Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Books Giveaway Hop

Friday, November 30, 2012 with 65 comments

Welcome to my stop on the Christmas Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Laurie Here.  It's the season for giving and boy, am I in the mood to do some giving!  And I want to show everyone the love, so I'm picking TWO winners this time around:  one US and one INTERNATIONAL!

Here's what's up for grabs:

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Title: Let it Snow:  Three Holiday Romances
Author: John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle
Series: n/a
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication Date: October 2, 2008

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today's bestselling teen authors--John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle--the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Eeeek!  A book featuring three romantical stories set in winter from three great authors!?!  You know you want it!  I already snagged a copy for myself and can't wait to curl up with it!

  • This giveaway is international.  As long as The Book Depository ships to your location, you are good to go.  (You can double-check that here.)  
  • One entry per household.
  • All entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.  And, people, PLEASE check your SPAM folders...I've had to reach out more than once to some winners because they "didn't get the first email."  I don't want to, but I'm going to have to start just picking new winners.  :C
  • I am not responsible for lost packages.

And now on to the fun stuff!  You only have to follow my blog to enter, but all other entries/follows are appreciated!  :D

Now that you've entered here, be sure to check out the 100+ giveaway stops on this blog hop:

Thanks for entering & happy reading!

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Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms, book 1
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
Source: ARC, thanks to the ladies at Good Choice Reading
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

Falling Kingdoms was is one of those books that I seriously coveted, almost to the point that I would beg, borrow, or steal to get it.  I actually did beg...a little.  When I did score an ARC, I made myself hold off reading it until a little closer to the release date, just to build up my anticipation even further.  Was that a mistake?  Maybe.  No, it wasn't a mistake because I did like the book.  It was fun and fueled by murder and betrayal and everything else a great book should be filled with, but I just didn't love it like I wanted to.

I've never read anything by Michelle Rowen prior to this book, which is written under her pseudonym.  But I know plenty who have and absolutely love her writing.  The writing wasn't a problem for me.  It wasn't stellar, by any means, but it wasn't poorly written or anything.  It's just...this is supposed to be a fantasy, right?  I expected some epicness, but all I got was fantasy-lite.  And the story wasn't nearly as cohesive as I would like because quite a bit of the story happens behind the scenes, most often when a switch in narrator has occurred.

Though there are technically four different narrators in Falling Kingdoms, all in third-person, I felt like Cleo kind of owned this novel.  It started with Cleo and it ended with her, and it's obvious that her presence will continue to be very strong throughout the series.  I didn't love any of the characters, but I also didn't hate them.  They all had their strengths and weaknesses, and I can appreciate that.

There were some religious undertones in this book, but there was also plenty of magic to offset those.  It was interesting to see what part each played in this world and how each of the three kingdoms viewed religion versus magic.  It seemed as though they went hand in hand long before the kingdoms existed, and one would  not exist without the other, but somewhere along the way, it appears as if it was decided that the two could not coexist.  Hence, the falling kingdoms.

The reader is immediately thrust into the thick of things with the prologue, which very adequately sets the pace for the rest of the story.  Also, there is SO. MUCH. DEATH.  I'm serious...try not to get too attached to any one character.  I was slack-jawed and bug-eyed for a good majority of this novel, which is fun in its own respect.

The book was fun.  I'm probably the only person who isn't gushing over this thing, and that's really probably only because I am a hard-core fantasy lover and I just need more world-building than I was presented with in Falling Kingdoms.  And that's not to say it doesn't totally deserve some gushing...I'm just not the one to do it.  I will, however, be picking up future installments.  Now that everyone's path is on the cusp of convergence, I must see it through to the end.

Favorite quote:

“Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is darkness. The question is, will one give in to the dark or the light? It's something we decide with every choice we make, every day that we exist. What might not be evil to you could be evil to someone else. Knowing this makes us powerful even without magic.”

Rating:  Photobucket

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Audiobook Review: Reached by Ally Condie

Thursday, November 29, 2012 with 12 comments
Add to Goodreads
Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Narrator: Matt Burns, Kate Simses, and Jack Riccobono
Series: Matched, book #3 (final book in series)
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

Beware:  Mild spoilers for Matched and Crossed but nothing that would ruin any of the books for you.  Just read at your own risk.

I loved Matched.  But I was bored with Crossed until the last quarter or so of the book.  So, where does that leave the final book in this trilogy?  Somewhere in the middle, I guess.  While Crossed was your typical history-laden sequel, Reached ended up being the opposite of least for me.

Let's start with the boys.  This series did start off as a somewhat star-crossed love story, after all.  After Matched, I loved Ky.  After Crossed, I loved Xander.  After Reached, I love neither.  Allow me to explain: Ky was self-sacrificing when it came to his love of Cassia.  That doesn't change.  But his love becomes all-consuming at some point, and it's all he cares about anymore.  Xander, on the other hand, loves a friend and as his match, and he wants her to choose him.  But even so, he joined the Rising because he felt it was the right thing to do, just as Cassia did.  They'd both seen the wrongs committed by the Society and chose not to ignore them or be ignorant of them any longer, whereas Ky joined the Rising to be with Cassia.

I'm a romantic at heart, and I can see how being told who you can or can't love could make a person loyal to the only person who gave them a choice, but I'm also a realist, and in the middle of a revolution, I'd hope that my priorities were more aligned with helping others escape the persecution and discrimination I'd faced up to this point.  But just as Ky was so steadfast in his loyalty to Cassia, Xander's loyalty tended to wax and wane with the turn the war was taking at any given time:  loyalty to Cassia turned into loyalty to the Rising, which in turn became loyalty to the Pilot.

In Reached, there are three points of view:  Cassia, Ky, and now Xander.  We got Cassia and Ky's perspectives in the last book, but now that I've read from Xander's POV, I think I prefer it to the others.  He's much more matter-of-fact and less emotional and well, less whiny.  The narration rotated between each character as each chapter began, and it helped the story to flow, considering each character is separated from the others when the story resumes in this book.  We get so much insight into what each character is feeling and what they're going through and what part they are playing in the Rising and its efforts to bring down the Society.

The pacing of this final novel wasn't exactly slow, but the book is long and it felt long at times.  And I was listening to the audio...I can't imagine trying to read through some of the slower passages, all the feelings and wondering and waiting.  The audio is actually narrated by three separate narrators, just as the book is split into three different narratives.  Cassia is voiced by Kate Simses, who voiced Cassia in the other novels.  Ky is voiced by Jack Riccobono once again.  And Matt Burns completes the narration from Xander's perspective.  I think I remember not liking the narrator for Ky last time around, and that hasn't changed.  He was just so utterly melancholy, and I know that Ky's situation is pretty dismal at times, but that doesn't change how I feel about the narration.

Reached was a decent finale to this series.  It's definitely made me rethink how I rated Crossed last year.  It's just interesting to me how much a series can fluctuate from beginning to end, especially after such a promising first installment.  On that note, I'm kind of just glad that it's over.  I don't regret the time I've spent with these characters, but I'm ready to move on.

Rating:  Photobucket 1/2

Covers By Katie
Okay, so I totally stole this idea from Sara at Forever 17 Books, who got the idea from an article on Babble called Judging a Book by Its Cover: A 6-year-old Guesses What Classic Novels Are All About.  I just discovered her lovely segment, and I immediately requested forced my own four-year-old daughter Katie to provide me with some of her own cover art artwork and then asked her what she thought the book was about., I wasn't going to use this particular cover art from Katie because it's kind of a work in progress, which translates to:  she lost interest when I left the room for a minute and never returned to finish it.  But, it made me laugh pretty hard when I really looked at it, and there's kind of a funny story to it, so I thought, What the hell?

So, earlier this week, Katie caught me in my office and asked if she could draw me another cover.  I tell her sure and ask her to pick a book from my shelf if she doesn't want to draw the one I'm currently reading -- she didn't and I don't blame her...that one's too pretty to mess with.  Here's what she picked:

Add to Goodreads

The funny story about this one is, I don't even have to ask her what she thinks this novel is about.  When she saw the ARC sitting on my desk earlier this year, she asked me, "Mommy, is this book about vampires?"  Yeah.  The kid also likes to watch The Vampire Diaries with me, even though I've told her time and again she's not old enough, though maybe she is because she's constantly informing me who's good, who's bad, and who's in love.  =)  Oh!  She did say this about the cover, though, as she was drawing her interpretation:  "I like the blood coming from her eye."  Erm, ooookay.

Cover Art:

The Immortal Rules by Katie

Or, as Katie titled it:  IMMORTAL KATIE.  How funny is that?  After I noticed that, I envisioned her saying it in an evil voice, followed by deep, raucous laughter.  Maybe we're both a little deranged.  :-P  She asked me what the black around the girl's eye was, and I told her probably make-up, which she then proceeded to make very prevalent in her rendition, and she also made sure to draw a red line to represent the blood she seems to have taking a liking to.

What do you think?  Funny or just plain creepy?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

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Title: Strands of Bronze and Gold
Author: Jane Nickerson
Series: Strands of Bronze and Gold, book #1
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: March 12, 2013

The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

Why I'm waiting:  Okay, I'll admit it...I had to do a little research on Bluebeard.  I've never heard of that "fairy tale".  (Sounds more like a horror story, if you ask me.)  Anyway, between what I found online and the premise for this novel, I must read this story!  It sounds like a fantastic retelling, and I am ALL ABOUT THE DEBUTS, y'all.  And, ermigawd, that cover is soooooooooo gorgeous!  =)

What are you waiting on this week?  Share it in the comments or leave me a link so I can stop by!  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Today on the blog, I'm helping Xpresso Book Tours unveil the cover of a collaborative effort from Rhiannon Frater and Kody Boye.  Behold:

Cover designed by Phatpuppy Art.

Here's a little more about the novel:

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Title: The Midnight Spell
Author: Rhiannon Frater & Kody Boye
Series: n/a
Publisher: self-published/indie
Publication Date: February 2013
Purchase:  links not available at this time

Best friends since kindergarten, Adam and Christy have always been the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas. The other kids call Adam gay and Christy a witch.

On both counts the bullies are right.

Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious boy enrolls at school and sets hearts a flutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome football player Ian seems to be going nowhere fast and her witch puberty is making her life miserable.

When a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, the best friends realize that finding a boyfriend is the least of their worries. Soon Adam and Christy will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before, and will again.

About the authors:

Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency. You may contact her by sending an email to

Find out more about Rhiannon Frater and her books:

Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and the dark fantasy novel Blood. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror,) while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years(Bitten by Books.) He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area.

Find out more about Kody Boye and his books:

I'll be honest, I haven't jumped on the Rhiannon Frater bandwagon yet, but that's only because I haven't had time.  I own The First Days and have just been biding my time till I'm able to sit down with it.

So, what do you think of the cover?  Does this sound like a book you'll be picking up when February rolls around?  Let me know your thoughts!

Teaser Tuesday 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!

This week's teaser comes from the following book:

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Title: The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer, book #2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

My teaser:

"It wasn't Jude," Noah said quietly.
"What wasn't Jude?"
"The doll in your bedroom.  He didn't put it there."
I blinked, not getting it.  "Then who did?"
It felt like forever before Noah finally spoke.
"You." -- p. 190

Ack!  I've got chills now!  The Unbecoming was just the beginning of the creepy.  I have a feeling that The Evolution is going to push the border on creeptastic.  I say bring it on!  I've been patiently waiting until I caught up on review books before I really dove into this novel, but now that I'm ready, I kind of want to savor it.  A good book is like a fine don't just gulp it up, unless you desire to want for more sooner rather than later.  =)

What are you teasing us with today?  Share it in the comments or leave a link so I can stop by!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dreaming of Summer Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 26, 2012 with 74 comments

With winter upon us, let's warm up by sharing some of our favorite beach/summer reads! Be it a book that takes place at the beach, or just one that has a great summer setting - share the warmth with the Dreaming of Summer Blog Hop hosted by Me, My Shelf and I & I Am A Reader Not A Writer!

Here are your prize options for my stop on this hop:

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Title:  Endless Summer
Author:  Jennifer Echols
Series:  The Boys Next Door, books #1 AND #2
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Publication Date:  May 25, 2010

Two irresistible boys. One unforgettable summer.

Lori can’t wait for her summer at the lake. She loves wakeboarding and hanging with her friends—including the two hotties next door. With the Vader brothers, she's always been just one of the guys. Now that she’s turning sixteen, she wants to be seen as one of the girls, especially in the eyes of Sean, the older brother. But that’s not going to happen—not if the younger brother, Adam, can help it.

Lori plans to make Sean jealous by spending time with Adam. Adam has plans of his own for Lori. As the air heats up, so does this love triangle. Will Lori’s romantic summer melt into one hot mess?


Add to Goodreads
Title:  Forever Summer
Author:  Alyson Noel
Series:  Laguna Cove AND Cruel Summer
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date:  April 26, 2011

Summer. A break from the burdens of school. Deep tans, deeper thoughts. Far away from the everyday. Closer to making dreams come true . . .

What does summer mean to you? For the two teenage girls in these two unforgettable novels, summer means being torn away from the familiar and finding new friends. A new place in the world. A new sense of self. And maybe even new love along the way . . .

When you’re having the time of your life, you never want it to end.

Both of these prize choices are paperbacks and include two books in one.

  • This giveaway is international.  As long as The Book Depository ships to your location, you are good to go.  (You can double-check that here.)  If you're in the US, it'll likely come from B&N since I get free shipping and better tracking.
  • One entry per household.
  • All entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.  And, people, PLEASE check your SPAM folders...I've had to reach out more than once to some winners because they "didn't get the first email."  I don't want to, but I'm going to have to start just picking new winners.  :C
  • I am not responsible for lost packages.

And now on to the fun stuff!  You only have to follow my blog to enter, but all other entries/follows are appreciated!  :D

Now that you've entered here, be sure to check out the nearly 100 giveaway stops on this blog hop:

Thanks for entering & happy reading!

We all delight in seeing our favorite books brought to life on the big screen.  We cringe at casting.  We scoff at release dates.  All the while, we're gearing up to see if the director's vision lives up to the world we've conceived in our own imaginations.  Sometimes it does...and sometimes it doesn't.  We could lament the movies that don't measure up, or we could return to the books for a re-read, possibly with a slightly different mind-set.  All's fair when it comes to artistic vision, right?

This week, I'd like to feature:

View on IMDb
Title:  The Host
Director:  Andrew Niccol
Stars:  Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel & Diane Kruger
Release date:  March 29, 2013
Based on:  The Host by Stephenie Meyer

A parasitic alien soul is injected into the body of Melanie Stryder. Instead of carrying out her race's mission of taking over the Earth, "Wanda" (as she comes to be called) forms a bond with her host and sets out to aid other free humans.

I'll admit that it took a lot of coercing to get me to read The Host after not enjoying the previous Stephenie Meyer book I'd read.  But once I got past the first couple of chapters, I was hooked.  I really enjoy a good science fiction piece but especially when it features aliens.  I can't wait to see what they do with this novel on film.  And for a change, I'm actually pretty excited about the casting.  Did you see Hanna?  Saoirse Ronan was phenomenal in that movie, and I just know she won't disappoint as Melanie/Wanda.  Max Irons is perfect for the hot, distrusting Jared.  And though I usually see Jake Abel cast as a sort of anti-hero in most movies, I think he'll make a great Ian...especially since he starts out none-too-friendly towards Wanda.

And now I'm wondering when Stephenie Meyer will crank out the next book in what has since been picked up as a series.  When I read The Host, I fully expected it to be a stand-alone, but you won't hear me complaining.  I just hope she ends this series on a better note than she did The Twilight Saga...that Breaking Dawn left a sour taste in my mouth.  It started out fine, but...Renesmee?  Really?  I still have to watch the final installment and see how they handled that aspect.  So, if you've seen it, don't ruin the ending for me.  LOL.  Just kidding.  =)  I would like to know what you thought of it, though.

Sorry I've been absent for a bit, guys.  I was busy with the holiday, but worse still, I threw my back all out of whack on Wednesday of last week and haven't been able to tolerate sitting in one position for very long.  But since I'm having to ignore the pain to sit at my desk at work, I figured I could get back to blogging, as well.  =)  So, expect new posts momentarily...including a giveaway!  Hope you all had a lovely holiday and weekend!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Covers By Katie
Okay, so I totally stole this idea from Sara at Forever 17 Books, who got the idea from an article on Babble called Judging a Book by Its Cover: A 6-year-old Guesses What Classic Novels Are All About.  I just discovered her lovely segment, and I immediately requested forced my own four-year-old daughter Katie to provide me with some of her own cover art artwork and then asked her what she thought the book was about.

This week, Katie wanted to recreate the cover for a novel I've just finished reading:  Reached, book three in the Matched series by Ally Condie.  Technically, I listened to the audiobook (my review will go up tomorrow), but I'm a book hoarder, so I just so happened to have the hardcover on hand for her to duplicate:

When asked what she thought Reached was about, Katie immediately responded, "Broken hearts."

Cover Art:

Reached by Katie

I love how she drew the black lines in the red globe to represent the cracks in it.  I think she captured Cassia breaking free very well.  And I think she's on to something with that "broken hearts" theory.  =)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope you all get to spend some quality time with loved ones today!

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