Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jen's Thoughts: Pivot Point by Kasie West


Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
 
___________________________
A little prelude to my review: I originally downloaded Pivot Point through Edelweiss, read about 75 pages and forgot about it. It wasn't a deliberate DNF, but more like a "uh oh, Jen's attention span is having one of its episodes, NEXT BOOK PLEASE" kind of thing. So, when I won a copy from Epic Reads' Tea Time for answering an Edgar Allen Poe question, I figured now would be as good a time as any to pick up where I left off. And I am glad that I did.

Highlights
  • Addie has the most awesome power in existence. Forget time travel. Forget flying (okay, let's not scratch that entirely off the list yet.) She can Search, which is to say: she can see the future of her choices and experience the ultimate consequences of her decision. Do you realize how many blunders I could've avoided throughout my idiotic teen years (and, I'll admit, my adult years. And like, yestereday) if I had such an ability?! What a fun superpower to read about!
  • Superhuman Utopian Society! And the coolest thing is? It's amongst our mundane world. They even have a football team. (Pshh, cheaters.) Makes you wonder, doesn't it? 
  • Worthwhile love interests. I know, I know. The cliche jock love interests are so yesterday, what with A.C. Slater and that boring guy from Grease whose name I forget. And the out-of-the-ordinary, yet-appealing guys are kind of overdone in today's works (though Trevor definitely has the sexy cowboy thing in his favor!) But Duke and Trevor are both sweet and fun to read about. Best thing about Pivot Point? With Addie's Searching powers, she can have both. Well, she can kind of have both.  Plus, will she make the right decision? (Come on, you know one of them had to be douchey.)
  • Kasie West really amps up the suspense toward the end. And she pulls at the heartstrings. I wasn't expecting my eyes to well up there in the end, but hey, just another benefit of Pivot Point: a considerable spectrum of emotions.
Lowlights
  • Well, there's the fact that it took me awhile to get into this book. That was off-putting. But don't fret, Pivot Point really picks up after the first 75 or so pages. (Or you could just chalk this up to my transient nit-pickity reading spells.)
  • There's a lot of Random Capitalization signifying that things are Special. I don't know why this is a pet peeve of mine. 
Wrapping it Up

Hey, I'll be the first to admit fault: I was wrong about Pivot Point. And I'm so glad that I had the chance to finish reading this awesome book. It had already expired on Edelweiss and I had no plans of purchasing, so a huge thanks to the Epic Reads ladies and Harper Teen for my copy. If you like your paranormal romances slathered with a little extra superpower sauce (and a sweet romance, to boot!) then Pivot Point is a worthwhile read that you probably shouldn't miss. Once Kasie West gets going, it's hard to stop her. 

I've Got You Covered

The girl makes me want some blunt cut, fringe bangs. FOR REALS. She kind of resembles Emma Stone, no? I am digging the snow/ice/orbs (WAIT, is there a haunting I wasn't aware of?!) that are drifting about, though I don't know if they serve a purpose other than to give off the paranormal/unknown/mystical vibe. Or maybe she encounters an epic blizzard if she makes the wrong decision. Either way, it's pretty. And I am a sucker for the pretty.

Pivot Point was published by HarperTeen on February 12, 2013.
Hardcover, 352 pages.
An ARC was provided via the publisher.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on: Meet Me at the River by Nina de Gramont



Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine


Stepsiblings Tressa and Luke, close as children, fell in love as teens, and neither the disapproval of those around them nor even Luke's death can keep them apart as long as Tressa needs him.
So what if the summary is incredibly short and the pub date is like, forever away? I have a Thing for ghost romances (Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade, anyone? Meg Cabot's Mediator series?) and this sounds like the exact book I need to sate my craving for the most impossible of impossible romances.

Expected publication date: October 15, 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jen's Thoughts: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith


Published: May 28, 2013
HarperTeen, hardcover, 400pgs
Source: e-galley from publisher
Goodreads Summary: Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:1. You will remember to water the azaleas.2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.
Things that actually happen:1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.2. He says he has her stuff.3. What stuff? Her stuff.4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—6. You pick up a pen.7. You scribble down the address.8. You get on your bike and go.9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.**also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.
Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

So, this book definitely earned the "Wild" in the title.

Highlights

  •  I loved Kiri's eccentricities. This girl talks like my brain functions: in random fragments with tangents and strange metaphors and similes. I could read her stream of consciousness all day. And she's constantly searching for beauty in everything. I LOVE HER.
  •  I love whirlwind romances and vulnerable love stories and Kiri's is SO fast and fragile that you feel it could crumble at any given moment. (And it's SO sweet and tender and perfect, just the same.)
  •  I am a huge fan of the Unknown, so the mystery factor about Kiri's sister, Sukey's, death kept me flipping the pages for more, more, more.
  • Wild Awake is not afraid to tap into drug and alcohol use, heavily. Not things I necessarily condone, but they do happen. I can appreciate the fact that Hilary T. Smith doesn't shy away from that fact.
  •  The prose. OH, THE PROSE. It's delectable. And batshiz crazy.
  • This is a story of mental illness, which took me by surprise. This is one subject that draws me in without fail. And it's a smart read, too. The portrayal of obsession is both stunning and saddening.
Lowlights

  •  It took me awhile connect with the story, but once Wild Awake picked up speed (around page 75ish), I was HOOKED.
  • ABSENTEE, IGNORANT PARENTS. And this is no fault of the authors, but seriously, guys. The out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality just kills me. I hate adults sometimes! (the author does a fabulous job of painting the picture of d-bag parents, so I commend her for it!)
  • While I enjoyed the love story, I had a hard time picturing someone Kiri described as "love-bison" to be desirable. I KNOW, guys. That's shallow. But I like to fall in love with the love interests along with the protagonist, and he was described as Hagrid-esque. HAGRID!

Wrapping it Up
So many of you are going to adore this story. My friends are going to adore this story. I can already tell this is going to be a Big Deal in the YA world. And rightfully so, because Hilary T. Smith already has me itching for her next title, and Wild Awake isn't even released yet.
Go ahead and preorder this.


Got it Covered
MAN, this looks so much like the cover of Riptide by Lindsey Schiebe, sans surfboard and beach. The more I look at it, the more it perfectly coincides with the book: the paint splatter, the general wildness of the hair-whipping. Oh, HarperTeen and your gorgeous covers.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This One Thing: I SWEAR I'll Do This Year


This One Thing is a feature where I'll be talking about, obviously, one thing. Any thing. Every thing. I love books, which is why I have this blog. But I love to talk about all kinds of crap. And this seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.

Okay, this was actually one of my resolutions this year. AND STILL IS. I managed to push myself to work out like a maniac in 2009 (before my wedding, HUZZAH!) and got in the best shape of my life. I suppose a wedding dress will motivate anyone to get their butt in gear, right? And I'll tell you what: after I got married, I LET GO.  I'd never really struggled with my weight before, so I've been pretty fortunate in that aspect, but it's all about how you feel.

I worked a desk job for five years. And after matrimonial bliss set in and I enrolled into nursing school and the cortisol levels shot through the roof, I put on about 20lbs. On my 5'4" frame, 20lbs makes a difference. And unfortunately, life is not perfect, so the weight didn't get distributed to all the BENEFICIAL body areas (can someone please find a way to make this happen?!)

So for the two years I was in nursing school, I stress ate and stress drank. I began to struggle with my weight. I was afraid to wear certain clothing because that little nagging voice was all "ew, look at your arms. And are you sure you fit into those jeans anymore? I mean, come on. You had to basically drop it like it's hot in order to squeeze them on. And WHAT DID I TELL YOU about drying your jeans?! PUT THAT SHIRT BACK, IT'S TOO TIGHT." 

And it's horribly depressing to have your brain yell at you like that. Now I'm not one of those people who believes that weight defines you. People are beautiful in all shapes and sizes. But again: I didn't feel good about myself.

GOD HELP ME

I'm at a point in my life where nursing keeps me busy. I don't sit down often. Those hospital halls? They're long. (I've been meaning to get a pedometer to scope out how many steps I take per 12 hour shift!) So, take away the desk job -- and guaranteed lunch breaks -- and I dropped all the weight I put on. 

I figure this is the perfect time to reinstate one of my previous life goals: Operation Britney Body Circa 2001.

I know you guys remember Britney Spears' famous snake dance at the VMAs. THOSE ABS. I will have them. And the best way to go about doing it? (Considering my disdain for exercise and other restrictions due to my love of, well, not moving.) Well, I'll learn from the master herself.


When I did work out, Jillian Michaels kicked my ass. Like I had to FALL into my chairs in order to sit down, because my quads were rendered useless. I want that again. The awesome thing about Jillian's workouts? They're quick. The 30 Day Shred is only 25ish minutes, which is good for those days when you want to get it done & over with quickly! The No More Trouble Zones video is about 50 minutes, but OH MAN, does it pass quickly. (This is the video I used to get into wedding shape. IT WORKED.) And the Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism video is not one that I have done very much, but this one focuses on some serious cardio. I HATE CARDIO. But I think I'll have to push myself to burn off some of the bad stuff.

Plus, I have a vacation in July that I'm looking forward to. What better time than now? It'll be nice to feel happy, healthy, and fit. 

And by the way, these are all super cheap on Amazon. If you want a fast, effective workout, I highly recommend!

Have any of these DVDs worked for you? Have you tried any others? TELL ME, because I love new ideas and new workouts will help keep things fresh for this wishy-washy work-out-er :)




Saturday, February 23, 2013

Jen's Book Haul (73)

Inspired by memes hosted by The Story Siren and Tynga's Reviews.

HEY. Make sure you enter to win The Murmurings by Carly Anne West riiiiight here.



For Review
Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald
Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
The Vow by Jessica Martinez
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young
Game by Barry Lyga
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer L. Smith
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
Harken by Kaleb Nation
thanks, NetGalley, Edelweiss, Candlewick, Little Brown, Kaleb, Simon & Schuster!

Bought
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spaulding
The Phantom of the Opera  by Gaston Leroux

Gifted/Won 
The Elite by Kiera Cass
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Shards and Ashes by Kelley Armstrong & Melissa Marr
thanks, Anna & Epic Reads!
_______________________

Let's play catch up...


Friday, February 22, 2013

Jen's Thoughts: In Honor by Jessi Kirby


Published: May 5, 2012
Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 235pgs
Source: Shanyn
Goodreads Summary: Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn’s celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her. 
Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn’s last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn . . . and ruggedly good-looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn--but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

I'm all about "coming of age" books. Not to mention "overcoming struggles" books. Jessi Kirby excels in these, from what I've experienced with Moonglass and expected no different from In Honor.

Except that In Honor features a Tim Riggins-esque character to help along the way. I'm not kidding you. This entire novel, I pictured a drunken, unshowered (but still appealing, duh) Taylor Kitsch with his plaid shirt and scrubby jeans and cowboy books, reclined, lazy, and making every single comment that Rusty made.

Honor made me cry. She was just SO SAD. And who could blame her, really? Her brother died. And sends her tickets to go see her favorite pop star across the country. This gesture was so incredibly sweet and moving that my heart really had no other choice than to break for her. So um, road trip? ROAD TRIP. Except a-hole Rusty is going, who maybe might turn out to be not such an a-hole.

I can't even describe the romance, other than it's a good one. It's slow like molasses but SEXY molasses. And don't think Kirby doesn't throw you a bone every now and again. She's not without mercy. There are MOMENTS. And they're so good, they hurt.

This is one of those books where I'm grasping tightly onto every single word written. Very much like Something Like Normal by Trish Doller, Jessi Kirby's book has an overbearing sadness to it. But there is a sliver of hope and SO MUCH GOOD in there, too. Heavy emphasis placed on the little moments: a look, a touch, a breath. Things you'd think wouldn't have much of an impact unless you experience them yourself. WRONG. Kirby has this ability to speak things into existence and I swear you can feel it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jen's Thoughts + Giveaway: The Murmurings by Carly Ann West


Published: March 5, 2013
Simon Pulse, hardcover, 384pgs
Source: publisher
GoodReads Summary: A teen girl starts hearing the same voices that drove her sister to commit suicide in this creepy, suspenseful novel.
Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.
As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not...


I don't know what it is with me and psychological thrillers, you guys, but I flock to them. I want to read a book that makes me question the characters' sanity and my sanity and OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW? There's just something about the unhinged that intrigues me. After all, our own minds are often the scariest creatures out there.

So imagine my delight/horror when I read about The Murmurings, about Sophie David who is starting to HEAR THINGS. The same things that drove her sister to a seriously twisted suicide of hanging by her big toe from a tree. I CAN'T HANDLE THIS. What if these voices aren't just a symptom of her schizophrenia?  Hello, unreliable narrators. I love you. You make my reading experiences more enjoyable and psychotic, and for that, I thank you.

Honestly? I was hoping for more outright scary moments than what I got. The Murmurings definitely had a slow burn in many aspects: the romance, the developing story, and the scares. I was expecting a "put the book in the freezer" (can't help but give a nod to Joey Tribbiani) read, but what I got was a "lurking just around the corner, always out of sight" sense of impending doom.  And I think that was sufficient. And I don't think I'll be able to look at mirrors for extended periods of time anymore, just in case what I happen to see is not my reflection and is one of "the Takers." Doesn't that name just freak you out? WHAT IS IT THEY WANT TO TAKE, you ask? Read this book. Then commence peeing your pants.

I thought the story, while it crept along ominously, was decently paced and Carly Anne West sure can write. Her prose was easy to read, kept my interest, and got just enough under your skin where you felt unsettled. The Murmurings is less "in your face" scary and more of a subtle creep factor, perfect for a night at home by yourself. You know, if you want to burn out all your lightbulbs in your house from keeping them on and condemning yourself from uncountable years of bad luck from smashing all your mirrors.
_______________________

Enter to win an ARC of The Murmurings!
Read our policies, please. 
US/CA only!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Carla's Thoughts: Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider

Published by Katherine Tegen, 4 June 2013

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes? 

Sometimes when you finish a book you have to let your thoughts percolate a little. You have to let the jingle jangle mess of thoughts filter through your brain until you have words you can distill on the way out through your fingers. I've thought about this book a lot since I finished. I've filtered my feelings so much that if they were liquid they would be transparent. And the one that stand out from the rest is rankled and I can’t seem to shake it off. That’s not to say this isn't a good book, it just wasn't a good book for me.

What I look for as a reader is a way to connect. That is my one desire as a reader. I want that connection to the characters that transcends everything else about the book. I want to be invested in them; I want their struggles to feel like my struggles, I want their successes to feel like I just caught the moon along with them. And that was what I lacked with this book; I did not feel connected to any of the characters. They felt like strangers and not friends.

The book has a very familiar vibe to it but somehow managed to make me feel a sense of disconnect. It has a very hipster feeling to it that I can relate to whilst remaining indifferent. I read the book feeling vague discontent; so much about the plot line and the character arcs rang false to me. They felt like people I've met in countless other books that I let my gaze pass over because they were never interesting enough to hold it.

That was the clinch for me; I do not feel like Schneider made this story her own. It felt like a caricature of other books I have read. It was for this reason that I guessed the conclusion only a few chapters in because I have read this type of book before. I know how this story goes. For her next novel, I hope she moves away from the foundations others before her have lain because she her writing shines at times and it's a shame that it gets lost in the familiarity of an unoriginal story.

Schneider has undeniable talent as a writer; the dialogue had that particular zing to it that you can’t help but get swept up in. Her writing is intelligent and will hold a lot of appeal for readers and I can see how this book will resonate with a lot of people, of that I am sure.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jen's Thoughts: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer


Published: April 23, 2013
Balzer + Bray, paperback, 320pgs
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon Summary: Like Meg Cabot, Sarah Strohmeyer has a gift for creating smart, funny girls teen readers love. She’s done it again with Zoe, heroine of her latest romcom. In YA novel How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True, Zoe learns there is a dark core under the glittering fa├žade of the fairy-tale themed amusement park (cough, Disneyland, cough) where she’s a summer intern. For starters, her boss has a blacker heart than Snow White’s stepmother, and the other interns are worse backstabbers than Cinderella’s step-sisters. On the upside, she has the chance of romance with a real-life Prince Charming, and a shot at winning a big heap of cash. If she can just live through a summer in the Fairyland Kingdom.


How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is two things:
a) a mouthful.
b) EXACTLY how I want all my YA contemporaries to be: short, sweet, full of snappy prose and wit, and butterflies-in-your-stomach romance.

Highlights
  • HELLO. It takes place at a theme park. A fairy tale theme park. With a crazy Queen who legit thinks she's royalty and has hilarious and outrageous demands for sweet, spunky Zoe. And nearly 300 Fairyland Rules to abide by (like the princesses may not gain or lose over 3lbs. LULZ YEAH RIGHT I QUIT.)
  •  Zoe is a fantastic character. She's generous and selfless and has a top notch sense of humor. If Sarah Strohmeyer's other titles are this peachy, sign me UP.
  •  The Queen's antics are highly enjoyable. Hands down my favorite character in the story, her pseudo-antagonistic ways kept me smiling the whole way through. I do love me an evil wench!
  • HZMHD(M)CT can be finished in one fell swoop. Looking for a quick read that will give you the feel goods? Shazam. You found it.
Lowlights
  •  There's a mystery involved, but I experienced a tiny bit of whiplash with all the back and forth.
  •  I had to suspend reality quite a bit for this one. Not that it was necessarily a bad thing. The ending came as a real surprise for me, but it was kind of a stretch.
To Wrap Things Up
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is an enjoyable contemporary with a witty protagonist that will have you throwing mental knuckle bumps left and right to commend her quips. Plus, the Fairy Land setting makes it all the more magical (and crazy. SERIOUSLY. Does Disney World have the same ridiculous requirements for their staff?!) ZOE is perfect for a weekend afternoon where you want to step into a warm, fuzzy book for a couple hours.
I'll definitely be checking out Sarah Strohmeyer's other titles.

Got it Covered
Loving the font. And honestly? I don't hate almost kissing couples on covers. In fact, I almost ENJOY them. But I cannot get on board with this guy's 1998 Lance Bass frosted tips. I CANNOT.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Like Book Blogs and I Cannot Lie

Before I joined Makeshift Bookmark I had my own little corner of the internet that some of you might know and most of you will be oblivious to. It was called The Crooked Shelf and I loved that little space of mine like no other. But, the blogging single life was too much for little me because I am lazy by nature and also by choice. So, I stopped reviewing and laid low for almost a year until Jen miraculously decided she would be happy to make room for me on her little corner of the internet and here I am, blogging again with the best co-blogger anyone could ever wish for.  

A year, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing. A short blip of time that can pass so fast that you blink and the whole year has passed you by. But a year makes a hell of a difference in the book world. All those new books published that you've never heard of. All these new authors that everyone canters around. All the deal announcements, the new publicists and contacts and all of the books everyone is salivating over. But the best thing is slew of new book bloggers that have sprouted and bloomed in your absence and the book blogs that were here when you were but had someone stayed hidden. They are the best thing about this community.

Here's the thing; in these past few months, I have stumbled upon some blogs that make my heart sing. So here is a list of some of my favourite book blogs that I have only recently discovered and I hope you fall in love with them as much as I have.





Run by Maggie and Noelle, YAA is my favourite place on the internet at the moment (yes, I like their blog more than twitter). They make me feel like I have opened my internet browser and stumbled into Narnia.  Both Maggie and Noelle have such separate distinct voices that are no less hilarious, witty and smart than the other. Whether it's their YAA sountracking and bookstagram life posts or their Rory curtain reviews, every single one of their posts makes my face ache from smiling or my tummy hurt from laughing. Also, major mad propps to the pair of them for getting me through my book break up with Martin Knight. They were my metaphorical shoulder to cry on during a hard case of TEABS. They have also recommended me books that have gone on to become favourites. 


Jo is a Northener like me, so she gets bonus points before we even start. Her blog is another that I creep on way more than I would like to admit. She is charming and intelligent and her reviews make me wish that everyone would read them to see how it's done - her reviews are honest and sincere and she is not afraid to be critical. Her On Writing series where she discusses different aspects of the writing craft with authors is thoughtful and informative and each and every one of her posts has a purpose. She also has a thing for hot ginger terrorists and don't we all. DON'T WE ALL JO. Jo is my go to girl for all things Marchetta, I could tweet her the simple 'FROI' and she would just know what I meant.




A collaborative blog by Sarah, Laura, Sandra and Rebeca - if I wasn't head over heels in the with them all ready because HELLO FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, then their posts seal the deal. They always post in depth analytical discussion posts that make you really think. They are not only a pleasure to read but also inspire you as a reader. I spend a lot of time on their blog in awe at the discussions they can promote and the topics they encourage everyone to talk about. And their reviews aren't half bad too :) 




Another collaborative blog that I found stalking because of YAA, compirsing of Catie, Flannery and Tatiana. They have this really cool feature called She Made Me Do It where they swap book recommendations with other bloggers (and themselves) and challenge them to read 3 books they have chosen and vice versa, I love this feature so much that I wish I could claim it for my own. I love their dynamic and how well all 3 of them work together to provide well thought out, intelligent and insanely amazing content. 


A collab blog! are you sensing a THEME? (apart from Jo because she's awesome enough to hit this out of the park herself). Mandee, Elisabeth, Meg and Geanna head up this blog and one of the things I love is that they post a photo of a CAT with the book cover. Kitties and books! MY HEART. They have a mixture of joint reviews, reviews and memes that make it an internet happy place. I have only ever really spoken to Mandee and I've come to value her friendship because not only is she smart and funny but she does the best book manicures ever. 

Any book blogs that you personally love? What amazing blogs do you always find yourself ending up at as soon as you turn on the internet? 

Jen's Thoughts: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis


Published: January 15, 2013
Razorbill, hardcover, 369 pgs
Source: borrowed from Erica
GoodReads Summary: Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.
But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.
Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.
FUELED BY LIES.RULED BY CHAOS.ALMOST HOME.

This seriously is the year of concluding the series I love. LIFE IS SO UNFAIR. Why can't my beloved series go on forever? And a fast-favorite for me was Beth Revis' Across the Universe series. You guys, this series took hold of my life and didn't let up until I plowed through Across the Universe and A Million Suns. I can't believe I waited until 2012 to read these. And I'm glad I did, because the wait for Shades of Earth was excruciating enough.

THEY MADE IT TO CENTAURI EARTH! I was so excited for Amy & Elder to be able to be on solid ground, physically and relationshipinally. (New world, I make up new words. WHAT OF IT?) Centauri Earth was so dangerous, you guys. I know there's no such thing as monsters, but there were TOTALLY monsters there!

So many more secrets and lies and betrayals, such has become expected on Godspeed. But this time it's from people you totally wouldn't expect. And OH, the massacre. People die in Shades of Earth, and it's horrible. I'm one of those readers who believe that a tale of love and loss makes the best story, but listen: Shades of Earth packed the ouch. There was lots of heartbreak.

Shades of Earth, to me, felt...different...than its predecessors. I found myself actually missing the unknown on Godspeed. One thing I loved: Amy gets the chance to shine. It's like they switched roles, which totally made my Girl Power foam finger wave proudly.

I will tell you this (and you'll know when you get there): I ALMOST stopped reading because of This One Thing that threatened to break my soul. But I'm glad I read on.

Though Shades of Earth felt detached from the Across the Universe and A Million Suns, Beth Revis' stellar story-telling didn't fail. This is a series that will stay with me for a long time. Now I'm going to need her to get to writing more, more, MORE. PRONTO. Just kidding. A little.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Best TV Couples EVER


Coach and Tami Taylor - Friday Night Lights
Undisputedly the best TV couple EVER. no competition. also? mad hot. MAD HOT. look at his smolder and look at her hair spun from gold - the most awe inspiring couple to ever grace my TV. I love them so much sometimes it scares me.


Buffy and Spike - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Forget professor forehead who turns evil when you bone him. FORGET IT. I'll take spike even if he does have questionable hair and a funky fake accent.


Joey and Pacey - Dawsons Creek
HE BOUGHT HER A WALL. Pacey Witter, ruining all boys for me since 1999.


Seth and Summer - The OC
Nerd guy loves super popular girl who he thinks he never stands a chance with. Once of my favourite YA TV couplings. They do the iconic upside down spiderman kiss. THEY ARE SO CUTE IT HURTS A LITTLE.


Luke and Lorelai - Gilmore Girls
Luke owns his own diner which means a constant supply of coffee and baked goods and greased food. Then when you're feeling full and happy you can do those Other Things because he LIVES UPSTAIRS. Also, he would do anything to make her happy and she is crazy crazy loco insanely awesome.


Veronica and Logan - Veronica Mars
Someone get an extinguisher and stop that fire because these two are SMOKING HOT together. I believed Logan when he said their story was epic and that it does span years and continents, we just don't get to see. 

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY YOU LOVELY PEOPLE.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Carla's Thoughts: The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding

Published Entangled Teen, 5 February 2013  
Things I know about Reece Malcolm:

1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.

Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.

L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.

But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?
Things you should know about me:

1. I got an A in Performing Arts in high school but I cannot carry a tune to save my life.  But I can cry on cue and am naturally over dramatic about everything.
2. I LOVE musical theatre. I was the girl dancing in the stalls when I went to see Fame who then sprained her ankle when she fell down the steps from dancing too enthusiastically. 
3. I like guyliner and good hair.

The Reece Malcolm List is the kind of book you don’t realise you’ve been waiting for until you turn the last page and burst into a frankly mediocre* performance of At Last. (*excruciatingly bad) Because FINALLY. AT LAST! Now everybody dance.


Things I love about this book:

1. The characters are all so authentic and Spalding really nails what friendships in high school are like. Some of them are fleeting but others remain a certainty. I loved how the characters were layered and acted like actual teenagers and not parodies of teenagers who eat thesaurus’s for breakfast. Like give me a break.

2. Reece is hands down the best ‘mom’ character I’ve read in a long time. She’s grouchy and awkward and doesn’t like crowds of people. She’s a little bit of a bitch with her directness and sometimes scathing humor but MY GOD do I want to be her friend. I get that she doesn’t like shopping and on some people I find that trait unforgivable BUT she is awesome so I am willing to let that slide. It’s refreshing to read about an adult that doesn’t totally have all her shit together

3. Devan is such an engaging protagonist. It was heart-warming to see her unapologetically and rightfully own her talent because damn can that girl sing. Also, can you please invite me to your next performance? Her enthusiasm for performing is infectious, like her passion for it is somehow imbibed into the pages of the book so you get infected to. I will give you cold hard cash if you didn’t finish this book and immediately want to do a leap or jazz hands or randomly burst into song.

4. Performing arts school is my ultimate fantasy. In my head people break into song halfway through class and dance around the corridors. I know this is probably a slight exaggeration but still, any book that delves into the competitiveness and highly strung atmosphere of performing arts is a book that I want to read. Along with an amazing cast of supporting characters the book progressed at an engaging rate and I never once felt my attention slip.

5. Brad. I don’t want to say much about this guy because like a fine wine he needs to be savoured. But I will tell you this; he has GOOD hair. He can cook. He has an accent. He is my new book boyfriend.

Spalding steps out onto the contemporary stage with a show stopping debut that is witty, original and super fun without losing any of its storytelling depth. Her writing is snappy and fresh with dialogue that hits all the right notes. I can't wait to see what she does next.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Jen's Thoughts: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins




Published: May 1, 2012
HarperTeen, paperback, 453pgs
Source: Jamie
Goodreads Summary: Embrace the ForbiddenWhat if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

I had been putting off reading Sweet Evil forever. I was so afraid it was going to be one of those run-of-the-mill "I make them good girls go bad" books. Well, it was. But less "run-of-the-mill" and more "OMG I could read this forever because of all the fun."

Sweet Evil is my favorite kind of guilty pleasure. The main character, Anna, is a Mary Sue and so easily corrupted by British drummer/sex demon-spawn (no, seriously) Kaidan Rowe. For reals, before she meets Kaidan, she blushes at a swear word. By the end of the book, she is throwing back shots with her dad. I love it. You'd think it'd be a total train wreck by what I've described thus far, but there is some legitimately fun and interesting lore with the angels and demons. Now that Anna has herself mixed up in the grey area between Heaven and Hell, I'm invested in where the story is headed next.

The romance leaves a little to be desired, but that's not necessarily a negative thing. Because I can't decide if I like Kaidan or not. I battled back & forth with the Anna/Kaidan aspect, because he's such a douchebag at times. There's some tension-filled moments that make the heart pitter-patter just a bit, and the whole time I was screaming "ANNA, YOU ARE A FOOL. He's so bad for you, but MAYBE JUST A LITTLE BIT. Hang on, are you sure this is what you want to do? Okay fine, but don't say I didn't warn you." And well, Kaidan's British, so he automatically gets 100 points. (Additional points awarded based on use of British slang and twirling of drumsticks and the number of times "luv" is uttered.) He has much more to prove in order to win me over.

Definitely a "one sitting" read, Sweet Evil is like eating a whole box of Oreos in an afternoon. It's so delicious and you feel completely (and devilishly) satisfied when you're done. And also, a little fat. But mostly happy.

Now, who wants to give me Sweet Peril?


The Indigo Spell: Who is Marcus Finch? (#15)




You guys, The Indigo Spell comes out in less than a month. And you should be excited, because I've read it and OH MY GOD, it is fire hot. 

But there's this new guy, this Marcus Finch. He could save the day. Or he could ruin everything. And he's about to become a huge part of the remaining Bloodlines books.


___________________________

Educate yourself on everything Bloodlines

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This One Thing: I'm Obsessed With


This One Thing is a feature where I'll be talking about, obviously, one thing. Any thing. Every thing. I love books, which is why I have this blog. But I love to talk about all kinds of crap. And this seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.

Okay, so flashback to 1998: picture 13 year-old Jen with blunt bangs, a freshly-starched white button up, and a clarinet. YES, a clarinet. I've always loved to sing, but I was way too shy to do anything like that. So junior high band, it was! I consider this my introduction to most musicals, off key and horribly timed as our renditions may have been. Most of the pieces were too mundane to really remember, but BAM. My adolescent heart went a-flying when we played THIS ONE PIECE: Phantom of the Opera.

Now, I had no idea what the actual musical was about. All I knew was that Wayne played the absolute hell out of the tuba and Mike and Cathy's saxophone playing sent chills down my spine and I had to know more, more, more of the music that even a gaggle of 13 year olds could make sound fantastic.

I'll go so far as to admit that I downloaded MIDI files of the music, since these were the days before Spotify (and even Napster, Morpheus, and Limewire!) I never knew the words, but I rocked out to my MIDIs.


I'm embarrassed to say that I never even watched Phantom of the Opera until the 2004 movie came out and Gerard Butler sexified the Phantom to the point where I thought "oh, it's all good. He just has a little disfiguration. LOVE HIM, CHRISTINE DAAE. Just keep the mask on that shiz and get over it!" Yes, it was Gerard Butler (and his delicious, growling voice) that made Phantom seriously come alive.

After bawling my eyes out at the movie, I convinced my husband to take me to see Phantom! in Las Vegas, after which I was a sobbing mess. And I spent the remainder of the week twirling around the casinos singing "Think of Me" to myself and whoever would listen.

And I read Susan Kay's Phantom, which was another ground-breaking and essential fanfiction, that made me fall even deeper in love with Phantom of the Opera. Didn't know it was possible, but here we are.

Then in 2012, I discovered on Netflix the 25th Anniversary at Royal Albert Hall. I scoffed a bit, I won't lie. Because who could be a better Phantom than perfect Gerard? And who could be a more convincing Christine than Emmy Rossum?

Um, Ramin Karimloo. That's who.
And Sierra Boggess. Her, too.

Guys, I can't even tell you how many times I've watched this on Netflix. And downloaded the soundtrack. And watched YouTube videos. And finally cracked and bought it on DVD, because it won't be on Netflix forever. And watched interviews with the characters and extra features and everything.

I'm in love with this musical, forever and always. But I'll never watch the sequel, Love Never Dies, because there was absolutely nothing wrong with the way Phantom ended. It broke my heart and my soul, just the way it always has and always will. The tragedy is what made this story perfect for me.



Seriously, you guys. If you loved Phantom of the Opera like I do, do yourself a favor and watch the 25th anniversary version. I dare you not to cry.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Jen's Book Haul (72)

Inspired by memes hosted by The Story Siren and Tynga's Reviews.

I officially dub this week: The Abandon of Financial Sense due to Cheap E-Books Week.
Also, I made out pretty awesomely at Half Price Books!


Bought
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Rosebush by Michelle Jaffe
Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton

e-Books
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
52 Reasons to Hate my Father by Jessica Brody
Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

NetGalley
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

__________________________

What you missed this week...


Friday, February 8, 2013

Jen's Thoughts: Boundless by Cynthia Hand


Published: January 22, 2013
HarperTeen, hardcover, 448pgs
Source: Anna 
GoodReads Summary: The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.
Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.
As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.
In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.
Note: my first review got destroyed by Blogger somehow, after I already scheduled it. It just disappeared. So I'm going to try and piece my thoughts together from that lengthy review into a new one. Sigh.

It really says something about an author when I able to complete a series after waiting a full year in between releases. I'm an instant gratification kind of girl, and it takes a lot for me to keep on reading after a year of over 100 books in between to muddy my memory of Hallowed's happenings. Especially because I'm not big on re-reading. It says something about a book's impact when everything comes flooding back into my mind and heart after only a few pages. Did it really ever leave? I don't think so. You don't just forget a story like Clara's. And Christian's. And Tucker's. 

In a world saturated with angel love stories, Cynthia Hand is the golden girl. She has created a world with characters I love so much. Not only that, but she created a love triangle that I honestly supported. I didn't even have a preference (I had a slight preference. But very slight.) in who Clara chose. In fact, in my mind, they would've all been very happy together. Hey, Clara's in college now. It's experimentation time! Alas, Clara did make her choice. And I was kept guessing until the furthest reaches of the end as far as who it'd be. I'm happy. I'm content. It's perfect.

Boundless supplied me with a wealth of experiences throughout, including, but not limited to:
- LOLs
- sobs
- ANGRY EYES 
- more sobs
-sentimental moments
- gut-wrenching reunions
- heightened fear of Hell (because she takes us there. And it's terrifying.)
- and finally, warm, happy, emptiness... BECAUSE IT'S NO MORE

I know the majority of the epilogues out there are stupid and sappy. Boundless has a sappy one and it's SO GOOD. But I felt like it was one last chance to mentally hug Clara, Christian, and Tucker. And it was Cynthia Hand's final infiltration of my tear ducts. I HAVE NONE LEFT, CYNTHIA. What more can I give?!

It was worth it. I lived a whole other life reading the Unearthly series. And I miss these characters already.

The Indigo Spell: Who is Marcus Finch? (#14)




You guys, The Indigo Spell comes out in less than a month. And you should be excited, because I've read it and OH MY GOD, it is fire hot. 

But there's this new guy, this Marcus Finch. He could save the day. Or he could ruin everything. And he's about to become a huge part of the remaining Bloodlines books.


___________________________

Educate yourself on everything Bloodlines