Friday, November 16, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Via Goodreads -
Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

My Review: 3 Stars
This is the first book chosen for our book club to read.  I didn't really want to read it at first - although given weeks to read it, I finished it 5 hours before book club - I'm glad I did.  I knew it was set in a time of great prejudice and war and I wasn't looking forward to crying - I'm a huge crybaby when it comes to books.  It's about a 12 year old Chinese boy named Henry and his friendship with 12 year old Japanese girl named Keiko.  The story takes place after Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor and Japanese-Americans are beginning to be herded into concentration camps in the United States.  Henry and Keiko's friendship is strictly prohibited by his family, who are understandably anti-Japanese.  Henry and Keiko meet while attending an all-white school and endure a lot of bullying together.  Even after Keiko is sent off to a camp with her family, Henry cannot let go of his deep connection with her.   

I think this book does a wonderful job of painting a vivid picture of what life was like for Chinese, Japanese and African American people in that era.  The details are precise and you can practically smell the food mixed with the Pacific air of Seattle.  You feel completely immersed in the culture and you learn so much more than the history books tell you.

This book also makes you think and ask yourself a lot of "what if" questions.  It made me consider/reflect on my ethnicity quite a bit and what it's like to be an American of Mexican descent.  In book club we talked a lot about what we would do differently than the characters, how we would feel standing by watching innocent families hauled away to who knows where, how we would feel if our own families were the ones being hauled off with only the belongings we could carry.  I don't think that we had to use our imaginations too much to picture living in a time of war after a devastating attack on American soil.  We lived through 9/11 after all.  That's still pretty fresh and still deeply heartbreaking.  Have Muslim people not been persecuted by fellow Americans here on American soil since the towers came down?  Muslim people who were born here on American soil and only speak English.  I bring this up because Keiko states on numerous occasions that she doesn't even speak Japanese, she was born in the United States and strictly identifies herself as an American - treated as a enemy.

I recommend that anyone with the slightest interest in history read this book.  It is a beautiful and heart-wrenching story of love, sacrifice and humanity with a lot of historical fact.  The only reason I didn't give this book more stars is because I spent the better part of it not completely invested in the story.  I only felt mildly interested in the love story, though I can count 2 times (toward the end) that my heart dropped down to my stomach by a turn of events.  Very good book that I'm sure many people fell in love with, I just wasn't one of them.  I only fell into like, but with no regrets.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I apologize.  I've neglected my blog for waaaay too long.  I have plenty of excuses, though.  It's summer time, all 4 of my kids are around and have constant needs, I had my only brother's wedding to plan for and attend in Cali, then Disneyland and the beach, then there were all my extended family obligations - reunions, birthday parties, religious gatherings and so forth.  It was life.  I let life get in the way and something had to give.  It turned out to be my blog.  I think I've only read 2-3 books since my last post.  Pathetic, I know.

But, schools about to start again and life will (hopefully) calm down to a pace I can better deal with.  I missed my constant reading and blabbing about it.  I missed all you fellow book-obsessed peeps too.  And you probably, maybe, didn't even notice I was gone!  Shame ;) 

Soooo...I'll be starting back up with a review of the book I just finished last night.  Insurgent, sequel to Divergent  by Veronica Roth.  I'm working backwards...just 'cause.

Also, I did something I didn't think I'd ever do.  I joined a book club.  The reason I didn't ever see myself joining one is because I don't like being told what to read.  In school that was fine.  But, now that I'm an adult, my time is FAR more valuable.  I didn't want to spend my precious time reading what someone else chose for me.  Especially when I already have a list of a bazillion books I have chosen for myself and chances are they won't be on the top of someone else's list.  I was also afraid of being bored with their choices.  I'm an escapist.  I have enough reality in my life and I need to spend time in someone else's brain/fantasy world.  Since there are so many genres and so many books to chose from, I was scared that all the choices would be somber and boring.  Well, my BFF and a couple of other ladies I know from church decided to join up and I caved.  The first couple of books, as I feared, are going to be tear-jerkers with some heavy material.  But, we voted and fair is fair.  My favorite genre is paranormal and dystopian YA.  LOVE IT.  But some of the others have a slight aversion this type....and that's okay.  We'll meet in the middle, right.  So, thankfully, Everneath, Divergent and Insurgent made it onto the list.  Whew!  Still, now I have to be a good sport and read the serious stuff too.  Wish me luck, I'm great at procrastinating.  I still have a few weeks to get it done, but I'm not sure how I'm gonna buckle down and read a sad book.  It's fine, I'll be fine.  Maybe I'll end up so grateful that someone made me read something I otherwise would never have picked up.  In case you're wondering what the first book assigned is, it's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  If you feel so inclined to join in and read what we're reading, feel free.

So, again, my apologies....but I did not abandon my blog...I was just on hiatus and I'm glad you didn't ditch me.  I'm back on the horse.  Let's read!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review of STARRING IN THE MOVIE OF MY LIFE by Laurel Osterkamp

Starring in the Movie of My Life by Laurel Osterkamp
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Thirty-five-year-old Samantha acts without thinking. Her heart is huge while her sense of purpose is small; she's willing to fight for those she loves, but she's never learned to fight for herself. Eighteen-year-old Melody is cold and calculating, and she's driven by the desire to better herself. As these compelling yet deeply flawed women battle for the affections of twenty-five-year-old Nathan, he becomes increasingly confused and torn between them. Nathan is Melody's English teacher, and after he saves her from being raped, she becomes attached. Melody longs for the affection she's never felt, so she involves people in her self-invented drama, making sure she is at once the star and the director. Meanwhile, Samantha is newly married to Nathan. But Samantha has hang-ups about motherhood and lingering feelings for her ex. To make sense of the world, Sam relates her life to the themes of her favorite movies, while she independently makes a documentary to jump-start her non-existent film career. Stylistically influenced by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner, Starring in the Movie of my Life is told alternately from both Samantha's and Melody's points-of-view and relates two complete yet combined stories about love, acceptance, and redemption. It speaks to our universal desire to be saved by the ones we love, and the monumental effort required to save ourselves.
My Review: 5 stars
I was pleasantly surprised by how great this book is.  Which makes me all the more happy to be a part of this book tour.  It's a smart read with great depth.  A book that you can read and enjoy and also one you can pick apart and still be thinking about days later.  It makes you think.

The story is told from 2 points of view.  Samantha is the adult married to a high school teacher and Melody is a senior in high school with an unhealthy infatuation with Samantha's husband.  The book starts out with Nathan Lindon, Samantha's husband, saving Melody from being raped by a fellow student.  Melody then decides that what she feels isn't gratitude but, romantic love.  She then develops a plan to steal him away from his wife, who she isn't very impressed with.
Although Melody and Samantha are completely different personalities, both are hugely flawed.  Just when I thought I could stand behind one and condemn the actions of the other, the character I rallied behind does something reprehensible and condemning.  Then I'm left feeling critical of all the characters.  Which makes the book so believable and realistic.  Laurel Osterkamp's characters are deeply flawed and complex.
Someone interested in psychology could spend hours dissecting the characters and the types of personalities they are.  Samantha is flighty, impulsive and has deep-rooted issues with commitment, despite being married to Nathan.  They both claim to love each other, but I'm not sure I was ever convinced.  What I mean is, I believe that they believed they loved each other, but I couldn't say I thought it really was more than convenient tolerance and mutual need.

Meanwhile, Melody is the opposite.  She is methodic, manipulative, calculating and meticulous.  She's so smart and so stupid at the same time.  Her neediness and entitlement issues are part of her downfall.  Both women weave such tangled webs and desperately look to Nathan to save them and fill the voids in their lives.  And while Nathan seems like a pretty great guy, he's fatalistically naive.

What I really valued about this book was it's honesty.  It's honesty about how flawed, vulnerable, needy and afraid people are.  It's honest about how even though people make mistakes, big and small, everyone hopes for redemption and then true happiness to follow.  It's honest about how so many people are afraid to be the real them and in turn grow tired and unable of maintaining the facade and ultimately end up hitting rock bottom.  And it's honest about owning up to your mistakes and their consequences.  You can tell that Ms. Osterkamp knows people and their natures.

Another aspect of this book I enjoyed were the steady use of movie references.  I'm a movie buff and I think I'd seen all the movies mentioned except for one, so I got it.  I understood her fascination with movies and how she used the comparisons.

All in all, this book was fantastic.  A really enjoyable read and the author has gained another fan in me.  I like to make mention in my reviews of use of profanity in my reviews and in this book the use was low.  Probably 5 words or less, but they did come up.

I'm happy to also be able to giveaway a copy of this book.  For a chance to win an ecopy of this book, simply leave a comment about this review and a winner will be chosen by use of on July 6th.
Purchase links:

Laurel Osterkamp's first novel, Following My Toes, published by PMI Books, won the 2008 National Indie Book Award for Excellence (Chick Lit category). She drew on her experiences as a high school film studies and creative writing teacher as she wrote Starring in the Movie of my Life. Currently she lives in Minneapolis with her husband, son, and daughter, and is working on her third novel

Monday, June 4, 2012

Review of JESSICA RULES THE DARK SIDE by Beth Fantaskey

Series:  Book 2 (sequel to Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side)
Synopsis via Goodreads:
It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

My Review:  4 Stars 
I thought book 1, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, was a fun read.  Really cute, not too serious.  Book 2 is similar.  If you enjoyed Jessica's first story, you'll love the second.  I did.  

Jessica and Lucius are married and completely in love.  Everything else should just be gravy, right?  Wrong.  Being royal is not the same as ruling a kingdom.  Jessica is having a lot of difficulty finding her backbone when it come to the politics and governing.  She's feeling out of place and exuding a lack of confidence.  This is a huge problem for the happy couple because they need to a majority of the Elders' votes, in order to be exalted to King and Queen.  Jessica knows that this is Lucius' rightful place - King and ruler.  But is it hers?

When Lucius is framed for the murder of an elder, she has no choice but to assert herself and take charge in his absence.  Since vampire mlaw states that blood is denied to those accused of murder, Jessica finds herself racing against the clock to find who has betrayed them and to save Lucius' from falling into a coma from blood deprivation. 

Thankfully, Jessica has her bestie, Mindy, and Lucius' mysterious cousin, Raniero.  These guys keep the spice and angst in the story.   Mindy and Raniero add comic relief, when they can.  For the most part, Jessica Rules is a more serious installment.  It's still a lighter vampire novel for the younger YA crowd, but there's a darker aspect to this one.  It's a life and death of your true love and murder kind of dark, without taking itself too seriously.

I think this is what I like best about Beth Fantaskey's stories.  There's dark content, but not in a slit-your-wrist kind of way.  She's able to separate herself from the other vampire stories by doing this, being silly and flirtatious.  Her books are fun!  She the kind of author that stands out to me, because her storytelling is so different.  I find myself laughing, biting my nails and swooning at some of the things Lucius and Raniero say.

So, if you liked the first book, definitely give the second one a try.  Just be forewarned that it's a tad darker and most of the romantic fun comes from Mindy and Raniero (since Lucius is in solitary confinement with his life on the line).   I anxiously await the sequel!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review of DRIVEN by Lisa Nowak

DRIVEN by Lisa Nowak
Full Throttle series
Synopsis via Goodreads:
The last thing on 16-year-old Jess DeLand’s wish list is a boyfriend. She’d have to be crazy to think any guy would look twice at her. Besides, there are more important things to hope for, like a job working on cars and an end to her mom’s drinking. Foster care is a constant threat, and Jess is willing to sacrifice anything to stay out of the system. When luck hands her the chance to work on a race car, she finds herself rushing full throttle into a world of opportunities—including a boy who doesn’t mind the grease under her fingernails. The question is, can a girl who keeps herself locked up tighter than Richard Petty’s racing secrets open up enough to risk friendship and her first romance?
My Review: 5+ Stars 
Lisa, you've done it again!  Driven is hands down my favorite book in the series.  Pure literary joy. I didn't think Running Wide Open could be topped.  I was wrong.  I really couldn't put this one down.  I've never given a book higher than 5 stars, but I'm throwing in a plus on this one - I loved it that much.

In book 3 of the Full Throttle series, Lisa Nowak has taken a different approach with her story.  Instead of the story being told from Cody Everett's point of view, it's now Jess DeLand's turn.  And she does not disappoint!  The story is told from her perspective as her world collides with that of  our favorite characters' from the previous books.  This is a nice change and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The story is an emotional roller coaster ride, while being heartfelt, real and relatable, the entire way through.  

Jess DeLand has it rough.  Her dad walked out when she was 8, leaving her in her mother's care.  While not an uncommon situation, this is an extreme hardship on her because her mother is an alcoholic.  Jess has endured things no child should have to ever endure.  Such as having to go to a bar, at the age of 10, and dragging her drunk mom home because her keys have been confiscated by the bartender.  Or having to cut a much needed, much deserved evening with friends short because she has to collect her mom from the police dept. after she's busted for a DUI.  Or having to work 2 jobs to help meet their basic needs because her mom can't be bothered to make it to work on time and hold down 1 job.

Luckily, Jess has skills.  Before he left, her father cultivated in her a love of automotive mechanics.  Her dream job is to work on cars, particularly racing ones.  One day, Jess get a lucky break.  She's offered the opportunity to live her dream of working on race cars . . . .  and getting paid for it.  No more flipping burgers for her.  The bonus comes as she develops real friendships for the first time in her life.  Having to hide her mom's abusive, neglectful and alcoholic tendencies has meant she could never make friends for fear her secret would be discovered and she'd end up in foster care.  But, her new  boss, teenage race car driver, Teri-Sue Cline and her younger brother Rhett, become the siblings she's never had.  What she also wasn't expecting was the attention of one Cody Everett.  After she takes a few swings at his head in a fit of rage, he can't seem to stay away from her.

Things are far from normal or easy for her.  She's trying to find balance in her life, and it's proving to be a difficult task.  Especially for someone who isn't accustomed to asking for help from anyone, no matter how dire her circumstances become.

What I most enjoyed about this book, is how all my favorite characters are  incorporated into Jess' life, in addition to the new ones.  Cody's and Jess' worlds mesh perfectly and we get what we loved about the previous books with a new, equally endearing story and protagonist.  Although their relationship starts off on a hostile note, Cody and Jess compliment each other beautifully and find that they have a lot more than a love for the race track, in common.

"I understand how it is, not knowing what's gonna happen to you because your parents are too messed up to put you first." - Cody

Lisa's characters have tugged at my heartstrings since book 1.   They are lovable and endearing as well as infuriating.  I find myself wishing some of these people were real and that I was part of their inner circle.  Their devotion to each other melts my heart.  While some are selfish, flawed, and deeply troubled, others are fiercely loyal, sweet, vulnerable, dependable and sincere.  As always, both sides of humanity are displayed.  You have those who practice unconditional love and those who can't see past their own wants and desires.  They elicit a wide range of emotions from the reader.

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Lisa Nowak's.   She's easily one of my favorite authors.  She has a way of telling a wonderful, compelling story with incredible depth and humanity.  This enables her to pull the reader in and make you care as if you've become a part of her characters' family.  Her writing style is completely enjoyable.  It's easy and flows effortlessly, never distracting from the storyline.  If anyone has been on the fence about this series, I guarantee this book will seal the deal. 

You can find my reviews of  Running Wide Open HERE and Getting Sideways HERE.

Purchase links for DRIVEN:

About the author:
In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron.

Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


This year's edition of THE BOOK BLOGGER"S COOKBOOK is out and it's fabulous.  The recipes are simple enough that even someone like me can whip them together.  The reviews have been positive and this includes mine as well.  It was fun to see what fellow book bloggers, like myself, had to say about books I've read and one's I still haven't been able to get to yet.  I enjoyed reading reviews from book bloggers I currently follow and one's I'd never heard of before.  What a way to bring us together!

The books featured in this edition are:

Some of the delicious recipes you'll find in the book are:
Beignet Chess Squares
Jagged Ham
Octavian Ribs
Polite Pumpkin Custard
On the Go Ice Cream
Lumba Berry Pie
Everliving Soup
Modern Day Rootbeer Cookies
Wind-whirled Ice Cream Cake

I was immediately sold on the idea of this book.  It's genius.  Combine delicious recipes and pair them with book in the Young Adult genre.  Bloggers and readers have to eat, right?  Of course, being me, I headed straight for the dessert recipes.  The first one I tried was the On the Go Caramel Ice Cream Topping - which is the the recipe my review of WATCHED is featured in!  See my full review of Cindy M. Hogan's book HERE. 

Funny thing is, I'm not a caramel lover.  But, I really wanted to give it a try...AND it did not disappoint!  It's so delicious and my husband and 4 kids loved it.  It only has 3 simple ingredients:  bananas, brown sugar and butter.  It serves 6, which was perfect for my family size.  Thanks, Christy, for putting together such a wonderful book.  Although I haven't tried all the recipes, I will.

I love the idea of this book and what it does for people who love to try new things.  If you get the cookbook right now, it's only 0.99!  But this won't last for very long, so hurry and snatch it up!  To find out more about Christy and the incredible giveaways she's doing during her book launch visit her website HERE where you could win $200 worth of books!

Also on the tour stop today is Jennifer over at My Life with Books.  So stop by and see what she has cookin'!  And don't forget to enter Christy's GIVEAWAY!

About the author:
 My family means everything to me and I love being a wife to my amazing husband and stay at home mom to five awesome kiddos.

Reading, writing, cooking and Irish dancing make me happy. You will find a little of everything here.

I am a freelance writer and author. My articles have appeared in Feis America Magazine and DiddlyiMag. I write for my local newspaper, The Syracuse Islander, and I recently had an article accepted for the children's Friend Magazine.

I love to read books and review them.  And because I love to cook, I found a way to combine reading with eating--I guess you could call it reating!  I enjoy matching recipes to the books I read and then I blog about them both.  Last year I combined my reviews and recipes with reviews around the blogosphere and created a book.

My first book, The 2011 Book Blogger's Cookbook is now available on Amazon. The 2012 edition is slated to be published in May (if you are an author or blogger who would like to be a part of the 2012 edition, fill out this form). Currently I am working on a non-fiction book on Irish dancing, several picture books and a YA fiction that's in a rough outlining stage.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review of PRETTY AMY by Lisa Burstein Plus Author Interview

PRETTY AMY by Lisa Burstein
Synopsis via Goodreads
Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

MY REVIEW: 4 Stars  
This book took me right back to high school and the uncertainty of it all.
My initial impression of Amy is that she needs a backbone and a brain.  She's the one in the group that doesn't speak up for herself and just goes along with everything, despite what common sense tells her.  I was immediately frustrated with her character and shaking my head with each page turn, but the story is so well-written I became invested in her journey to (hopefully) self discoveryI had to see if she would grow from her experiences, find her voice and realize that she doesn't need the approval of others to validate her existence.  She so afraid of being obscure and overlooked - it's almost paralyzing.  There were certain aspects of her mentality that I remember sharing in high school.  Her inner voice is very real and competently translates the rawness of her pain.  You can easily feel her frustration, angst and desperation.  Amy's inner voice is candid and entertaining - among my favorites is this summation:
'In  high school you are not given a choice as to who you become, you are signed up long before that based on looks, smarts, and talent, and then corralled into your group.  The problem was, I didn't like my group.  Girls who were not popular but not dorks, either, who were not pretty but not totally disgusting.  Girls who floated somewhere in between, somewhere boring; who didn't get asked on dates, who never had to stay out past curfew, who never had to lie to their parents.'

Raw, real and honest are definitely the words that come to mind when I think of Amy's pain and sorrow.  She doesn't necessarily suffer any more than other teenagers who have parents who just don't 'get' who their children are and what they need from them.  It's that Amy is us - me and you - she embodies every teenager in one way or another.  Am I pretty?  Am I smart?  Am I worth attention?  Will anyone ever truly know me, including myself?  Who am I?

What made me care about Amy was her potential for greatness.  If she didn't have anything to look forward to in life, if she didn't have anything to offer, I wouldn't have cared what happened to her (I realize how callous that sounds).  But, she is one of those teens that, if given some guidance, reassurance, affection and self-esteem, could really go places in life.  I didn't want Amy to end up as wasted potential. 

After her arrest she needs to do some growing up.  Her parents make her find a job to pay for attorney fees, she's cut off from her supposed 'friends', and she's forced to decide if she's willing to throw her friends under the bus to save her own neck.   And let's not forget the all-important lessons of how to identify the boys who are only interested in controlling, using and discarding you from the ones who uplift and empower you.

Be warned there is a high use of profanity, instances of drug use and adult situations, so this book should be read by older teens and adults.

***You can enter to win a copy of PRETTY AMY on Goodreads here 
Buy links
Barnes and Noble

~~~~~~~INTERVIEW with Lisa Burstein~~~~~~~
*I always wonder how authors decide what to write about, where did the inspiration for Pretty Amy come from?
Most of my ideas start as things I have actually experienced.  For example in PRETTY AMY, I was arrested during my senior year of high school, not for the same reason Amy was, but that was where the kernel came from.  Usually, I will take an idea and think about how crazy I make it.  I like my books to seem like hyper-reality, because while reality is interesting, I think pushing limits is ever MORE interesting.

*Who are your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?
I love Courtney Summers, Sara Zarr, John Green and Deb Caletti, any author who is willing to be raw and real.  My favorite book of all time is A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

*What's next for you?  Any new projects in the works?
A companion novel to PRETTY AMY, titled DEAR CASSIE about the aftermath of the girls' arrest and its effect told through diary entries of Amy's best friend Cassie. 

*What were you like as a teenager?  Who were you?
I was a lot like Amy.  Just like her I had such a desire to belong, to fit in, to have people who understood me.  I wanted that so badly and I guess I never felt like adults understood that.  It was most of the reason I wrote PRETTY AMY.  If I'd had it when I was in high school I feel like I would have been able to understand my feelings better.  I wouldn't have felt so alone.  That feeling was something I never admitted to anyone, not even my friends and I wanted to let teens know it's okay to feel lonely even surrounded by friends and family.

*Do you have any special charities or causes that are near and dear to your heart?
I have a dog and two cats, so anything with animals.  We donated an old car to the Humane Society in our town.   

*Any celebrity crushes?
Leonardo Dicaprio when he was in Romeo and Juliet and Bradley Cooper.
*Shows on t.v. you don't miss?
Seinfeld, 30 Rock.  When Lost was on I was addicted.
*You're a tea seller by day, what are your favorites?
My favorite teas are Earl Grey and Jasmine Green.

*I read that you missed your senior prom.  Is there a story behind that?
I didn't go to my senior prom.  No one asked me.  I had a boyfriend at the time but he was a junior and I guess I didn't want to ask him.  There was a boy in my grade I was friends with, he was also friends with two of my good friends too and basically he was like I will take one of you to the prom.  It went on for two weeks of his trying to decide which one of us to take.  It was weird and stressful, like an episode of the bachelor before that show existed.  Guess who he picked?  The pretty one.  Some friend!

*How are you similar to Amy?  How are you different?
I would say we are both cynical and snarky.  I was also a lot like her in high school scared, unsure, lost.  Wondering if I would ever figure out who I was.  Wondering if I would ever find people who liked me for me.  Wondering if I would ever like me for me.  We are different in that I would never say some of the things she says out loud.
*Any advice/words of wisdom for teenage girls out there trying to survive high school, parents and boys?
Try to remember that even though high school can sometimes feel like a roller coaster; as Amy says, "Four years of hardship, toil, boredom and memorization; of each day feeling the happiest you think you could possibly feel and then sadder than you ever imagined," you will start to even out on the other side. 

So true, Lisa.  I love your description of the high-highs and low-lows of emotions on a daily basis.  It's a wonder any of us get out alive.

You can find Lisa ......                

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER...sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
I like how they stuck with the theme of the first book....I approve.
Plus, you can enter to win an ARC of this book on goodreads here.

 3 in Lisa Nowak's Full Throttle series.
I wouldn't mess with this chick.

CLOSED HEARTS...sequel to Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy) by Susan Kaye Quinn 2 in The Swarm Trilogy by Megg Jensen

BITTERBLUE...sequel to Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Review of DIE FOR ME by Amy Plum

DIE FOR ME by Amy Plum
Series:  Revenants book 1 
UNTIL I DIE  (Revenants #2) release date: May 8
Synopsis via Goodreads
In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.
When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

I liked this book, I really did.  Did I love it?  No, sadly, I didn't.  And I really wanted to.

I was initially drawn in by the positive reviews of this book.  Then, I saw the cover and....  well, I may have swooned.  I think I've mentioned this before, but I love a beautiful book cover.  And it's not because I think it's any real reflection of the quality of the story or the writing.  It's art.  Eye-candy.  I could probably sit for hours sifting through book covers alone on goodreads.   I had immediate cover love for this one.   There she is standing in a beautiful red dress looking down on Paris - Eiffel Tower in the distance.  So dramatic and wistful.  I decided I had to read this book and find out why she seems so forlorn
As I read, I learned that the main character's name is Kate and she's suffered a terrible loss at 16 yrs old.  She and her older sister Georgia have lost their parents in a tragic car accident and have moved to Paris from their home in the U.S., to live with their grandparents.  This is an easy transition for them, mostly.  Kate and Georgia have spent many a summer in Paris growing up and were raised speaking both English and French fluently.  They're pretty familiar with the area their grandparents live in and are accustomed to the culture.  Kate is understandably depressed and tries to escape her sorrow by burying herself in books, museums and her bedroom.  Georgia chooses a different route.  She's gonna party every night till the break of  dawn with random people to distract her from her sadness.

These two sisters couldn't be more different - even in looks.  Kate is a shy, dark-featured brunette, who has an appreciation for the arts, while Georgia is an extroverted, blond bombshell with a short attention span.  Despite their differences, they have a close sisterly bond.

Kate frequents a charming little cafe where she spends most of her day submerged in her books (she's a die-hard reader, I like that).  She only surfaces to order her hourly beverage - there's an unspoken French rule that says you can  occupy a table for as long as you want if you order a drink every hour, like paying rent on the table.  It's at this cafe that she first spots the 'devastatingly handsome and mysterious' Vincent.  

Life becomes a whirlwind of secrets, lies, danger and fear for Kate as she becomes more and more involved with Vincent.  Why? Because, technically speaking, Vincent is dead.  More specifically, he's a revenant.  And he has enemies.

What I liked about this book....

Amy Plum is a great writer.  Her descriptions, pace, the flow of the story and development of the characters are what make this book worth reading.   While we're currently inundated with stories of vampires, werewolves and faeries, Plum offers a refreshing take on the paranormal.  And the undead, for that matter.  I never would've thought someone could successfully achieve romanticizing zombies....sorry, revenants.  And having Paris as the back drop for the story certainly adds to the romantic ambience.   Her descriptions are so vivid I could almost feel cobblestone paths beneath my feet and pick up the scent of pastries wafting from the cafes.  For the most part I liked her characters, some way more than others.  I also enjoyed the playful banter between the them as they teased each other.  So the story had it's lighter moments to counteract the heavier ones.  It worked.

Why I just couldn't love this book....

I'm not sure I can pinpoint the answer to that.  I couldn't help but to notice all the similarities between DIE FOR ME and TWILIGHT.  There's the teenage girl, wise beyond her years and the much older, gorgeous, 'undead' guy who's been waiting for love and lives in a mansion with his friends-who-have-become-family.  I could go on, but I'll stop there.  I'm not so much bothered by these similarities, it's more the story's lack of Oomph! that made Twilight so great and addictive.  I liked Vincent, thought he was a nice guy, but past that, I didn't really see the draw to him.  I didn't find him tempting and irresistible - so I couldn't really understand her obsession with him.   You gotta come at me with way more than just extraordinary good looks.  Instead, you know who I was drawn to?  His sorta brother, Jules.  Now, that guy had it all - hotness, witty sense of humor, sarcasm, tenderness, sensitivity, loyalty, bravery and most of all, what an insufferable flirt.  Gimme more of him!

All in all, it was a good book and I recommend it to people who liked Twilight.  I'm a Revenants fan for sure, just not a die-hard one.  So, was it worth reading?  Yes.  Will I be reading the sequels?  Another yes.   I'm interested to find out where Amy Plum takes this.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review of TWISTED REFLECTIONS by Shay Fabbro

Series:  Book 2 in the Alexis Davenport series
Blurb via smashwords:
Alexis Davenport wants to be rid of her gift of time travel and the duty to protect the time line from an evil lunatic. When Alex travels back to ancient Egypt, she meets a fellow Traveler who can help her figure out how to use her powers to stop Drifter from altering the past. But can she learn how to control her gift before Drifter finds a way to stop her from meddling in his plans?

My Review:  4 stars
At the end of Dangerous Reflections things are starting to look up for Alex.  In Twisted Reflections, Alex finds herself putting more of the puzzle pieces - of her gift, her situation, her purpose and her adversary - together.

Alex experiences some vast improvements in her life.  She and her mom have moved out of her aunt's guesthouse and into a really snazzy place of their own, close by.  Alex is STOKED about having a large bedroom with her very own bathroom.  She has a boyfriend, she's excelling in drama/theater and she's still working in her aunt's boutique.  Those are the ups.  The downs are that she's still seeing reflections in the mirror of historical females, she's being hunted by a maniac who can time travel as well, she's being overworked in her aunt's boutique and her dad is still MIA.  All of this leaves little to no time for her to be involved with her friends and it starts wearing her down to the point of depression.  I really started to feel for her.  She can act pretty spoiled at times and throw typical teenage tantrums, but she also shoulders an extraordinary amount of responsibility.  Our history as we know it is threatened by an evil man with sinister plans.  And it seems Alexis is the only one who can stop him.  Or is she?

I didn't become as quickly caught up in Twisted Reflections as I did Dangerous Reflections.  But the last half of the book made up for it.  The last half was when I couldn't put it down.  Alex gets to inhabit the body of some really fierce, powerful women in this sequel and that was one of my favorite parts.  In the first book, she trades places with more people, but I thought the ones she got to become in this book were more exciting and interesting.  There's also the introduction of a new character who I absolutely adored.  This is all I can say without spoiling the surprise.  I'm hoping to see more of this person in book 3.  I also hope to get some more answers to some of my pressing questions like, "Why does she feel such intense connections to certain men during her jumps?" and "Why is her mom so hard on her when Alex has done nothing to warrant such restrictions?" and "Where in the world is her dad?".

One of the things I enjoy most about Shay's stories is that everyone who reads her books and follows Alex's adventures, gets a few history lessons too. You can always learn new and fascinating facts or details every time Alex makes a jump.  Even if you've never been a history buff, she finds a way to make it fun and interesting. - her history tidbits are candy-coated goodness.  As I read and gain clues from Alex about the women reflected back at her, I like to see if I can guess which era she'll be headed to, before she does.

As evidenced by the covers, the Alexis Davenport books have an innocence to them that you don't easily find in the young adult genre - especially in paranormal reads.  Her series is one that, as a mother, I can easily recommend to a younger crowd of girls than I would books like Twilight, Nightshade or Hunger Games.  This is the kind of book that offers adventure, fun, teen drama, supernatural abilities and mystery - and you don't have to feel nervous or iffy about letting your young teens read it.  There is the rare use of a swear word or two in the book, but it's in the realm of 'damn' or 'bastard' and no further.

With the events that made up the cliffhanger in Twisted Reflections, I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment.  The plot thickens!  I recommend this series for ages 12 and up. Find my review of book 1, Dangerous Reflections here.

*Be sure to visit the previous blog on her tour where she plays 20 questions with Laird Sapir and is giving away 2 signed copies of her book!

Connect with Dr. Shay Fabbro:

Shay Fabbro was born in Longmont, CO and moved to the town of Grand Junction, CO in the early 1980′s. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Mesa State College before earning her doctorate degree in Human Medical Genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO.

Dr. Fabbro currently lives in Grand Junction with her husband, Rich, and their two cats. When not writing novels, she teaches biology classes at Mesa State College. She is hard at work on the second novel in the Portals of Destiny series, Shattered Destiny, as well as a new young adult series, The Adventures of Alexis Davenport.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review of PROTECTED by Cindy M. Hogan & Giveaway

PROTECTED by Cindy M. Hogan
Series: Book 2 in the Watched series
Blurb via Goodreads:
She has the guy. The terrorists have been taken care of. She has a shot at becoming popular.
Life is great!
Until they find her.
Now she must run and leave behind everything she knows, including herself.

My Review: 5 Stars
*Warning:  Spoilerish, only if you haven't read Watched*
Christy imagined she'd get back to her life at school and be accepted by the 'in' crowd - since she did it in Washington D.C., why not?  She couldn't be more wrong.

Although Christy has been forever changed by her ordeal on the field trip - having witnessed an actual murder and been shot at and barely survived - it's hard to change the perception kids at school have of her.  Especially, when she can't breathe a word of what she's been through to anyone, not even her parents.  Since she feels so different, when she shows up to school and nothing has changed, it comes as a bit of a shock to her.  She's still being bullied by some and overlooked by the rest.

Until . . .

She gets an unexpected visitor.  Alex.  He shows up one day in a convertible - almost as smokin' as he is - and saunters his way up to her in front of the cheerleaders, and whoever else happens to be in front of the school, and plants a kiss on her guaranteed to make her, and all witnesses, weak in the knees.  Actually, let's let Christy describe it:
"Then the unthinkable happened.  He kissed me.  It wasn't just a little kiss, either.  It was one that makes you feel like you could die today and it wouldn't matter.  When he finally released me, he said, 'At last.'"

It's that perfect moment we've all imagined as teenagers.  That EVENT that finally makes the popular kids realize you're not insignificant.  It wakes them up to your existence and proclaims that you have something they should envy.  Gorgeous Alex has put Christy on the map.  Problem is, her heart says one thing and her mind says something else.  She can't seem to get them to reconcile. *Sigh*  Who among us hasn't struggled with this, am I right?

Before Christy has the chance to see what Alex's display of affection has done for her social status, they find themselves in mortal danger, once again.  This time, there's no coming back.  She's forced to leave everything she knows and loves behind and enter Witness Protection.  It's the only option if she's going to protect her family and keep herself alive.

Her life becomes unlike anything she could've ever dreamed up or imagined it would be.  She's pushed to the extremes and finds that she is capable of so much more than she thought possible.  It's a rollercoaster ride an adult would have a hard time digesting, let alone a 16 yr. old.

Cindy Hogan wrote an incredible sequel to a great book.  With Protected, she hit it so far out of the park, that ball won't be recovered anytime soon!  I was so hooked on this book, I actually kept pressing the 'next page' button on my Kindle begging it to give me more story at the end.  Christy is practically unrecognizable in this book, which is the point of Witness Protection, right?  Just as it happened in Watched, the supporting characters won me over with equal intensity as the story's heroine.

I'm recommending this series to EVERYONE.  It's a very clean read infused with action, intensity, romance and intrigue.  The profusion of twists and turns, up and downs, left me breathless.  I guarantee you will be hooked on this series by the end of Protected, if you weren't already with Watched.

I feel so lucky to be part of this blog tour.  This is a sequel that I stand firmly behind as one of the best YA books out there.  Watched was a great read. but it's sequel, Protected, surpasses it in action, adventure, suspense, romance and breathtaking moments. I'm ready to lie, cheat or steal to get my hands on the third book.  Luckily you won't have to succumb to that kind of abhorrent behavior because you can enter to win either 1 of 2 e-copies of her book or a signed paperback of both Watched AND Protected!  My review of WATCHED is here.
E-books *open international
Paperbacks *U.S. only (due to shipping costs)

50 Follower Giveaway!

Thank you, thank you and THANK YOU!  You guys have helped me reach a goal of 50 followers and made me one very happy camper/blogger.   I'm inclined to show my gratitude in a manner that we all place value on. . . .A GIVEAWAY!

So, I sat down, put my thinking cap on, thought long and hard about what I should giveaway and I took a look at my cache.  I thought about what books are H-O-T right now and what types of giveaways I find the most exciting.  I came up with this - I will make up 4 packages or options and the winner can choose which one they'd like to win.  Awesome, right?  Who doesn't like to be given choices???  Since this is a thank you to my followers, only followers are eligible to win.  Makes sense, right?  EEK, I'm excited!!
Here we go:
INSURGENT (hardcover)
WATCHED & PROTECTED (SIGNED by author in paperback)

Book 1 and 2 in the WATCHED series

THE BODY FINDER (paperback, not signed)
with swag (SIGNED bookmark and poster, wristband and THE LAST ECHO inspired nail polish)

Picture of signed swag >>>>

Enter now in the Rafflecopter below.  Do it, do it!
*This is open international ONLY for what The Book Depository will ship to you - Insurgent, The Immortal Rules (hardcovers), Watched and Protected (paperback unsigned) and The Body Finder (paperback without swag).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In The Loop

If your TBR (to be read) list is looking a little low, here are  some titles to look into.  Some are the first in a series, others are sequels.  Click on the links, peruse Goodreads, read the blurbs and see if any of these titles tickle your fancy....
Noteworthy Titles That Are Released:
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Born Wicked  by Jessica Spotswood
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Tempest by Julie Cross
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Dreaming Awake by Gwen Hayes
Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton
Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Pure by Julianna Baggot
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Partials by Dan Wells
Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr
Slide by Jill Hathaway
Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
Hunting Kat by Kelley Armstrong
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Fateful by Claudia Gray
Protected by Cindy M. Hogan
Goddess Interrupted by Amy Carter
A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

April releases:

April 3 - Grave Mercy by R.L. Lafevers
April 17 - Glimmer by Phobe Kitanidis
April 24 - Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
April 24 - The Selection by Kiera Cass