Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bidding Adieu to Trixie

Okay, so hopefully at some point things will get back to normal with me. I’ve been going through an impossibly rough patch, punctuated by the loss of my vehicle several days back. Trixie, my beat up Ford Escort gave up her last gasping and choking in an intersection on Wednesday. She deserved better in her brief life, and I should have been more faithful about her oil changes. I did the best by her that I could though. She has gone on to those smoothly paved highways in the sky.

Thanks to my mother, (who truly is a saint) I once again have a functional set of wheels under me. I’ve attached a few pics of the new ride here. Not sure if I should name her or not. My son says no, and I’m just thinking on it for awhile. My new automobile is a 2001 Honda Civic.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Forget Her Nots by Amy Brecount White

Here's a blurb from Amy Brecount White's website:  When someone leaves three mystery flowers outside her dorm door,Laurel thinks that maybe the Avondale School isn’t so awful after all — until her own body starts to freak out. In the middle of her English presentation on the Victorian Language of Flowers, strange words pop into her head, and her body seems to tingle and hum. Impulsively, Laurel gives the love bouquet she made to demonstrate the language to her spinster English teacher. When that teacher unexpectedly and immediately finds romance, Laurel suspects that something — something magical — is up. With her new friend, Kate, she sets out to discover the origins and breadth of her powers by experimenting on herself and others. But she can’t seem to find any living experts in the field of flower powers to guide her. And her bouquets don’t always do her bidding, especially when it comes to her own crush, Justin. Rumors about Laurel and her flowers fly across campus, and she’s soon besieged by requests from girls — both friends and enemies — who want their lives magically transformed — just in time for prom.

It seems as though I've been reading a string of books with flowers at least mentioned in them.  Red tulips in the Immortal series, white peonies in Fallen and then this lovely little book stuffed full of gorgeous flowers.  Laurel is 14 and finds out she has the gift of Flowerspeak.  Her flowers begin making things happen in people's lives.  Laurel tries to please everyone and give them what they're asking for.  She's also dealing with the loss of her mother, dealing with the changes in her and her father's relationship and trying to navigate adolescense on her own. 

I think flowers and their meanings are such a dying art.  I love flowers and think they're just so wonderful.  Laurel has to grow to understand her gift and master it as well.  This book really moved.  It had virtually no swearing or sex.  The cover is lovely.  I say 3 1/2 roses for this one.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Here's a quick blurb from Ms. Kate's website:   There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

For me, this book was slow to get moving.  In some ways, I felt things were drawn out too long.  Luce is sent to the Sword and Cross reform school.  She has this underlying feeling she's met Daniel before.  We eventually come to find out that for hundreds of years, they've been meeting and falling in love, until Luce's demise comes again.  However, this time may be different.
Once this story did get moving, it flew and was totally amazing.  So this was kind of a hot and cold experience for me.  I will probably read the next in the series "Torment" due out September 28, 2010.  My favorite line in the book is: "Behind her reflection in the window, the sky was a rich orange-Popsicle color, broken up by thin lines of pink cloud."  I can just picture the sky from reading that line.  The cover is gorgeous!  No real sex, not much swearing.  I'll say 13 to 14 range and up.  I'll give it 3 roses.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Guy's Guide to Life by Jason Boyett

A Guy's Guide to Life - How to become a man in 224 pages or less by Jason Boyett is a book that I elected to review. It's a comprehensive book about many of the things you encounter in adolescence. It has information about everyday mundane things like shaving to the more elusive subjects like women or faith, things that aren't so easy to nail down.

This book came along at the perfect time for me. I have a 13 year old son, who does not have a father figure in his life at this time. This book has so much helpful information that comes from a guy who’s been there. I’ve always known that I can’t teach my son how to be a man. This book can help in some of the areas that I can’t. Mr. Boyett uses humor throughout the book, which was wonderful. I loved the fact that the book had the everyday simpler information such as how to shave all the way up to the tougher subjects like faith, communication or women. I think every young man could benefit from reading A Guy’s Guide to Life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

Here's a quick bit from Ms. Noel's gorgeous site:  Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him. As Ever's powers are increasing, Damen's are fading—stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life.

Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, uncovering not only the secrets of Damen's past—the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden—but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them—or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker each day...

This is the second book in the Immortals series.  The first book had me ditching out of work to finish it.  This one I read in one sitting on a Saturday.  These are books that I can really lose myself in.  I equate it to reading a People magazine instead of Time.  Ya' know what I mean.  I don't know if the first person, present tense writing draws me in, but I can become absorbed in them easily.

Ever is with Damen and things are initally going well.  Then the fly in the ointment arrives (kind of a disgusting phrase isn't it).  Things go from bad to pretty horrible.  I'm beginning to wonder if this girl...oops almost gave something away there.  Needless to say, I'm now hooked on the series, and will of course keep reading.  The cover of this one, while good, I don't think is great.  But I'll give this book 4 roses.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shiny New Award!

Thanks to the wonderful Amparo Ortiz at No Rest for the Lazy for this lovely award that she passed my way!

1) Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.

2) Share 7 things about yourself.

3) Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)

4) Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Seven things about myself:

1 - I have a goal to read 100 books this year.
2 - My favorite flower (scent wise) is the gardenia.
3 - I'm convinced bacon and donuts are foods of the gods.
4 - Despite being a Colorado native, I don't ski.
5 - I once lost a spelling bee on the word anchovy.
6 - I hate anchovies.  Just kidding, I've never tried them.
7 - I hope to travel one day.  I've never been out of the US.
Those of you I've chosen to pass this award on to are an inspiration to me.  You've given great advice or made me laugh, or just been there when I needed a word of encouragement; or all of the above.   There's even some dudes on here, because they like awards too and they need a little love sent their way sometimes.  And now here's the list of those of you I chose to pass this award on to:
TK Richardson at My Writing Masquerade
Brent & Emily at Naughty Book Kitties
Nicole at WORD for Teens
Steph Su at Steph Su Reads
Cate Woods at Words from the Woods
Shannon ODonnell at Book Dreaming
Shannon Whitney Messenger
Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books
Sara McClung at The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler
Karsten Knight
Matt Sinclair at The Elephant's Bookshelf
OfficeGirl at Tired But Writing
Kelly McDermott-Bay at Bookend Diaries
Lydia Kang at The Word Is My Oyster
Matthew at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment
Okay, so that's everyone.  Pass this little beauty on as you see fit.  :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Here’s a blurb from Ms. Bree Despain’s site: Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Someone asked me as I was reading this book what it was about, I said about this girl named Grace who’s love, Daniel, has returned, blah, blah, blah. Needless to say, I didn’t know at the time that Daniel was a werewolf. I liked the fact that the whole wolf ordeal was kept well tucked away until later in the book. I thought the fact that Grace is daughter of a pastor made for a unique interesting perspective. There aren’t many times the preacher’s kids get involved in such age old matters as the literal struggle between the divine and the damned. I also liked the tree being a prominent fixture in the story. Something living that grows and changes, as their relationship does, but it’s rooted to the past as well. It was also refreshing to have a break from the swearing and sex that seem to permeate much of the YA lit scene today. I know it’s part of reality. However, so are those kids that abstain or don’t consume alcohol or drugs. It was nice to see them get some shelf time too.  :)  I liked Daniel because he was on the verge of being a real bad boy and what girl doesn’t love that. I always knew I didn’t want an actual bad boy, just a boy who knew how to be bad enough to keep it interesting. That’s Daniel. I loved how the prodigal son story was woven within this. I’ll give this 3 ½ roses and am looking forward to the sequel, The Lost Saint, currently scheduled for release December 28, 2010. Oh and the cover of The Dark Divine is amazing! Totally <3 it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

A brief summary I took from Amazon: After losing her best friend, Ingrid, to suicide, Caitlin is completely immobilized. Unable to function, and refusing to visit a therapist, she begins the long journey to wellness alone. During this year of heart-wrenching, raw emotion, Caitlin finds Ingrid's journal, which not only reveals her descent into irreversible depression, but also serves as Caitlin's vehicle for renewed hope in the future. The book is written with honesty, revealing one's pain after the loss of a loved one. Caitlin learns, with the help of new friends and her parents, that there is life after Ingrid.—Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK

I was wondering if this book was going to be depressing. It wasn’t. The story begins after Ingrid’s death and while Ingrid plays an integral role in the story, it’s more about Caitlin grieving and coping with the loss of her best friend. I think that Caitlin comes to find that she can be her own person who’s completely different than Ingrid. She can understand Ingrid’s pain without feeling responsible for it. And ultimately, that she deserves happiness out of life. One of my favorite parts was where Caitlin after an encounter with a homeless man on the street considers this: “Instead, I imagine what would happen if everyone turned their regrets into wishes, went around shouting them. Signal lights would change at intersections, and as the people on opposite sides of the street stepped off the curbs, the would call to one another – Finish college! Exercise at least three times a week! Never start smoking! Tell your mother you love her! Wear a condom! Make peace with your brother! Don’t sign anything before you’ve met with a lawyer! Take your dog to the park! Keep in touch with your friends!”
It got me to thinking about how cool that would be. Okay, initially embarrassing, but ultimately very cool. This was a great story of healing and a journey of self-discovery, and ultimately the story of caring about someone with mental illness.  The cover was pretty and interesting with the drawings on the inside. I give this 3 roses.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

A short summary from Sarah Ockler’s site: According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

This book was such a conglomeration of emotions: happy, sad, heart-warming, funny, and even frustrating at moments. Anna was in love with the boy next door, literally. He was also her best friend’s brother. However, just as they were getting together, a tragic accident ripped them apart. Eventually we find out that Anna is not the only one with secrets to keep. She also learns that Matt is not the only one she’s mourning, but also her friendship with Frankie. It has morphed into something different and she’s trying desperately to grab onto any glimmer of what it once was.

There were little gems throughout this book about friendship, grief, and letting go. One of my favorite quotes was: “My breathing shatters, tears blur the stars in the overhead skylight, and all the old ghosts I tried to leave home float like dandelion seed wishes into our room.”

I thought this book would be a major cry fest in the end, but it wasn’t. There were wonderful images. The fun parts of friendship and the tough parts of friendship too. I LOVED the idea of sea glass and now wish I didn’t live in a land-locked state. ; ) The cover is just gorgeous.  I really liked this book and am going to give it 4 roses. There was some sex present in this book, some drinking and smoking. Minimal swearing, if at all. I say 15 or so and up.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Here is a blurb from Ms. Cashore’s website: Graceling, my debut novel, is the story of Katsa, who has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight. Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms, and none moreso than Katsa, who's expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.

In the beginning, it was tough to keep some of the characters straight. Between Randa, Raffin, and Giddon, I was a bit lost at first. I just decided to read and that I would figure it out as I went along. It didn’t take long at all. Katsa is a strong character. I love her determination. I also applaud her wanting to educate young women on defending themselves. Another thing that I love about this book was the fact that I was totally surprised at what was wrong with Po, once Katsa figured it out. Often in books, enough hints are dropped along the way, that what you’ve thought, is only confirmed. But with this I was totally taken by surprise. I love that. I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to Fire which I hear is even better. The cover is lovely as well.  I’ll give this 3 ½ roses.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Look For Me By Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn

Here’s a small blurb off of the Amazon page for this book: Cynda's mother and stepfather are travelling, leaving her with her father and his second wife in a remote inn. When a strange older man comes to stay, Cynda becomes involved in his otherworldly charm, entering a dangerous world where she becomes more alienated from her family and in deeper trouble than ever. A tense plot evolves. -- Midwest Book Review --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

This book was published in 1995. It was pre-Twilight, and yet it too is a vampire tale. Very different than Twilight though. I liked this book, so much in fact that I read it in one day. It held my attention. I liked the fact that the poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes is quoted in it, hence the title. And yes, I can totally see how a 17 year-old girl could be drawn to a man who’s 30. Especially if, said man knows the things to say to lure a girl away. I even remember when I was her age, feeling some of the emotions poor Cynda felt. I would say this book age range would be 12 and up. I’ll give it 3 roses.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Here’s a blurb from Lauren Oliver's website: Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Let me say, this book was long. I don’t mean just long, I mean loooooonnnnnngggg. The first part was so hard to get through because I truly couldn’t stand ANY of the girls. And with 80-something page chapters, it was kinda’ painful. Mainly Lindsay but the rest weren’t much better. I finally emailed a friend (who I won the book from; thanks TK!) and asked, does this girl get any nicer because if she doesn’t, I’m done. By the way, go check out TK Richardson's website if you haven't.  Her book Return the Heart is coming out soon.  Anyway, back to Before I Fall.  She assured me that about page 272, Sam was nicer. I read on. Yes, Sam got nicer, but the fact that these girls were so cruel really bothered me. I liked Kent quite a bit, but he was really the only redeeming character. I will say that the last portion of the book went rather quickly.  I was happy to see Sam getting together, albeit for a brief time, with Kent.  Thankfully, I don’t remember people being that cruel in high school. I think if they were, everyone probably would have opened a big can of whoop ass on ‘em and that would have been the end of that. Seriously though, I remember sticking up for kids who might be getting a hard time from someone. All I could think was, they’re a human being too. One could hope this book would give kids pause, before being cruel to their fellow students. While those four years seem so important at the time, they’re so quickly put to the back of the line as adult life begins. It would sad to be known as a horrible person for those four years. I give this one two and a half roses.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger

I shamelessly ripped this blurb off of Amazon: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Websites for author: http://www.kodykeplinger.com/

Now for my part – I came by this book via the YA Highway blog; it's the only ARC I've ever won. :)  I LOVE this book! I can so relate to being the Duff. In reading this, we come to learn that we all feel like the Duff at one time or another. The concept of a Duff reminds me very much of a partially written novel that I have going on right now as well. Bianca is smart, tough, and sassy. She has spent too long guarding her heart to just hand it over to a slimey womanizer. She’s got great friends that support her and look out for her. Remember that one guy in high school, the one you knew was not the nicest guy, but you just couldn’t help yourself being totally drawn in to him. Yeah, well Wesley is THAT guy. On the surface he’s not a good guy. But things are rarely only surface deep. While reading this book, I kept thinking of a saying that I’m a big fan of, “No matter where you go, there you are.” In other words, avoiding, running from, or otherwise not dealing with things, doesn’t make them go away.

Note: This book has a lot of swearing and a lot of sex! I would say about 17 and up.

This one gets four roses!

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