Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Revolutionary War on Wednesday
Leprechaun in Late Winter
Ella Enchanted
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Plain Murder
Gone-Away Lake
Circling the Sun
Maggie and Max
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Night Sister
Tuck Everlasting
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bedknob and Broomstick
Mister Monday
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Birchbark House
The Hobbit
The Witch's Daughter

Jessica's favorite books »

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
Sparks are igniting, flames are spreading and the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before...and surprising readers at every turn.
My Thoughts:  I am sure that I am the last person to read this book!  I read the first one and LOVED it and then got swamped with ARC reviews.  With all that is going on with my life I have quit doing ARC reviews for a little bit and I have finally found some time to catch up on some of the books I haven't read yet.  This book was so amazing that I really wish I would have read it right after Hunger Games but hey....better late than never right?
Katniss and Peeta are back home in District 12 after winning the Hunger Games.  They are getting ready to go on the Victory Tour and have to remember that they are madly in love.  For Peeta this is not hard but Katniss finds it difficult, especially with her feelings for Gale.  When President Snow makes a surprise visit to Katniss' house before the tour, Katniss knows that she must put on the show of a lifetime.  
While touring, Katniss and Peeta find out that there are a few districts that are unhappy with the Capitol. In fact, it appears that there are uprisings happening in at least one district, if not more.  Once home from the tour, Peeta and Katniss must decide if they should run or if they should help with the uprisings.  
Then the Quarter Quell happens.  This happens every 25 years of the Games.  The Capitol throws in some surprise to make the Games more interesting.  This year, it is a doozy!  I won't tell you what happens because if there happens to be someone out there who hasn't read this yet, I don't want to spoil it.  
I loved the characters in this book!  Katniss and Peeta are still amazing and I loved Haymitch!  I really enjoyed the new characters that were introduced and how they played into the ending.  The ending was completely unexpected and very surprising for me.  I loved it but at the same time it was a little sad.  
If you haven't read this series, it is a must read for sure!  Like Hunger Games, Catching Fire keeps your interest the entire book and  you will find it extremely hard to put down, even for a minute!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Free Clipart 

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and it's filled with lots of love and laughter!  I will be back after Christmas with my review of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and maybe even of Mockingjay if I'm lucky :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Books I've Read in 2012

Top 10 Tuesdays
Topic: Top Ten Books I read in 2012
This meme is created by The Broke and the Bookish, anyone can participle telling about their top 10 topic items are.

Here are my Top Ten Books read in 2012 (in no order...title linked to my review):

10.  Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

9.  Diety by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

8.  The Diviners by Libba Bray 

7.  My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick 

6.  Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys 

5.  The Selection by Kiera Cass 

4.  Belles by Jen Calonita 

3.  Something Like Normal by Trish Doller 

2.  The Innocents by Lili Peloquin 

1Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

So, what are your top ten books you read this year? 


Teaser Tuesday: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
 Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser is from Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.  I read Hunger Games ages ago and loved it and then got busy reading ARCs and never got around to the other two.  So, now I'm finishing the series....better late than never right?

 "This isn't old Cray, though.  This is a tall, muscular man with sharp creases in his pants.  The pieces of the picture do not quite come together until I see his arm raise the whip."  ~pg. 75 on my Nook.

What are you reading? 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

Well friends, it is that time of year again...the time of year where we sign up for challenges!  This year I am signing up for the 2013 TBR pile challenge, hosted by Evie over at Bookish.  I have SO many books I need to read (for example, I read Hunger Games way back when and am just now reading Catching Fire....sad huh?) here are the rules:

Challenge Guidelines:
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013.
  2. Anyone can enter! You don't have to be a blogger, as long as you review the book you've read! (On your blog, Amazon or Goodreads/Shelfari!)
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2012 and earlier! NO  2013 ARCs and 2013 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2013 TBR PILE Reading Challenge. (If you don't have a blog, post about it on Facebook or Tweet!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2013, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. On the 20th of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this monthFor each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. The giveaway will be open until the next wrap up post goes up! (i.e. the entire month)
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;) 
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - a box of books
  11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!
(how many books you're planning to read for this challenge in 2013)

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

January 20th: Evie @Bookish (
February 20th: Rachel @Fiktshun (
March 20th: Justin @Justin's Book Blog (
April 20th: Tiffany @Escaping.. One Book At A Time (
May 20th: Bonnie @Words At Home (
June 20th: Justin @Justin's Book Blog (
July 20th: Emily @Doodle's Book Blog (
August 20th: Tiffany @Escaping One Book At A Time (
September 20th: Rachel @Fiktshun (
October 20th: Emily @Doodle's Book Blog (
November 20th: Bonnie @Words At Home (
December 20th: This one will be posted on all the blogs. There will also be a huge BOX OF BOOKS giveaway and this time you can link up ALL YOUR TBR Pile REVIEWS you wrote for the entire year!

I am going to try for A Sweet Kiss (21-30).  Here are some of the books I will finally be able to check off my TBR list:

1. A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
2.  Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen
3.  Endlessly by Kiersten White
4.  Wither by Lauren DeStefano
5.  Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
6.  Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard 
7.  Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
8.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
9.  Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
10.  Enchanted by Alethea Kontiss
11.  Angelina's Secret by Lisa Rogers
12.  Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
13.  The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
14.  Hereafter by Tara Hudson
15.  I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
16.  Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
17.   Save Me by Lisa Scottoline
18.  The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
19.  The Lux by Anna Godbersen
20.  The Witness by Nora Roberts
21.  Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

and MANY more!  So go sign up and join us in the fun! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

My Thoughts:  I loved Anna Dressed in Blood!  I mean, I loved it!  I waited eagerly for the sequel to come out and once I received a copy it was all I could do to wait to read it.  However, life happens and it took a little longer than I had anticipated to get to it.  Lucky for me, it was definitely worth the wait!!

This book did not quite have the "creepy" factor in it like Anna Dressed in Blood did but it was more sinister and evil.  It had some very dark moments in it but was funny too.  Cas has an amazing sense of humor that keeps you laughing throughout the book.  Thomas is loyal and sweet and oh so lovable!  Carmel I had some issues with...mainly her wishy-washy attitude.  She wants to go with Cas and Thomas and then she wants to be normal and then she's back.  It was just a tad bit annoying for me.  I love Jestine.  She was sarcastic and fun and even though she had different motives for the athame, she was still loyal to Cas.

Anna wasn't the main story in this book.  It was more about the history behind the athame and the Order of the Biodag Dubh (yeah, no idea how to pronounce that one).  Anna was still around though and haunting Cas for all she was worth!  

I loved the fact that the group went to England and Scotland!  It was fun to have them out of the States and exploring the history of the athame.  My absolute FAVORITE part was the Suicide Forest!  Talk about completely creepy but so perfect!  Definitely the scariest part of the book, in my opinion.

The ending was bittersweet and completely unexpected.  I loved how it ended but was one of those scenes in a movie where it's so bittersweet you almost want to cry.   
I will be reading anything Kendare Blake writes!  She has an amazing talent to write incredibly creepy stories that will keep you up at night!  If you haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood then get yourself a copy and if you have, grab this one right away!  It's worth it!

I'm Baaaaack!

Yay!  I am finally getting back to blogging after a really LOOONG break!  As many of you know, we have had to move temporarily and our house is absolutely ruined!  It started back in September and since the insurance took so long to get us an answer, the roof has, by this time tonight, probably collapsed in since there is at least 8 inches of wet, heavy snow!  There is so much water damage from the rain storms and so the major loss guy came up on Friday and said the insurance did an "epic fail".  Seriously, those were his exact words.  So, the good news is that they will continue to pay our rent while we get a new house!  So, now that the stress is *mostly* gone, I have started reading again and will be posting reviews....lots and lots of them!

So, thanks for hanging around and get ready for reviews and giveaways coming up!  I'm glad to be back to reading and reviewing!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review: Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Dying sucks-- and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out.

However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't? But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not have been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.

My Thoughts:  It's no secret that Jennifer Armentrout is one of my absolute favorite authors.  I have been hooked on her books since Half-Blood and was thrilled to be able to read Cursed early.  Due to an unexpected move I had to put off reading it for a month but once I started, I couldn't stop.  Cursed was just as amazing as all of Armentrout's books!

Ember takes care of her little sister, Olivia and their mother.  Ember's father was killed two years ago in the very same car accident that killed Ember herself.  Yep, Ember died two years ago.  Her little sister has a "magic" touch however and brought Ember back to life.  Now Ember is known as a "freak" at her school and her mother has fallen into a deep depression, leaving Ember to take care of everything.  This is difficult on Ember not only because she is only a teen but because anything Ember touches dies.  

When someone touches Ember and dies one day, her own world gets turned upside down.  She comes home to find her little sister and her mom gone and a stranger in her house.  The only thing Ember remembers is the stranger apologizing and then waking up in someone else's house.  She meets Jonathan Cromwell who has adopted many "gifted" children.  She gets cozy with Jonathan's son, Hayden, and has to try to convince Jonathan and his other children that she is not a threat to them.  This proves difficult as everyone but Hayden makes it clear that they do not want Ember around.  To top it off, someone is trying to hurt Ember and she has to figure out if it is Cromwell or one of his kids or someone else.  

I loved Ember and Hayden!  Ember is strong for all that she has to go through but there are moments when she just irritated me.  She is a very easy to relate too and likable. Sometimes she pushes Cromwell's buttons just to be a pain. Hayden is sweet and a little mysterious.  I just really liked him and the tension between him and Ember.

I do have to say that I suspected the "bad guy" from the get go.  I didn't know why or how this person was even involved or knew about Ember so it kept up the mystery and kept me reading to find out why.  It was a great mystery throughout the whole book.

I am not sure if this book is going to be a start of a series but I sure hope so.  There are several questions left unanswered about Ember, Hayden, the Facility, etc. so I am really hoping this isn't a stand alone.  Plus, I just love Armentrout's books so another series by her would make me very happy!

Now I must go and find a book that captures my attention like this one did....


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Review: Deity by Jennifer L. Armentrout

**I received this book from the publisher for an honest review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  "History is on repeat, and things didn't go so well the last time. "

Alexandria isn't sure she's going to make it to her eighteenth birthday--to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she's a goner... and so is Aiden.

If that's not freaky enough, whenever Alex and Seth spend time "training"--which really is just Seth's code word for some up-close and personal one-on-one time--she ends up with another mark of the Apollyon, which brings her one step closer to Awakening ahead of schedule. Awesome.

But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she's caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed... and destroyed.

Those left standing will discover if love is truly greater than Fate...

My Thoughts:  Oh, I do not know why I want to read these books early....(this post won't go live until October but I'm writing it in July) because now I have that much longer to wait until the next book!  I am not sure how I am going to be able to wait that long for the next book!

**Spoiler alert if you have not read Half-Blood or Pure**

Alex has been rushed back from New York after the daemon attack.  If you remember, she was forced to kill a pure guard in self defense and Aiden used compulsion on the pures that saw Alex kill the guard.  Alex is worried someone is going to find out what really happen.  Aiden tries to reassure her that no one could possibly know but Seth tells her otherwise.  When Minister Telly's guards pull Alex out of class, they soon find out otherwise. 

From there, things spiral downward for Alex and Seth.  Seth is trying to get Alex to awaken early.  Alex is afraid to awaken at all because she doesn't want to lose herself.  As the situation heats up, Alex has to try to decide if she can even trust Seth.  Okay, I can't say much more about the plot itself or I will give away a lot of amazing scenes!

Alex is still stubborn and still madly in love with Aiden.  She is confused though because she has feelings for Seth too.  The only thing that seriously irritated me about Alex was the way she was willing to be a martyr for everyone and the stubborness she had when her uncle wanted her to go into hiding.  I mean, maybe I am just a very selfish person here but if I was in danger like that, you better believe I would be going into hiding!  But, if Alex had gone into hiding then the book wouldn't have been as good so while I was irritated with her, it was understandable. 

Aiden is still hot!  If only he was real....okay but he's not so, he is so protective of Alex and loyal.  He tries not to let his feelings for her show but that ends up being impossible.

**spoiler alert**

I am not sure I like the fact that Alex and Aiden actually got together.  I loved the tension between the two and I was totally cheering for them but it's kind of like with Bones and Booth got together on the t.v. show Bones....once they got together, there is none of that tension that leaves you breathless.  That said, I liked the way it all came together when they got together. 

**spoiler alert over**

Seth...well, Seth is the same as always.  He is power hungry but you find out a little more behind that this time.  Not at all what I was expecting.  Seth isn't around a ton in this book as he gets sent to New York to "deal" with the half-blood servants who aren't taking the elixer.  He is scary in this book and I found myself really not liking him at all.

Marcus, however, redeems himself in this book (at least, in my eyes).  You get to see a whole other side to Marcus and he's not quite so uncaring and harsh and he has been in the first two books.  By the end of this book, I actually really liked and appreciated Marcus.  So, there is hope for him!

The ending was totally amazing!  Again, the only problem is how in the world am I going to wait for the next book to come out to find out what the heck happens?!  The cliffhanger was seriously perfect and leaves you yearning for much more! 

It's no secret that Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my very favorite authors but seriously, if you haven't picked up this series yet, go out and get it!  You will be caught up in the story and you will not regret it! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Moving is really no fun!

Oh, how I hate moving!  The packing, the throwing away, the unpacking...yep, I hate it all!  So, guess what I had to do last week?  You got it...move!  Here is the's only temporary but we had to move everything out of our house. 

You see, last January we had a serious ice and snow storm.  A few months later our roof started to leak.  That started the trouble.  We had a contractor come up and he told us we would need to put on a new roof.  No problem...our insurance cut a check.  We had to wait until the weather got better so at the end of August we tore off half the roof.  And then we came to a complete stop! Our trusses were broken and/or rotten.  So, we ended up calling the insurance again and they are working on the money issues.  In the meantime, we had to move out.  Luckily my uncle has a beautiful house in town that he was willing to rent to us.  The catch?  We had to pack up all my grandparent's stuff (my grandfather passed away last April and my grandmother's in assisted living) and clear it out.  What a job!  I don't think those two people threw anything away in the 70 years they were married! 

Then I have this crazy, psycho neighbor (for real, she's a psycho, scary woman) who is telling anyone who will listen (which isn't many except those that want to report back to me) that we have committed insurance fraud.  Not sure how we did that (maybe I can twitch my nose and make it snow) since we have had our contractor's AND our insurance has sent out contractor's of their own and they have all said the same thing...snow and ice damage.  This woman is 10 years older than me but I swear, she acts worse than my four year old.  As we all say in the neighborhood though..."can't reason with crazy".  It's just added frustration!

Anyways, now that I am finally moved I will have some time to actually read and post reviews again!  Please don't give up on's just been one heck of a crazy month! Stay tuned for a review of Jennifer L. Armentrout's Cursed at the end of this week or the first part of next week!

Friday, September 7, 2012


I have once again been slacking on my blog here.  I have a good reason though, honest!  First, we went to the beach for a family vacation.  We had 30 of our family members with us and we had a wonderful time!
Then we got home and started to tear off our roof.  During the big ice storm of January, we had some damage done to our roof.  We pulled off the roof to find that we have broked trusses and so we are now again at a standstill until the contractor and roofer can come out (tomorrow) and tell us what is going on and how much more we can expect it to cost.  Who said being a homeowner was fun??
Tuesday afternoon, 4 separate fires started in my hometown (about 15 min. away from my current home).  The firefighters got two of the fires out but the other two took off and merged into one fire.  It has burned over 1500 acres and we have over 400 firefighters from all over Washington state here fighting it.  Last night the wind shifted and the fire started down the hill behind my parent's house.  I left here at 10:30 PM to help them figure out what to pack in case they were evacuated.  I got home at 2:00 this morning.  Luckily the firefighters' fireline held and the fire did not jump the road and my parent's are safe...until the wind changes and gets stronger.  It was 40% contained this afternoon but flared up again and now only 20% contained.  We are praying for the firefighters and the families who have houses in the path of this fire!


Oh, and did I mention school started so I have been homeschooling my 3 kids while having my 3 year old nephew here for a visit?  Yes, my reading has come to a standstill as well as the progress on my roof.  I hope things calm down and I can start reading and reviewing quickly again!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My 2012 Fall TV Line-UP

I saw this post over at Down the Rabbit Hole and thought I'd share my t.v. list with you!  I suffer from OCD (really and truley...I'm not just anal) and so I have to have lists and spreadsheets of everything!  Yep, that means I made a spreadsheet with the day, time and channels of all the shows, old and new, that I want to watch.  My DVR is always packed in the new seasons.
So, here is my tv lineup!
Returning TV Shows I Must Watch:
  Once Upon a Time (ABC):  I love the idea of a fairytale land!  Snow White is my favorite fairytale of all time so when this show premiered last year, I was definitely excited to watch it.  I wasn't disappointed, of course.  Once Upon a Time keeps you guessing!
Revenge (ABC):  This show caught my interest from the ads and I was upset to realize I had missed the premier.  Thankfully, there is HULU and I watched the first episode there and couldn't stop.  I love Emily Thorne (aka Amanda Clark) and watching her take out those that hurt her father. 
Bones (FOX)I LOVE Bones!  My favorite show ever...seriously!  I like the books and read those as well but I really enjoy how the tv show is completely different.  All the characters are awesome and I like trying to figure out the mystery.  I also love all the forensic and anthropological science.  So fun!
Law & Order:  SVU (NBC)My sister got me stuck on this show.  It is the only Law & Order I watch but I love(d) Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay!  I watched it last year despite Meloni being replaced and now I have heard rumors that Hargitay may be being replaced soon.  If that happens, I'm not sure if I'll still watch so I have to get in as much as possible now!
Gray's Anatomy(ABC):  McDreamy anyone?  I have loved this show since episode one and will watch it until they decide it's over (hopefully not for awhile!).  The season finale of last season left you hanging by the seat of your pants so I cannot wait to get started again!  Poor Lexie :(
New TV Shows:
666 Park Avenue (ABC)I loved Desparate Housewives and since this is slightly compared to that, I decided to give it a try.  Sounds like an interesting (paranormal?) show.
Nashville (ABC):  I love shows about music so I am figuring I'm gonna really enjoy this one.  I also really like Hayden Panettiere.  I'm hoping this one will be great!
Elementary (CBS):  Mysteries...what's not to like about it?  Love the fact that this one is based on Sherlock Holmes and that Watson is a woman.  Should be a fun one!
**Other shows I'll be watching include Chicago Fire, Mob Doctor, Criminal Minds, Castle, and The Mentalist.  My hubby likes reality tv so I'm sure we will have the usual Survivor & Amazing Race as well.  I will also be tuning in mid-season for Body of Evidence and SMASH
So, what's going to be on your DVR this fall?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

*I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

My Thoughts:  Ruta Sepetys' Shades of Gray was an unbelievably amazing book!  I wasn't sure how any book would stand up to it but she has done it again.  The thing I like most about Sepetys is that she writes about things no one else writes about.  We have all read about Hitler during WWII but in Shades of Gray Sepetys wrote about Stalin.  In Out of the Easy she writes about prostitutes and brothels.  But it is done is a classy and historical way. 

Josie is 17 and lives in New Orleans.  She is the daughter of a prostitute and everyone knows it.  However, since Josie was 12, she has been taking care of herself and living above the bookstore that she works at.  She both loves and hates her mother for numerous (good) reasons.

Josie life changes when a man comes into the bookstore from out of state.  He doesn't know Josie's history and just assumes she attends college.  The small assumption gives Josie hope that maybe she can attend college.  However, when the man is found dead and it turns out to be murder, Josie finds out she is in over her head.

I loved Josie!  She was strong, independent and ambitious.  She has had a tough life but she is making it work for her.  She is loyal to those who are her friends and help her out.  She is even loyal to her mother.  I just loved her strength and how much hope she had.  I loved how she made things in life work for her and made the best out of the worst.  She absolutely did not want to follow in her mother's footsteps and even when things got extremely bad, she resisted (just barely). 

Willie was the madame that Josie's mom worked for.  Willie was strong and appeared to be mean and brusque on the outside but you could tell Josie held a special spot in Willie's heart.  Willie had Josie clean the brothel in the morning hours but always made sure Josie was out of the house before the "guests" came to visit.  While Willie wanted Josie to have a better life than her mother, Willie didn't want Josie to leave New Orleans.

Cokie is Willie's driver.  He was awesome!  He looked after Josie as well as Willie did and he loved her like a daughter.  He wanted Josie to succeed and he did everything in his power to help Josie get into the prestigious college that she wanted to get into.  I just loved Cokie and wanted the best for him.

Jesse and Patrick are the love interests but there is no serious love triangle.  There is a small one, don't get me wrong but it hardly takes up any of the story.  Jesse is a quite guy from the "wrong side of the tracks".  He is very good looking and a great mechanic.  Patrick is the book store owner's son and works with Josie.  Josie and Patrick have known each other for a long time and Josie feels comfortable with Patrick.  Patrick was sweet  as well and I liked how Josie and Patrick interacted.

I loved the girls at the brothel!  Dora was hysterical and Sadie was so sweet and caring.  Sweetie was also...well, sweet.  All the girls, except Evangeline, loved Josie and took care of her as best they could. 

I hated Josie's mother!  Oh, I wanted to wring her neck.  She was selfish, self-centered, dumb...I mean, I could go on and on!  Sepetys did a great job in created a villain in Josie's mother.  I felt no sympathy for her at all.  Cincinnati, her mob boyfriend, and her deserved each other. 

This book was amazing!  Sepetys captured New Orleans in all it's glory.  I have never been there but I want to go so badly and this book made me want to go even more.  She captured my attention from page one and kept it throughout the book.  I hated to see it end and cannot wait for more from Sepetys!  She is quickly becoming a favorite for me!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

 **I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

My Thoughts:  Jackson Pearce is one of my favorite authors so I was completely excited to be able to read this book early.  Now, The Little Mermaid is not my favorite fairy tale but I love how Pearce redid this one.

Celia is a triplet but she is the "odd one out".  She doesn't look the same and just feels like an outsider.  All of the sisters have "powers".  Once can see the future, one the present and Celia the past.  Celia doesn't think her power is worth much until she saves Jude and meets Lo.

Jude is a young musician.  He is out on the pier one night when he trips and falls into the ocean.  Unfortunately for Jude, mermaids are real and they are not friendly.  The newest mermaid, Molly, tries to drown Jude to take his soul.  The legend is that if a mermaid can find someone who loves them and she drowns that person then she gains that person's soul and becomes human again.  Lo, one of the older mermaids, doesn't want Jude to die so she saves him.  Once she drags him on shore, Celia takes over.  

After Jude is taken to the hospital, Celia can do nothing but think of Lo.  She goes back down to the beach to find her.  When she does, she finally finds a use for her powers...helping Lo remember her past and how she became a mermaid.  

I loved how the mermaids were described.  They were still like real know, with legs and feet and all.  No tails.  Lo was able to walk on land but at a cost to her.  She had blue skin so wasn't able to be out during the day but she met Celia on the beach many nights.  

Lo was a great character!  She was complicated to figure out and always kept you guessing until the very end.  Is she good or bad, friendly or evil, are her intentions good or does she plan on trying to drown Jude for herself?  I had no idea if Celia could trust her until the very end.

Celia is very sweet.  I love her complicated relationship with her sisters and her blooming relationship with Jude.  She really wants to help Lo and that is the only time I get irritated with the end she runs out into a oncoming hurricane to help save Lo.  A very dumb move but of course, necessary (I guess). 

I did have a difficult time seeing how this book tied in with Pearce's first two stories.  There were no scary, werewolf monsters...until the end, anyways.  However, about halfway through I remembered that in Sweetly, Sophia had a lost sister.  Yep, you got it...Lo is also Naida Kelly, Sophia's sister.  

The ending to this one was very unpredictable.  I enjoyed the twists and turns and can't wait to read Pearce's next fairy tale retelling!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: Heaven by Alexandra Ardornetto

**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Bethany, an angel sent to Earth, and her mortal boyfriend, Xavier, have been to Hell and back. But now their love will be put to its highest test yet, as they defy Heavenly law and marry. They don’t tell Beth’s archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, but the angels know soon enough, and punishment comes in a terrifying form: the Sevens, who are rogue angels bent on keeping Beth and Xavier apart, destroying Gabriel and Ivy, and darkening angelic power in the heavens.

The only way Bethany and Xavier can elude the Sevens is to hide in the open, and blend in with other mortals their own age. Gabriel and Ivy set them up at college, where they can’t reveal their relationship, and where there is still danger around each corner. Will Bethany be called back to Heaven – forever – and face leaving the love of her life?

My Thoughts:  Let me start by saying this is the third and last book in the series so if you haven't read the first two, there may be spoilers in this review.

Okay, that being said, I read this because I wanted to end the series.  I didn't really care for Halo, did not like Hades and I am sad to say, Heaven followed that pattern.  It was not a book for me at all.  It was really all I could do to get through it. 

At the end of Hades, Xavier and Bethany had skipped out on their graduation.  At the beginning of this book, they are in a diner and Xavier has proposed to Bethany and they are getting ready to leave for the church to get married.  God, or Heaven, or someone from up above lets them know that this is not a good plan by sending an "earthquake".  Despite this, they decide to get married anyways. 

As soon as they are married, the Reaper shows up and kills the priest that married them.  This is just the start of the problems for Xavier and Bethany.  Now the "Seven" are after them and they must go into hiding.  Xavier has to completely cut off his family and him and Bethany head to college as "brother and sister" instead of "husband and wife". 

In this book, Bethany acts like a two year old.  Seriously!  She doesn't seem to care about anything but what she wants.  While hiding in the cabin, she gets "bored" and whines the whole time.  Um, sorry but how did you get into this position?  Maybe because you broke some serious rules?  Deal with it, sweetheart!  Plus, Bethany is an angel remember...and yet, she leads Xavier down the wrong path a few times.  Just didn't really make sense that Xavier was a better "Christian" than Bethany and she was the angel. 

I thought the description of the college was ridiculous too.  Bethany heads to her dorm room and it is completely boring (as most dorm rooms are).  However, I lived in a college dorm and never did I see "stains on the mattresses" or other such things.  In fact, the rooms, while bare and boring, were very clean.  I have NEVER heard of anyone bringing in "interior decorators" to decorate a dorm room, as Ivy said.  I mean, you are there for 9 months.  Really?  Maybe I just wasn't that concerned or maybe since I didn't go to an Ivy League school I wasn't aware of that but I have never seen or heard of an interior designer for a dorm room.  I thought Bethany acted like a spoiled little girl when she was in college (well, really throughout the book) but she was mad when a girl asked Xavier out (don't forget that the girl has NO idea that Xavier was married since he was "Ford" and only had a sister), she described her roommate as clingy and disliked her dorm room.  It was really annoying.

As for the Seven, they weren't scary at all.  I wasn't understanding how they could not find Bethany either.  Supposedly because she was "surrounded" by humans, they couldn't "sense" her.  I just found that difficult to believe.  And really, why would the Seven even care if Bethany broke the rules?  I was kinda under the impression that they were "rogue" angels but maybe I wasn't paying enough attention.

Unfortunately I did not care for this book at all.  However, I think some of the  younger population may like them. Maybe since they don't have the experience of college yet (so  have nothing to compare it too) they might be able to deal with that part better than I did.  As for Bethany's childish behavior, well that was a huge turnoff to me!  Maybe someone younger won't find it so ridiculous. 

Anyways, I guess I now have closure to the series.  I am sad to say it just wasn't good for me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book Review: 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues

**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  A dark and moving novel--reminiscent of "Thirteen Reasons Why--"about the mystery surrounding a teenage girl's fatal overdose.There was something about Ellie...Something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance--and kept watch.

Now Ellie's dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are thirty-four clues she left behind. Thirty-four strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. Thirty-four secrets of a brief and painful life.

Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they confront the past, they will discover not only the darkest truths about themselves, but also what Ellie herself had been hiding all along....

My Thoughts:  If you are looking for a fun, light hearted read then keep looking.  This book was very dark and very emotional.  Once started, it is not easy to put down though so just be prepared to spend some time with it and be warned that it is quite depressing.

The story starts out being told by Jess.  Jess is Sarah's younger sister.  Sarah is Ellie's best friend.  Ellie is a very torn up character.  She is simply a mess!  The story starts with Jess describing the "accident" that landed her sister in the hospital and Ellie in an early grave.  Jess has 34 strips of paper she found in a box under Ellie's bed...34 clues to who Ellie was and why she was so disturbed.

This story is told in alternating POVs of Sarah, Jess, Ellie and Ellie's older brother, Jake.  It was also told in the format of "before" and "after" the accident.  I found this to all get somewhat confusing once in awhile as I had to go back and remember if I was reading through Jess's POV or Sarah's, if it was then or now.  It gets easier as you keep reading though so don't let that discourage you too much.

I liked how each chapter began with one of the 34 clue's that Ellie left.  It helped to tie all the pieces together and to get a sense of who Ellie was and how she interacted with not only Jake, Sarah and Jess but also Tommy (Jake's friend), Lola (Jess's friend) and her own mother and stepfather(s).  You are able to watch Ellie spiral so desperately out of control and it is pretty easy to understand why as you continue to read the clues. 

These characters hurt so much!  Each one of them was consumed with their guilt for not helping Ellie more and the incredible loss they felt after her death.  It was easy to feel their emotions and to connect with each one of them.  By the end, I just wanted to pull them all close and reassure them it would all be okay. 

I thought Jess was the strongest character and liked her relationship with Ellie.  It was sweet and confusing but not overdone.  I think everyone worried about Sarah so much that often times, Jess was left to her own devices, which led to the issues with eating (although that is not brought up too much).  Still, Jess was the one that tried to be there for Sarah as much as she could and tried the hardest to understand why Ellie was the way she was. 

Sarah was just full of depression and I don't think her parents did her any favors.  However, in their defense, I'm not sure they really knew how to deal with what was going on.  I know, as a parent, I would be scared for my child and probably wouldn't make the best decisions either.  I think the way the parent's were portrayed was actually very realistic of how parents might act if put in this situation with their child. 

I felt the same way about Ellie's mom when she figured out what was going on with Ellie. She just plain didn't know how to deal with it and unfortunately, I think there are a lot of parents out there like that.  I have been through what Ellie went through and while my parents handled things differently, I still don't think they really knew how to deal with something so horrendous!  Again, sadly, Ellie's mom and the way she handled things was probably a pretty good picture of how these things are handled often.

This is definitely a book that should be read.  Like I said, it isn't a feel-good, light-hearted read.  It's not even a fun read but it is a book that grabs you and won't let go and keeps you thinking about it long after you have finished it.  For me, that means it was well worth the time and sadness!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin

The Innocents (The Innocents, #1)
**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Nothing ever came between sisters Alice and Charlie.
Friends didn't.
Boys couldn't.
Their family falling apart never would.
Until they got to Serenity Point.
"The Innocents" is the first in a new series of young adult novels that weave a saga of nail-biting drama, breathless romance, and gothic mystery.

My Thoughts:  I really thought this book was a fun, mysterious read!  It was fast to read and while Alice was quite annoying (imo), the book was pretty good!

Alice and Charlie are sisters. Their dad ran out on them a couple years ago and their mom has just remarried a very rich man.  Richard's wife died of cancer and very shortly after that, his only daughter died in a car accident.  The girls, their mom and their new stepdad are spending the rest of summer at the beach house before the girls are shipped off to a prestigious bording school. 

Once in Serenity Point, the girls set out to meet kids their own age.  Charlie quickly gets involved with Cybil and Jude, two of the most popular and beautiful kids.  They are also two of the most troubled teens in the area.  Alice finds herself drawn more towards Tommy, who was Camilla's (Richard's dead daughter) boyfriend.  In fact, after Alice is told that she looks just like Camilla, she uses that to get to Tommy. 

As the girls start to get settled, things between them start to change.  They start to grow apart and the girls also start to grow apart from their mother, Maggie.  Alice decides to try to find out why Richard never speaks of his former wife or Camilla and what she finds out changes her world forever.

Seriously, I could not stand Alice.  She was weak and passive and just blah.  She didn't stand up to anyone until the end when she finally stood up to Richard.  She was also very goody-goody and pretty much a wallflower.  She just really annoyed me and I really could not connect to her at all!

I connected more with Charlie.  She was the one who was always getting in trouble but was always having fun too.  She just would insert herself into a crowd and that is how she made friends.  Cybil was one of those friends who was an enemy too.  You never knew what Cybil's mood would be.  Jude was an extremely troubled guy but Charlie couldn't help but fall for him. 

I didn't really understand anything about Maggie, the girls' mother. She was apparently very liberal and stood up for her political beliefs. She never would be associated with the dreaded Republican however, as soon as she marries Richard, who is very wealthy and obviously a more conservative man, she changes.  Now she is friendly to those Republicans and has no political views anymore.  In fact, she easily falls into the roll of the the "rich man's wife". I just didn't see how someone could completely change so quickly. 

The main mystery in the story was very easy to figure out.  I had it all pretty much figured out way before Alice did.  I think this will be okay for the intended (younger) readers and it didn't really take a lot away from the book but it was pretty easy to figure out. The ending definitely leaves you hanging and I will have to read the next book to satisfy my curiousity! 

This was a very fast read and I think a lot of the teen girls will really enjoy this book.  It just seems to have that drama that pulls you in and won't let you put it down!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book Review: The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.

My Thoughts:  I love a good mystery and this was a good mystery!  There were lots of clues to "who dunnit" and I figured it out early but it didn't necessarily take away from the book.

Rain and Wendy used to be friends.  They have grown apart though and don't talk much anymore.  They attended the same party though and when Rain is woken up by a phonecall from Wendy's mom, things start to spiral downhill.  Wendy's mom calls Rain to find out if Wendy is over there because she didn't come home that night.  Rain had seen Wendy at the party the night before but had left before Wendy had. 

Later, Wendy's body is found in the park.  She had been strangled and left there.  Rain feels that she needs to help find out what happened to Wendy, especially after everyone is saying mean things about her.  It's true that Wendy wasn't the most liked girl and she had her issues but Rain doesn't feel that she deserves to be treated in death this way.

As you  follow the clues with Rain, you also get taken back in time to when Rain and Wendy were friends.  You find out how Rain became accepted finally in her school and how Wendy became so intensly disliked by most of the girls.  You find out why Wendy and Rain parted ways as well and you get glimpses into Wendy's life and clues as to what may have happened. 

So, like I said, I figured it out about halfway through the book but I didn't necessarily know why this person killed Wendy.  I had a pretty dang good idea as to why but I wanted it confirmed.  I also wanted to see how Rain came to find out who it was. 

This book is a very fast read and definitely keeps your interest through the whole book.  I loved that the flashbacks were not confusing at all and they all made sense and helped develop the story.  If you like mysteries, I am pretty sure you will enjoy this one.  It's a great book to pick up for a quick, fun read!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review: Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed

**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  "I was sixteen the first time my grandmother died . . ."

Sarah Parsons has never been to Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that's been in her family for three centuries. She's never wandered its hedge maze or explored its secret attics; she's never danced in its ballroom, or hunted for the diamonds said to be hidden in its walls.

But as Sarah, her brother, and their icy mother settle into Amber House, she finds herself drawn to both handsome Richard, who introduces her to a world of wealth and privilege, and intriguing Jackson, who dares her to find the diamonds. She discovers she can see visions of the mansion’s history—like her mother as a young girl, unimaginably warm and happy, or the cruel sea captain who lost the jewels long ago. Piece by piece, she uncovers the secrets of Amber House: its ancient crimes, and its fresh betrayals.

Where are the diamonds? Who caused her mother’s unhappiness?  And what tragic act still echoes through Amber House? Sarah needs answers soon. Because when her visions threaten the person she holds most dear, she must untangle the web of the past before it traps them all forever.

My Thoughts:  I love me a good ghost story!  This was a fun ghost story that kept my attention from the beginning.  The end threw me for a loop and I am glad to know that there are more to come because if that was it then I would not be a happy camper!

Sarah is at her grandmother's house for her grandmother's funeral.  She hardly knew her grandmother and had never visited her at Amber House.  Amber House is one of the most talked about houses in Maryland and Sarah is anxious to see what all the fuss is about.

Sarah meets Jackson while at Amber House.  Jackson and his grandma, Rose, live on the property.  Rose took care of Sarah's grandma and helps around Amber House.  Jackson appears to know quite a bit about Sarah before he even meets her.  She is very perplexed by this and a little put off by it.  Jackson tells Sarah about a lost treasure and asks her to help him find it though so she gets to know him more and starts to understand how he knows so much about her.

Sarah's mother hates Amber House and does not want to stay there at all.  It is only after Sarah and her little brother, Sam, come up with a plan that she gives in and they end up staying for the 10 days that they are in Maryland.  She warns Sarah that the house makes funny "noises" but Sarah and Sammy are excited to be able to stay and explore the house. 

The next day, Sarah meets Richard who is the son of one of her mother's friends.  Sarah's mother decides to throw Sarah a Sweet 16 party at Amber House and Richard is put in charge of helping Sarah meet some friends.  Sarah's mom thinks that the party will help her sell Amber House so they can get back to Seattle as soon as possible.

There was a love triangle (of course) but it wasn't too horrible.  The relationship between Jackson and Sarah was a little more muted than that of Sarah and Richard.  Sarah's mom is also very quick to point out that the boys must want something from her because everyone uses everyone else so you are constantly wondering (as is Sarah) if Sarah is being used or if these boys honestly like her.

The ending was a little confusing for me but it's only because it left me with more questions than when I started the book.  Like I said though, there are more books to come so I think that will answer a lot of those questions. 

I enjoyed this book and thought there were some really great spooky moments.  I liked all the treasure hunts but I wasn't sure about Sarah's "gift".  Sometimes it seemed a little cheesy the way she was able to "see" the past and some of the flashbacks were a little pointless but for the most part it was a great read!