participating?  If you aren't, you should........

Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: Dreaming Anastasia

Dreaming Anastasia
Joy Preble
310 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

My Thoughts:  
I originally found this book a while ago on Confessions of a Bookaholic.   I believe Jessica had a guest post from Joy Preble, and I enjoyed her writing and decided to add her book to my TBR pile.  Then, when the second book in the series, Haunted, was released, Amazon had Dreaming Anastasia for FREE!  Woohoo for free ebooks!  I'm loving it, almost so much so that I may be going to an ebook-downloaders anonymous meeting soon.   I'm beginning to see a pattern with my addiction.  But, if some freak thing happens and the word is rid of all paper books, I WILL have those books to pass on to the next generation.  I never know when I might want to read something new and different.

Anyway, once again I was pleasantly surprised by my freebies (not helping my addiction though).  I have been reading Little Women of late, and I needed something a little more fast pace - a fun, quick read.  Dreaming Anastasia provided exactly that.  Fast-paced, check.   Historical intrigue, present.  Action and mystery, check and check.  I picked it up thinking I would probably enjoy it, but I had no idea how much.

First of all, I love the Anastasia story.  I've always enjoyed the thought of the impossible idea that she survived.  Plus, that Disney movie Anastasia was one of my favorites when I was a kid.  I'm excited that several young adult authors have picked up the story and added different spins to it.   Preble definitely added an unpredictable twist to the story, giving it a paranormal touch.  I had a bit of a time getting used this type of paranormal magic, mostly because I've never read anything like it.  She doesn't go much into the beginnings or explanations of the magic, which makes a slightly less believable but also adds a lot to the don't-know-what's-coming-next element.

Anne: the main character Anne cracked me up.  Preble definitely captured the essence of teenager-hood in writing of Anne in first person.  I laughed some times just because I remember saying and thinking exactly those types of things.  I enjoyed that Preble added a sense of fear and spunk to Anne.  It made her interesting, and I greatly enjoyed reading about her.

Ethan:  *sigh* oh Ethan.  Let's start with the fact that I love the name Ethan.  One of my kids may be called that one day.  I don't think it's too old-fashioned, and it seems to have an goodness in the name.  Somehow I can't picture a villain named Ethan.  Anyway.... so from his deep blue eyes to Anne's observation that he has incredibly good posture, I definitely think he was swoon worthy.  I loved him as an opposing character from Anne.  He really just made me happy all around.  His frustrations cracked me up.  His inherit desire to do what's right.  He's surprise that Anne is NOT at ALL what he was expecting.  I loved it all!  (Side note: maybe because I love Ethan so much, I really don't like the cover that has a guy's face in the shadows.  That is NOT how I pictured him.  Rude.)

Really, I read this book in two sittings (had to be broken up due to work... that pesky old thing).  I lost sleep over it.  So I guess it goes in that "worth stay up late for" category.  Preble had me at the edge of my seat the majority of the time.  I couldn't quite figure it out.  Plus, her writing was incredible.  She wrote the novel from three different first person perspectives: Anne, Ethan, and Anastasia - alternating chapters.  It added a great element to the Anne-Ethan relationship and made for a unique read.  She also added the wonderful context of not eliminating the parental relationship.  So many teenage books (especially paranormal ones, I think) either eliminate or ignore the parents.  Preble added this touch of reality, and I found that quite interesting.

Overall, I loved this novel.  I can't wait to pick up Haunting the next book in the series.  I'm so excited that there is a sequel, because it did not end the way I had it planned - so I'm hoping the ending will improve with the next book under my belt.  I loved the background story, and Preble's writing made a fun story have an excellent novel to take place in.  My only major drawback to the story was that I did not really like the magic effects.  Overall, I found it kind of weird and out there.  It only drew back from the story a little bit, so it won't keep me from recommending it and picking up the next books Preble writes.  It just wasn't my favorite. I gave it a 4 out of 5, because I really loved it (though the magic probably will keep me from rereading it again and making it an all-time favorite).  I can't wait to get more of Anne and Ethan.  I would recommend it to anyone who loves YA and paranormal/fantasy-type books.  It was definitely worth the time, and I won't think twice about shelling out some money for the next book.

More of Dreaming Anastasia and Joy Preble:
I know that it's a lot of links, seems a little overboard.  But there was a Crossroads tour that features Joy Preble, and I thought each interview was really interesting and had several different type of questions.  If you're not nerdy like me and don't think interviews and guest posts are super cool, just ignore.  
Goodreads: Dreaming Anastasia
Goodreads: Haunted
Goodreads: Joy Preble
Review: Mundie Moms
Review and Interview: Lisa and Laura Write
Guest Post: The Story Siren
Guest Post: Confessions of a Bookaholic
Interview: Confessions of a Bookaholic
Interview: Supernatural Shark
Interview and Book Trailer: The Book Swarm