Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. Apparently, they are overly fond of list-making and love to share their bookish lists with the rest of us book nerds.  =) We're game.

This week's topic is the Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015:

Jen's Picks:

So, as you can see, I couldn't narrow it down to just ten, but I got as close as I could. =) And it's also pretty obvious that I read mostly fantasy, though I did run across a few really awesome contemporary novels during the first six months of the year.

Which novels made your list? Be sure to share a link to your TTT post so we can visit!

Monday, June 29, 2015

So, last week I participated in the "Blog Most Likely To..." promotion and mentioned that I'd be re-reading My Life Next Door by way of the audiobook. I did and it was awesome. But I expected nothing less. =) I reviewed the book back in June of 2012 when I first read it, but I had some further thoughts to add to the conversation now that I'm done with my re-read, er, listen...

Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Narrator(s): Amy Rubinate
Series: My Life Next Door, book #1 (companion series)
Length: 10 hrs 39 mins
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication Date: March 25, 2013
Source: purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

My original review can be found here, but below are some other thoughts I had upon my second reading of this fabulous book:

I really, really don't like Sam's mother. I didn't like her the first time I read this book, even in the beginning, but I liked her even less this time around. She didn't give her daughters a chance to be who they were and focused too much on her career and constituency. And I straight-up hated that smooth-talking boyfriend of hers. Slimy slimeballs are slimy.

I adore George to the nth degree. And if it weren't for Jase, he might just be my favorite Garrett. His sweet, childish fear of near-impossible things coming to pass -- black holes and air bubbles in IVs and eating Babe -- was so endearing. And the way he basically proposed to Sam, first on his own behalf and then on Jase's…*sigh*. He might just be the cutest secondary character ever.

Jase is one of the most swoon-worthy boys I've ever encountered in a YA novel. He's responsible. He's a family man. He's respectful of Sam and her boundaries. He's good with his hands, plays football, and has a knack for fixing things. And he's a car guy, rebuilding a classic Mustang on his own dime. YUM!

Sam and Jase are such responsible, drama-free characters and their relationship is one of my absolute favorites. Even after all the books I've read over the past three years. Theirs is not just a summer fling…it's the real deal, and it brings all the swoons and more than its share of feels. Jase works hard and looks to the future, especially where it concerns Sam. And they have frank discussions about things that matter. And when things got really tough, Jase gave Sam a chance to explain, and they worked through it instead of letting it ruin their relationship like so many characters before them.

I am more excited than ever to read Tim's story! I remember seeing such potential in his character when I read this book all those years ago, and it was even more pronounced this time around. He was practically begging for his own book, and I'm so glad the author decided to let his story see the light of day. From my original review: "Tim has substance abuse issues, a poor work ethic, and he’s driving his family crazy. But if you can endure his outlandish behavior and really see beneath the surface, he’s a really nice guy who just needs someone to take him under their wing and help him make some better decisions." And I stand by that 100%, knowing that Jase and his family have already paved the way for a better version of Tim to shine.

Amy Rubinate is a pretty talented audiobook narrator. I've listened to her narrate really sad novels and really uplifting novels, and though her voice doesn't really change, she owns the story with her performance. I loved listening to this book on audio as much as I loved reading it the first time.

GIF it to me straight:

About the Author:

Huntley Fitzpatrick grew up dreamy and distracted in coastal Connecticut. She flourished in a family of bookworms where everyone always had their nose in a book. She kept an exhaustively thorough journal which frightened her boyfriends but has proved very useful in her career as a writer. Her debut contemporary Romance, MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, was published in June of 2012 by Penguin-Dial for Young Readers. Now she laughs with and eavesdrops on her six children who provide her with perspective and material. She is represented by the amazing Christina Hogrebe of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Find Huntley:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

hosted by Penguin Teen

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Weekend Update - 6.27.15

Saturday, June 27, 2015 with 10 comments
So, since my end-of-the-week post isn't just about what I got in my mailbox or on my Kindle each week -- though that is a big part of it, I won't lie -- I decided to change up the title and intro a bit.  I might tweak the format a bit over the next few weeks, but for the most part, it'll contain the same stuff: stuff I got, stuff I did, and stuff that's coming up on the blog.  Plus, I get to use the awesome GIF you see here and blow kisses to all the people who sent me lovely books and bookish things.  Oh, and I've started linking up to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews since I'm not using a specific meme title anymore.  April's also doing her own Stacking the Shelves posts on Sundays.  Stop by and say hi!  =)

Wow...where has this summer gone already? I can't believe it's almost July! I feel like I've gotten back into a good groove, though, after May and June sort of kicked my ass, so there's that, at least. :)

Anyway, here's what I scored this week:

For Review:

The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door, #2)

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick - OMIGOD! I can't believe I have this in my hands!!!!!!!!!!

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith - SO excited. I love when a #WoW pick lands in my mailbox. :)
Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall - Loved her debut!
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett - This sounds fantastic!
Firewalker by Josephine Angelini - Loved the first book & I can't wait to dive into this sequel.

Thanks Penguin & Macmillan for these review copies!!!


No trades this week, but I know that some are on the way. :D


Bitter GreensCompulsionWicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely, #1)Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely, #2)

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (audio) - I had a review copy that I never got around to, so when I saw that my library had this available on audio, I snatched it right up. :)

Compulsion by Martina Boone (audio) - Needed a refresher before I pick up Persuasion.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (audio) - My library finally bought the rest of this series on audio, so I refreshed with the first book and grabbed the 2nd.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (audio) - As quick as these are going, I should probably just go ahead and borrow all of the audiobooks in the series. :P


No purchases this week, either. I'm being a good girl, even though none of my carts are empty, lol.


MonsterLord of the Flies

I grabbed this week's SYNC audiobooks, and I can't wait to start them! You can find out more on how to download them for free yourselves below. :)

So, that's my haul. :) How about you? What did you get this week?

The Week in Review:


The Remedy (The Program, #0.5)Dream a Little Dream (The Silver Trilogy, #1)

Current Giveaways:

The Blog Most Likely To

Promotional/Discussion Posts:  
  • The Blog Most Likely To + Giveaway
  • #WoW - Riders by Veronica Rossi
  • SYNC Week #8 featuring Monster and Lord of the Flies
  • I Swear - in which I extol the merits of the method employed by the authors of Illuminae to include profanity in their novel without actually using it =D

Jen's Currently Reading/Listening To:

Stormdancer (The Lotus War, #1)Oblivion (Nevermore, #3)I, uh, got an ARC of Illuminae last week and promptly started it, meaning I also forgot about finishing Oblivion. Oops. But I'm done with Illuminae now so it's back to this one. :P

Since I finished Illuminae, I've had the hugest desire to read Jay Kristoff's series to see what his writing alone is like and decipher which bits of his collaboration with Amie Kaufman were his and which were hers. ;)

Upcoming Reviews:

Nevermore (Nevermore, #1)Enshadowed (Nevermore, #2)Oblivion (Nevermore, #3)

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Friday, June 26, 2015

I Swear...

Friday, June 26, 2015 with 5 comments
I curse like a sailor. What? It's fun! I mean, I tone it down considerably when I'm around the little one, but when she's not around, all bets are off. I'm all "F@$% this!" and "You've got to be sh!tting me" that. I also like to combine obscenities to make up new ones. But you'll never catch me making up cuss words to sugar-coat what I mean. I feel like the intention is there no matter what, that the same connotation is implied, so what's the point?

April and I posted about cursing in reviews and a little about the use of fake swear words in YA novels awhile back, but I don't actually think I've come across the made-up cuss word in a good while. But I'm reading Illuminae right now, co-written by the amazing Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and in this brick of a novel, they've employed the most ingenious way to get around using profanities while still having the intended affect. No "frex" or "shucking" or "bleeps" here.

This novel, which is told through a series of reports, emails, IM chats, data logs, etc., is prefaced with a letter explaining what follows (shown to the left). At the very bottom, it mentions the fact that the documents in the report are censored and then makes light of the fact. I didn't really think anything of it when I first read it, but all throughout the book, anytime a profanity is used, a black censor bar appears over the text. It's not hard to guess the word beneath in most instances, and the fact that the word is blocked from the text at all is kind of ridiculous, considering the circumstances and what other information the documents include.

You can see an example of a very censored conversation between one of the main characters and his companion aboard the Alexander. This IM chat is profanity-laden and one of the funnier exchanges witnessed in the book because of it. Striking out the obscenities does nothing to hinder what the characters are trying to express, but it also doesn't make it seem as juvenile as using less vulgar language by way of invented curse words.

I also love that the "censorship" of the documents, of the book itself, is fitting for the type of story this is. Like in Kaufman's other collaboration with Meagan Spooner, this is a sci-fi full of conspiracy and cover-up, and the omission of the derogatory words only serves to further that purpose.

I am a huge fan of epistolary novels, and I think the use of so much other media to tell this story just adds to the intrigue. Especially when all of the mixed media contains those little black bars. There is a ton of sh!t going down in this book, and yeah, the subjects of this investigation, or whatever, are dropping F-bombs left and right. I don't think I'd be any less inclined to do so were I in the same situation. Also...the main characters in this novel are recently broken up and they have a lot to hash out.  ;-)

Whoa, I really went off on a tangent with that, but basically, I love everything about this novel and I wanted to share that with you. Especially the "censorship" bit, though, because seriously, getting around the use of profanity in this manner is sheer genius. And in case you were wondering, THIS is the book I've been blathering on and on about. And the one you're likely to see me blathering about for months to come:

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files, book #1
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015

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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
I'm a huge fan of Amie's collaboration with Meagan Spooner on the Starbound series, but I've read nothing of Jay Kristoff's yet. I was hoping to remedy that before this book released, but that's neither here nor there, since I started reading Illuminae the second the ARC was in my hands. Also, I've heard nothing but amazing things about Kristoff's own series. Must. Make. Priority.

Guys, put simply, you need this book in your life. I don't think I've ever read a book like this, that struck me in such a way. I'll review the book in full closer to release, but I just wanted you guys to know that this book should be on your radar if it isn't already. TBR. Yours. Put it on there.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Title: Dream a Little Dream
Author: Kerstin Gier
Narrator(s): Marisa Calin
Series: The Silver Trilogy, book #1
Length: 10 hrs 6 mins
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher, purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv's dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she's in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They're classmates from her new school in London, the school where she's starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what's really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn't possibly know--unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute....

Narrated by Marisa Calin, who also narrated The Ruby Red Trilogy on audio for Macmillan, Dream a Little Dream is a funny little jaunt into the world of witchcraft and demons and lucid dreams. It never deigns to take itself too seriously, much as the Ruby Red books never got overly technical when it came to time travel. Both stories are cute and enjoyable in their own right, but I'd have a dickens of a time deciding which I liked better. Especially seeing as how I like cheeky, talking inanimate objects, and those are present and accounted for in both. :)

I listened to this back in April I think and promptly forgot to review it. D'oh. So, I listened again a few days ago as a refresher. Some books I can read over and over again and others, it's a pain to read or listen to even once more. No problems listening to this one again because the main character is completely adorkable and the narrator does such a good job with Gier's books. It's actually rather interesting to experience this lighter take on dreams and the demons they harbor, considering I'm also reading the last book of the Nevermore trilogy, which takes a much darker look at this same subject. Completely different stories and the atmosphere is the exact opposite, but still interesting to compare.

Magic rituals. Cute boys. London. All things that appeal to me. And I love the new cover. The original cover wasn't bad, per se, but it was a little too cutesy for this story. And while this story is cute overall and kind of silly -- I mean, they found a book and raised a demon and he agreed to give each of them their dearest wish? -- it does have a darker side, especially when it comes to the lengths some will go to in order to appease said demon.

The dream interactions were my favorite aspect of this story, especially when Liv still believed that they were just dreams. But when she discovers that those four cute boys from school share her dreams, things really get interesting. I was admittedly a little worried about so many hot boys available for the choosing, but they're not really...available, I mean. :) One is soon to be Liv's stepbrother, another is in a long-distance relationship, another is a wanna-be player who's still hung up on his ex. That leaves just one, and he's the one I would've have picked for Liv from the beginning, so it all worked out. No strange love shapes to be had here. =)

I read a story the other day that mentioned "surface" friends, and that's kind of how I felt about this book: it's only just scratching the surface of what Liv and her new friends might be capable of -- or what they might be in store for. I'm sure the next book will dig a little deeper. And I'm just glad I didn't have to wait until the third book for the romance to really heat up, like in Gier's other series.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Kerstin Gier is the bestselling author of the Ruby Red trilogy, as well as several popular novels for adults. This series was translated by Anthea Bell into English.

Find Kerstin:

Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Yay! Summer is here for pretty much everyone now! You know what that means! SYNC recently announced the list of audiobook pairings up for grabs this summer, and today kicks off the 8th week of the program for 2015. Here's what you can grab through Wednesday of next week...for free!

This week's YA title is Monster by Walter Dean Myers, performed by a Full Cast for Listening Library.

Add to Goodreads
This New York Times bestselling novel and National Book Award nominee from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. Presented as a screenplay of Steve's own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.

Fade In: Interior: Early Morning In Cell Block D, Manhattan Detention Center.

Steve (Voice-Over)
Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady prosecutor called me ... Monster.

This week's classic title is Lord of the Flies by William Golding, performed by William Golding for Listening Library.

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William Golding's classic novel of primitive savagery and survival is one of the most vividly realized and riveting works in modern fiction. The tale begins after a plane wreck deposits a group of English school boys, aged six to twelve on an isolated tropical island. Their struggle to survive and impose order quickly evolves from a battle against nature into a battle against their own primitive instincts. Golding's portrayal of the collapse of social order into chaos draws the fine line between innocence and savagery.

Will you be picking up either of these titles? Remember, they're only available through Wednesday, and new titles will be put up on Thursday for download. To download this week's titles, just click here to be taken directly to the SYNC download page.

I hope you take advantage of this program. I've been doing it for the last few years, and I've had the opportunity to listen to a ton of great audio for free.  If you've never tried audiobooks before, it's a great opportunity to do so without the obligation of buying one that you might not enjoy.  And if you love audiobooks, well, it's a great time to stock up on some titles you may have missed or discover new ones.  Win/win.  =)

Happy listening!

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