Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Title:  Miles from Ordinary
Author:  Carol Lynch Williams
Pages:  208
Genre:  YA/ Teen 
Source:  Amazon Prime Program

Thirteen year old Lacey just wants an ordinary life... shoot, she'll even settle for just one ordinary day.  It's her first day of work at the library and, although she's excited to begin work at one of her favorite places and the chance at following in her aunt's footsteps, she still finds herself worried over her momma.  For it is also her momma's first day of work as cashier at the Winn-Dixie. 

She hopes for an ordinary day where they both go to work and meet back up on the bus route.  But nothing is ordinary in Lacey's life.  For her day takes an unexpected turn and you slowly begin to realize just how not ordinary Lacey's life truly is.

As a big fan of Ms. Lynch Williams' The Chosen One, I knew Miles from Ordinary would be a powerful and thought-provoking story.  The whole story takes place throughout the span of one day in Lacey's life.  With tons of flashbacks you get a feel for the background of these characters and just how big Lacey's responsibilities as the caregiver for her mother are.

At a little over 200 pages this was a very quick read.  I sat down and read the whole story through.  My only complaint is that it did have a slow start but  yet I found myself captivated by the young Lacey's voice.  You know from the start that something is not right and you find the intrigue and mystery of it all to be a real page turner. By the story's conclusion I was terrified.  I think Ms. Lynch Williams did a phenomenal job in describing someone suffering from mental illness.  The paranoia, the delusions - I had moments where I wondered if something was real or not... it was all very well done.

While I didn't love this one as much as I did The Chosen One, it was still a riveting read.  Carol Lynch Williams has beautifully written a novel that will touch your heart.  It is a unique and interesting contemporary story that will leave you feeling haunted.

My Rating:


The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Title:  The Dark and Hollow Places
Author:  Carrie Ryan
Pages:  384
Genre:  YA/ Teen Horror
Source:  Purchased

In the third and final installment in her Forest of Hands and Teeth series, Carrie Ryan, introduces you to Annah.  Annah has been living on her own in the Dark City since Elias left to join the protectorate.  With scars that mar her face and body, Annah is more of a recluse.  She uses her street smarts - bowing her head, not making eye contact and blending into the shadows as a weapon.  Without any friends or family she has used these skills as a way to survive the dangers of the Dark City.  Waiting for Elias, her life has become as lifeless as that of the Unconsecrated but then she meets Catcher.  Catcher who brings with him memories of a past that she has longed to forget.

Out of the three leading ladies you will find in this series, Annah was hands down my favorite.  She wasn't a whiner like Mary, and Gabry annoyed me with all her boy drama... but Annah was phenomenal.  She was tough as nails, brave, strong and courageous.  Her will to live was a breath of fresh air.  Even though she's scarred, feels alone and even broken at times - she still was not willing to give up.  

Out of the three books I believe this was the darkest one.  Their struggle for survival was the most intense.  I went through a slew of emotions from sadness, hopelessness, and even found myself choked up more than once.  I can't even imagine a life this bleak where the unconsecrated are a threat but humans can be just as dangerous.   

Yet through it all I found myself hopeful.  I found myself waiting for and really savoring the moments that weren't as dark... moments of light.  Especially when those moments dealt with Annah and Catcher's relationship.  The fact that they are both so broken and flawed really makes you hope that they can find a way to make it work in a world infested by the living dead.  Originally, I was worried that I wouldn't like this final installment since I was so focused on Gabry and Elias's story (The Dead-Tossed Waves) but I think Ms. Ryan did a wonderful job in connecting everything together. 

Overall this book was incredible.  The whole series is amazing.  Full of tension, suspense, nail-biting action and Unconsecrated... lots and lots of Unconsecrated.  I can't recommend it enough!

My Rating:

GIVEAWAY: Tabloid City

In a stately West Village townhouse, a wealthy socialite and her secretary are murdered. In the 24 hours that follow, a flurry of activity circles around their shocking deaths: The head of one of the city's last tabloids stops the presses. A cop investigates the killing. A reporter chases the story. A disgraced hedge fund manager flees the country. An Iraq War vet seeks revenge. And an angry young extremist plots a major catastrophe.

The City is many things: a proving ground, a decadent playground, or a palimpsest of memories-a historic metropolis eclipsed by modern times. As much a thriller as it is a gripping portrait of the city of today, TABLOID CITY is a new fiction classic from the writer who has captured it perfectly for decades. [via GoodReads]

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies up for grabs thanks to the lovely Anna 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, All About {n} button, Facebook, etc.)   Stalkers are always welcome.  Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving comment under Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open to US and Canada only.  Winner will be drawn Friday, May 6.


Manic Monday Recaps (Week 4/18/11)

Happy Monday friends!  I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  I sure did.  I spent most of it shopping.  As most of you may know from my frantic tweets over the past couple of weeks - I was in search of a new job and I got hired in a great firm in Downtown Miami (excited!).  Next Monday shall be my first day... and what does this mean?  I need a new wardrobe, duh.  So that's what I've been doing.  Shopping, shopping, shopping.  This also means I've been too pooped out to get much reading done. 

Here's what I plan on reading this week:

Here's what I read last week:
- Possession by Elana Johnson
- Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes by Roisin Meaney
- A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (which I loved but took me almost 4 days to read)

I reviewed the following:
- Hereafter by Tara Hudson [review]
- Entwined by Heather Dixon [review]
- Already Home by Susan Mallery [review]

Have a great week friends.  Happy Reading!


So Many Books, So Little Time [17]


Here are some of the books that I discovered over the past couple of weeks scheduled for release that I cannot wait to get my hands on. I will pay, beg and contemplating stealing (mwahahaha) for one of them.

Witches of East End
by Melissa de la Cruz
Releases on 6/21/11

The two novels will follow the lives of the Beauchamp girls, who live in the fictional town of North Hampton, as they struggle to stop an arch nemesis and restore the delicate balance between good and evil. De la Cruz will weave characters from her best-selling Blue Bloods young adult series into this new paranormal series for adults.
The Fox Inheritance 
by Mary E. Pearson
Releases on 8/30/11

Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.

Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.

Everyone except Jenna Fox.

After Obsession 
by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel
Releases on 9/05/11

There is a river spirit tormenting a town in Maine. Two teens named Amie and Alan, battle it when it tries to possess Alan’s cousin and Amie’s best friend.
by a slew of awesome YA authors
Releases on 9/20/11

- Giovanni’s Farewell by Claudia Gray
- Scenic Route by Carrie Ryan
- IV League by Margaret Stohl
- Red Run by Kami Garcia
- Things About Love by Jackson Pearce
- Niederwald by Rachel Vincent
- --- by Melissa Marr
- Facing Facts by Kelley Armstrong
- Let’s Get This Undead Show on the Road by Sarah Rees Brennan
- Bridge by Jeri Smith-Ready
- Skin Contact by Kimberly Derting
- Leaving by Ally Condie
- At the Late Night Double Feature Picture Show by Jessica Verday
- Gargouille by Mary E. Pearson
- The Third Kind by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
- Automatic by Rachel Caine

Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins
Releases on 9/29/11

In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think.

For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket—a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

by Robison Wells
Releases on 10/1/11

Benson Fisher thought a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

Beautiful Chaos
by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Releases on 10/18/11

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

by Ally Condie
Releases on 11/01/11

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.
Wherever You Go
by Heather Davis
Releases on 11/14/11

Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly has no idea that as she goes about her days, Rob’s ghost is watching over her. He isn’t happy when he sees his best friend, Jason, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend?

As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her grandfather claims to be communicating with the ghost of Rob. Could the messages he has for Holly be real? And if so, how can the loved ones Rob left behind help his tortured soul make it to the other side?

Told from the perspectives of Holly, Jason, and Rob, Wherever You Go is is a poignant story about making peace with the past, opening your heart to love, and finding the courage to move forward into the light.
These are just some of the one's that I'm looking forward to. Which books are you dying to get your hands on?

Already Home by Susan Mallery

Title: Already Home
Author: Susan Mallery
Pages:  368
Genre:  Women's Fiction
Source: Planned Television Arts
After nearly a decade as a sous-chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is desperate for a change. She's supported her ex-husband's dreams for so long that she can't even remember her own. Until she sees a for-lease sign near her parents' home and envisions her very own cooking store.

Her crash course in business is aided by a streetwise store manager and Jenna's adoptive mother. But just as she's gaining a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect with their firstborn.

Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with her traditional parents, deal with her feelings for a new love interest and decide what to do about her ex's latest outrageous request. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love…. [via GoodReads]
Let's start with the cover of this book... just look at it.... I mean, this is the type of book I'd buy just because of its stunning cover.  But once I opened its pages I knew that this is the type of book that you enjoy owning because you just want to own it.

When Jenna's husband betrays her, she leaves her home and career as a sous-chef in L.A. and returns to her small hometown in Texas to rebuild her life.  She decides to switch gears and opens a cookware store where she meets a slew of characters (some family, some friends, some customers) who play important roles in her coming to terms with the lemons life has given her. 

I love stories where the dynamics of relationships are the main focus and that is what you will find in Already Home.  Jenna's friendship with Violet, her love for her adoptive mother and that of her biological mother, even her feelings for a new suitor are at the forefront of this story.

Although Jenna is our leading lady, you also meet Violet, a young woman who begins working with Jenna with her own skeletons in the closet.  There is a lot going on and there are a lot of characters that you are introduced to that have their own side stories.  Ms. Mallery is an expert storyteller for what I would normally find to be too busy, was rather uncomplicated.  She gave you time with each of her characters giving you a chance to know them and understand them which helped in distinguishing each one separately and in the end relating to and connecting with them.  

As for romance, there was some romance, but it was almost like a side note. Instead, I found this to be a story about relationships, about friendships, about love, about finding and believing in oneself.  My only concern was that I found that it ended rather abruptly.  And while I do enjoy a happily-ever-after ending, I found that it ended on the right note -- leaving the reader feeling hopeful.  

All in all, this was a very well-written, emotion-packed story.  I loved its wonderful characters and surprisingly how much depth the story truly had.  A great introduction to this author - I'll definitely be looking for more from her.

My Rating:

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies up for grabs thanks to the folks over at Planned TV Arts/a division of Ruder Finn Inc.

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. International followers feel free to enter giveaway as long as you have someone in the U.S. or Canada willing to accept the book for you.  Winners will be drawn Friday, April 22.


Entwined by Heather Dixon

Title:  Entwined
Author:  Heather Dixon
Pages:  480
Genre:  YA/ Teen
Source: Book It Forward ARC Tours  
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.  [via GoodReads]
I love the tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Grimm brothers - so needless to say, reading Entwined was a "must" for me.  Ms. Dixon not only uses the tale as the backbone of her story, but she cleverly gives the story a twist to make it unique, engrossing and just downright fun.

Azalea and her eleven sisters, along with their kingdom, are all mourning the loss of their mother, the queen.  Donning black dresses, staying in doors, allowing no dancing, or the prospect of suitors... nor anything remotely fun, the girls are depressed.  The king is heartbroken over the loss of his wife and marches off to war leaving the girls, including their newborn sister, on their own.  It is while he is away that the girls discover an enchanted staircase leading  far beneath the castle to a world where they dance and dance... and dance.  They literally dance their shoes to shreds every night.  But beneath its lovely facade, there is danger lurking in this world.... and if the girls don't get out before it's too late, they might have to give up more than just their dancing shoes.

Told through the eyes of Azalea, you learn of their kingdom, of her sisters whom are all named after flowers starting with Azalea (the oldest) to Lily (the new addition).  Oh but, I loved Azalea and her sisters.  I liked how they each had their story - although not all got the same attention, you still knew who each sister was and how their stories entwined.  I loved their sisterly bond and the love they had for one another was really joyful to read about.

Ms. Dixon has a sense of humor - with laugh out loud moments, you could really see her wittiness shine through.  I loved those silly moments where I found myself giggling or with a big goofy grin on my face.  It really gave this story - which from previous re-tellings I've found dark and gothic, to be something fun and carefree.

All in all,  Entwined is a beautiful fairytale, riddled with music and dancing, romance and sisters and love ... in many forms.  I found myself swept away by its beauty and magic.

My Rating:  

Technical Difficulties.... still!

As you can see, we continue having problems with Photobucket and their maintenance issues.  Please forgive the busted-ness of my page.. I swear it's not my fault.  I curse the Photobuket gods!  Either way, at least you can now see what I post, so although the page might not be looking its best, I shall continue with the regularly scheduled programming. 


Technical Difficulties

If you notice, my blog looks like hell today.  Photobucket is performing maintenance on some of its accounts and it just so happens that Danny's account was part of the 2% affected.  Bleh.  Hopefully we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow... since I refuse to post anything because you can't read it!  Carry on.


Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Title: Hereafter
Author: Tara Hudson
Pages:  416
Genre:  YA/ Teen
Source: Book It Forward ARC Tours 
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.  [via GoodReads]
Ameila has been a wandering soul since her death.  She doesn't know how she died nor does she remember anything from before she death.  Her life... or whatever you'd call her in her ghostly state is emotionless and numb.  But that all changes the day she saves Joshua.  When Joshua awakens from his near death experience he can suddenly see and even touch Amelia.  Their feelings for one another begin to grow and through their encounters Amelia begins to see glimpses of her life.  Riddled with seers and evil ghosts, Hereafter, is more than just a story about a girl trying to solve the mystery of her death.

When I first read the synopsis of Hereafter, I was intrigued about this story of star-crossed lovers.  He's alive - she's dead... how can they make it work?  And, although I found that the story was primarily a love story, I also enjoyed the mystery of it all.  I was instantly taken in by Ms. Hudson's writing - her vivid descriptions of the dark and tumultuous waters beneath High Bridge, the black wraiths hovering and even the creepy encounters with Eli (a ghost who keeps harassing Amelia about becoming his apprentice).  To further  make things interesting, you also have Eli's grandmother, Ruth, who feels that Amelia is evil and wants to exorcise her ghost.  

Ms. Hudson's debut will leave you feeling haunted.  It will have you sighing one moment and all goosebump-y from the creepiness the next instant.  I truly enjoyed the romance, the chilling evil creeping around its corners and the mystery of who Amelia was and what happened to her.  This is the first installment in the series so be forewarned - although its conclusion will leave you satisfied it will also leave you pining for more.

My Rating:

Manic Monday Recaps (Week 4/11/11)

Happy Monday friends!  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend.  Mine was wonderful.  We went with family up north to Melbourne, FL where we went to the beach... yea that water was freezing.  My poor ovaries were recoiling from the horror.  But, once you actually got past the first few steps in there it actually felt pretty good.  From there we went to hang with my sister and her brood who were camping at the local state park and we did some fishing, biking and just hung out around the fire and to top it off we didn't have to rough it.  Instead we spent the night at the local Best Western... because sadly I am not that outdoorsy.  haha

Here's what I plan on reading this week:

Here's what I read last week:
- The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter 
- Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
- The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen
- The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs
- Already Home by Susan Mallery
- Seduce Me in Dreams by Jacquelyn Frank

I reviewed the following:
- The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch [review]
- The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter [review]
- Girl, Stolen by April Henry [review]
- Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon [review]

Have a great week friends.  Happy Reading!


Bookcase of the Week - Starring... Natalie of Mindful Musings


On this week's Bookcase of the Week it is with great pleasure that I bring you Natalie of Mindful Musing's bookcases.  I love visiting Natalie's site.. we have a lot of the same reading tastes plus I love her Movie Cast Monday and Weekly Wrap-Up posts.  I know a lot of you already know her, so I knew that I just had to ask if she'd be willing to participate in the Bookcase of the Week feature and, lucky for us, she agreed.  Here's what she had to say:

Since I live in an apartment with two roommates, I don't have room for as many bookcases as I'd like, but I'd love to show you the ones I do have! They used to be organized by author and genre, but since I started book blogging, they've kind of exploded, and I've ended up using my bookcases in the most practical way possible...also known as stuffing everything anywhere as long as it fits! As you can see by looking at the towering pile of books on the top of my first bookcase, it's about time for me to invest in buying another one, though I have no idea where I'll put it. Hmmm...maybe I'll sell my bed and start sleeping in the closet...

This is my smaller, slightly more organized bookshelf. I've got large hardbacks on the first shelf, mass market paperbacks on the second, random YA on the third, and an assortment of YA and MG on the bottom. Once again, this shelf was also more organized a year ago, when I didn't own near as many books as I do now. I can't even fit all my books on bookshelves. I still have two giant boxes in my closet, and that's not even counting what's stashed away somewhere in my parents' basement back home. Shhh! Don't tell them. I was supposed to clear those out six months ago when I moved into my apartment, but since they rarely check the storage room...I figured I'd take advantage of the extra space! 

This is a picture of my desk and laptop, where I do most of my blogging. As you can tell by the speakers hooked up to my laptop, I love listening to music while I blog and browse through my Google Reader. It's kind of my way to unwind and relax (and sometimes, to procrastinate doing homework). Believe it or not, this is actually pretty clean for my desk. Usually it's stacked with all sorts of textbooks and coffee mugs. I guess you can tell my semester hasn't really kicked into full gear yet!  

And finally, this is a chair where I do a lot of my reading. When I'm "fun" reading (aka: blog reading), I also like to read in bed or on our couch in the living room. However, when I'm trying to read for one of my literature classes, I usually end up passed out and drooling over my textbooks if I'm too comfy. This chair's comfortable enough so I'm not constantly fidgeting, but I also have a harder time falling asleep in it (not that I haven't dozed off in it, because I totally have).

Thanks so much to Nely for inviting me to participate in this awesome feature!

Natalie, the pleasure was all mine.  Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into your  room and your bookcases.  There is so much goodness in those shelves.  I kept maximizing the pictures just to read all your titles... I know, I'm so nosy. Either way, thank you again, for playing along with us. 

For those of you who haven't passed on through to Natalie's yet, please visit her here (tell her I say HI!) 

Mindful Musings


Le Olde Box 'o Books Giveaway

That's right my lovelies.  I'm cleaning out my shelves and ridding myself of a lot of my beloved ARC's and even some finished copies.  They are all gently read copies.  I take care of all my books so if they are not perfect, they are in very near-perfect condition.  I have two boxes that I'll gladly fill-up and send to two lovely winners.  I can do just a YA box and an Adult Fiction box or I can mix them up.  It'll be the winners choice but titles will remain a secret... because I think surprises are fun. :)

GIVEAWAY:  There will definitely be 2 winners (maybe even 3 winners if I can fill up a third box) of a big ole box of books.

This is a followers only giveaway.  So you must be following the blog in order to qualify.   

Extra entries for those who also follow via:  Twitter, sidebar the contest, Facebook, have my spiffy All About {n} button on their blog, etc. Yes, stalkers are welcome.  :)   Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving a comment under Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open internationally! Winners will be drawn Friday, April 29

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

Title: Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale
Author: Carolyn Turgeon
Pages:  256
Genre:  Adult Fiction/ Fantasy
Source: Amazon Vine Program

As a big fan of 'Disney's The Little Mermaid' and having read Ms. Turgeon's Godmother a few years back, I knew that I could not go without reading this dark and gothic retelling.   

Obviously Hans Christian Andersen's tale of The Little Mermaid is the back bone of this story, but sadly I've never read his version so I can't do any comparisons to his work. What I can tell you is that this is the story of two sheltered princesses.  One princess resides on the land while the other lives "under the sea" (I couldn't help myself!).  

Using alternating chapters you learn of both princesses and how their lives collide.  Princess Margrethe lives in a world of turmoil.  Her northern kingdom is at constant war with the South and at the current moment she finds herself in hiding at a convent.  Lenia is the youngest daughter of the merfolk King and Queen.  She loves her life, home and family but constantly finds herself longing for more than what she has.  Since she has now reached an age where she can go to the surface, she finds herself saving a young prince who is nearly drowned.  She knows to save him she must return him to land and does so leaving him in the care of Margarethe.  From this selfless act, Lenia, Margarethe and the prince, all from different worlds, will find themselves bound together forever.

There were so many things I loved about this book.  Ms. Turgeon's writing is unique and even poetic at times.  I found that I felt as if someone were reading the story to me.  I found it atmospheric in its medieval setting - although you never truly know where it takes place or during what year.  I enjoyed reading of Margarethe's kingdom and how bleak their lives are due to the constant warring with the South. But I absolutely devoured Lenia's chapters.  I love her descriptions of life "under the sea" (haha), her sisters, her kingdom and their beliefs.  

My only qualm with the story was how both women fell in love with the same prince and the guy had barely even spoken a sentence.  I understand it's a fairytale retelling and these things just happen when it comes to fairytales... but it still irked me that he was the reason why Lenia would have her tongue cut-out, live in constant pain the moment she gained her feet and quite possibly give her life for him.  Margarethe was also willing to make sacrifices in order to gain the Prince's attention.  But although I found that my Girl Power! feelings were hurt, I still think Ms. Turgeon handled the situation wisely.  She made you, in time, understand the inner turmoil within the young women, and their intense feelings for their Prince.  She also expertly described the love that Margarethe felt for Lenia - one that could leave you forever aching and restless.

This was definitely a fairytale for adults - one that I'm glad that I had the opportunity to read.  It had the  dream-like quality that I find necessary for a fairytale to work, but it was also riddled with very real and strong emotions leaving the reader wanting more of this world.

My Rating:


Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Author: April Henry
Pages:  224
Genre:  YA/ Teen
Source: Purchased

From the moment I read what this book was about I just knew that I would have to read it.  

Sixteen year old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of her stepmother's car when a young man opens the door and takes off with the car with her in it.  Griffin did not mean to kidnap Cheyenne, he just wanted to steal the Cadillac Escalade she was in and impress his father.  But when his father finds out that Cheyenne is the daughter of the president of a very powerful corporation they realize that the car is really only a consolation prize... she is worth a whole lot more.  But what they don't know is that Cheyenne was sleeping in the back of the car because she has pneumonia and even worse than that, she is also blind.  Although she uses her blindness to her advantage, making her captors feel as if she isn't a threat, little do they know that by using her other senses she may be able to get herself out of this dangerous situation.  

Ms. Henry captures Cheyenne and her blindness perfectly.  This is the first book that I read told through the eyes (no pun intended) of a blind person and I think this made it an even more suspenseful read.  I enjoyed the insight we get into the life of someone who is blind.  In her case, Cheyenne was in an accident that caused her to lose her sight, and through flashbacks we get to see how her life has changed since, how she had to accustom herself to a walking stick and the use of a guide dog, etc. 

Told in alternating chapters, you also get to hear Griffin's perspective.  Although he's the one who unintentionally abducted Cheyenne, he's also the only one to look after her.  He makes sure that she's fed and he's even given her some expired aspirin to help with her pneumonia.  Throughout the ordeal the two of them get to know each other and although they form a reluctant friendship - they still understand that they are on opposite teams.

I really enjoyed the way the author captured it all.  I think Ms. Henry does a wonderful and credible job of slowly building the unlikely friendship between Griffin and Cheyenne.  I fought it for a while at first thinking she would fall for her captor, but I found that Cheyenne was a big girl, and she definitely had her big girl pants on and never lost sight of her goal... her freedom.  The suspense was intense and although it did have a slow start towards the end I was at the edge of my seat. All in all, this was a very entertaining read - one that I found scary, tense and, in the end, hopeful.

My Rating:


The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Title:   The Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter
Pages:  304
Genre:  YA/ Teen
Source:  Netgalley  
Every girl who has taken the test has died.

Now it's Kate's turn.

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails... [via GoodReads]
I loved, loved, loved this book!  That should suffice as a good review, right?!

What can I tell you?  Ms. Carter "had me at hello" when I read that her book revolved around Greek mythology and even more so around the story of Hades and Persephone.  le sigh.  I'm a sucker for a romance riddled with heartbreak and despair.  

I found that I read this story without over-thinking it too much and this may be why I enjoyed it so much.  I didn't really give too much thought to the characters or scenarios, instead I just read the story, enjoyed Kate and the part that Henry played in her life.  This may be why I was surprised by the twists and turns the story took.  I was fascinated by the Greek mythology (of course!) and I really liked the modern twist on the Gods.  Not to mention I found the whole premise - a girl undergoing various tests and if succeeding becoming a goddess - to be a very intriguing one.

Kate was a great heroine.  She was brave, tough, selfless and you find yourself truly invested in her.   Her maturity and strength are something that you know she's acquired during the years of taking care of her mother.  She brought me to tears when it came to the love she felt for her dying mother... I definitely found myself sniffling more than once over it.  Then there's Henry (a/k/a Hades) -  I love a dark, brooding and tortured hero... and he's definitely that.  While he was quiet and reserved most of the time, I found him  very appealing.  I liked that he wasn't portrayed too severely  as the God of the Underworld but instead someone whose strength and power can be felt as underlying threads in the story.

In the end, (and I'll say it again) I loved, loved, loved this book! From the first page, I found myself rooting for Kate and hoping that she'd find some happiness in her bleak life.  Ms. Carter has crafted a beautiful love story- but be prepared, for Gods have the same feelings as humans do and there is no shortage of jealousy and insecurity amongst them.  With twists and turns that I definitely did not see coming, this was an edge-of-my-seat read.  Fans of YA fiction but especially ones who enjoy fantasy and paranormal stories with a clever twist on Greek mythology will love The Goddess Test.  I know I did! 

My Rating:


GIVEAWAY: The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen

When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds' heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can't, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who've brought them. These spinster sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.

But back in the summer of 1947, Milly and Twiss knew nothing about trying to mend what had been accidentally broken. Milly was known as a great beauty with emerald eyes and Twiss was a brazen wild child who never wore a dress or did what she was told. That was the summer their golf pro father got into an accident that cost him both his swing and his charm, and their mother, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler, finally admitted their hardscrabble lives wouldn't change. It was the summer their priest, Father Rice, announced that God didn't exist and ran off to Mexico, and a boy named Asa finally caught Milly's eye. And, most unforgettably, it was the summer their cousin Bett came down from a town called Deadwater and changed the course of their lives forever.

Rebecca Rasmussen's masterfully written debut novel is full of hope and beauty, heartbreak and sacrifice, love and the power of sisterhood, and offers wonderful surprises at every turn. [via GoodReads]

I'm so thrilled about this giveaway!!!

A few days ago I received a huge box at home and when I opened it, I found not one, not even five, but ten (yes, ten!) beautiful, shiny finished copies of Rebecca Rasmussen's The Bird Sisters (throws confetti and toots horn).  I was so excited that I instantly tweeted Rebecca just in case they reached me by error.  But nope, they're mine to giveaway.  So woo-woo, you guys are in luck!

Rules: All I ask for an entry into the giveaway is that you guys drop a quick hello and send some good luck vibes on her debut novel, to my dear friend, Rebecca.  You can tweet her or visit her blog at these links.

This contest is open internationally! Winners will be drawn Tuesday, April 12 - the day of the book's release.  

Luck, y'all!


The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch

Title:  The Magnolia League
Author: Katie Crouch
Pages:  368
Genre:  YA/ Paranormal
After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?
I have read all of Katie Crouch's adult-themed novels and was quite surprised to see that she was venturing off into the YA genre.  I knew right away that I just had to read The Magnolia League - not to mention the synopsis mentioned magic, debutantes and the South... well you know that that makes for good reading.

After her mother's death, Alex leaves her humble, hippie lifestyle to live with her rich grandmother in Georgia.  As if that's not a culture shock on it's own, her grandmother is the head of the elite Magnolia League.  Alex quickly learns that the debutantes of the Magnolia League are blessed with good looks, handsome men and wealth.  But she soon realizes that there is more than just luck when it comes to the members of this elite group.   

As with all of Ms. Crouch's books, she depicts the South so vividly.  You can hear the southern drawl in her characters' voices and she depicts Savannah, GA, its scenery and residents expertly.  I loved the feel of  it and I couldn't help but find myself instantly captivated by its southern charm.  I also really enjoyed the magical elements of the story... the Hoodoo.   I loved to read about the spells and magic charms - it was all very detailed and it seemed natural and realistic.

What I had a problem with was the romance.  I think the relationship between Alex and Thaddeus felt forced.  I also had a few problems with Alex herself - she was mean to her new friends, constantly criticizing and belittling them.  She had her good moments, but she also had her bad moments.

All in all, I still found The Magnolia League to be a very interesting and consuming read.  It was fast-paced and full of wonderful comedic moments (as I've come to expect from Ms. Crouch).  I do recommend it for older readers though as there is lot of pot-smoking (remember Alex was raised on a hippie commune), partying, booze and the like.  I also want to forewarn that there is a cliff-hanger ending so y'all will have to wait for the next installment, The White Glove War, releasing some time next year.  I, for one, will definitely be looking out for it.

My Rating:

Manic Monday Recaps (Week 4/04/11)

Happy Monday friends!  I hope your weekend was fabulous.  As always, mine was too short.  I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked but I did spend the weekend doing fun stuff with the kids so that made up for it.  I've been sick and stressing and interviewing for a new job... I have been having a rough month but hopefully within the next day or two I should hear back from an employer that might be the one (keeps fingers crossed).  Wish me luck!

Here's what I plan on reading this week:

Here's what I read last week:
- The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen 
- Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
- Entwined by Heather Dixon
- Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

I reviewed the following  :
- Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey [review]
- Where She Went by Gayle Forman [review]
- It Happened One Season by Various Authors [review]

Have a great week friends.  Happy Reading!  
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