Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox (46)

IMM is hosted by the wonderful Kristi at The Story Siren. Surely you know that by now :)

This is the last two weeks in books. I've been pretty slow when it comes to books, but honestly? I have so many to read that I'm okay with it. Plus, reading time has been interrupted by the time spent introducing my husband to the Harry Potter movies. He hasn't read the books, but we are halfway through The Order of the Phoenix and he can't wait for more. YAY!

Speaking of Harry Potter, I finally finished the audiobooks. MY ENTIRE SOUL IS EMPTY.

Despite not many books lately, I did score some awesomeness at Half Price Books though, as you'll see below!

For Review
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (thanks Random House & NetGalley!)

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten (thanks, Dad!)

From Half Price Books
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch
The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
The Fault in Our Stars (SIGNED!) by John Green

I've never read a JG book before (SHAME!) but I do think I'll make this one my first.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Published: Balzer + Bray (January 24, 2012)
Pages: 370
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 1
Source: ARC from publisher
GR Summary: Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's..

My Thoughts: Okay, so you know how in Titanic, some person actually counted the number of times Rose said Jack's name? (80 times. Seriously.) Everneath definitely has that same syndrome. Readers, it was excessive with the name-saying. And can you imagine people doing that in real life, readers? AWKWARD, readers. I'd probably give them one of these faces and walk away. That's just WEIRD, readers.

Anyway, when I wasn't distracted by the excessive use of Nikki Beckett's name (and variations of it: Nik, Becks, etc) I couldn't help but notice how...lifeless and depressing Nikki was as a main character. I get it. She spent a century in the Everneath (this isn't a spoiler) but COME ON. Give me a little something to fall in love with in my main character. Give me some HOPE. I feel like I needed a pick-me-up like a Disney movie after the main character made me so somber. I struggled finding something in Nikki that I could relate to.

All in all, I didn't dislike Everneath. Some aspects of the story did get on my nerves, but its redeeming factor? Jack and Jules. The boyfriend and the best friend. Jack was AWESOME. Everneath was not without its swoony moments, though they were few. Not to mention the really fun and interesting mythology. I'm conflicted as to whether or not I'll read the sequel. Everneath has the potential to be amongst a LOT of readers' favorite books of 2012. And I do seem to be in the minority with my thoughts on the book. Even though I do appreciate (and often LOVE) dark, angsty books, Everneath and I weren't a good match.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Peek at My TBR (14)

Disclaimer: these are books that I WANT to read and are on my TBR list, not books that I necessarily own (unfortunately!) And if I do have any of them on my shelf, I'll specify :)

A Peek At My TBR is a feature inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine and Books To Pine For by The Story Siren. I did WoW for awhile, but honestly, there's never only one book I'm "waiting" on. And a lot of the books that I "pine for" aren't just up-and-coming books. There's still a ton of oldies but goodies that I'm just now discovering or want to read soon, and I feel like those deserve some recognition as well as the fresh meat.

A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young
Published: June 26, 2012
Own a Copy?: Rub it in, why don't you?
Why I Want It: Well, if you know anything about me, you know that its predecessor was one of the books that I flat out lost my senses over. And by "lost my senses," I mean they came out through my tear ducts. Not even effing with you, I sat at my desk at work sobbing over the ending of A Need So Beautiful (oh, here's my review). Whenever I think of this book, I can't help but do my best Veruca Salt and stomp all over my counters singing "don't care how, I want it now."

XVI by Julia Karr
Published: January 6, 2011
Own a Copy? Yes
Why Haven't I Read It? Well, honestly? I've been a little put off by the mixed reviews. That always frightens me just a little bit. But in recent months, Lynn and Anna have expressed their love for this series and I know Truth is recently published. I love me some series and I need to expand my sci-fi horizons. Ever since finishing up Cinder, I've been looking for the next sci-fi/dystopia to sweep me off my feet.

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
Published: December 8, 2011
Own a Copy? Yes
Why Haven't I Read It? Mostly because I just got it for Christmas and it's been busy times since then. But there are so many who loved this one. It sounds like a heavy read, so I guess I will need to mentally be in the right place to read this one. But I LOVE books that make me feel and squeeze the life out of my emotions. I absolutely need to move this one up the TBR.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Ten (see: eight) Books That Deserve WAY More Attention

TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and thought up by my awesome friend Jamie. It's a freebie week, so I'm gonna use this opportunity to tell you about the books you SHOULD be reading that may have gotten lost in the hype over another book release or have been out for awhile or some reason. No matter, no matter. Because I'm telling you now! Also, you'll notice that the majority of these are series. I'm sorry, I love them.

1. Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
(My Review)
This book has been on countless TTTs or random posts of mine, but LISTEN. If you haven't read it yet, you're greatly missing out on quality characterization and thrilling storytelling. Not to mention the slow burn of ALL SLOW BURNS. The sequel keeps getting pushed back, which makes my heart sad. It's a thick read, but I read it in less than 24 hours on a day when I had school AND work, so no excuses!

2. The Morganville Vampires Series by Rachel Caine
If you haven't read my alphabetized post about why you should read this series, go HERE. But honestly. They're like crack that I'd like to slang your way.

3. Georgina Kincaid Series by Richelle Mead
We all know about her Vampire Academy series and how she likes to break our hearts. But did you know that her adult series is just as good? I mean sure, if you like love interests who are disheveled-but-cute authors with messy hair and is pretty introverted and in total awe of Georgina and GIVES HER ARCs of his books. Enough talking, please go buy these on your e-reader (the covers aren't ones you'll want flashing in public) and READ! Also, your heart will break.

4. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
I read this book way back in the beginning of my YA obsession. This is a keeper. You know, the kind that smashes your heart into a billion pieces and before you know it, you're going into work 15 minutes late because you have to reapply your makeup from crying in your car because you finished it. NO, this didn't happen to me. (Yes it did.)

5. Frost by Marianna Baer
(My Review)
OH MY GOD. The mind-screwery! The uncertainty! Guys, I could not put this one down. I was FRANTIC. If you like sweet-and-then-creepy, highly disturbing and unnerving, this is the book for you. And if you like Inception-like endings? Yep, it's got that, too.

6. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
LIBBA BRAY CAN WRITE BOOKS. Realms, magic, heartbreak and a boy. ME GUSTA. Seriously. Ask Lynn. She'll tell you of these books' wondrousness.

7. The Dark Guardian Series by Rachel Hawthorne
These are the sappiest books ever. WIth the whole soulmates thing in each and every one of them. But you guys, they are SO feel good and after-school-special that I don't even care. They're quick reads and the characters are lovable. I DEVOURED them. Plus, I'm not tired of werewolves yet.

8. Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
(My Review)
Um, wasn't there supposed to be a sequel to this one? I wish there was, because there's so much left in the story to be told. This was another "one sitting book," and it was FABULOUS. Really original story. Magic. Awesome romance.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Published: HarperTeen (January 3, 2012)
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 1
Source: Publisher


Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

My Thoughts: My thought process in the first 75 pages were repetitive variations of: "What the devil is even HAPPENING?" With all the technology and the jargon and the Aether (what IS it?) sky that kills people, I really didn't know what to think. Around the page 100ish mark, I got into the story. May I just state that I LOVE the alternative points of view? Because I did. I feel like if we just heard from Aria or Perry, there wouldn't be a fleshed-out feel of this world.

I liked the characterization in Under the Never Sky. Aria and Perry were so frigid toward another in the beginning. You know what this means: SLOW BURN. It's worth it. When the MC and her love interest are kind of afraid of one another, every little interaction becomes heightened. Such is the case. Rossi does not disappoint in the lovin' feeling department.

As much as I was confused by the technology at first: I LOVE the idea of SmartEyes. I have no idea what they actually consist of, but I like to imagine that it's like a tiny, non-stinging jellyfish that molds to your face. Also? Imagining yourself to be doing something or going somewhere and your SmartEye allowing you to do it? Uh, gimme one. Except that their SmartEyes are purely virtual. And life in Reverie is pretty isolated and sad.

Now that I've spent an entire paragraph on SmartEyes, let me say this was a fun book to read. There were cannibals, and that's pretty frightening, so there was a genuine feeling of "holy heck they could actually die at ANY MINUTE." The odds were against Perry and Aria on their mission to get Aria back to Reverie. Not to mention THE SKY. Is it a chemical? Is it electricity? Whatever it is, it can kill people. This entire book is a minefield!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Peek at My TBR (13)

Disclaimer: these are books that I WANT to read and are on my TBR list, not books that I necessarily own (unfortunately!) And if I do have any of them on my shelf, I'll specify :)

A Peek At My TBR is a feature inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine and Books To Pine For by The Story Siren. I did WoW for awhile, but honestly, there's never only one book I'm "waiting" on. And a lot of the books that I "pine for" aren't just up-and-coming books. There's still a ton of oldies but goodies that I'm just now discovering or want to read soon, and I feel like those deserve some recognition as well as the fresh meat.

WOW. I haven't done one of these since...JULY. Why the heck not? Because I love featuring books that I plan on reading sometime before I die. Since there are about a million of them. But here are three.

Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready
Published: May 1, 2012
Why I Want It: Duh. I really don't even need an explanation for this, if you've ever read my reviews of Shade and Shift. Shine has the potential to be the best yet. I thought Shade was unbeatable until I read Shift. Now I think that Shift will be unbeatable, but JSR is so unfathomably gangster that she'll likely rip my heart out and drain my tear ducts dry with the conclusion of (HANDS DOWN!) one of the very best YA series out there.

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Published: February 22, 2011
Own a Copy?: Yes, the hardcover.
Why Haven't I Read It?: I've had this book since RELEASE DAY. And I love the paperback cover so much better, despite the half-faced girl. She has awesome hair and, girl, WHERE did you get that lipstick? I don't know why I haven't read it. There have been several times I've gone to pick it up, but I always come up with an excuse to read another one. At less than 300 pages, it's a quick read, so I need to make this shiz happen.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green & David Levithan
Published: April 6, 2010
Own a Copy?: Yes
Why Haven't I Read It?: You know those instances where there is so much positivity and hype surrounding a book and you've built it up so monumentally in your brain that you're afraid all will come crashing down if you crack open the spine and taint that expectation? Well there you have it. Everyone has loved this book. EVERYONE. It's supposed to be knee-slapping hilarious and LOOK AT ALL THOSE AWARDS on GoodReads. And what's all this hullabaloo about someone named Tiny Cooper?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: Amplified by Tara Kelly

Published: Henry Holt & Co (October 25, 2011)
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: Ginger (thanks, lady!)
GR Summary: When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . .

In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.

My Thoughts: This book's cover pretty much made the decision for me. The synopsis solidified my desperate need to devour this. A female rock goddess wannabe trying to make it? HELLO, PIPER PERABO IN COYOTE UGLY! (Sans the roof rockout, the bar dancing, and the sexy, Jasmine is way more awesome.)

After the first few pages, I wasn't sure what to expect. Amplified kickstarted with some parental angst and Jasmine heading off on her own. I'm so glad she does. Her dad's high-strung and there is NO room for that in a book with fishnets on the cover. Without her departure, we wouldn't be introduced to some of the most vibrant secondary characters in recent memory.

Guys, if it's anything like Tara Kelly depicted, being in a band is HARD. Know what's harder? Sexual tension with your kind-of-douche-bag, standoffish, but irresistible bass guitarist. There are onstage moments between Jasmine and Sean. MOMENTS, I say. And let's not even DISCUSS catty bitches, because they're everywhere. Fists were clenched. I loved the band dynamic, I felt so much of Jasmine's anxiety about the need to establish herself as well as be welcomed and accepted by C-Side.

I am begging all of you music fans who love a tasty little bit of tension (by "little," I mean &0&2@/0/!.!@2&!!!) to read Amplified. It's a quick read that you can easily devour in one sitting. Trust me, it'll be hard to put this bad boy aside.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


You've heard of Romantic Times, maybe? Well, I'll be there April 14, 2011 in Chicago, IL. Maybe we'll meet. I'll tell you what, though. I've never been more excited for a bookish event. Basically, I'll be meeting Jeri Smith-Ready and Rachel Caine. That's all you need to know. And really, it's all I need to know. I might hyperventilate and/or pass out.

Will you guys be there? GO REGISTER NOW.

In My Mailbox (45) - Sniffing Cat Edition

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

YAY for another awesome book week! Bo has taken a particular interest in my books this week. Apparently they smell delightful. I must concur.

For Review
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers
Life is But a Dream by Brian James
New Girl by Paige Harbison

Borrowed from Anna Reads
Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A Million Suns by Beth Revis (I guess I should get to reading Across the Universe, huh?)

(huge thanks to harperteen, netgalley, macmillan, harlequin teen, and anna!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Winter Town by Stephen Emond

Published: Little, Brown Books (December 5, 2011)
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: publisher
GoodReads Summary: Every winter, straight-laced, Ivy League bound Evan looks forward to a visit from Lucy, a childhood pal who moved away after her parent's divorce. But when Lucy arrives this year, she's changed. The former "girl next door" now has chopped dyed black hair, a nose stud, and a scowl. But Evan knows that somewhere beneath the Goth, "Old Lucy" still exists, and he's determined to find her... even if it means pissing her off.

Garden State meets Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist in this funny and poignant illustrated novel about opposites who fall in love.

My Thoughts:
This one is a hard book to peg. I feel like I don't quite know what the purpose was. Was I supposed to fall in love with the main character? Was I supposed to understand what the comics meant? Was I supposed to acknowledge this as a coming-of-age book? All of the above? You guys, I may be slap happy right now and not quite make sense but this book? I don't get it.

Don't get me wrong, I thought the writing was superb. I liked Evan. I liked Lucy. I thought the latter was a bit melodramatic and annoying at times, but together, they were sweet and endearing. I enjoyed reading about their childhood and vivid imaginations. I liked Evan's mom and grandma and understood the family dynamic. I actually had a soft spot for Lucy's father and understood that her home life was rough. The interaction between those two struck a heartfelt chord with me.

This one felt strikingly similar to Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, except where Dash and Lily's romance was thrilling and exciting, Evan and Lucy's was like rediscovering an old beat up hoodie and wearing it without shame for 5 days straight. It was comfortable and familiar and right. I was content with the ending, too. I just wanted...MORE...on all counts.

And that cover? Stunning. PAPER PUNCH SNOWFLAKES!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In My Mailbox (44)

Hey, have you entered my contest for a shot at winning 16 books?! GO FORTH.

IMM is hosted and created by Kristi at The Story Siren.

My book buying ban has FINALLY ended with the new year, meaning that I successfully bought ZERO books from like, mid-October to January 1. My husband didn't think I could do it, but I did. And honestly? It was surprisingly easy. I think that going to the bookstore becomes a habit, especially with places like Half Price Books. You never know when they're going to get an espcially amazing influx of titles. It always scares me that I'll miss it.

Naturally, I had to celebrate my accomplishments by buying some books.

The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
Banished by Sophie Littlefield
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Daimon by Jennifer L. Armentrout (nookbook)
Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout (nookbook)
Small Town Sinners by Melissa C. Walker (nookbook)
Touch by Jus Accardo (nookbook)

Tempest by Julie Cross
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

(thanks, Tara from Hobbitsies!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

16 Book Giveaway: I'm Sorry Momma, but Tonight I'm Cleaning Out My Bookshelves

Guys, my bookshelves are PACKED. Filled to the brim. And I don't often do humongous giveaways. In fact, this is probably the biggest one I've had. And ALL the books will go to one lucky person. That's right. You'll win EVERYTHING that you see below. You're doing me a favor by taking it off my hands. And you get to read a bunch of awesome books in the process. Just think of it as a thank you to my readers for putting up with me. Oh, did I mention this is INTERNATIONAL?

Oh, and if you want to help a sister spread the word, why not go ahead and tweet about this contest, hmm?

Kiss, Crush, Collide by Christina Meredith
Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Dark Eden by Patrick Carman
A Touch Morbid by Leah Clifford
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
Eve by Anna Carey
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Under the Green Hill by Laura Sullivan
The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan
Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block
The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Contest Information

Read my contest/privacy policy.

Must be 13+ to enter.

One entry per person, please.


Contest ends on January 27, 2011 at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Alecia Whitaker Graces Us with her Awesomeness.

I am happy to welcome Alecia Whitaker to Makeshift Bookmark. I loved Queen of Kentucky (my review is HERE) and Alecia was gracious enough to do a very Kentucky-centric interview with me! She even tries to ease me into country music, which is quite a feat! Welcome, Alecia and thank you so much for your time!

1. I know you’re originally from Kentucky (C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats! Right?) but now live in New York. What is the biggest difference between the two? And most importantly, do New Yorkers even know what sweet tea is?
Yes! Go Cats! We try to go to any UK game that gets near us. Last year we went to New Jersey for the Sweet Sixteen and Elite 8 games and the year before that we drove up to Syracuse to see the Cats of the John Wall era get knocked out of the tournament. That was a long and somber ride home. It was heartbreaking. And of course, we make all the Madison Sqaure Garden games.
So yeah, we try to incorporate as much "back home" stuff as we can into our life up here in Yankee-ville. I'd say the biggest difference between New York City and anywhere in Kentucky is that we don't have to drive to get around. In fact, public transportation is usually faster, cheaper, and a great place to read.
But sweet tea? Not popular. Although they have started selling it at McDonald's these days.

2. Ricki Jo -- ahem, ERICKA. Sorry! -- decides being a farm girl may not be for her and wants to be less country and more country club. Might this be something you experienced as well?
Oh for sure. There was a time in early high school when I was angry with my parents for living so far out of town. My friends would meet up at the country club or the movies and I would hear all about it at school. Social butterfly that I always was, this really tortured me. I never wanted to miss a thing! Thank goodness we didn't have Facebook. It would have really driven me batty to see all my friends "checking in" at fun locations around town while I sat at home trying to beat the Super Mario Brothers game on Nintendo.

3. Having gone through her identity crisis, what advice would Ricki Jo give to young girls who are trying to find who they are?
I think she would tell girls to take stock of what they have before they go looking for something else. She didn't regret everything about those couple of months and definitely liked a lot of the changes she made; but when she started to change on the inside, that's when she started jeopardizing real relationships and her own integrity. Ask yourself who you are changing for: If the answer is, "Myself," then that's awesome; but if it's for someone else (especially a boy), then it's likely not worth it.

4. I moved from the Chicago suburbs to Kentucky 5 years ago, but I’m still not a country music fan. Which songs do you suggest I start with to ease into the genre? (Or is it stereotypical to assume that everyone from the South is a country fan?)
Well, I didn't grow up with country music. My mamaw used to sing Hank Williams, Sr. at the top of her lungs on long car rides and I sort of thought that all country music was like that and I wasn't interested. My parents loved soft rock and top 40's. I thought that's what everybody listened to. A little Casey Casum counting down the hits and Michael Jackson all the live long day was heaven to me. But then in college, I actually roomed with a girl from the suburbs of Chicago and she loved country music and got me into it.
I like it all now, even the classic stuff, but I don't think you can go wrong with Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, or even Taylor Swift. And I am in love with George Strait. I sort of think the country music seed was originally planted when I was a freshman in high school and I flipped head over heels for a junior at the Christmas dance who told me about George Strait's "Cross My Heart". I got the cassette tape immediately and played it over and over, daydreaming and swooning over this handsome baseball player. You see, I had the intense desire to like country music because I liked the boy. I don't know if you're coming from the same place, but I doubt it. Desperate teenage love is a powerful thing. :)

5. What do you miss most about the Bluegrass state?
Space. I miss space. Oh! There's a country music song I love: "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks. In fact, you should play that song right now while you're putting together this post. Not trying to convert you, but it'd be a good musical score for The Queen of Kentucky blog stop.
Anyway, I live with my husband and 17month old in a one-bedroom apartment. Growing up on a farm, one thing we didn't have a shortage of was space. I had my own room, we had two living rooms, we had lots of closets, cabinets, and bathrooms. We didn't get leaks from the neighbors upstairs or hear peoples' loud music or screaming kids through the walls. And if we got cabin fever or felt the urge to explore, we had acres to walk or run before running into another house. I always wanted to move to an action packed city, so it's very ironic that I now long for those rolling hills and big open skies.

Alecia is ridiculously sweet and will actually be doing a signing on January 13, 2012 at Carmichaels in Louisville, KY, for any of you in the area! Thanks again, Alecia, for stopping by!

"I'll Be Your Distraction, I'll Be Your Distraction..."

...that's an Angels & Airwaves song, but seriously. I feel like every person, place, things, and vary inanimate objects are singing this to me at the top of their perhaps not-so-existant lungs at any given time while I'm reading. Maybe this is why I sit down with the mindset: "YES, I WILL READ EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY BOOKS TODAY RIGHT NOW AND IT WILL BE GLORIOUS." Wrong. Because all of a sudden, EVERYTHING seems more interesting. I hear a bird outside and I'm like "HOLY EFF, I know that song!" Then I have to put down my book and, while humming the song that I think I'm thinking about, grab my iPhone and try to reach to the darkest crevices of my mind to figure out what it is. 50 minutes later, I'm 10 games into Words with Friends, bookmarking recipes on Pinterest, and nomming on a bowl of Spaghetti-Os. It's only then I make eye-to-spine contact with my poor, abandoned book.

My Top Distractions

1. iPhone
No matter what, there is ALWAYS something that is of dire importance happening on my phone. Even right now, as I'm typing this, I'm refreshing my email and Twitter and monitoring for an alert telling me it's my move in Words with Friends (totally dominating, btw.) Whether it's a word in a book of which I need the meaning (GOOGLE!) or I need to update my page number (GOODREADS!) or ask someone's opinion about a book (TWITTER!) Not to mention I have 3 or 4 bloggers that I am incessantly texting day in and day out. I try to throw it across the room, but IT DOESN'T WORK.

2. Cats
I have the two neediest cats of all time. They love to lie right on top of me when I'm reading and shoot me looks like I am putting them through absolute TORTURE by not paying attention to or petting them at this very second continuously until they're no longer purring and asleep. But seriously, could ANYONE say no to this face?

3. Food
I don't know what it is, but I am always hungry when I'm sitting still. And if I'm not reading something on my Nook, then it's impossible to hold a book and devour a Jimmy John's sandwich using one hand for the book and one hand for the sandwich. Plus, the chewing? I CANNOT CONCENTRATE.

4. My Husband
Bless this man's heart (AND it's his birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. JEN!) but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, he is always talking to me when I'm reading. He himself is not an avid reader. More of a sports guy. Mostly a Michigan football guy. And I love when he is nicely occupied by the television and turns the volume down low to be considerate to me so we can both partake in the hobbies we enjoy and still be sitting on the same couch. But then he talks to me. I am not one who is able to hold a conversation and read at the same time. Eventually I just put down my book. (Or put in ear plugs.)

5. Noise
Piggybacking on what I just said, I cannot read unless it's in absolute silence or it's a fairly constant sound (like the heat blasting or the humidifier pumping out static-demolishing vapors). The television? OFF. Music? HELL NO. Not to mention the song will be stuck in my head and I'll end up reading the same sentence over & over until I just put it down because IT'S KILLING ME.

So what about you? What shiny and intriguing things in your life distract you from reading? How do you guys handle the daily distractions and attention whores that DEMAND that you do anything other than read? Or are you able to shut it out and focus on the more important task at hand? (And if so, PLEASE TEACH ME.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker

Published: January 2, 2012 (Poppy)
Pages: 375
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher
GoodReads Summary: Fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who would preferred to be called Ericka, thank you very much, is eager to shed her farmer's daughter roots and become part of the popular crowd at her small town high school. She trades her Bible for Seventeen magazine, buys new "sophisticated" clothes and somehow manages to secure a tenuous spot at the cool kids table. She's on top of the world, even though her best friend and the boy next door Luke says he misses "plain old Ricki Jo."

Caught between being a country girl and wannabe country club girl, Ricki Jo begins to forget who she truly is: someone who doesn't care what people think and who wouldn't let a good-looking guy walk all over her. It takes a serious incident out on Luke's farm for Ricki Jo to realize that being a true friend is more important than being popular.

My Thoughts: I started out annoyed with Ricki Jo. But then I remembered: she's 14. I was THE most annoying 14 year old in existence. And once I accepted this, I totally related to Ricki Jo. You guys, this book is PAINFULLY relatable. It hit me on a very personal level, because I WAS THAT GIRL. I was awkward and an outcast who wanted more than anything to be popular. I had no idea who I was and changed myself and the way I acted to be accepted. I was the cheerleader who wasn't that great who was in love with the boy who was out of my league, thanks to high school stereotyping.

This was such a quick read. Ricki Jo is so naive and self-involved, but that's what makes it a great book. You cringe watching her make the mistakes and bad decisions. Your heart breaks along with hers when she is ridiculed time and time again. Alecia Whitaker did such an amazing job putting that insecure, uncertain teenager girl on paper and guiding her into her own after so many pitfalls.

And can we talk about Ricki Jo's friends? Well, "friends." Bitches be trippin'. I hated them and yet SO understood why she wanted to be like them and be liked by them. And the object of her affection? UGH. I wanted to swoop in and slap her wrist for CONTINUING to confess her undying love for him even after he was so awful to her. HELLO? BEST FRIEND LUKE? Sure, he's been there forever and you guys probably picked your boogers together, but hey, he's grown up a little bit and loves who you are and wait, when did that growth spurt happen and I guess maybe he's kinda cute, probably. See? DECISION MADE. But it just wouldn't be a good book without the MC making an absolute fool out of herself before finding out that what she wants has been there all along.

I am surprised at my love for this book. I was expecting it to be all superficial and "lyk, OmG," but you guys... there is some shockingly heavy subject matter within. Not to mention a part about a dog that broke my heart and wrenched my gut. The severity of some situations balanced out the superficiality and made this a fun, heartfelt read.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Published: HarperTeen (January 31, 2012)
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 1
Source: ARC from publisher
GoodReads Summary: NEWSOUL
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

My Thoughts: Usually the whole idea of soulmates is hokey and boring and annoying. Really? Two perfect people pulled together out of 7 billion? Yeah right. But books aren't real life. They are some awesome person's imagination of what soulmates should and in Incarnate's case: THE PERFECT PLOT CENTER.

Once you get past that mesmerizing cover, you'll be introduced to Ana. Ana who is a newsoul and, instead of being reincarnated time and time again over thousands of years into different bodies, is an entirely new person. New brain. New thoughts. New SOUL (yeah, that's really the best description for it.) Everyone hates her, because they're afraid of her. Ana is pretty freaking strong for all she's put up with but eventually she peaces out and goes off on her own. Naturally, scary things try and force her to meet her demise. BUT don't worry. Because this is where Sam comes in.

OH, SAM. I would write a song that spanned 6 days time and it wouldn't be enough to fully encompass my adoration for you. He has the making of all the things that make my bookish heart fly: he's tortured. He's a musician. He probably has messy hair. And he's all secretive and introverted and has so many things he wants to say but cannot find the words for them because HE IS SO TORTURED.

The idea of reincarnation into different bodies, genders, ages? Freaked me out a little at first. But then I thought about it and it's like: it doesn't matter what age, gender, or body you have. It's all about WHO YOU ARE. And that's pretty rad.

Incarnate has everything. EVERYTHING! Dragons! Dystopia! Love! Masquerade Balls (SIGH!) Music! SAM AND ANA! Avert your eyes from this here blog and start lining up RIGHT NOW outside your local bookstore. Or set your alarm for midnight on release date so you can download IMMEDIATELY to your e-reader. You won't want to miss this.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Reading Goals

Given my new job (YAY!) I will only be working 3 days a week, third shift. Though I'm not quite accustomed to the new routine at all, I am anticipating that I will be able to read way more books this year than I've ever been able to previously.

Overall Books to Read: 125.
I finished up with 107 books last year and my goal was 100. I am pretty confident that I can read more this year.

2012 Debut Author Challenge
(The Story Siren)

I ended up reading 38 debuts this week, which is way more than I was shooting for. I'm hoping to read 50 debuts this year. I'll update this post later on the books I've read, because I'm relatively non-committal and I don't want to state in advance which books I'll read!

2012 Audiobook Challenge
(Teresa's Reading Corner)

I'd really love to read 10 audiobooks this year, though I think I'll be undershooting this one big time. I LOVE AUDIOBOOKS. I'll update this list later.

2012 Sophomore Challenge
(Chick Loves Lit)

Do you realize how many amazing books came out in 2010/2011? SO MANY. So naturally, I'm going to be signing up for the 2012 Sophomore Reading Challenge, because I will be requiring so many of these books to quench my thirst for more kissing, romance, and fade-to-black hotness. Again, the whole "non-committal" thing. I'm shooting for 10 sophomore books, I'll keep up with which books I read in 2012.

Additionally, since the world is ending on December 21, we're losing 10 days of our year, so we'd better buckle down.