Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It's a great way to share what you've read, what you're reading, and what you're planning on reading.

I'm reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I've been reading it for a few weeks now, and I'm loving it. It's so hard to not neglect all of my responsibilities in order to finish this book. Even though I'm dying to find out how the Harry Potter series ends, I'm considering reading a different book after I finish this one. I just don't want the series to end yet.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Five

I've seen some Friday Five posts on other blogs that I follow, and I like the idea of highlighting some special things about your week. I start back to work today after 12 weeks of maternity leave, so I thought I'd do a special Friday Five to start out. Here are five little tidbits about my job. :-)

1. I work at a rape crisis center as a sexual assault counselor. I volunteered with the program for two years before starting an internship there. While interning, I was offered the job of Volunteer Coordinator. That was in September or 2007. In December of 2007, I was asked to also take on the responsibilities of the Legal Advocate. At this point, I was training and managing volunteers and accompanying sexual assault survivors to their legal proceedings. I was also finishing up my last year of undergrad. When I graduated in May 2008, I became a counselor and began seeing clients. I worked these three positions until August of 2010. At that time, I was made the only full-time counselor at our site.

2. I've worked with hundreds of clients over the last four years. My clients have ranged in ages from 3-60s. I have worked with men, women, and children. I have worked with wealthy clients and homeless clients. The last four years have been a living example of how sexual violence doesn't discriminate.

3. Part of my job is to accompany survivors of sexual assault to the hospital for sexual assault exams. My co-workers and I rotate weeks on-call. Being on-call can be a pain at times, especially when you're exhausted after a long day of work and get called for a medical exam just as you're heading home. Or when you're sound asleep and the phone rings at 3:00 A.M. But it's a difficult job, and someone's got to do it.

4. I'll be honest. The pay sucks. I have my Master's Degree in counseling and could be making more money elsewhere, but I'm still here. Now that I have a baby and more expenses, I will be looking for a new job that pays better. I'll be sad to leave this job, and I hope I can continue to focus on working with this population.

5. This job causes burn out easily. It's so easy to just get sick of everything pretty quickly. We work our butts off with very little recognition or thanks. It's a good thing we don't do this job for the pay or the recognition. We'd be out of luck. Before I went on maternity leave, I was what I like to call a crispy critter. I was so burnt out that I didn't want to go to work at all. It was getting harder to give my clients my undivided attention, because all I could think about were the things I'd rather be doing (reading, sleeping, eating). Now that I've had 3 months to recharge my batteries, I'm ready to go back. I hate the idea of leaving my little girl, and I would love to be able to stay at home, but I'm ready to go back. The PSU scandal has really reminded me why I do this work.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

TBR Thursday

I don't know about anyone else, but my TBR list is constantly growing. It seems like I stumble upon interesting books every day. I have my online book club, Goodreads, and book blogs to thank for this. I thought I'd share a few of my new TBR books each week. Here are a few of the ones I added this week:

This is one of those books that catches my attention with a pretty cover. The cover is very dark (literally and figuratively) and makes me think this is going to be a story of love, pain, and loss. Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London doesn't come out until May 2012, but it looks like a good books.

From Goodreads: This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.

Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters....

Smashed by Lisa Luedeke is another 2012 release. Again, the cover caught my attention, but the synopsis was what really made me add this book.

From Goodreads: Maine high school senior Katie Martin is set to win a field hockey scholarship until her life is derailed by drinking, a car accident, and an angry classmate.

This is a super short summary from Goodreads, but I like it. It's just enough to give you the gist of the story, but it doesn't give too much away. For example, we can guess that a teenager's life is drastically changed by drunk driving, but we don't know who that is. It could be the main character, Katie, or it could be the angry classmate. This is definitely a book I want to read. It seems like it will be a book with a great message to teens about the dangers of drunk driving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for? I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a wonderful husband. He is my best friend. He sees me through good times and bad. He puts up with my craziness. I'm a bit strange at times, and he has learned to accept that. We have a beautiful baby girl who is growing like a weed. I'm so grateful to have her and to know that she is healthy and happy. Her smiles and coos make my heart melt over and over again. My family is amazing. They are supportive and loving, and they just adore my little girl. I'm also thankful that I have a job to go back to after my maternity leave ends (TOMORROW! AH!), a roof over my head, and the drive to make a wonderful life for my family. Oh, and I'm also thankful for books. ;-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I Found (4)

I have the habit of buying books based on their covers. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but it's really hard not to. Pretty covers grab my attention more than plain ones. Now, if a book with a pretty cover has a boring plot summary on the back or inside jacket flap, then I don't buy it.

One particular book that I purchased because the cover caught my attention was Angels of Destruction by Keith Donohue. I can't remember when or where I bought this book, so it must have been quite some time ago.

From Goodreads: Margaret Quinn lives alone, quietly mourning the disappearance of her only child, who fled ten years earlier to join a radical student group known as the Angels of Destruction.

On a cold winter’s night, a nine-year-old girl arrives on Margaret’s doorstep, claiming to be an orphan with no place to go. This child beguiles Margaret, and together they hatch a plan to pass her off as her newly found granddaughter, Norah Quinn.

Their conspiracy is made vulnerable by Norah’s magical revelations to the children of the town, and by a lone figure shadowing the girl, who threatens to reveal the child’s true identity and purpose. Who are these strangers really? And what is their connection to the past, the Angels, and Margaret’s long-missing daughter?

When I looked this book up on Goodreads, I learned a neat little tidbit about the author. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, which isn't too far from my hometown. I thought that was really cool.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (11)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme held by Miz B at Should Be Reading. It's a great way to share what you're reading or what you're planning on reading. Here's how it works. Grab a book, open to a random page, and share two teaser sentences. Be sure to avoid posting spoilers and include the book's title and author.

My Teaser Tuesday snippet is from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

His eyes rested on Harry and his lip curled. Harry glared back, feeling a grim pleasure at the idea that he would be able to give up Potions after fifth year. - pg. 232

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It's a great way to share what you've read, what you're reading, and what you're planning on reading.

I haven't done much reading lately. November is National Novel Writing Month, and I've been busy working on my novel. The idea is to write 50,000 words during November. Your story doesn't have to be finished once you've hit 50,000, but this is a great motivation to get a nice big chunk of your novel written. I've done NaNoWriMo the last two years but didn't finish. This year looks like it might be it. Third time's the charm, I guess!

After much delay, though, I'm finally reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I've read the first three books in the series but stopped after that. Now that all of the movies are out, I feel a bit more motivated to read the books. I've seen the first three movies and can't wait to see the rest of them, but I want to read the books first. The temptation has definitely been there to just watch the movies and then read the books, but I'm afraid that will take away from the magic of the books.

I've been kicking around some ideas for what to read next. I'll probably go with the next Harry Potter book, but I have so many other books sitting on my shelves just waiting to be read. If only there were more hours in the day...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I Found (#3)

Friends and family are always commenting on my morbid taste in books. I like books about serial killers, psychological disorders, and dead bodies. When I was in high school, I actually wanted to be a medical examiner, so I love shows and books about medical examiners.

After reading the first book in the Body Farm series, I had to get the second one. I got Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass but have yet to read it. I'm starting to notice that I get all excited about books, get them, and then don't read them. This needs to stop.

From Goodreads: Anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton founded Tennessee's world-famous Body Farm—a small piece of land where corpses are left to decay in order to gain important forensic information. Now, in the wake of a shocking crime in nearby Chattanooga, he's called upon by Jess Carter—the rising star of the state's medical examiners—to help her unravel a murderous puzzle. But after re-creating the death scene at the Body Farm, Brockton discovers his career, reputation, and life are in dire jeopardy when a second, unexplained corpse appears in the grisly setting.

Accused of a horrific crime—transformed overnight from a respected professor to a hated and feared pariah—Bill Brockton will need every ounce of his formidable forensic skills to escape the ingeniously woven net that's tightening around him . . . and to prove the seemingly impossible: his own innocence.

My Thoughts: I really need to read this book. I also really need to visit the Body Farm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It's a great way to share what you've read, what you're reading, and what you're planning on reading.

I don't have a lot of time for reading with a new baby, but I still manage to get around to it. Last week, I finished Without Tess. It was a fantastic book. I just started The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks. I haven't read enough to determine how I feel about it yet. Actually, I haven't even made it through the first chapter. Hopefully, Baby H will give Mommy some downtime today to get some reading done. 

I have so many books that I want to read. I'm thinking that these books will be tackled soon:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: Without Tess

Title: Without Tess
Author: Marcella Pixley
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads: Tess and Lizzie are sisters, sisters as close as can be, who share a secret world filled with selkies, flying horses, and a girl who can transform into a wolf in the middle of the night. But when Lizzie is ready to grow up, Tess clings to their fantasies. As Tess sinks deeper and deeper into her delusions, she decides that she can’t live in the real world any longer and leaves Lizzie and her family forever. Now, years later, Lizzie is in high school and struggling to understand what happened to her sister. With the help of a school psychologist and Tess’s battered journal, Lizzie searches for a way to finally let Tess go.

My Thoughts: Fantastic. Heartbreaking. Magical. Those are just a few words to describe Without Tess. The story started out a little slow for me, but the writing began to draw me in. Tess was one of those enchanting people who others found themselves drawn to. I could feel this happening to me as I read.

Tess talked a lot about magic, and it seemed to fit her personality. She was a magical person. At first, she seemed like a child with a powerful, creative imagination. This can be refreshing, especially considering how most children nowadays are more interested in video games and the internet and rarely use their imagination. Under the surface, though, was a dangerous mental illness. This was evident in how Tess never broke from her imaginary world. She truly believed in the magical world she had created.

Without Tess was beautifully written. I loved how the poetry intertwined with the story. The poems themselves were beautiful and lyrical. The story was also an interesting spin on mental illness in children. There was very little talk of therapy, medication, or treatment. The story wasn't focused on getting Tess better. It was focused on who Tess was, which I think was what Lizzie wanted to remember most.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What I Found (#2)

This week's pick for What I Found is Conversations with the Devil by Jeff Rovin. I found this book at a discount bookstore a few years ago. Our local Borders had closed and been replaced by a Bradley's. Their selection wasn't that great, but I found this book and thought it looked interesting.

From Goodreads: New York Times bestselling author Jeff Rovin has held readers in breathless suspense with his Tom Clancy’s Op-Center novels.  He has created compelling characters with vividly rendered emotions and actions.  His page-turning thrillers have addressed questions of good and evil in our times.   Now, Rovin confronts the question of Good and Evil on the ultimate battleground.  A human soul hangs in the balance, and thousands of years of religious teachings depict only the beginning of the fight for dominion over man.   Psychologist Sarah Lynch is stunned when one of her young patients hangs himself.  Evidence reveals that Fredric had become a Satanist.  Intending to solve the puzzle of Fredric’s death, Sarah attempts to conjure the devil—surely then she will understand what the teenager was thinking. Sarah knows that belief in God and the Devil is a construct of the human mind and that people contain within them both good and evil.  Her own family is the perfect example.  Sarah’s mother is still in denial about her dead husband’s alcoholism, but acts as a wonderful grandparent to the son of the family’s live-in housekeeper.  Her alcoholic brother bounces from girlfriend to girlfriend and job to job, but is always there when Sarah needs him.  And Sarah herself?  She lost her faith more than a decade ago, during a personal crisis.  But she is dedicated to giving others the help she did not receive.  Even the nun who is Sarah’s best friend cannot break through Sarah’s shield of cynicism.  But Satan can.  The Devil himself rises in Sarah’s office, sometimes a being of dark smoke and sometimes a creature of all-too-perfect, seductive flesh.  Most disturbing is Satan’s claim that only by following him can people find real happiness.  In the Devil’s theology, God is a brutal, jealous bully.  And as God and Satan battle for Sarah’s soul, Sarah comes to believe him.  She forgets that he is the Master of Lies . . .

My Thoughts: I still think this book looks interesting, but I'm a little worried it might be a little too religious for my taste. I wouldn't say I'm eager to read it, but I'd like to read it eventually.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: The Sleepwalkers

Title: The Sleepwalkers
Author: J. Gabriel Gates
Publisher: HCI Teens
Release Date: October 3, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads: A chilling and masterfully crafted teen horror novel guaranteed to keep the pages turning, the mind reeling, and the lamp on any reader's bedside table on long after midnight.

Privileged and popular Caleb Mason is celebrating his high school graduation when he receives a mysterious, disturbing letter from his long-lost childhood playmate, Christine. Caleb and his jokester friend Bean decide to travel to his tiny hometown of Hudsonville, Florida, to find her. Upon arrival, they discover the town has taken a horrifying turn for the worse. Caleb's childhood home is abandoned and his father has disappeared. Children are going missing. The old insane asylum has reopened, and Christine is locked inside. Her mother, a witch, is consumed with madness, and Christine's long-dead twin sister whispers clues to Caleb through the static of an a.m. radio. The terrifying prophesies of the spirits are coming to pass. Sixteen clocks are ticking; sixty-six murdered souls will bring about the end of the world. As Caleb peels back layer after layer of mystery, he uncovers a truth more horrible than anything he had imagined, a truth that could only be uttered by the lips of the dead.

My Thoughts: This is one creepy book! Even though I was eager to finish, I couldn't read too late into the night without feeling uneasy. At one point, I went into my basement and felt like the sleepwalkers might come after me. Lol! It didn't take long for me to be sucked into this story. There were so many clues that Caleb followed, and I found myself trying to figure out what was going on in that small town. Twists and turns along the way kept the book fresh and exciting. I thought the writing was done well, too. Most of the books I read have a female main character, so it was refreshing to read a book with a male main character. I received this book from NetGalley to review, but I'm probably going to buy a copy. I'm thinking I'll want to read it again and again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What I Found (#1)

As I walked into our home office earlier today, I noticed that my bookcase is out of control. Books are stacked and scattered all over the place. I caught glimpses of titles that I didn't even know were there. I decided that it's time to sort through my books and rediscover the ones that have gotten lost on the shelves. I'm going to do a weekly post sharing a book that I find on my shelves that I've forgotten about. Hopefully, I'll also get around to reading them.

The first book I pulled from my bookcase was A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I've had this book for years but haven't read it. Honestly, I didn't even know what the book was about when I bought it. I just liked the cover.

While writing this post, I read the synopsis from Goodreads, and I'm really looking forward to reading this book now. I feel like I may be able to relate to the author in some ways. There's a good chance I'll be starting this book soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: Eve (Eve #1)

Title: Eve (Eve #1)
Author: Anna Carey
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads: The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

My Thoughts: The synopsis of Eve intrigued me, and the beginning of the book pulled me in. The separation of the genders and the lessons the girls were taught about men reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale. I enjoyed seeing Eve's thoughts grow and morph as she came to realize that less and less of what her teachers taught was true. She went from a submissive follower to a brave rebel. It would be difficult to realize you must question everything you've ever known, especially when you find yourself alone and running for your life.

Eve's relationship with Caleb was kind of predictable. It was like a lot of the YA books I've read recently. One of my favorite pieces of the story was how Eve became close with two young boys, Benny and Silas. She became like a mother to them, which meant a lot considering children who survived the plague were orphaned.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. The writing was easy to follow. Carey did a great job at creating and describing this new world, conveying the emotions of the characters, and showing the growth of the characters. The ending completely surprised me, and I'm eager to read the next book in the series to find out what happens to Eve, Caleb, and Arden.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Evermore (The Immortals #1)

Title: Evermore (The Immortals #1)
Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: February 2009
Source: Own
My Rating: 3/5

From Goodreads: Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch. Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste . . .

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition. He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets. Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is. Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

My Thoughts: I've been reading a lot of paranormal books lately, and I think it's starting to wear on me.  I've had Evermore for quite awhile and decided to finally read it.  After picking it up a few times before, I would put it down after just a few pages.  The synopsis interested me, but I found the book to be just okay.  It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't terrible. 

Ever was a realistic and genuine character.  Despite Ever having paranormal abilities, she was still plagued mostly by the loss of her family and the feeling that it was all her fault.  She was easy to relate to because of the "normal" teen troubles she faced.  There were a few times that I wanted to smack her for getting all worked up over Damen, but then I remembered what it was like to be a teenage girl and like a boy.

I didn't love this book, but I think that was only because I'm a little burned out on paranormal YA. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: The Awakening (Darkest Powers #2)

Title: The Awakening (Darkest Powers #2)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 2009
Source: Own
My Rating: 3/5

From Goodreads: If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl—someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment—not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I'm a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control; I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

Now I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends—a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch—and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

My Thoughts:  Quite some time has passed since I read the first book in this series.  I remember being eager to read the next one and find out what would happen to Chloe and her friends.  I have to say, though, I was a little disappointed.  The Awakening didn't excite me and keep me in suspense like the first book.  There were some developments in the next installement of the series that I found interesting, but I just felt like the story was lacking.  The relationships between Chloe and her fellow supernaturals are changing and becoming more dynamic, and this book seemed to highlight the awkward transition between strangers and close friends.  I'm hoping the third book in the series is more exciting than this one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My baby bookworm is here!

My little baby bookworm is finally here!  I had my little girl, Hailey Madison, on Thursday, September 15, 2011.  She's going to be two weeks old tomorrow!  I was due on September 12 but went past my due date (obviously).  My doctor decided to induce me because of high blood pressure.

I have never been more stressed/nervous/excited/scared in my life.  I couldn't wait to welcome my baby girl, but I was terrified that something would go wrong.  My husband was so supportive of me.  I really couldn't have done it without him.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. on September 15.  My nurse started pitocin for induction around 6:30 a.m.  My contractions started to become painful later in the morning around 9:00.  I was given a painkiller in my IV, which KNOCKED.ME.OUT.  I slept for about 3 hours.  When I woke up, my contractions were even more painful, and I was given a second dose of the painkiller.  It didn't work as  well that time, so the nurse suggested getting my epidural.  I had the epidural and was ready to welcome that numbness from the waist down that I'd heard so much about.  Wrong!

My epidural was a big fat fail.  It made my feet tingle, but I felt everything else.  It also seemed to speed labor up.  I was 5 cm dilated when I received the epidural and progressed to 9 cm in about a half hour.  The pain was excruciating!  I cried hysterically, writhed around in pain, and begged everyone to make the pain stop.

When it was finally time to push, I was so ready to be done.  Unfortunately, the painkillers I'd received earlier in the day had made me really tired.  Being really tired is not good when you have to push a human being out of you.  My contractions also started to slow down and come farther apart.  I ended up pushing for two and a half hours before I finally brought my little girl into the world.  I was so exhausted and out of it from the pain that I don't think I fully enjoyed that first moment of having her put on my belly.  When they finally handed her over to me to hold, it was amazing.  She was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  And tiny!  She was a total peanut.  Hailey was born at 6:02 p.m.  She weighed 5 lbs 15 oz and was 20 inches long.  So the big question is..."Where are the pictures?"  What's the point of talking about a baby without sharing pictures?  Here you go!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Crave

Title: Crave (The Clann #1)
Author: Melissa Darnell
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 3/5

From GoodreadsSavannah Colbert has been shunned all her life by the kids of the Clann. And when she undergoes some drastic changes after a strange illness, Savannah learns secrets about the group and about herself—dangerous secrets. For the Clann are powerful magic users, and Savannah herself is half Clann and half vampire—a forbidden, unheard of combination. Falling for Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman isn't just a bad idea—it could be deadly if anyone finds out. But her attraction to Tristan—and his to her—isn't something either of them can resist for long.

My Thoughts: Honestly, I wasn't very impressed with this book. While I thought the premise was unique, the story just fell flat for me. I love stories of forbidden loves, but this one just didn't satisfy me. The writing didn't successfully convey the desire and need between Savannah and Tristan. The author described the feelings well, but I want to feel those feelings. I've read other books with starcrossed lovers and found myself getting so wrapped up in what they're feeling that I have to take a time out to hug and kiss my husband. I also found the book to be somewhat slow and dragged out.

The storyline of a young girl who is half vampire and half witch was unique and refreshing. I really liked how the vampires in this book weren't just your typical blood-sucking monsters and had other ways to "feed." I didn't love this book, but I am curious to find out what will happen between Savannah and Tristan. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I'll read the next book in the series.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Speak

Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 2001
Source: Own
My Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads: When Melinda Sordino's friends discover she called the police to quiet a party, they ostracize her, turning her into an outcast -- even among kids she barely knows. But even worse than the harsh conformity of high-school cliques is a secret that you have to hide.

My Thoughts:  Having heard a lot about this book, I started it with high expectations. I must say that I was not disappointed. I absolutely loved this book! One of the things I liked was how the book was laid out. Given the subject matter and what happened, I felt like stretching the story out throughout an entire school year was appropriate. I don't think Melinda's story would've been done justice if it had been condensed into a matter of days or weeks.

What really made me love this book was how accurate Melinda's character seemed. Not only was she dealing with the transition into high school, but she also had to contend with the loss of her best friends, poor relationships with her parents, and a sexual assault. I felt that Anderson did a fantastic job capturing just what a person can go through after an experience like that. As a sexual assault counselor, I've worked with many Melindas. As I was reading Speak, I could picture in my mind all of those girls sitting across from me struggling with one of the most difficult parts of overcoming sexual violence: talking about it.

Something I appreciated about the story is that Melinda didn't tell anyone right away about what happened to her. It's been my experience that many people assume a sexual assault victim runs to their parents, friends, or police right away to report what has happened to them. Wrong. Many of my clients waited days, weeks, months, and even years before telling a single soul. Many of them only told by accident. I think this was an important piece to Melinda's story. Talking about sexual assault is extremely difficult, especially considering the stigma that often surrounds it. Not only was Melinda frightened, but her perpetrator was a popular guy at high school and she had been drinking. Who would believe her? Unfortunately, it's way too common for a young girl to be sexually assaulted and then accused of just being "mad" or "jealous" after reporting what has happened or accused of consenting simply because she had been drinking. I really connected with Melinda and felt sad that she had to face this alone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Wintergirls

Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: March 2009
Source: Library
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  “Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.

“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.
My Thoughts:  I've been wanting to read this book for awhile, because I found the subject matter interesting. Eating disorders are quite complex, and I think Anderson did a wonderful job at conveying that. Lia's struggle came through quite clearly through the story. I thought Anderson's writing was poetic. What seemed to make it more realistic was how Anderson expressed Lia's thoughts and emotions. Lia didn't just eat a banana, she ate a certain amount of calories. Her struggle with wanting the food and wanting to be thin was evident in the way she would imagine eating something and then quickly think about how gross it would make her. I think Anderson did a great job at capturing the complexity of anorexia and bulimia. Small details like abrasions on Cassie's finger (from purging) and the way Lia viewed her body's outline in a therapy session made the story real. This is the first book by Laurie Halse Anderson that I've read, and I'm looking forward to read more by her. It's evident that she is not only gifted at writing and telling stories but also does the research to make her stories as realistic as possible.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: For One More Day

Title: For One More Day
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: 2006
Source: Library
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  "Every family is a ghost story . . ."

Mitch Albom mesmerized readers around the world with his number one New York Times bestsellers, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Tuesdays with Morrie. Now he returns with a beautiful, haunting novel about the family we love and the chances we miss.

For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

As a child, Charley "Chick" Benetto was told by his father, "You can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy, but you can't be both." So he chooses his father, only to see the man disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence.

Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding. And he decides to take his own life.

He makes a midnight ride to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother, who died eight years earlier, is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened.

What follows is the one "ordinary" day so many of us yearn for, a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain the family secrets, and to seek forgiveness. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the astonishing things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbled pieces of his life back together.

Through Albom's inspiring characters and masterful storytelling, readers will newly appreciate those whom they love—and may have thought they'd lost—in their own lives. For One More Day is a book for anyone in a family, and will be cherished by Albom's millions of fans worldwide.

My Thoughts:  This book has touched on many emotions for me. I find myself feeling sadness, anger, and regret. Not only was I drawn into Chick's story, but I was also forced to consider my own. While reading about Chick's relationship with his mother, I thought about my relationship (if you'd call it that) with my own mother.

For 22 years, my mom was fantastic. We were close. She was devoted to taking care of my two brothers and me. When I was 22, she suddenly changed. She left my father to be with another man and turned her back on her three children. In the last three years, I've attempted to maintain a relationship with her, only to be shot down again and again. Her significant other has become her main priority, despite the fact that he's mentally abusive towards her. I finally made the difficult decision to give up on her. There are only so many times a person can be rejected by one of the people who are supposed to never reject you.

A line in For One More Day stays with me. When Chick realizes his day with his mother is drawing to an end, he becomes upset that he will lose her. His mom says, "You can't lose your mother, Charley. I'm right here." This line was like a punch in the gut for me. I wish I believed it, but I just don't. I lost my mother. Sure, she lives about 20 minutes from me, but I've lost her. She's not a part of my life anymore.

I think this book also resonated with me, because I'm mere weeks from having my first child. I have these expectations of how I'll be as a mother. I know I don't want to be like my mother has been these last few years, and I never want my daughter to feel what I have felt.

I've often wondered what it would be like to have just one more day with my mom. Not a day with her as she is now, but a day with the way she used to be. I often imagine us going out for lunch or shopping. I think of how we talked all the time, discussing the events of our days. While I know that we may someday have a relationship again, I also know that it will never be the way it was. This makes me so very sad. I wish I had that again.

For One More Day is another example of how Mitch Albom's books cut you to the core. They aren't just food for the mind, but they are food for the soul, too. I find the writing to be simple, and I think this is best, especially given the thoughts and emotions evoked from the content. The story is simple, yet so full of meaning.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Columbine

Title: Columbine
Author: Dave Cullen
Publisher: Twelve
Release Date: April 2009
Source: Own
My Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads:  Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, "Columbine" is an award-winning journalist's definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.

It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town?


"On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma City-style, and to leave 'a lasting impression on the world.' Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence--irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting 'another Columbine.'

"When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window--the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to the prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal.

"The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries, he gives the best complete account of the Columbine tragedy.

"In the tradition of Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, COLUMBINE is destined to be a classic. A close-up portrait of violence, a community rendered helpless, and police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers--an unforgettable cautionary tale for our time."

My Thoughts:  Columbine has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. After seeing rave reviews from my online book club, I decided it was time to read it. I was in middle school when the tragedy at Columbine High took place. In fact, I remember watching footage on TV after coming home from school. I remember sitting in my living room with tears running down my face as I watched what was unfolding on TV.

Columbine was so many things. It was informative, eye-opening, well-written, and well-researched. I really like that it corrected the major misconceptions fueled by the media. There was so much that the public didn't know.

The author did a fantastic job of taking the reader back to that tragic day. I felt like he allowed me to get to know the victims and their families. Some parts were gut-wrenching, as I imagined how I would've felt in that moment.

I know the main question on everyone's mind when they think of Columbine is "Why?" Everyone wants to know why Eric and Dylan went on their killing spree. Everyone wants to know why the victims were targeted. I personally don't think we'll ever know the answer to this. The only people who can provide that answer are Eric and Dylan, and we clearly won't be hearing from them. We can speculate as to what caused them to take such drastic measures, but we'll never know for sure. I feel like the research and information provided in this book gives a solid, plausible explanation for Eric and Dylan's motives. I remember thinking that blaming the Columbine tragedy on bullying, violent movies and music, and terrible parenting was too easy. I wasn't surprised at all to find that these "causes" of the attack at Columbine were easily disputed.

I don't think it's appropriate to say that I enjoyed this book, but I did appreciate the information that I gained from it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: Angel Burn

Title: Angel Burn (Angel Trilogy #1)
Author: L.A. Weatherly
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Release Date: October 2010
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  Angels are all around us: beautiful, awe-inspiring, irresistible.

Ordinary mortals yearn to catch a glimpse of one of these stunning beings and thousands flock to The Church of Angels to feel their healing touch.

But what if their potent magnetism isn't what it seems?

Willow knows she's different from other girls. And not just because she loves tinkering around with cars.

Willow has a gift. She can look into people's futures, know their dreams, their hopes and their regrets, just by touching them. But she has no idea where she gets this power from.

Until she meets Alex…

Alex is one of the few who know the truth about angels. He knows Willow's secret and is on a mission to stop her.

The dark forces within Willow make her dangerous – and irresistible.

In spite of himself, Alex finds he is falling in love with his sworn enemy.
My Thoughts:  Angel Burn was an exciting and quick read. At first, I was a bit hesitant to read it. It seemed like a lot of the other paranormal YA books that I've read recently. A girl with special powers meets a boy. He protects/saves her. They fall in love while fighting the bad guys. The end.

Despite feeling that way, I still gobbled up this book. I enjoyed the different twist on angels. The bad guys in this book weren't the typical monsters that people think of. I mean, who would think of angels as being harmful or dangerous? I certainly wouldn't. Some parts of the book were predictable, but there were still enough twists and turns to keep me wondering what was coming next.

I really liked Willow. She was a character that I could easily relate to. She wasn't your typical teenage girl, didn't care about the superficial stuff, and took her responsibility to her family very seriously. I kept forgetting that Alex and Willow were only teenagers. They seemed so much older, probably because of the lives they had lived. I thought the author did a great job at conveying this.

I found that the end of the book left me with equal parts satisfaction and curiosity. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Spellbound

Title: Spellbound
Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads:  Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

My Thoughts:  I loved this book! I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to see what would happen with Brendan and Emma. I'm such a sucker for epic romances, and I was completely sucked into the relationship between Brendan and Emma.

At first I thought the premise was a bit too familiar. Boy and girl meet and have some strange connection. One of them usually has supernatural abilities, and they have to fight some dark force to stay together.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Spellbound was different. Yes, it's a boy-meets-girl kind of story. Yes, it's a story of doomed love, but I found the supernatural aspect to be minimal. It seemed that the forces this couple fought were of the crazy teenage variety. I enjoyed the past life twist and how it was used in the story.

I thought the writing was great, especially the way Shultz described the intense feelings and interactions between Emma and Brendan. I couldn't help but hug and kiss my husband after reading this book.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Lost Voices

Title: Lost Voices
Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: July 4, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 2/5

From Goodreads:  When fourteen-year-old Luce is assaulted on the cliffs near an Alaskan village, she expects to die when she tumbles into the icy water below. Instead, she transforms into a mermaid. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch.

My Thoughts: I started out liking the premise of this story. The idea of dark, murderous mermaids intrigued me. Unfortunately, I found the book to be dull and boring. It didn't keep my attention very well. I found the girls in the story to be annoying and whiney. Their petty behaviors were true to their immaturity, but it wasn't something I enjoyed reading about.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: The Goddess Test

Title: The Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

My Thoughts:  I really enjoyed the Greek mythology twist to this book. It was definitely something new for me. I haven't read any other books like it. The story kept me engaged and interested. I was eager to see how things would play out for Kate and Henry. There was definitely a little mystery added in, and I loved it. It kept me guessing throughout the book. I also liked how everything seemed to come together and make sense by the time the book ended. I'm eager to read the next book in the series and see where the story goes.

Friday, August 5, 2011


There have been several books that I've read in the last few months but haven't posted about.  In order to save time, I've decided to do some mini-reviews to re-cap and share what I've read.

The Hunger Games Series (1-3) by Suzanne Collins

I LOVED this series!  I had heard so much about these three books and kept telling myself I'd read them eventually.  My dad bought me all three books this past Christmas, and they sat in my bookcase for months.  I finally decided to read them.  The ladies from my online book club were beginning to talk about the upcoming Hunger Games movie, and I really wanted to know what all the excitement was about.  I flew through the three books.  The premise of the story was unique and interesting.  It could have been pregnancy hormones, but I was completely wrapped up in the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.  I was totally Team Peeta.  Call me a sap, but the whole secret love he'd felt for Katniss since they were young just made me feel all warm and gooey inside.  I was really sad when the series ended, and I'm anxiously waiting for the movie.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

After reading Shiver and Linger, I was eager to read Forever and find out what would happen between Sam and Grace.  I like Maggie's writing style and loved the story of Sam and Grace.  Again, maybe pregnancy hormones are getting the best of me.  I felt the ending left quite a few unanswered questions, but for this particular story that was okay with me. 

Outbreak by Robin Cook

This isn't a book that I would typically choose, but I received it in a box of used books that a relative gave to me.  I found it to be an intense murder mystery, and the fact that there was a mysterious epidemic happening just added to my intrigue.  This book was short and quick to read, which was nice.  I read it early in my pregnancy when I was tired all of the time and had trouble finishing books.  Being able to find something that held my interest and didn't take too long to read gave me a little boost.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

This book was chosen as a monthly read for my online book club.  I thought it sounded interesting, and it wasn't a paranormal YA like I'd been starting and not finishing.  I picked it up from my library and ended up having to renew my library card, which led me to getting a super cute new library card and keychain tag with a cute little bookworm pictured on it.  Still Alice is the story of a psychology professor at Harvard who learns she has early onset Alzheimer's.  I don't know much about Alzheimer's, but I've always heard about how difficult it is for the loved ones of Alzheimer's patients to deal with the progressive memory loss.  I've tried and failed to imagine what it would be like to have my grandparents or dad forget everything about me.  Still Alice, though, shares the perspective of an Alzheimer's patient.  This was all new to me.  It was difficult to read about the pieces of Alice that faded over time, but it was definitely an eye-opener.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Tris & Izzie

Title: Tris & Izzie
Author: Mette Ivie Harrison
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release Date: 10/11/11
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads:  A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

My Thoughts:  Let me start by saying that this cover is gorgeous!  It caught my attention before I even read the book's synopsis.  Sometimes, judging a book by its cover isn't such a bad thing.  I devoured this book in a day.  Considering how little I've been reading lately, this was a great feeling.  It could just be pregnancy hormones, but I was completely wrapped up in the love story between Tris and Izzie.  I couldn't wait to see what would play out after they met in the story.  One thing that I really liked was that the author didn't draw out the main conflict in the story.  Some books just seem to go on and on, eventually losing steam.  This author kept a great pace in telling the story, which was good for me.  It kept me from becoming bored with the story.  I also liked that the story wrapped up in a way that I felt was complete.  I've read some books lately that either leave a lot unanswered or seem rushed at the end.  Harrison told a complete story that came together nicely.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: The Twisted Thread

Title: The Twisted Thread
Author: Charlotte Bacon
Publisher: Voice
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 3/5

From Goodreads:  When beautiful but aloof Claire Harkness is found dead in her dorm room one spring morning, prestigious Armitage Academy is shaken to its core. Everyone connected to school, and to Claire, finds their lives upended, from the local police detective who has a personal history with the academy, to the various faculty and staff whose lives are immersed in the daily rituals associated with it.

Everyone wants to know how Claire died, at whose hands, and more importantly, where the baby that she recently gave birth to is a baby that almost no one, except her small innermost circle, knew she was carrying.

At the center of the investigation is Madeline Christopher, an intern in the English department who is forced to examine the nature of the relationship between the school s students and the adults meant to guide them. As the case unravels, the dark intricacies of adolescent privilege at a powerful institution are exposed, and both teachers and students emerge as suspects as the novel rushes to its thrilling conclusion.

With The Twisted Thread, Charlotte Bacon has crafted a gripping and suspenseful story in the tradition of Donna Tartt s The Secret History, one that pulls back the curtain on the lives of the young and privileged.

My Thoughts:  I had been eager to read this book based on the Goodreads summary, but it took me quite awhile to get through this.  The story kept me interested, and the mystery kept me intrigued.  My biggest complaint about the book is that I felt there were too many characters.  I had trouble keeping up with them all.  At one point, I considered making a list of all of the characters to use for quick reference.  For me, that's just too much work to read a book.  At the end of the story, I could understand how all of the characters tied together, but I still felt like it was just too much.  On a more positive note, I found myself feeling like the characters in the story.  I wanted to know how Claire died, who had done it, and why.  I kept guessing who the killer was throughout the book and was pleased to find at the end that one of my first guesses was right.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: The Keening

Title: The Keening
Author: A. LaFaye
Release: April 1, 2010
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Overall: 3/5
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:  Born into a family with artistry in their fingers, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood. That is until her life is turned upside down when her mother succumbs to the influenza pandemic of 1918, which is devastating their small coastal town in Maine. With her mother gone, Lyza must protect her eccentric father, who runs the risk of being committed, especially now that he claims he’s waiting for the return of his dead wife. Can Lyza save her father and find her own path in the process?

My Thoughts:  This was an interesting story.  It was a nice change from some of the other common YA themes that I've been reading and hearing about.  I thought the book was well-written and moved at a nice pace.  There weren't too many characters or subplots.  Without giving too much away, I enjoyed how all of the details fell into place by the end of the book as we learned more about Lyza's father's claims.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: The Magnolia League

Title: The Magnolia League
Author: Katie Crouch
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 3/5

From Goodreads: After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?

As in her popular adult novels, Crouch's poignant and humorous voice shines in this seductively atmospheric story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.

My Thoughts:  I enjoyed this book.  It definitely held my interest, and I sometimes couldn't turn the page fast enough.  The premise of the story was interesting.  I did find Alex to be naive and annoying at times, but I had to remind myself that she was young and raised much differently than her new peers in Savannah.  When I began reading, I didn't realize The Magnolia League was the first book of a series.  I found myself at the end of the book with tons of unanswered questions.  Checking Goodreads reassured me that there would be another book, and I felt a little better about it.  I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Long Time, No Post

It's been quite some time since I've posted anything new here.  There are a few reasons for that.  The main reason is that I haven't been reading much at all.  I've read some books here and there, but my appetite for books was nothing like it has been in the past.  This is probably because I was too busy eating for two.  :-)

That's right.  I'm expecting my first baby this September.  My husband and I are extremely excited to welcome a baby girl.  I'm especially excited to raise a little bookworm.  We've already begun building her book collection. 

I'm finally getting my reading groove back, so I'm hoping to have lots of blogging material.  I have several reviews that I need to share, so be sure to check back here this week. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Title: Angelfire
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Release: February 15, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: YA
Pages: 453
Overall: 5/5
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:  This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

My Thoughts:  I loved this book!  I had trouble putting it down and was thoroughly disappointed when it ended.  Ellie's character is great.  She's smart and tough.  There are quite a few books out with strong female leads who fight monsters, but Ellie seemed to be the toughest (in my opinion).  When reading the action scenes, I could actually picture the fighting in my head.  Will is one of those hot male characters that can leave you drooling and wishing you had a guy just like him in your life.  I'm so eager to read the next book in the trilogy.  There seems to be so much more to come.  I'm not sure which is causing me the most suspense: what will happen with the reapers or what will happn between Ellie and Will.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lost in the River of Grass

Title: Lost in the River of Grass
Author: Ginny Rorby
Release: March 28, 2011
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 264
Overall: 2/5
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:  A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah's new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren't exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape—an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive.

Lost in the River of Grass takes on the classic survival genre using one of the country's most unique wild places as a backdrop. In this tense, character-driven thriller, Sarah must overcome prejudice and the unforgiving wilderness in a struggle to survive.
My Thoughts:  This isn't a book I would typically read, but I thought it sounded interesting and decided to take a chance on it.  I would have to say I liked the book but didn't love it.  The storyline was interesting, and I found the book teaching me things I hadn't known before.  Clearly, the author did her research about the Everglades.  I read somewhere that this book was based on her husband's experience of walking out of the Everglades.  This is probably why she did such a great job of describing the experiences of Sarah and Andy.  The pace of the story was a little slow for my taste, but I thought it was a good book overall.  Something that I really enjoyed about the book was that it wasn't a typical YA book.  Yes, Sarah struggled to fit in at school and had a crush on a boy.  Unlike many other YA's, this book focused on Sarah's feelings about herself, her doubts about herself, and her journey in overcoming those doubts.  I would definitely suggest this book to my future children.  It's a great example of how you can do anything if you set your mind to it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Raising

Title: The Raising
Author: Laura Kasischke
Release: March 15, 2011
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Age Group: Unsure
Pages: 496
Overall: 4/5
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:  Last year Godwin Honors Hall was draped in black. The university was mourning the loss of one of its own: Nicole Werner, a blond, beautiful, straight-A sorority sister tragically killed in a car accident that left her boyfriend, who was driving, remarkably—some say suspiciously—unscathed.

Although a year has passed, as winter begins and the nights darken, obsession with Nicole and her death reignites: She was so pretty. So sweet-tempered. So innocent. Too young to die.

Unless she didn’t.

Because rumor has it that she’s back.

My Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book.  It sucked me in quickly, and I couldn't seem to read it fast enough.  The author kept me on my toes, and I found myself guessing over and over what would happen next.  I liked how the author pieced together the story from the perspectives of different characters.  Nicole, the deeply missed sorority girl, had many sides to her, and it was interesting to see all of these come to light.  I also enjoyed how the author told the story of the accident a little at a time.  This book definitely had the spookiness of a ghost story and the intrigue of a mystery.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair

Title: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
Author: Elizabeth Laird
Release: April 18, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Age Group: YA
Pages: 435
Overall: 2/5
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:  In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishment—or worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door.

Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the king’s men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process.

My Thoughts:  I’ll be honest.  I had some trouble getting through this book.  Maybe I interpreted the summary wrong, but I expected the book to focus more on Maggie being accused of witchcraft.  I didn’t expect it to make up a short portion in the beginning.  I found the story to be slow.  Once I realized the book wasn’t what I had expected, I contemplated not finishing it.  It just wasn’t keeping my attention.  I wouldn’t say this is a bad book.  I have seen very good reviews by others.  It just wasn’t my kind of book.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Vespertine

I read The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell back in December.  Since today is the release date for it, I thought I'd post my review again. 

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Release Date: March 1, 2011

Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through NetGalley

In the summer of 1889, Amelia van den Broeke was sent to Baltimore to stay with relatives. Her brother facilitated this stay in hopes that Amelia would find a husband. Amelia makes friends, thanks to her welcoming cousin, and finds herself head over heels crazy for a Fourteenth, Nathaniel Witherspoon. Unfortunately, he is below her, making a marriage impossible.

While searching for a husband, Amelia discovers she has a gift. When the sun sets, she sees the future in the vespers. Initially hesitant about revealing this gift, Amelia soon finds herself doing readings for callers.

The summer had been enjoyable, that is until one of Amelia's more tragic predictions came true. Amelia then found herself being blamed and facing a much different end to ther summer than expected.

My Thoughts: I found this book to be a refreshing twist to the paranormal YA books I've read. It's not your typical vampire or werewolf story like many paranormal stories are nowadays. Don't get me wrong! I love vampire and werewolf stories, but I also like to mix it up a bit. I've never heard of anyone seeing the future in the vespers at sunset. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard the words "vespertine" or "vesper." (Clearly, I need to expand my vocabulary.)

One of my favorite things about the story was how Amelia's gift was handled. I'm so used to reading books about paranormal gifts that must be kept secret. If the public knew, that person would be shunned, experimented on, or maybe even worse. Amelia, though, was embraced in a way. The people in Baltimore were eager to meet with her and find out what the vespers held for them. It wasn't until something bad happened that everyone had a much different outlook on Amelia's gift.

Aside from the paranormal aspect of the story, I found it to be a great coming of age story. That summer was a turning point. It was the transition between childhood and womanhood, and Amelia was faced with the huge task of finding a husband. She fell in love, and of course it was a difficult love.

I really liked The Vespertine. I felt it blended historical fiction and paranormal gifts quite nicely.

Overall: 4/5

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's been awhile!

Well, it has definitely been a long time since I've posted anything new to the blog. I have good reasons, though! Lots of things have been happening on the homefront. The most exciting thing is not quite ready to be revealed yet. You'll have to wait a few more weeks for that. ;-) Unfortunately, this secret has been the biggest reason I haven't been blogging lately. In addition to my secret, I've also been sick. I had the flu really bad for awhile, and it has taken me some time to fully recover from it.

Basically, I've done more sleeping than reading in the last month or so. I think I've only read maybe 2 books. This really bums me out, because I love reading. I had also just received a lot of awesome looking books from NetGalley and was super excited to read and review them. Then my little secret came along and sidetracked those plans.

I'm starting to feel better overall, and I recently started reading Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton. It has really sucked me in, so I'm hoping it's the kickstart I need to get back on the reading wagon. I also took some time today to look over my NetGalley books. They still look so inviting. I made a list of the ones I need to read soon (in time for release dates). Unfortunately, I've missed some release dates, so I'll be reading those books when I get to them. I do have a few reviews that I need to post, so you can expect those soon.

I've still got half of the workday left and a few chores around the house before my date with Angelfire tonight. I'm hoping to finish it (or at least come really close to finishing).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Challenge Update (2)

What I Read:
Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish

Everything I Was by Corinne Demas

111 in '11 Total: 3/111
DAC 2011 Total: 1
Winter Book Challenge 2011 Total: 30
     Task: Read a book with a City, State, or Country in the Title (Savannah Grey) 5 points
     Task: Read a book by a new-to-you author (Everything I Was) 15 points

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Everything I Was

Title: Everything I Was
Author: Corinne Demas
Release: April 2011
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 264 (Hardcover)
Overall: 3/5
Source: Publisher (NetGalley)
                         Challenge: 111 in '11, WBC2011

From Goodreads:  "My walls were stripped, and all that was left in the room was a pile of boxes and my mattress propped against the wall."

So begins Irene's journey from an Upper West Side penthouse to—well, she's not entirely sure where. Irene's investment banker father is "downsized" when his company merges with another. When he can't find work, her family's lifestyle—and her socialite mother's spending—quickly catches up with them. Eventually, they're forced to move in with Irene's grandfather in the big family farmhouse upstate. But what begins as the most disastrous summer of her life takes a surprising turn when she meets a most remarkable family.

My Thoughts:  Honestly, this book wasn't what I was expecting.  When reading the synopsis from Goodreads, I expected to be reading about a spoiled rich girl turned average teen.  This wasn't the case at all.  I expected Irene to be upset about not being able to shop and have the best of everything.  Nope.  She was upset about losing her things from her room (which were put into storage), but that seemed to be more because they belonged to her and felt like home.  When it was suggested that she return to her expensive private school on scholarship, she refused.  It wasn't because she thought poorly of those on charity, but because she knew how others would think of her. 

This was a quick read for me.  The writing was simple and easy to understand.  I found the voice fit what I would expect from a 13 year old.  I liked that the author included other teenage struggles in the story, like making friends, crushes, and feeling disconnected from the parents.  Irene was easy to like, and it was hard to not root for her.  Even though the family in this story is wealthy, I could see this story being easy to relate to for any young person whose parent(s) have lost their job.  Making Irene easy to relate to instead of being a spoiled rich kid made this possible.