Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle

In Luv Ya Bunches, Katie-Rose, Milla, Violet and Yasaman are all experiencing their first week in the 5th grade.

Katie-Rose is the techy one - she normally hides behind her camcorder. She and Camilla or “Milla” for short became friends over the summer at their summer camp. But now that school is about to start Katie-Rose is stressing because she’s not sure if her friendship with Milla will continue.

Milla is the beautiful, popular one. She wears all the trendy clothes, and hangs out with the coolest girls in school (although Modessa and Quin - said coolest girls, are not very nice). She lives with her two mothers and is stressing because slowly she is realizing that the coolest girls in school might not exactly be who she wants to hang out with.

Violet is the new girl in school. She just moved with her father to town and is none too happy about having to leave her friends behind. Not to mention she is suffering over the loss of her mother. She is assessed by the other girls and is promptly offered to be part of the popular clique. She wears the right clothes and has the perfect attitude - but will she fit in?

Then there’s Yasaman - although she’s been in the same school with these other girls, she has always been seen as an outcast. Her classmates see her as different because she wears a hijab and comes from a Muslim family. But underneath all that she is quite the whiz at html code. She has created a social network (similar to MySpace, Facebook, etc.) but she has no friends to tell about it.

The story is told through all four points-of-view, including some fun instant message chats, and some very inventive screenplays and daydreams (courtesy of Katie-Rose). Each girl has her own personality and they all four compliment one another. It touches on topics that are very real to young girls - anywhere from bullying, to fashion sense, to just everyday issues - like overcoming differences and accepting who you are. I loved all the illustrations and the cutesy chat forums were uber adorable. I think all young girls can enjoy this story - it is definitely geared towards the 9-12 age group. It is also noted that this is book one - so we will definitely be reading more about the girls in the future.


A Highlander's Temptation by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Darroc MacConacher spends sleepless nights dreaming of a raven-haired beauty. His dream comes true when the lady of his dreams appears shipwrecked on his shores. Darroc immediately recognizes her and is drawn to her strength and beauty from the moment he lays eyes on her.

Lady Arabella MacKenzie is in search of an adventure. And adventure she finds when she washes up on an unknown shore and finds herself in the arms of one dreamy highlander. But theirs is a forbidden love - for the MacKenzies and MacConachers are destined to be enemies. It is up to Darroc to either use this sapphire-eyed seductress to shatter his foes and deny the passion that burns between him and Arabella - or will he be the better man and quash the clan’s skirmish and accept the gift that fate has bestowed upon him?

I love me a Scottsman!

Arabella was such a likeable heroine - she was strong, feisty and opinionated. Darroc, although set on vengeance towards the MacKenzies, is given the opportunity of finding love even if it is within his enemy’s embrace - will he take the chance? I enjoyed all the supernatural elements in the story - you can’t read about a Scottish castle without a meddling ghost working behind the scenes. Ms. Welfonder whisks you away to the turbulent waters surrounding the Hebridean Isles off the coast of Scotland - you can practically smell the salt in the air. This is a story about love, hope and forgiveness. If you enjoy a fun, highlander romance, then this is one you should definitely pick up. Plus, can you really turn down a man in a kilt? Yea, didn't think so.

GIVEAWAY: I have 5 copies of A Highlander's Temptation up for grabs.

As always, leave a comment for one entry. If you'd like extra entries just say so in your comment or separate comments (extra entries for followers, Twitter, sidebars, Facebook, etc.) Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving comment as Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open to U.S. & Canada residents only. No P.O. Boxes. Winners will be drawn Friday, October 16.

Giveaway: Cult Insanity; Friends Like These

In this shocking follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Shattered Dreams, Irene Spencer tells the full story of her brother-in-law Ervil LeBaron and his unimaginable reign of terror and violence in their polygamist community.

Danny Wallace has friends. He has a wife and goes to brunch, and his new house has a couch with throw pillows. But as he nears 30, he can't help wondering about his best childhood friends, whose names he finds in a long-forgotten address book. Where are they now-and where, really, is he?

Acting on an impulse we've all had at least once, he travels from London to Berlin, Tokyo, Australia, and California, risking rejection and ridicule to show up on his old pals' doorsteps. Memories of his 1980s childhood-from Michael Jackson to Ghostbusters-overwhelm him as he meets former buddies who have blossomed into rappers and ninjas, time-traveling pioneers, mediocre restaurant managers, and even Fijian royalty.

Danny's attempt to re-befriend them all gives remarkable new resonance to the age-old mantra, "friends forever!"

GIVEAWAY: I have 5 copies of each book up for grabs.

As always, leave a comment for one entry. If you'd like extra entries just say so in your comment or separate comments (extra entries for followers, Twitter, sidebars, Facebook, etc.) Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving comment under Anonymous.

Your comment is for both books - please specify if you are only interested in one.

Rules: This contest is open to U.S. & Canada residents only. No P.O. Boxes. Winners will be drawn Saturday, October 10.

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Sixteen-year-old Amalia Milthorpe and her twin sister Alice have just become orphans, and, as Lia discovers, they have also become enemies. The twins are part of an ancient prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other. To escape from a dark fate and to remain in the arms of her beloved boyfriend James, Lia must end the prophecy before her sister does. Only then will she understand the mysterious circumstances of her parents' deaths, the true meaning of the strange mark branded on her wrist, and the lengths to which her sister will go to defeat her.

Talk about sibling rivalry - and although these sisters are on opposing sides of the prophecy, I loved how neither is wholly good nor bad. I love that Ms. Zink’s story has such strong female characters. They embody the best and worst in us all. Lia is on a journey of discovery, love, loss, and what it means to grow up. I love the way that the “twin” thing is played out - neither girl knows what the other is thinking, they only think they know. But I know, right? Or do I? Accckkk.

I loved the Victorian backdrop - with the obligatory rainy nights, howling winds, the swishing of heavy dresses, the rushing waters and high cliff tops, but it's done so perfectly that every little detail contributes to, but doesn't override, each scene.

The story is riddled with symbolism both subtle and dark. Every time I thought I had finally unlocked the mystery, I was taken on a new unexpected turn that left me in awe. The story started a bit slow for me but that was okay because it slowly built up to this fantastically riveting story - and the best part of it all is that it’s the first of a trilogy.

This was a fast, enjoyable read. I highly recommend this to both teens and adults alike. I can't wait for the next one!


Giveaway Results: Christian Fiction and Lucan

I'm a little late on these you guys. Sorry about that. It was a tough weekend and a hectic Monday at work. But without further ado, here are the winners.

The winner of the Christian Fiction Fab Five Giveaway is:

The winners of Lucan by Susan Kearney are:

Mary Marvella
Way to go! Winners were chosen using I will be e-mailing each of you shortly. You have until Thursday to get back to me, if I haven't heard from you by then, a new winner will be chosen.

Also for those of you who haven't entered already, I also have giveaways for Geektastic (ends 9/30/09); Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway (ends 10/02/09); and celebrating my 200 Follower milestone (open to followers only ends 10/09/09). New giveaways will be posted throughout the week.

Fall Into Reading 2009

Yay - I love the Fall (although Fall is skipped here in Florida - we just go from summer to winter)! So, in honor of Fall (like if I really need an excuse), I am signing up for the Fall Into Reading Challenge. The challenge is only for the fall so it started 9/22/09 (I know I'm a little late) and it ends on 12/20/09. This was my first challenge ever so I figure, I must uphold the tradition.

Here are some of the titles that I plan on reading for the challenge:

- P.S. I Love You - Cecelia Ahern
- Rampant - Diana Peterfreund
- South of Broad - Pat Conroy
- Luna - Julie Anne Peters
- The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood
- The Hollow - Jessica Verday
- After the Moment - Garrett Freymann-Weyr
- Tantalize - Cynthia Leitich Smith
- Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
- Going Away Shoes - Jill McCorkle

Of course, there will be plenty of changes, additions and substitutions. It's all about having fun baby- and that's definitely what this challenge is about.

Her Feaful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt; they only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers -- with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery. They come to know the building's other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive former lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including -- perhaps -- their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind. (borrowed from

First off I want to make it known that I am a big fan of books that have more than one narrator and I especially love the fact that all these “narrators” are living (or not-living in one case) under the same roof. With that said, there was such a variety of characters in this novel. Julia and Valentina - the mirror twins; Robert the grieving, younger lover of Elspeth; Elspeth our lonely ghost; Martin suffering from OCD and his wife Marjike. From the start you know that Elspeth had a falling out with her twin sister (Julia and Valentina’s mum) - that is the underlying storyline. Much of our story revolves around the twins’ move from the US to London and their settling in, Robert’s grieving process, Martin’s OCD and Marjike’s extended vacation away from Martin - (my favorite character being Martin, of course). I loved reading about the relationships formed, how they all start to rely upon one another and even Elspeth’s influence on both the twins and Robert.

Ms. Niffenegger’s prose is stunning - her descriptions of Highgate Cemetery are so realistic you can almost envision it (and with a little help from google - you can really envision it). I loved reading of London - the dreary weather, the gloomy atmosphere. It really gave that creepy feel to this ghost story.

There are so many words I can use to describe the feelings I had while reading Her Fearful Symmetry... i.e.: awed, emotional, fascinated, happy, outraged. It has an ending that will make you read and re-read it over and if you are like me, you will keep thinking about it long after you are done with it.

All in all, this was a stunning book full of surprises and twists and turns, beautiful prose and great characters, not to mention, quite the page-turner, I just could not put it down.

What are you Reading on Mondays? (Week 9/28/09)

For everyone else's responses, please visit J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog. What am I reading this week:

Last week I read the following:

- Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
- Hate List - Jennifer Brown
- Evenings at the Argentine Club - Julia Amante
- The Vampire Diaries: The Summoning - L.J. Smith [review]
- The Darkest Night - Gena Showalter
- The Darkest Kiss - Gena Showalter

I reviewed the following:

- A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray [review]
- Going too Far - Jennifer Echols [review]
- The Last Song - Nicholas Sparks [review]
- Tombstone Tea - Joanne Dahme [review]
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan [review]

Don't laugh at me, but I totally got sucked in by Gena Showalter's, Lords of the Underworlds series, so I just have to read them all (back to back!) They are so good.

What are you reading this week?


999 Challenge Wrap-Up

I absolutely loved this challenge and am actually saddened to see it end. I, of course, will be part of it next year again. I loved that I was able to choose my own categories. Here is the final list:

1 The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright (completed 1/04/09)
2 The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (completed 5/25/09)
3 Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (completed 1/09/09)
4 Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch (completed 1/17/09)
5 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (completed 2/19/09)
6 One Deadly Sin by Annie Solomon (completed 4/16/09)
7 Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe (completed 7/10/09)
8 One Scream Away by Kate Brady (completed 7/12/09)
9 Summer of Two Wishes by Diana London (completed 8/12/09)

1 Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (completed 6/07/09)
2 If I Stay by Gayle Forman (completed 6/02/09)
3 Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (completed 5/19/09)
4 M is for Magic - Neil Gaiman (completed 2/25/09)
5 The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke (completed 1/29/09)
6 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (completed 3/07/09)
7 Stardust by Neil Gaiman (completed 3/22/09)
8 The Lake that Stole Children: A Fable by Douglas Glenn Clark (completed 4/06/09)
9 Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley (completed 6/18/09)

(TBR Pile)
1 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (completed 5/28/09)
2 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Time by Mark Haddon (completed 1 /07/09)
3 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (completed 5/16/09)
4 Life of Pi by Yann Martel (completed 1/23/09)
5 The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (completed 7/07/09)
6 Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (completed 3/28/09)
7 Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts (completed 4/04/09)
8 Before I Die by Jenny Downham (completed 7/20/09)
9 Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon (completed 7/29/09)

1 A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (completed 8/27/09)
2 Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (completed 8/25/09)
3 Inkspell by Cornelia Funke (completed 1/15/09)
4 My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel (completed 6/28/09)
5 The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul (completed 6/20/09)
6 Confessions of a Shopoholic by Sophie Kinsella (completed 2/02/09)
7 The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau (completed 5/02/09)
8 Seduce Me by Robyn DeHart (completed 8/03/09)
9 The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau (completed 4/14/09)

1 The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine (completed 4/26/09)
2 Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright (completed 1/02/09)
3 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (completed 2/01/09)
4 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (completed 1/19/09)
5 Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (completed 1/27/09)
6 One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell (completed 2/09/09)
7 Confessions of a Former Child by Daniel J. Tomasulo (completed 2/22/09)
8 Matrimony by Joshua Henkin (completed 3/24/09)
9 The Simplest of Acts and Other Short Stories by Melanie Haney (completed 5/05/09)

(Books that are or will be adapted into movies)
1 He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (completed 3/06/09)
2 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (completed 6/08/09)
3 I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle (completed 6/12/09)
4 The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (completed 4/13/09)
5 Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (completed 6/14/09)
6 Blindness by Jose Saramago (completed 1/11/09)
7 The Reader by Bernard Schlink (completed 1/03/09
8 Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (completed 1/05/09)
9 Wings by Aprilynne Pike (completed 6/16/09)

(Books released in 2009)
1 Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult (completed 3/17/09)
2 The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker (completed 1/26/09)
3 Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa (completed 3/14/09)
4 The Side-Yard Superhero by Rick D. Niece (completed 3/19/09)
5 Laura Rider's Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton (completed 3/29/09)
6 I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci (completed 4/06/09)
7 The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (completed 4/09/09)
8 Jantsen's Gift by Pam Cope & Aimee Molloy (completed 4/20/09)
9 The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow (completed 4/22/09)

(Anything Vamp or Supernatural related)
1 Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris (completed 5/11/09)
2 Seduce the Darkness by Gena Showalter (complted 6/25/09)
3 Burning Wild by Christine Feehan (completed 5/17/09)
4 No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole (completed 2/05/09)
5 One Silent Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon (competed 2/12/09)
6 Secret Vampire by L.J. Smith (completed 1/13/09)
7 Upon the Midnight Clear by Sherrilyn Kenyon (completed 2/10/09)
8 The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox (completed 5/08/09)
9 Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog (completed 7/22/09)

(Recommended or Book Club reads)
1 The Host by Stephanie Meyer (completed 3/11/09)
2 Disquiet by Julia Leigh (completed 1/01/09)
3 Playing with the Grown-Ups by Sophie Dahl (completed 2/24/09)
4 The Mistress's Daughter by A.M. Homes (completed 3/03/09)
5 Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah (completed 4/01/09)
6 Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch (completed 4/12/09)
7 The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (completed 4/30/09)
8 My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff (completed 5/04/09)
9 Mother of the Believers by Kamran Pasha (completed 5/10/09)


100+ Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I have completed the 100+ reading challenge a while ago (back in August). I'm so lazy to do wrap-up posts.

I remember being so worried when I signed up for this challenge thinking "100 books! - J. Kaye is nuts, I'm nuts for thinking I can do it". But, yep, those extra minutes before work, reading in the car through lunch, and those times I've had to lie and say I had major stomach issues (white lies) - in order to have some peace and quiet to finish off a chapter have really paid off.

Here are my 100 books:
1 Disquiet - Julia Leigh
2 Christmas Jars - Jason F. Wright
3 The Reader - Bernard Schlink
4 The Wednesday Letters - Jason F. Wright
5 Where the Heart Is - Billie Letts
7 Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler
8 Blindness - José Saramago
9 Secret Vampire - L.J. Smith
10 Inkspell - Cornelia Funke
11 Time of My Life - Allison Winn Scotch
12 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
13 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
15 Ms. Hempel Chronicles - Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
16 The Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke
17 Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
18 Confessions of a Shopoholic - Sophie Kinsella
19 No Rest for the Wicked - Kresley Cole
20 One Fifth Avenue - Candace Bushnell
21 Upon the Midnight Clear - Sherrilyn Kenyon
22 One Silent Night - Sherrilyn Kenyon
23 Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
24 Confessions of a Former Child - Daniel J. Tomasulo
25 Playing with the Grown-Ups - Sophie Dahl
26 M is for Magic - Neil Gaiman
27 The Mistress's Daughter - A.M. Homes
28 He's Just Not That Into You - Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
30 The Host - Stephanie Meyer
31 Dirty Little Angels - Chris Tusa
32 Handle with Care - Jodi Picoult
33 The Side-Yard Superhero - Rick D. Niece
34 Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35 Matrimony - Joshua Henkin
36 Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult
37 Laura Rider's Masterpiece - Jane Hamilton
38 Firefly Lane - Kristin Hannah
39 Shoot the Moon - Billie Letts
41 The Lake that Stole Children: A Fable - Douglas Glenn Clark
43 Girls in Trucks - Katie Crouch
44 The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau
45 The People of Sparks - Jeanne DuPrau
46 One Deadly Sin - Annie Solomon
47 Jantsen's Gift - Pam Cope & Aimee Molloy
49 The Blue Notebook - James A. Levine
50 The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
51 The Prophet of Yonwood - Jeanne DuPrau
52 My Little Red Book - Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
55 Mother of the Believers - Kamran Pasha
56 Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris
57 The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
58 Burning Wild - Christine Feehan
59 Twenty Boy Summer - Sarah Ockler
60 A Hint of Wicked - Jennifer Haymore
64 In the Land of Cotton - Martha A. Taylor
65 Something Borrowed - Emily Giffin
66 Obama’s Blackbery - Kasper Hauser
67 If I Stay - Gayle Forman
68 Marked - P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast
69 Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
70 Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
71 Secrets to Happiness - Sarah Dunn
72 I Love You, Beth Cooper - Larry Doyle
73 Annie’s Ghosts - Steve Luxenberg
74 Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
75 Wings - Aprilynn Pike
76 Ghostgirl - Tonya Hurley
77 The Vanishing Sculptor - Donita K. Paul
78 Bound to Please - Lillie Feisty
79 The Devlin Diary - Christi Phillips
80 Seduce the Darkness - Gena Showalter
81 Drawing in the Dust - Zoe Klein
82 My Forbidden Desire - Carolyn Jewel
83 The Castaways - Elin Hilderbrand
84 Knight of Desire - Margaret Mallory
85 How Perfect is That - Sarah Bird
86 The School of Essential Ingredients - Erica Bauermeister
87 The Wolves’ Keeper Legend - Silvia Weber
88 Last Light Over Carolina - Mary Alice Monroe
89 One Scream Away - Kate Brady
90 Summer House - Nancy Thayer
91 Ravens - George Dawes Green
92 Before I Die - Jenny Downham
93 Fairy Tale - Cyn Balog
94 Benny & Shrimp - Katarina Mazetti
95 The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer
96 Hidden Currents - Christine Feehan
97 Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story - Carolyn Turgeon
98 Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
99 City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
100 Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary leads a normal life in her small village in the forest. There are certain truths that she was brought up believing in - the Sisterhood always knows best; the Guardians will protect and serve and the Unconsecrated will never relent. But above all, you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future - between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

First off, there was no way of telling that this was a zombie book by just looking at that cover... with that said, this is a zombie book! I love zombies! And our story starts off with a bang - or more like a bite.

Mary’s life is turned upside down right from the first chapter. You can feel her desperation as well as her resignation to this life. They have been brought up believing that they are the last of the human race. They have to marry not out of love but to keep their race going. If you don’t find a suitable match then, as a female, you join the Sisterhood. For Mary, the short weeks she spends under the same walls as the Sisterhood is life altering. She is now even more determined to believe in a world outside of their fenced in village... but especially, she dreams of the ocean. Her mother has told her stories of what the world was like before the Unconsecrated and Mary has always hoped for something more then her simple life in the village.

The story has its ups and downs but at no point did I feel like it dragged or anything. On the contrary, I was intrigued by the dystopian world Mary was living in. I wanted to know more and more. And although some things were left unanswered - it felt real. Mary is living generations after the Unconsecrated - so the information that we get is from a young girl with the limited knowledge that has been handed down to her by relatives and townsfolk. I will admit to having chewed off a nail or two and at one point or another having to put the book down because... yes, I admit it, I was freaked out.

All in all, I thought the story flowed real smoothly. There was plenty of action and excitement and I thought it blended well with the parts that were more informational in nature. I loved that throughout it all there was a hint of romance and that alone made the bleak world a more (dare I say) hopeful place.

I really enjoyed and highly recommend this. Plus, I can't wait for the sequel, The Dead-Tossed Waves.

Check it out!


What do you guys think of my new look? I am in love.

My new hero, Ellie, over at Rainy Day Templates designed this for me. Isn't it/she amazing? So welcome - please check all the new gadgets and gizmos out, pick up my new All About {n} button. And please, tell me what you think. Is it easier to navigate, friendly on the eyes.. input please.


Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme

Jessie has recently moved to a new town and is going to a new school. In order to be accepted by the “in” girls at school - she has been dared to spend the night at the local cemetery with a list of names whose graves she has to find. Upon entering the cemetery, she meets Paul, a handsome boy who works as a caretaker at the cemetery. Paul explains to Jessie that this evening is the rehearsal for the Tombstone Tea: a fund-raising performance in which actors impersonate the people buried in the cemetery. But Jessie quickly discovers that they aren’t actors at all but the ghosts of men and women buried in the cemetery. When one of the ghostly inhabitants decides to adopt Jessie to replace her lost daughter, our heroine fears she may never escape the cemetery.

Once again, I was suckered in by the neat cover - but this was surprisingly really good. It was an exciting and interesting story. I loved reading about the cemetery’s ghosts and how they came to reside there as ghosts. Jessie was a great heroine, but all the quirky and zany ghosts were my favorite characters. They had such history and depth to them. Ms. Dahme’s lyrical prose was stunning at parts - you could almost feel the cold seeping into your bones and the ghostly apparitions chasing poor Jaime through the cemetery. Her details and descriptions made it very visual for me. Paul was this guiding light for Jaime and I was hoping more would come from their friendship. Although the story ends and leaves no loose ends, I got the feeling that there might be a continuation to it. Many of the ghosts were introduced in detail, but there were still so many more that you just catch a glimpse of. I can definitely see Jessie having more adventures in the cemetery and there’s also Paul to think about (love interest?). Overall it was a gripping and enjoyable read that I would recommend for readers of all ages who enjoy young adult fiction.


The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Veronica 'Ronnie' Miller is not too happy when her mother decides that she and her younger brother, Jonah, will be spending the summer with their father in Wilmington, North Carolina. It has been three years since her parents divorced and Ronnie has never forgiven him for walking out of their lives. She has not talked to him since then and although her mother is forcing her to go (since she is a few months short of turning 18 - and making her own decisions) she is determined to continue ignoring him until he either gets tired and sends her back to New York or leaves her alone long enough to survive the summer.

Ronnie's father, Steve, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of his local church. He is scared but at the same elated that his children will be spending the summer with him... he just has to work on winning his daughter back.

On Ronnie’s first night in town she meets a local girl named Blaze who introduces her to some of her friends, including her boyfriend Marcus. But Ronnie can tell these guys are bad news and when Marcus makes a pass at her she is quickly caught in a rough spot. Luckily for her, she also meets Will Blakely, local heartthrob. Will befriends her and although she puts up quite a fight she knows that Will is the type of guy you want to bring home to papa - the one you also fall head over heels for. As the summer progresses, Ronnie has to face some tough decisions, she has to learn to forgive and forget but, most importantly, to let her guard down and love.

Our story is beautifully told through several different perspectives - Ronnie, Steve, Will and even Marcus. These characters were so well-written and fleshed out, some you liked - some you didn't. They each had their own emotional baggage and it was a treat to see their transformation over this one summer - a boy grows up, a young woman emerges, a love blossoms, and a girl finds her way back.

I will admit that it did take me a couple of chapters to actually get into it, but once Will came into the picture - well, I found it hard not to fall in love with him the story. This is a coming of age story about the love between parents and their children, first love, loss, forgiveness and even... sea turtles. As a Nicholas Sparks fan, I was a bit reluctant to buy this one as I was disappointed with his last book - but he totally made up for it with this one. Oh, and one last bit of advice, keep your tissues on hand - I was sobbing for a good hour towards the end of this novel.


Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Meg is a wild and rebellious girl - she drives a motorcycle, has blue hair, indulges in casual sex, has a pot-head boyfriend and is counting down her last few months of high school. She has been looking forward to that moment her whole life - the moment when she can finally escape her parents, her job and the small town she’s always lived in. Somewhere different where she can be someone new - go to college, etc. And even more exciting than all that is her upcoming Spring Break trip to Mexico.... But one night’s stupid decision to hang with her friends and boyfriend on a train bridge (where some kids were killed a few years back) - lands her in jail and having to cancel her trip to spend quality time with the officer who arrests her.

Officer John After has the bright idea that Meg and her friends (sans boyfriend - whose dad is a hotshot attorney) should learn from their mistakes and thinks that each one should ride around with the emergency personnel called out to the bridge the night of their escapade. And guess who Meg has to drive around with for five nights? Yep, Officer After - who ends up being much younger (and cuter - okay, and hotter) then Meg originally thought.

Meg doesn’t understand why John would choose to stay in a small town - to help protect and serve and even talk dumb kids out of making wrong choices. She questions everything he learned at the police academy... but when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge -- and over.

I love character driven novels like this. Most of the book is just Meg and John - sitting in his cop car reminiscing and just opening up to each other little by little about their hopes, dreams, aspirations... life. When you first read about Meg - the way she looks and how she acts, you can picture and see her one way, but as she slowly unravels you find a person that you immediately side with, whose witty remarks have you laughing out loud or at the brink of tears. John comes off as the shy, quiet type with this underlying strength. But together they are perfect - they have such awesome chemistry that I was really saddened when this book was over. I wanted more of them. As their secrets are revealed you can't help but root for their love to overcome any obstacles.

I was sucked in from the first chapter and it was hard to put down (and I will confess I didn’t really do much of that). I sat down and read it and didn’t stop until I was done with it. I was surprised by how much I really liked it - I thought it would be a cute little romance without too much depth - but it was so much more than that. It was thoughtful, sexy and plainly unputdownable. I highly recommend this one.


A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Gemma, 16, has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. [taken from back cover of book]

Firstly, I want to say that I absolutely loved Ms. Bray’s descriptions of colonial India, Victorian England and The Realms - such very different places but so vividly detailed. Oh and Spence... {sighs} I love Victorian finishing schools. I liked Gemma - I thought Ms. Bray did a great job depicting her as a normal teen with all the emotional turmoil, teen angst, pettiness, selfishness, etc., that you would see in any teen. I liked that she wasn't perfect - that she had her flaws and in the end that was what won me over. My only complaint was that (on certain occasions) the way she talked and expressed herself was not very true to that of a Victorian young lady - I found it somewhat modern.

I liked the friendship that the girls sparked - I thought they were all so different (some likeable, some not so much) but in the end, they made it work. I also enjoyed how Kartik was woven into the story - especially in those dream sequences (wink wink). I wasn’t sure if to like him or not (somewhat the way Gemma feels about him) but I think there’s still hope for him yet. I really had to appreciate that Ms. Bray managed to tell an entertaining story, while trying to instill ideas of feminine power.

My only issue with this book is that they paint suicide in such an easy light. I really don’t want to spoil or give anything away, so I won’t be able to discuss this in as much detail as I’d like, but there is more than one suicide and the characters just seem “okay” with this.

All in all, I still thought that the story flowed really well and had plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing. There were plenty of loose ends - but alas, there are two more books in this trilogy which I’m sure will remedy that. In the end, I found A Great and Terrible Beauty entertaining and definitely a page-turner. I would definitely recommend to lovers of historical fiction with a (slightly creepy) magical twist.

What are you Reading on Mondays? (Week 9/21/09)

For everyone else's responses, please visit J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog. What am I reading this week:

Last week I read the following:

- The Last Song - Nicholas Sparks [review]
- Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black & Cecil Castellucci [review/giveaway]
- Willow - Julia Hoban
- The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
- Prophecy of the Sisters - Michelle Zink [review]

I reviewed the following:

- Fairest of All - Serena Valentino [review]
- Uglies - Scott Westerfeld [review]
- Lucan - Susan Kearney [review/giveaway]
- Ash - Malinda Lo [review]

What are you reading this week?


Giveaway Results: Stray Affections

And the winners of Stray Affections by Charlene Ann Baumbich are:

Addicted Book Reader

Way to go ladies! Winners were chosen using I will be e-mailing each of you. You have until Tuesday to get back to me, if I haven't heard from you by then, a new winner will be chosen.

Also for those of you who haven't entered already, I also have giveaways for Lucan by Susan Kearney (ends 9/25/09); Christian Fiction Fab Five Giveaway (ends 9/25/09); Geektastic (ends 9/30/09); Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway (ends 10/02/09); and celebrating my 200 Follower milestone (open to followers only ends 10/09/09). Have a great weekend my lovelies.

Geektastsic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

Geektastic is a combination of short stories and single-page graphic humor by some of today’s hottest YA authors (M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Tracy Lynn, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr). The stories range anywhere from laugh out loud funny to some more serious and touching - and although I’m not a big fan of short stories - this one is definitely worth the read.

Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci's opening story “had me at hello” - just uproariously funny. Libba Bray’s story and my new hero “David Leithan” - were amazing. I will confess there were some great stories and some not-so-great one’s - but in the end I think it was a good all-around package. I really wasn’t much of a geek during high school and at one point even doubted whether or not I was geek enough to get some of these stories- but other than a handful of references that went over my head - I felt right at home.

This is great reading for those of us who at one point were obsessed with Klingons, Jedis, Dr. Who, astronomy, dinosaurs, drama club, marching band, crushes, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Quiz Bowl, etc.

This is a must read for any geek, geeklover, or undercover geek. I'm totally doing the “live long and prosper hand signal” right now.

GIVEAWAY: I have 5 copies of Geektastic up for grabs.

As always, leave a comment for one entry. If you'd like extra entries just say so in your comment or separate comments (extra entries for followers, Twitter, sidebars, Facebook, etc.) Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving comment as Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open to U.S. & Canada residents only. No P.O. Boxes. Winners will be drawn Wednesday, September 30.


Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash is a retelling of Cinderella. After her father’s unexpected death, Ash is at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Because of her father’s debts, her stepmother puts her to work as housemaid. Her only joy comes from rereading the fairy tales that her mother once told her of. In her dreams, someday the faeries will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

Then one day she meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, and her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing faerie tales, Ash and Kaisa form a friendship. They continually find excuses to see one another and eventually Kaisa teaches Ash to hunt. Though their friendship is delicate, it reawakens in Ash feelings that have long been dormant.... her capacity to love-and her desire to live. But when Sidhean claims Ash for his own, she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

My first impression of this book was woah... Ash is in love with another woman!?! But after my initial shock (I tend to not read book descriptions and just jump right in - my fault really) wore off, I was sucked into a world that was very unique and refreshing.

Now I must confess, there were some things I really didn’t enjoy about this story. For one, I was confused about Sidhean’s role in all this... I mean yes, I was thinking faerie godmother, pretty dress, ball... and yea, it did have to do with that, but he was obviously much more than that since he coveted Ash for himself. Then there was Ash’s relationship with Kaisa. I enjoyed how it slowly grew into more than just a friendship. My only complaint with it was that at no point did you truly feel Ash’s need for either Kaisa or Sidhean. I had mixed emotions about them (and maybe that’s what Ms. Lo was going for) I’m not sure, but I felt just as confused as Ash did. Not to mention, the stepmother, the prince, the stepsisters and all... it was just a bit overwhelming for me.

With that said, my favorite parts were Ash’s retelling of the folk faerie tales. I loved reading them and to me these were the most vivid and colorful parts of the book. Ms. Lo has a knack for details - I basically felt as if I were traipsing through the forest after midnight. The descriptions were so detailed that you could almost feel the grass at your feet and the dew in the air... it was lovely really. I also have to give it major kudos for its uniqueness.

All in all, although not a favorite, I would still recommend this to anyone who likes a new version of this classic fairytale.


Lucan by Susan Kearney

When the inhabitants of Earth seem to be doomed by infertility, it is up to Lucan Roarke to help find a way to save the human race. He believes that if he is to find the Holy Grail, he might have found just what humans need in order to heal their bodies and help jump start their reproductive systems. If he fails, they face possible extinction.

Set some time in the unknown future, Lucan stumbles upon a map that leads him to believe that the Grail is on a distant planet named Pendragon. It takes him several years (including a few to learn their language) but eventually he is able to land there and blend in with the scientists on the planet as an archeologist and Dragonian linguist.

There he meets the Lady Cael - the High Priestess of Pendragon. She is revered by her people because of her abilities as a Dragonshifter. From a young age her family sent her away to fulfill her destiny as High Priestess and since then she has never had the luxury of having friends, being close to her family, or even a touching hand. For it is forbidden that she be touched - punishable by death, and she has resigned herself to her life of solitude. That is until she meets Lucan, who not only touches her making her crave things that are forbidden, but who sees and treats her as a woman.

Lucan cannot afford the feelings he has for Cael - as he is Earth’s only hope for survival. But when they must join forces to defeat the Tribes who want to find the Grail and use it for their own evil purposes - he finds that no matter how much he fights it, he will not be able to accomplish his mission without her - although it might mean losing his heart (or gaining one) in the process.

This is the first in the Pendragon Legacy Trilogy. The second, Rion comes out in December 2009, and Jordan coming in March 2010. Although at first I was a bit skeptical about King Arthur, the Holy Grail and the whole dragon thing, but once I got past that I truly enjoyed this. Lucan is hawt! And Lady Cael, a simmering little seductress. They are a match made in... heaven space. They had this great relationship with plenty of push and pull and witty dialogue.... oh, and did I mention steaming love scenes. This was a great start to what I’m sure will be a fantastic series. You already get your introduction to Rion here and from his heroics in this book and what I was able to read of the first chapter from his book - seems like he is quite the catch too. I loved the concept of the quest for the Holy Grail - and I thought it was utterly clever that Ms. Kearney came up with the idea that the Holy Grail has never been found because they’ve always looked for it on the wrong planet... just priceless. Filled with adventure, mystery, politics, myths, shapeshifting and, of course, did I mention those steaming love scenes... [sighs]. This was a quick, light and fun read that I recommend to anyone who likes their romances with a sci-fi twist , and of course, those steaming love scenes.

GIVEAWAY: I have 5 copies of Lucan by Susan Kearney up for grabs.

As always, leave a comment for one entry. If you'd like extra entries just say so in your comment or separate comments (extra entries for followers, Twitter, sidebars, Facebook, etc.) Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving comment as Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open to U.S. & Canada residents only. No P.O. Boxes. Winners will be drawn Friday, September 25.


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Tally Youngblood is anxiously awaiting her sixteenth birthday. Why? Well once she turns sixteen she will be reunited with her BFF Peris, but more importantly than that, she will finally be pretty. That’s right, at the moment, Tally is living amongst the Uglies.

“Uglies” is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious global catastrophe has pretty much wiped out most of the planet as well as its inhabitants. Several hundred years later, the survivors (or at this point generations later) fearful of war and violence - now cities are known as independent states. These cities have agreed to certain standards for the greater good. For instance at the age of sixteen you undergo major plastic surgery and are moved to new living quarters in a town known as, you guessed it, “Prettytown” - where you live it up with other pretties just like you - partying and just having a grand ol’ time.

A couple of months prior to their sixteenth birthday, Tally meets Shay. They become fast friends and tend to hang out and play tricks together. But after several weeks Tally realizes that there’s something different about Shay. For one, she doesn’t want to be pretty, she actually thinks she’s not ugly. Which to Tally is quite surprising since everyone knows you are ugly before the operation. Secondly, she keeps talking about a secretive place called the Smoke and a mysterious friend named David. Shay eventually runs away to the Smoke the day before her sixteenth birthday leaving Tally behind with a set of cryptic directions in case she decides to forgo her dream of being pretty. But Tally has no intention of running away - her dream has always been to be pretty. That is until Special Circumstances (an organization like the FBI) gets involved and gives her the ultimatum of being pretty or staying ugly forever but in the process she’ll have to betray her friend and all the inhabitants of the Smoke. That is, of course, if she can decipher Shay's directions and makes it there alive.

Although I did find it a bit difficult at first to understand what was going on, once I actually started understanding about pretties, uglies, etc., I really enjoyed this dystopian future. I love anything post-apocalyptic - and reading about a world where technology surpasses ours, where there's a magnetic grid running beneath the surface that allows the residents to travel via hoverboards and/or hovercrafts, is a treat. I liked the fact that it had an underlying thread about recycling and taking care of our planet. And like most teens today - Tally and Shay were facing some of the same issues - low self-esteem, peer pressure, etc. I loved when they would mention the Rusty's (the people who were living before the big catastrophe... or us). It was a mystery that little by little unraveled itself on what and why the world was the way it is in their time. I will forewarn that it ends rather abrubtly, but do not fret as there is a sequel.

With that said, although a bit confusing at first, stick through the first couple of chapters and you will find yourself completely immersed in a unique world full adventure, suspense and even a little romance thrown in there for good measure.
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