GIVEAWAY: The Black Dagger Brotherhood

I have a special giveaway for you guys today. I haven't done a FOLLOWERS ONLY giveaway in a while and I thought now was the perfect time. You guys have stuck with me through thick and thin and since I just recently got one of these puppies for myself, I thought I would show my appreciation by getting one lucky follower one as well.  

This giveaway is for a gift box set of the first six books of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  That means you get Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Butch, Vishous and Phury.  I can't say that this series and I always see eye to eye, but I have lost many an hour indulging in it. 

This special giveaway is for FOLLOWERS ONLY. Old followers get an extra entry  And I will allow extra entries for posting on sidebars, blog posts, twitter, facebook, All About {n} button, etc. (just leave link).  Make sure to leave e-mail address too. Winner will be drawn September 26. Open internationally. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: She's Gone Country

Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he'd fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons. Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also struggling to find themselves. Add to the mix Shey's ex-crush, Dane Kelly, a national bullriding champ and she's got her hands full. It doesn't take long before Shey realizes that in order to reinvent herself, she must let go of an uncertain future and a broken past, to find happiness--and maybe love--in the present.
You can find my review here.

GIVEAWAY:  I have 3 copies up for grabs - thanks to the lovely folks at HBG.

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, my spiffy All About {n} button, etc.) Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving a comment under Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open to U.S. & Canada residents only. No P.O. Boxes. Winners will be drawn Sunday, September 19.

She's Gone Country by Jane Porter

Shey Darcy, at 39, has lived the life many of us can only dream of.  She is a former top model that has graced the covers of Vogue and Sport Illustrated, lives in New York City with her husband and three boys.   Life is perfect, or at least it was, when her husband of 17 years decides to finally come out of the closet and confesses to liking men.

Shey decides that moving back to her hometown of Parkfield, Texas is the best thing for her and her three boys.  But packing up and heading back home to her family is not going to resolve any of her problems.  On the other hand, she finds that she and the boys cannot stop fighting, and now she has her mother to worry about too.  Then there is Dane.  Dane Kelly, her childhood crush, the same boy who's now grown into a rough and tough, rugged, yet handsome cowboy.  By rounding all these elements up, there is something for everyone in this story.

Although this is my first Jane Porter book, I somehow knew I would enjoy her work.  And sure enough, I was very pleased with She's Gone Country.  I think Ms. Porter does a fine job of fleshing out her characters - giving them each their own set of problems to face.  Whether it was Shey, Dane, one of her three kids, her mother or even one of  her brothers, I think we truly grasp their feelings, their struggles and their flaws.  You feel like a part of the family by the time you are through reading it. 

I really like the family dynamics in the story.  I thought Ms. Porter perfectly described how divorce can affect a family.  The boys all underwent major life changes, leaving behind their home, their friends, schools, etc. and I think she accurately describes the emotions kids their age might undergo.  I also thought it was refreshing to read how both Shey and her ex-husband John, although not always seeing eye to eye, could form an alliance in order to deal with their children. 

All in all, She's Gone Country has something for everyone - romance, family drama and even a mystery to solve.  It's got great characters that you will not only love, but who you will be able to relate to.  I even learned a thing or two from it - what with Shey's modeling and Dane's professional bull riding.  This is a great book to escape with.  It is chick lit at its best and one that I can see becoming a fan favorite.

This book was provided for review by BookSparks PR.


Sherrilyn Kenyon fans!

If you are a fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series... then you are anxiously awaiting her newest addition to the series No Mercy which releases September 7.

Check out the new trailer:

You can also learn more about No Mercy over at Sherrilyn Kenyon's site.  

This is one I can't wait to get my grubby little hands on. :)

Manic Monday Recaps (Week 8/30/10)

Happy Monday friends! Thank you all for your lovely comments on the new layout.  I myself have not been able to stop looking at it.  It's so purrrrty.  It was a boring weekend for me.  It rained all weekend here so we mostly stayed indoors.  I took the time to clean up house and catch on some programs I've had TiVo'd for like ever.  Still reading The Hunger Games.  I've been procrastinating reading it - I just don't want it to be over.  I'll finish it tonight though because it's gotten to the point where it is just too difficult to put down.

Here's what I plan on reading this week:

Last week I read the following:
- Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
- Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis
- She's Gone County by Jane Porter

I reviewed the following:
- It's a Book by Lane Smith  [review]
- I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore [review]
- The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham [review/giveaway]
- Soulstice by Simon Holt [review]

I'm keeping it simple this week because for some reason I've been in a reading funk.  You can see what I got in my mailbox last week - here.

Have a great reading week!

Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis

Vanishing and Other Stories explores emotional and physical absences, the ways in which people leave, are left, and whether or not it's ever possible to move on. Readers will encounter a skinny ice-cream scooper named Nina Simone, a vanishing visionary of social utopia, a French teacher who collects fiancés, and a fortune-telling mother who fails to predict the heartbreak of her own daughter. The characters in this collection will linger in the imagination, proving that nothing is ever truly forgotten. [via GoodReads]
What a sad, unnerving, yet touching and memorable set of short stories.  I cant' really say that I am fond of short stories - although I must confess, that as of late, they have been growing on me more and more. 

These 14 stories have a common thread - someone or something is missing.  It could be the absence of a loved one or the death of a significant other, even the loss of something - in the end someone vanishes and someone is left behind.  These are the stories of those who stay, how they live their lives without this person or thing that is missing. 

I have to say that Ms. Willis is a very talented writer.  Her words were a joy to read.  She masterfully grabs you at the start of each story and you will find that you can't stop until that story is over.  I found it very unique that we get so much in each story, which you usually don't find in short stories.  By giving you details of a characters past and present, you begin to understand them more fully, you get to know them and eventually acknowledge and appreciate their growth throughout their stories.  This alone was quite astonishing to me, because although the stories were mostly sad, you feel as if there is some closure in each one.  She also captures her characters - whether it be a woman scorned, a friend, a sibling, or even an aging cowboy, young or old - the narrators all seemed true, someone you might know, or even a few of their aspects might be found within you. 

Vanishing was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction.  This book is one I'd recommend to lovers of short stories or even better yet, to book clubs, because it is very thought provoking.  My final say is, you may relate to one of these stories or, you might relate to none, but in the end, they will stay with you.

About the author:
Deborah Willis’s work has appeared in the Bridport Prize Anthology, Event, and Grain, and she was a winner of PRISM International‘s annual fiction prize. Short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, Vanishing and Other Stories is her first book of fiction. 

You can also visit her website here.

This book was provided for review by


The new, revamped All About {n}

All About {n}

So what do you guys think about the all new and revamped All About {n}?  I was dying for a makeover and after researching various design blogs I found Dreamy Blog Designs.  After ogling all the beautiful layouts in the portfolio, I sent an email and that's where I met Danny.

Danny is funny, competent, thorough and based on the the work I've seen on her site, capable of embracing a myriad of design aesthetics.  She can bend a template to her will in absolutely wonderful ways.  What you're left with is not only a customized front-end but more options for back-end customization than I ever thought possible.

Danny has been an absolute joy to work with.  I would highly recommend her to anyone looking to freshen up or maybe get a face-lift for their site at a very reasonable cost.  Thank you Danny for being so patient, quick and sweet!

There are going to be some more changes around here, but we'll talk about that next week.  For those of you who have already commented on the new do - I thank you for your lovely comments, it not only feeds my ego, but I'm sure Danny's as well (she is the true artiste behind it all).  For those of you just getting your first glimpse, please let me know what you think.  I'm looking for all the feedback I can get.

IMM Vlog [6]

Sorry it took so long to post. As you can see, I recorded it on Friday night and it is now Sunday morning. Youtube had a conspiracy against me and would not let me upload the video. Trust me I tried all weekend. I settled for Photobucket. I think you guys will be able to see the new blog look sooner than later as Danny is done and will be installing it some time today. I can't wait to hear what you guys think.

Books for Review
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball by Risa Gree
When I was Joe by Keren David

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Have a great weekend.


Have a lovely weekend friends

It looks like it's going to be another rainy weekend here in South Florida. Hope you guys have a sunny weekend and, if it's raining there too, then may you catch up on some much needed reading.


Soulstice by Simon Holt

It has been six months since the events that transpired in The Devouring took place. For the past six months Reggie Halloway has seen nor heard anything from the Vours.

Although they are survivors, Reggie, her brother Henry and her best friend Aaron, are all still affected by their ordeal from six months prior. Reggie has nightmares and cannot put aside her terrible memories. Henry not only has war wounds but he has become a quiet boy who continues to suffer from nightmares and violent episodes. Aaron seems to be the one least affected, but he is worried for his friend and continues to worry about the investigation taking place regarding the disappearance of town golden boy Quinn Waters - which we all know he is now swimming with the fishes after his Vour possession.

And then everything goes to hell in a hand basket - the Vours make their move against Aaron and Quinn Waters somehow survived his drowning in freezing water and is back looking to pair up with Reggie - since his Vour brethren have turned against him. As Reggie continues to learn more and more about the Vours - she begins to realize that there are more townfolk possessed then she anticipated. She does not know who to believe, who to trust - for the one least expected might just turn out to be a Vour.

Let me start by saying that I found The Devouring to be very scary - well I found that Soulstice upped the scariness stakes. The Devouring was more about developing the atmosphere, getting a feel for the Vours and what they stand for. In Soulstice, Mr. Holt focuses more on fear. The scenes are tense, terrifying and I could not help but be fascinated by them. I also found it to be more fast-paced, picking you up right from the start and not letting you take a breather until you were done with it (at least that is the way it was with me).

I really like Reggie - she is a smart, strong heroine - at times she even has this Buffy-esque type feel to her. The Vours and their madness and the twists and turns along the story will have you at the edge of your seat. Mr. Holt's writing is intense and graphic when it comes to bringing any child's (including my own) fear to light. The fearscape he creates (although shorter than in The Devouring) was even more creepy then the first. And can we talk about the nasty cliffhanger at the end - I was like Oh, hell naw!!! I can't believe it ended that abruptly... very evil, very, very evil Mr. Holt!

All in all, a deliciously creepy series. One that I think that will cater to not only teens looking for a scary book but one that will also seduce lovers of horror. This is definitely not one you want to read before bedtime as I guarantee you will have a hard time falling to sleep. I personally cannot wait to see what will happen next - I look forward to the next installment, Fearscape, scheduled to release Fall 2010. Yikes!


The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham

When Teddy Matthews moves with his mother to the desert town of Richland, Washington, he is not overly thrilled. He's left his friends and school behind and has moved into a new home where he'll have to start anew.

Upon his mother's bickering that he cannot remain indoors and must venture out to make new friends - he finds himself drawn to the giant sycamore tree in the yard of the abandoned house next door. A tree that has been mutated by nuclear waste - which in turn has taken a life of its own. This tree is like no other, for it feeds on the life energy of boys that it ensnares with its living roots. Teddy, at first, doesn't understand why he is drawn to the tree or why every time he meets a new boy in the neighborhood they somehow disappear - right before his eyes. Something is terribly wrong with Richland and he quickly learns that what's wrong is the tree - a tree that has its sights on its next victim.

This book was so deliciously creepy. I actually started reading it right before bedtime and ended up having to put it down and wait till the following morning to pick it back up. I found myself caught up in the mystery of the tree, the dead boys, and Teddy's fight for his life. He was a great character - brave, strong, one who respected his mother, and although there is a slight altercation of breaking and entering, an all around good boy. When Teddy crosses over into a dream-like world where the tree is supreme and above all - I was literally sitting at the edge of my seat. I felt his anxiety, his dread and his fears.

Mr. Buckingham positively delivers a frightening tale with good ambiance and lots of creepy moments, mysterious shadows, creaky windows and menacing elements that make this a successfully atmospheric read. It will definitely appeal to reluctant readers with its fast pace and chill factor. This is a great read for young and old alike that like a good spook before bedtime.

This book was provided for review by Planned Television Arts.

GIVEAWAY: I have 1 copy 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.) ; and for putting my spiffy little button on your blog. Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving a comment under Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open to U.S. & Canada residents. Winners will be drawn Sunday, September 5.


I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

I Am Number Four chronicles the story of Number Four a/k/a John Smith. He is one of the nine children that were smuggled out of planet Lorien amid a devastating war with the Mogadorians. As their planet and everything and everyone on it was killed, nine children along with their nine guardians were sent to planet Earth. Their mission is to blend in with the inhabitants of the planet until they grow up and stay alive long enough (since they are still being hunted by their enemies), until their legacies (special powers) come into effect - which normally takes place around age 16.

John has been on the run with his guardian, Henri, as long as he can remember. They change towns, names and lives as if they were a change of clothes. They are experts at remaining safe, unknown and undetected. They don't make any friends and try not to draw attention to themselves and, if for instance, someone notices something unnatural in John, they quickly pack up and move on. When Number Three is killed, John knows he is next, leaving once again to a new location with new identities. This time to the remote town of Paradise, Ohio.

But in Paradise, John finds more than he expected. For instance, he makes his first friend , meets a girl that he falls head over heels for and he even finds a dog that he brings home. His legacies have begun to manifest and he is training in order to strengthen them, but as their enemies get closer it becomes increasingly hard for him to conceal what he is.

This was a fast-paced, adventure-full, journey. I absolutely loved it. You can't help but feel sympathy for John. He might seem like any normal 16 year old teen, he goes through the same emotions, feelings and angst expected from any boy his age, yet he has all this power and energy inside. He finally feels that he can fit in - where his friend (Sam) and new girlfriend (Sara) can accept and love him. But their are cracks in the security he finds and he knows that he and Henri will have to flee yet again. John was a great character - very realistic and somewhat relateable (sans the alien powers, of course). Henri, his guardian is a hero - he gives up so much of himself in order to ensure John's safety. Sara was a very lovable girl, you want her and John together from the moment she comes into the picture, and Sam, his friend, has so much character growth throughout the story that you feel very close to him by the end. Another favorite character of mine, and one who is more of the silent type, Bernie Kozar, John's dog. But I won't tell you more about him and will let you guys read more about his awesomeness for yourself.

This book is the first in what is rumored to be a 6-part series. I absolutely loved it - I keep saying that don't I? This first book had a lot of background information as to planet Lorien, its inhabitants and John's family life before the war. I loved the flashbacks where John travels back to his time on Lorien. Through these flashbacks you get a detailed description of what life on Lorien was like and you can't help but hope that one day it will once again prosper - as bleak as that hope might be.

This was a very imaginative and exciting read. The action sequences towards the end of the book had me at the edge of my seat and biting my nails with worry. And yes, there is a serious cliffhanger - but one that I can't really complain about because it just leaves you that much more excited for the next book. The movie is scheduled to release early next year and the second book in the series, titled The Power of Six, releases Spring 2011. I can't recommend this enough - for fans of fantasy and sci-fi. I'll say it again, I loved it, and I found it gripping and engaging and just downright fun. READ IT!

For those of you wondering about the author: Pittacus Lore is the leading elder of Lorien whose whereabouts are unknown. Pittacus Lore is also the pseudonym for the writing team of James Frey and Jobie Hughes.


It's a Book by Lane Smith

It's a Book is quite a treat for those of us who fondly remember a time before e-readers, computers, iPods and WiFi.

For some reason, I found this picture book so funny. I could not help but feel for the poor monkey who is just reading a book when his tech-savvy friend donkey asks him what it is. Donkey quizzes him on what the sole purpose of the book is and monkey patiently answers all his questions. A unique and quite funny conversation takes place.

I'm not 100% sure what audience this book is catering to. As an adult I thoroughly enjoyed it - to the point where I shared it with everyone who walked in the house over the weekend. But I'm not sure it is geared for young children. It is a picture book so words are scarce and there is a word towards the end that although I personally don't consider it (jackass) a bad word, I could see where many would object to its use in a children's book. Not to mention I would then have to explain what it means since its not a word my 3 and 4 year old's use. But for more mature children, I would say 6 and up, I think can definitely enjoy it. Plus, the word jackass can be found in the dictionary as a description for a donkey, so technically it's an animal, not a bad word.

This is a must read for book lovers, book readers and just anyone who needs a little lesson in what a book is and what a book is not. I personally loved it!

This book was provided for review by Zeitghost Media.

To learn more about author/illustrator Lane Smith, check out his website here.

Giveaway Winners - come one, come all!

As always, I've fallen behind on my giveaway winner posts, so here's a round-up of all the pending giveaways that were overdue:

Going too Far by Jennifer Echols

Follow Me by Joanna Scott
~ The Book Pixie
My Name is Patricia

New Tricks by David Rosenfelt
- carla
- Kritter
- Nancye

Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons

- Alicia
- Janet Ruth
- Autumn

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn
- OutnumberedMama
- Savi
- Amanda at the Mortal's Library

The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha

- Linda Kish

Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch (audiobook)
- Andrea
- Audrey
- Vidisha

The Island by Elin Hilderbrand (audiobook)
- Valene Marie (no e-mail)
- Pamela Keener
- edward delanza

Radiance by Alyson Noel
- Kirsty Wongmcdonaldssauce.
- Jo-Jo
- Ladytink_534
- May
- AlishaD313 (twitter)

Way to go you guys! Winners were chosen using randomizer.org. I will be sending out e-mails within the next couple of minutes, so be on the look out for it if you are one of the winners. You have until Friday to get back to me, if I haven't heard from you by then, a new winner will be chosen.

If you are still interested in more giveaways, check out my giveaways page [here] later today as I will be posting more giveaways this afternoon. Toodles.

Manic Monday Recaps [Week 8/23/10]

Happy Monday friends! I've had a hectic morning. The kids are back in school here in Miami-Dade County and traffic was a hot mess. My kids weren't very susceptible to the idea after having two weeks off with mommy - so this morning it was tearful, weepy hugs all around. Then it was rushing to work (my first day back) in order to get there on time. But alas, I am safe and sound sitting in front of my computer already back to the daily grind. These past couple of weeks off I planned on getting caught up on my reading and that (as always) was not the case. Instead, I spent my time with the kids giving them a couple of fun-filled weeks. Hopefully, I'll get back on track this week since I am now on the way to my normal routine.

Here's what I plan on reading this week:

Last week I read the following:
- Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch
- It's a Book by Lane Smith
- The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham
- The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

I reviewed the following:

- Plain Kate by Erin Bow [review]
- Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love - anthology [review]

To see what I got in my mailbox last week you can click here.

Have a great reading week.


IMM Vlog [5]

Books for review
-Primal Instincts by Susan Sizemore
- The Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman
- The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes
- Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
- You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers
- Little Princes by Conor Grennan
- It's a Book by Lane Smith

- The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
- Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
- The Black Dagger Brotherhood series - J.R. Ward (the first 6 books in series)

Courtesy of local library
-The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
- We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
- The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

So what did you get in your mailbox?


Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love [anthology]

Full of dark seduction and modern romance, this short story collection presents a variety of talented voices sure to satisfy every werewolf, ghost, fallen angel, zombie, and shape-shifter’s dark desires.

First things first, from the moment I heard of this book I could not help but salivate over it just at the thought of so many of my favorite authors all within the same book. Here is a quick synopsis of the stories inside:

The Assassin's Apprentice by Michelle Zink - This was actually one of my favorites stories. It deals with vengeance, danger and love. I really hope Ms. Zink will endeavor in creating a series or even a stand-alone about these characters. I'm definitely interested in learning more about them.

Errant by Diana Peterfreund - If you've read Ms. Peterfreund's Rampant, then you'll definitely recognize this world. It's a story about two very different individuals who can find a common ground - their love of a unicorn.

The Spirit Jar by Karen Mahoney - This is the first that I've read by Ms. Mahoney. She's very clever. I loved her witty characters that were snarky and sarcastic (my favorite type). Not to mention any girl with the name Moth gets two thumbs up in my book. The story did feel a little long, but I think Ms. Mahoney used her space wisely.

Lost by Justine Musk - This is also the first time I read anything by Ms. Musk. Sasha is good at finding things. With Haiden's assistance she'll learn to find lost souls. Very beautifully written. But also very sad. I really hope Ms. Musk writes more on this - my interest was definitely piqued.

The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan - What a fun story. In The Spy Who Never Grew Up, you will be surprised to find that the infamous Peter Pan is a spy. Ashley, who just happens to be one of Wendy's ancestors, comes along for the ride.

Dungeons Of Langeais by Becca Fitzpatrick - This story takes place about 300 years before Patch meets Nora. This is the history between Chauncey and Patch. I really liked this one because you learn of what life in Cheshvan is like. Plus, I'm a big fan of Hush Hush and Crescendo so this one could do no wrong.

Behind the Red Door by Caitlin Kittredge - This is a ghost story. When Jo's best friend dares her to enter a house that is believed to be haunted, Jo can't help but take the dare. There she meets Nicholas whom she falls head over heels for. But Nicholas is not who she thinks and she finds herself in deadly trouble. This one was hands down my favorite. It was very creepy and had some unexpected twists that I did not see coming.

Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan - For fans of Ms. Ryan's previous works The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves (like me)... this is a treat, one that will hopefully hold you over until the next book in the series. In Hare Moon you read about Tabitha and Patrick and their forbidden love. Living in separate towns, they meet at the gates to talk and dream of marriage, but when Patrick stops coming around, Tabitha has no other option but to become a nun. Then Patrick returns - claiming that his whole family has perished from an unknown virus. Everyone except him and his little brother. Tabitha takes the chance of hiding him away in the church but we all know what "virus" affects the souls in Ms. Ryan's tales. As always, Ms. Ryan's stories are bittersweet, heartbreaking but so beautifully told. And for those of you who have read her previous novels, then you'll be glad to read more about the detested Sister Tabitha and get insight into what made her the tough and unforgiving woman she is when we first meet her.

Familiar by Michelle Rowen - I really liked this one too. In it Brenda needs to find a familiar (a pet that is used to enhance magic) in order to follow in her mother's footsteps as a successful witch. She picks Owen, a near death kitty - but Owen turns out to be something unexpected. This was the cutest story ever. I really liked Brenda and Owen. There were some swoon-worthy moments in this one.

Fearless by Rachel Vincent - Sadly I haven't read any of Ms. Vincent's books so I wasn't fully understanding of banshees and whatnot. But this was still a good story. It held somewhat of a mystery and I liked how it all resolved.

Vermillion by Daniel Marks - There was a bit too much going on in this one for me to fully enjoy. This happens sometimes with short stories where an author tries to give you too much information and the reader just ends up getting confused. The premise was good though - I like the thought of ghosts having otherworldly missions.

The Hounds of Ulster by Maggie Stiefvater - This story is about faeries! I love Maggie's faeries. Also one of the best stories in the book. This is the story of Sullivan and Bryant. As always, brilliantly told and talk about a shocker ending. One of my faves.

Many Happy Returns by Daniel Waters - This story ties into Mr. Waters' Generation Dead series. I think Mr. Waters poignantly captures one fathers love for his daughter after she is in a car wreck that claims the lives of four teenagers. I teared up over Cal's loss of his beloved daughter Mandy - but even more so at his expectancy of her return.

The stories were all good - some better than others, of course, but relatively all of them were readable. I know that I loved the introduction to new authors that, if these stories are any indication, are definitely going to be added to my to be read list. As with all short stories, most of them leave you wanting more - but all in all, I found them to be very satisfying. Overall this was a very enjoyable anthology that for many will be the introduction to a vast variety of new authors. I recommend to lovers of the genre as well as to those that are looking for a glimpse into those worlds that they already know and love.

This book was reviewed as part of a blog tour through Book it Forward ARC Tours and


Plain Kate by Erin Bow

The town of Samilae is one where its superstitious town folk believe in curses and stories of witchcraft. Katerina Svetlana was nicknamed Plain Kate by the town baker, and the nickname stuck. She spends her days with her father learning how to carve wood and creating talismans for customers who want to ward off evil from their homes or even for good luck. But when a deadly illness sweeps the town, Kate, not only loses her father, but she loses her home. Her neighbors who have always thought she was a witch because she knew how to wield a knife are even more suspicious after the illness kills many. With only her cat Taggle for company, she sets off on her own, but when food is scarce, the weather is harsh and loneliness leaves her feeling bitter, she finds herself striking a bargain with a stranger that will change her life forever. She trades her shadow for her heart's one desire. But we all know, nothing is ever that simple.

I was fascinated by the beautiful storytelling I found in Plain Kate.

Russian folklore seems to be the base of this story - but Plain Kate's adventure is one that I found to be original, dark and utterly captivating. I truly liked Kate. She's a wonderful heroine - she makes mistakes, struggles with the choices she makes, yet is always brave and strong. But I must say, Plain Kate's cat and sidekick, Taggle, well he stole the show. Some of the best moments revolved around Taggle.

What great characters and stunning descriptions of the town and its residents as well as those that Plain Kate encounters along her journey. The writing was simple yet lyrical in nature. It is told in a way that makes it feel charming a quaint. This story has such fairytale feel to it. You feel as if the narrator is reading a story to you - one that, although at first glance feels like a coming-of-age story, ends up being so much more.

One more thing that I found unique, was that Plain Kate did not have a love interest. I enjoyed that she was not pining over a boy, or the very popular love triangle, nor were there any vampires or werewolves. She was just a girl trying to live her life as best she could. The story had its ups and downs but nothing where you felt it dragged. As for the ending, it was bittersweet and heart-breaking but at the same time, it was perfect.

No matter the age, if you love fairytales, fantasy and just good, old fashioned adventure, Plain Kate is the book for you.

This book was reviewed as part of a blog tour through Book it Forward ARC Tours and


Manic Monday Recaps (Week 8/16/10)

Happy Monday friends! I'm home once again this week, but it seems that I am now job-full again. As of next Monday I am to return to my previous job and re-employed once again. Woo woo! I'm excited. I plan on spending this last week with the kids. We have plenty of stuff scheduled every day so they're happy and I'm happy. I had a great week with them last week, we went to Chuck E. Cheese, and when sightseeing in Homestead (which is way down in south Florida) and went produce shopping from all the little shops along the road. We also went to the beach. And mommy had a fun time on Saturday with her friends at a Brad Paisley concert. So needless to say, it was a fun-filled week.

Here's what I plan on reading this week:

Last week I read the following:
- I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
- Plain Kate by Erin Box
- Room by Emma Donoghue
- For Keeps by Natasha Friend

I reviewed the following:
- Looking for Alaska by John Green [review]
- Radiance by Alyson Noel [review/giveaway]
- Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson [review]
- Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins [review]
- Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel [review/giveaway]

For those of you who missed them, you can click here to see my pics of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You can also hear about what I got in my mailbox here.

Have a great week!


IMM Vlog [4]

The hubs was supposed to edit the video and spiff it up for me but he's been busy and if I keep waiting for him I'll never post this up. So although I filmed it on Friday you are now seeing it on Sunday.. ugh.

Books for review

-The Island by Elin Hilderbrand [audiobook]
- Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
- Seduced by a Highlander by Paula Quinn
- Captured by Desire by Kira Morgan
- The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros
- Vanishing by Deborah Willis
- The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham

- Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Courtesy of local library
- Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
- Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson

So what did you get in your mailbox?

Bookcase of the Week [19]

Well, I guess that's one place to store those extra books you have no space for in your shelves or bedside table.


Saturday Sayings [29]

You can actually buy these and many others at this Etsy shop. <3


Have a lovely weekend friends

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Lenah Beaudonte is a 500+ year old... teenager. She was turned by her maker when she was a mere 16 years old. She has ruled as vampire queen for centuries and time has made her into a monster. She kills for sport, has no feelings, no emotions. She has longed to be human, if for nothing else then to save herself and any who might cross her path, and with the help of her maker and former lover, Rhode, she has accomplished just that. She is human! Enrolled in the private and secluded Wickham Boarding School she must now pass for an average 16 year old. But her deserted coven will not stand for Lenah's abandonment and she knows she is on borrowed time. This is Lenah's quest to not only be a human teenager, but to stay a human teenager.

Wow, wow, wow!!! I loved this book.

Ms. Maizel has created a wonderful leading lady in Lenah. What a unique character - one of the most creative I've read in a while. I loved that she was a terrible, horror-invoking, menace when she was a vampire. She's a mean girl - gone good. The flashbacks throughout her life, giving you glimpses into her long existence were so bleak and blood-filled, you could not help but hope that her plans of being human work out.

Another thing that I found very interesting were her love interests. Rhode, her vampire sire, lover and the one that I ultimately went TEAM RHODE! over, then there was Vicken, the man she turned vamp in order to replace her loneliness when Rhode was away and, now, Justin, all-around human teen heartthrob. Her chemistry with all three of her beaus ranged from heart-stopping, sigh-worthy, to just plain, give me a minute while I swoon over here. I also really liked some of the supporting characters, but my favorite was Tony, who quickly jumps in as BFF and sidekick to Lenah.

Aside from the characters and their interactions, I really felt that this story worked well. I loved the alternating between the present and the future. Which was pretty neat since Lenah is so, well... human, in the present and such an evil b*tch in her past. I found myself caught up with Lenah learning to be human again after being a vampire for so long, the ever lurking danger of her past and the joys of finding love when least expected.

I have to say that this character-driven novel is one that I truly enjoyed. Its premise was engaging, the writing and content is mature, the characters are flawed, intense, dark and edgy. An overall perfect package... oh, and did I mention the ending? I definitely didn't see that one coming and there was a wicked cliffhanger too. I can't wait to see what happens next.

This book was provided for review by St. Martin's Griffin.

GIVEAWAY: And because I ♥ this so much - I will gladly give away my gently read ARC copy - to spread the love. Just leave a comment and make sure to leave an email address. Open internationally. Winner will be chosen 8/29/10.


Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. 

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. 

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her. [via GoodReads]
This book was so much better than I thought. For some reason I thought this was going to be a little cheesy, foppish tale about a young witch, I think my worries had to do with the cover - since I find it rather childish, but I was so mistaken. It was oh-so-good!

Sophie is a great heroine. I loved her attitude - she was snarky, funny, sarcastic, but caring, thoughtful and a great friend. I have a thing for witches and this one did not disappoint. There were the mean witches, the good witches, warlocks, and then all other sorts of paranormal creatures roaming the halls of Hex Hall. I also really liked her camaraderie with Jenna - her roommate and sole vampire in the school. Archer - teen heartthrob and warlock to pine for was also a great character. He had so many layers and I really liked how Sophie took her time in finding out he truly was.

Although I thought this would be a light, fun read (and yes, it was), it was also dark and edgy. There was a great mystery to be solved and every time I thought I had it figured out, Ms. Hawkins would throw me in for another loop. I just have two slight complaints... and they are small since this is a 5-star read. 1- There were so many type-o's in this book. I have a pet peeve with type-o's and, they are expected in ARC's, but this is my hardcover book that I paid $16.99 for. I find that unacceptable. When I'm reading a book I get totally engrossed by it and a type-o just jars me back to reality - it stands out and just plain annoys me. 2- The ending. Although yes, it was good because I did not see it coming, it also just ended... rather abruptly. It almost felt like a chapter or a few pages were missing. Then again it left me that much more anticipating the next in the series.

All in all, I must admit that I loved this book. I highly recommend to fans of paranormal and YA genres.


Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson

At thirty-three, talented chef Georgia Gray has everything a woman could want—the top job at one of Manhattan’s best restaurants; a posse of smart and savvy gal pals who never let her down; and a platinum-set, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring courtesy of Glenn, the handsome entertainment lawyer who Georgia’s overbearing mother can’t wait for her to marry. The table is set for the ambitious bride-to-be until a scathing restaurant review destroys her reputation. To add salt to her wounds, Glenn suddenly calls off the wedding. I think the ambiance that Italy as a setting brings to a book
Brokenhearted, Georgia escapes to the Italian countryside, where she sharpens her skills at a trattoria run by a world-class chef who seems to have it all—a devoted lover, a magnificent villa, and most important, a kitchen of her own. Georgia quells her longings with Italy’s delectable offerings: fine wine, luscious cheeses, cerulean blue skies, and irresistible Gianni—an expert in the vineyard and the bedroom. So when Gianni tempts Georgia to stay in Italy with an offer no sane top chef could refuse, why can’t she say yes? 

An appetite for something more looms large in Georgia’s heart – the desire to run her own restaurant in the city she loves. But having left New York with her career in flames, she’ll need to stir up more than just courage if she’s to realize her dreams and find her way home. [via GoodReads]
You know I read all these books of girls running off to Italy to find themselves... (i.e. Under the Tuscan Sun, Eat Pray Love, etc.) why didn't I ever think of that? Gosh! 

When Georgia's life comes crumbling down around her she picks up the pieces by changing location, lifestyle, leaving family and friends behind. She finds herself working with an old friend at an up-and-coming restaurant, with a staff that's helpful and encouraging, she makes new friends and even finds a love interest in a neighbor... but although Italy holds its appeal, her dream has always been to own a restaurant in New York.
Ms. Nelson creates a wonderful protagonist in Georgia. She's tough but you can't help to feel bad for her with all the unlucky events she's going through. You like her from the start and will definitely be rooting for her. The supporting characters were just as fun and endearing. But my favorite were the descriptions of Tuscany itself. You will find yourself picturing the rustic backdrop, hearing the sounds and smelling its scent. Ms. Nelson definitely captures the tiny details and creates a very vivid setting. And then there were the descriptions of food - the details were so rich that I could actually envision and practically smell what was being cooked. Mouth watering.

All in all, fans of chick-lit, romance and foodies will all find something in Georgia's Kitchen. It is light, entertaining and very charming. It is the perfect summer read and one that I can definitely recommend.

This book was provided for review by BookSparks PR


Radiance by Alyson Noel

Riley Bloom has left her sister Ever (Evermore) in the world of the living and has finally crossed the bridge into a place that she calls the Here and Now. She doesn't really know where she is, thus she calls it Here and if she is to ask the date, time, etc., she is told it is Now. The Here and Now is everything she wants it to be. Her parents, grandparents and even her dog Buttercup are there. She lives in the same house, the same neighborhood (minus the neighbors, they're still living), even sleeps in her same bed. She is just beginning to settle into a nice, relaxed death when she is called before The Council. After seeing most of her life flash before her, she is told that she, along with everyone else in the afterlife, has a purpose and hers is to become a Soul Catcher. They pair her up with a guide/leader Bodhi and is told that she must return to the land of the living where she can help restless spirits cross over that bridge - better said then done.

With Bodhi and her dog Buttercup, she is given her assignment the Radiant Boy - who has been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many have tried before her but have failed... will Riley have the courage to help the Radiant Boy or will she also fail?

I loved this book! For those of you who have not read any of Ms. Noel's The Immortals series, Riley is Ever's (the main character from The Immoratals) sister. She died in the accident that killed Ever's parents. This is the spin-off series. Geared more towards 9-12 year old tweens. But oh so fun for adults like me. You also don't need to read any of The Immortals books to truly grasp this new series - although you should because that series is oh so good too. :)

Riley was so much fun in Evermore and I can honestly say that she continues being funny, witty, clever and a very endearing heroine. I love the push and pull between her and Bodhi. She sees him as an ever-nagging, nerdy, fashion senseless boy. Their chemistry was great. He wants to teach her a lesson in respect and thus The Radiant Boy comes into play... no one has ever succeeded in crossing him over, so he gives her the toughest job he can. 

Ms. Noel's writing is fluid and flawless. She truly captures the thoughts of a 12 year old girl - I loved her inner monologues - they brought a smile to my face more than once.

This series is going to be a treat not only for the new fans I'm sure Ms. Noel will acquire in young tweens, but I can guarantee it will be an instant hit with her YA and adult fan base. Loved it.

This book was provided for review by Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.

GIVEAWAY: I have 5 copies up for grabs - thanks to the lovely folks over at Macmillan.

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.) ; and for putting my spiffy little button on your blog. Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving a comment under Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open to U.S. & Canada residents. Winners will be drawn Sunday, August 22.


Looking for Alaska by John Green

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words - and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction. [via GoodReads]

This was such a great book. Told in two parts the "Before" and the "After". Throughout its pages we meet Miles "Pudge" Halter. He's recently left home and is now enrolled at Culver Creek a boarding school - seeking his "Great Perhaps." Looking for Alaska chronicles his ordinary life - leaving behind his former Florida high school and moving out to Alabama. There he finally feels that he fits in. He makes friends with the Colonel, his roommate, Lara Buterskaya, Takumi, and last but definitely not least, Alaska, the girl he immediately falls for.

Mr. Green does a superb job in really capturing the lives of these teens. Their feelings, emotions, actions were all relateable, realistic, we have all been there, we have all done these same things. I really commend him for not only introducing us to these characters but, if you're anything like me, you'll feel like you not only got to know them by the end of the book, but that they're also your friends. Pudge, the Colonel, Alaska, Lara and Takumi are just living their lives - but doing whatever possible to amuse themselves along the way. Even if it means irritating their teachers, playing pranks on the Weekday Warriors and all without getting caught by "The Eagle", the dean. They learn about alcohol and just how good it can make them feel, and then exactly how bad it can also make them feel, they learn to smoke cigarettes and experience sex for the first time.

This is their story of growing up, of loving and losing, of dealing and eventually just living life to the fullest. Mr. Green's writing is witty, entertaining, thought-provoking. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. And I guarantee it will stay with you long after you are done with it. A great story and one that I think should be required reading for teens.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Ok my lovelies. As some of you may already know, the hubs gave me the sweetest birfday gift. I have been wanting to go to Islands of Adventure in Orlando, FL (a 4 hour drive for us) but have refrained from going due to scorching heat and the tons of people that are visiting the park since Harry was opened in early June. Luckily for me, my hubs secured us a babysitter and took me out of my jobless funk and swept me away on Friday to Orlando. Since we've been to the park tons of times before, we decided to just focus on the new Harry island - especially since we are talking 1+ hour lines for all the rides and shops.

Here is a visual for you guys. I'll explain along the way.

This is the gateway to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Here you can see the hubs posing and your first glimpse of the magic inside. Once you go under said gate, you are now walking through the streets of Hogsmeade. You see all the curvy chimneys, the snowy rooftops and all the shops, pubs and restaurants that you remember from the books.

But before you take your first couple of steps you find the Hogwarts Express. It's not a ride or anything but it is a great picture spot.

Once you walk through... of course, you can't help the wonder you feel at watching one of my favorite books come to life you can't help but glance down yonder and see this.

Oh yes, it's a ginormous replica of Hogwarts. Eek!! And it's a ride. A very good ride. It was dark and creepy and you fly through behind Harry and his friends ... I won't tell you more about the ride, but I will show you pictures inside the castle.

While we were in line for an hour, we were quite frankly entertained. For while you are in line you are also taking a tour of the castle. We weren't able to take our camera for the ride but they have walking tours of the castle, meaning after you ride you can ask to go back in (without making the line of course) and just take pictures and really enjoy some of the fun stuff you find in there.

You see the picture gallery. By the way, the pictures are all talking and moving. They're all rather upset that muggles have been let into Hogwarts. They are exactly the way you see them in the movies and read about them in the books. Some of the folks in one picture frame will be found in another and if you look back to the original picture frame they were in is now empty. It was hilarious.

You also walk through the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room and even Professor Dumbledore's office.

If you look close you can even see Dumbledore's hologram in the center (left). I can't help it, I'm in love with books - even if they are fake :) (right). You can also see Hagrid's hut (bottom) and travel through the Herbology classroom.

Once we rode "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" we decided to hang out in Hogsmeade. First things first... the

I was a little worried about the taste. But oh no, it was yummy. You had the option of draft or frozen - we, of course, went with the frozen versions. It tastes like butterscotch and gingerbread cookies all rolled into this delicious refreshment. We loved it. We actually had about 4 of these before the day was over. See our happy faces... oh yes, and Butterbeer is not the same without Butterbeer mustaches.

We had lunch in The Three Broomsticks - which served baked chicken, ribs, fish and chips. (see below)

Then we went into the shops. I was really excited to go into

And then there was Zonko's Joke Shop.

We also went to Dervish and Banges, Olivanders and the Owl Post

Yes, all those little boxes are wands. You can see them in this last picture. They have a variety of wands to choose from ($30 & change). They gave a very entertaining presentation before you actually went into the shop to buy one.

But not only did they have wands for sale, they also sold Firebolt broomsticks, Pumpkin Juice in all the refreshment stands, robes, scarves and t-shirts with your favorite house (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin and Ravenclaw)... they even had Remembralls.

For you Harry Potter fans, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one adventure I recommend you take. I can't tell you how much fun we had but hopefully through our pictures you'll catch a glimpse of just how wonderful it all was.

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