Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wither (Chemical Garden #1), by Lauren DeStefano

Wither was on my wishlist since I heard about it months ago and I pre-ordered so it automatically downloaded to my NookColor on the 22nd and I tried starting it then, but the beginning was really dark and disturbing and I have to be in the mood for that sort of thing, so I read a mermaid story first.  :)  I like to switch up my reads and after the fun and whimsical book, Forgive My Fins, I was ready for a haunting tale.  This book lived up to all of my expectations and I was glad I bought it and made the time to read it as well (with such a huge TBR list, sometimes books don't get read for months after I buy them).  The protagonist Rhine is one of my favorite characters ever.  I love her name, her heterochromic eyes, her courage, her strength, her determination, her cunning and her wild hair.  In this strange future humans have contracted a virus that doesn't seem to do anything to them, but all of their offspring end up having very short lifespans.  Men live to the age of 25 and women live to the age of 20 (this is the first gap in the plausibility that I encountered though... why would it be such a certain age and why would it be different for men than for women?), as a result, many young girls are kidnapped and forced into marriages where they will hopefully end up procreating to help ensure the future of the human race.  The people who initially contracted the virus are still alive (they're called First Generation) and everyone is divided between people who are looking for a cure (pro-science) or are accepting the fate of humans and believe it's not right to experiment on people or force them to have children together (pro-nature).  Rhine is a pro-science girl who has conflicting feelings since she certainly doesn't want to be part of the experiment herself.  Unfortunately she doesn't have a choice after she is tricked and forced into a van with other girls headed to a secluded mansion in Florida, miles and miles away from the tiny home she shares in Manhattan with her twin brother Rowan.  She has been kidnapped to become one of Linden Ashby's new wives.  Almost as soon as she arrives she begins to devise a plan for escape and I spent most of the book simultaneously rooting for her and worrying about the potential danger.  In the opening we discover that whoever is in charge isn't above ending a human life and will stop at nothing to continue his efforts (which are supposedly to find a cure for the virus), so I wanted her to escape, but I was afraid when she made any efforts too.  It provided a wonderful tension that carried me through the entire book.  Unfortunately there were a few more holes in the plot that were a bit frustrating, like what happened to the law?  Is it really possible that America could change so much in one lifespan that kidnapping is suddenly easy to achieve and all these forced marriages are suddenly commonplace?  Just because our lifespans are shorter isn't reason enough to worry about the future all humans.  Plenty of people have children young, especially in other cultures and many kinds of animals have a shorter lifespan and they have no problem procreating.  I could see this causing plenty of changes and long-term problems, but I don't see that being a true threat to our whole species.  I guess if the ages were 10 and 15 it might seem a bit more plausible, but it wasn't ever explained how this virus is really threatening the entire population.  However, if you can ignore these gaps and just maintain a willing suspension of disbelief, Wither is really quite good.  I do wish those strange things were explained a little better so I could've focused more on the characters instead of getting distracted wondering how such-and-such made any sense (haha), but I still loved reading this book.  The atmosphere is haunting and the characters leave you with a longing to change their situation, to help them and to know them.  Wither also brought a lot of emotions to the surface for me and it is always a good thing when a writer can make you feel.  I felt butterflies of anxiety and excitement in my stomach, I felt tears welling up in my eyes threatening to spill over and blur my vision and I felt the warmth of love spread through my chest as Rhine explored her most vulnerable feelings.  This book was beautiful in a sad and chilling way and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a slightly darker atmosphere, fans of YA, dystopians or love stories.

Favorite things:  the interesting world that Lauren DeStefano created, the juxtaposition of wealth and privilege against the backdrop of death and disease, the detailed characters that were often torn between conflicting emotions and were so real as a result, the breathtaking cover that felt so true to the story, the macabre tone that was a welcome change from my lighter recent reads and the way it was written to lead in to the next book without leaving us on a cliffhanger (I hate when authors do that knowing that many readers will end up waiting a year or more to find out what happens; you can entice us to read more without cutting us off at an exciting part).

Criticisms:  I already mentioned this but, the holes in the plot were the largest impediment for this book.  I hope maybe the next one will have some more info that helps clear up some of the confusion.  Fortunately they weren't that distracting to ruin my opinion of Wither and I still loved it so...

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  I hope Lauren DeStefano doesn't get writer's block, because I can't wait for the next one!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blog About Your Dog Monday (March 28th, 2011)

It's Monday again and time for me to share some more adorable pictures of my two Plott Hound dogs.  :)  I already did this meme last week, so if you want to know more about each dog their rescue stories and more pictures can be found here and this week I'll just post a couple of new pictures about my sweet girl puppy named Tsukiko and my wild and crazy boy dog named Chanceux. 


I hope you're having a great start to your week everyone and I'll post some more pictures of my awesome dogs next week!  :)

Forgive My Fins, by Tera Lynn Childs

After reading The Tail of Emily Windsnap (read my review for that here) I have been craving more mermaid stories.  Perhaps my lifelong love of swimming is what draws me to this concept the most, but all the other elements are what keep me interested.  Forgive My Fins is a bit more grown-up than Emily Windsnap and it provides for a different kind of read.  Half-human, half-mermaid Lily Sanderson spends most of this story torn between her two lives and, initially, I didn't like that about this book.  I wanted it to be all mermaid, all the time, but as the story developed and took shape, I began to enjoy the parallels and the contrast between these two worlds.  I definitely liked this book more than The Tail of Emily Windsnap, because it had better writing, it was longer (and that resulted in more development from each character for each of their personalities to shine through) and it was intended for an older audience which allowed for the added element of romance (and most writers and movie-producers seem to know love can be layered in to almost any story to add depth).  I loved that Tera Lynn Childs took the time to explain a lot of things and create a more plausible mermaid world and I would recommend Forgive My Fins to anyone who likes YA, mermaids, swimming, paranormal or love stories.

Favorite things:  the underwater world, the descriptions of swimming, glistening fins and gorgeous eye colors, the writing (save for the very beginning) that kept me engaged (after the full story finally started to develop), one of the guys in this book (who is wonderful in so many ways and most girls would like to date a guy like him and most guys would like to be a guy like him) and the main character Lily who battles issues of self-esteem, her own morals, questions of love and hate and ends up growing a lot in this book.

Criticisms:  it took a little while to get going and it bored me so much I switched to another book for awhile, a couple of the supporting characters are generic enough to actually confuse them while reading and the sequel seemed to be set up in a single sentence (I really prefer a little more foreshadowing instead of having it come out of no where like it seemed to in Forgive My Fins). 

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars...  thankfully the weak beginning was only 38 pages, so I am still giving it 5 stars, however I was considering giving it 4 stars so there is no exclamation mark (lol) and I wanted to clarify a little more as well.

Ttyl everyone and I hope this week is a great week for all!  :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (March 26th, 2011)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea to help everyone showcase their new books.  I got 5 this week and all on my NookColor.  Here's what I bought:

Specials is the third book in the Uglies quartet (read my review for Uglies here and read my review for Pretties here), but I haven't started it yet, because I was in the mood for something different.  I really want to read it and buy Extras before the covers change though.  Even though they're just images on my NookColor, I still want them to match!  I have a hard time believing the cover for Pretties is from this set, but oh well.  I am doing my best to at least have the rest coordinate darn it!  Haha.  *Sigh*  Stupid changing covers, how I loathe thee.
I had been waiting for Wither for a long time and now I finally own it!  I tried starting it the other night and it was a little too dark for my mood then, so I put it down in favor of something more lighthearted, but I really plan on reading it soon so I can get my review posted before it's old news and everyone is done reading it already haha!  :)
After reading The Tail of Emily Windsnap (read the review for that here) I was really in the mood for another mermaid story, so I bought Forgive My Fins and I already started reading it last night.  Look forward to my review (or don't, whatever, lol). 
One of my B&N friends recommended this to me awhile ago when I was asking for something sweet and fun to read and then I've seen it on various blogs as well.  Most everyone seems to agree that it was a good read and I'm excited to lose myself in a Parisian romance while reading Anna and the French Kiss.  :)
The Chronicles of Nick has been on my wishlist for a long time now and I can't take it anymore!  I have to read it and get caught up to read the second one too!  I hate not knowing what everyone is talking about when it comes to this series.  Anyway, who knows when I'll actually read it since my TBR list is always expanding, but I am so glad I bought it and I love the cover even more than I knew, because I got to see a larger image of it and it's more detailed than you can see from the small pictures usually posted.

Anyway, that's my IMM this week and thanks for stopping by everyone!  *hugs*

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Follow Friday/Blog Hop (March 25th, 2011)

Today's question:  Inspired by the #100FactsAboutMe Twitter trend... what are five book-related silly facts about you?

My answer:  There are lots I could write about since I've loved reading ever since I started doing it at age three, but I'll try and pick five really interesting ones to share with everyone...

1.  When I was a kid I would check out an overflowing backpack of books from the library almost every week.
2.  I used to get in trouble for reading all the time when I was a kid.  My parents would always catch me up at all hours reading by my nightlight or in the bathroom and then my teachers were always punishing me for hiding books under my desk to read while they lectured!  I always hated lectures though, I learn best by reading or doing it myself.  :)
3.  I wrote my own book when I was 11 or 12 and the lead male had a forever changing name, because I would always name him after my current crush (which apparently didn't last very long haha).  The paper got so worn from so many changes that I eventually started calling him nothing and just left a blank spot!
4.  I have read more books this year than I have any other year of my adult life and it's all thanks to the added convenience and unlimited virtual space on my NookColor!
5.  I loved a book so much once (The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry) that after the covers fell off and the pages came apart, I simply stapled them back together and put them in a tiny folder instead of throwing them away.  I finally did get a brand new copy (how I treasure it), but I'll never forget my falling apart copy, read to the point of total destruction.

Book Blogger Hop

Today's question:  If you could physically put yourself into a book or series which one would it be and why?

My answer:  My B&N friends already know the answer to this question since I posed a similar question on the B&N boards not too long ago, but...

1.  I would love to live in the world of Harry Potter and be a teacher at Hogwarts.
2.  I would love to live in a house made from a tree like the Berenstain Bears and I've seen some pretty amazing adult tree houses too! 
3.  I would love to be able to fly like the kids in the Maximum Ride series (although some of their adventures are a bit dangerous for my tastes lol, I guess dreaming about flying will have to suffice haha).
4.  I also think The Shire from The Lord of the Rings series would be a wonderful place to call home, although the houses might be a tad short for me (haha) and I've also always wanted to try that amazing bread from the elves! 
5.  The chocolate factory from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl would be such a cool amusement park and if there ever is one, I'm going!  They could serve chocolate drinks near a thick tan river and there could be a bungee trampoline with edible bubbles everywhere!  It could be so awesome.  :)
6.  Last-but-not-least, I would love to visit (not live at) The Restaurant at the End of the Universe from Douglas Adams' epic series: The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and see the universe come to its end over and over in an unbelievable loop of exploding lights and colors.

Well, there's my FF and hop for the week!  Thanks for stopping by, reading, posting and following me everyone!  *hugs*  Oh and for all those Nook and NookColor users out there, don't forget it's Free Friday and this week the book is The Phantom of Pemberly: A Pride and Prejudice Murder Mystery.  It has a total rating of four stars so far and it's definitely worth getting since it's free!  Get it here!

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen

Hoot is a coming-of-age story about a young man named Roy who decides to take a stand for something.  This seemingly simplistic tale is much more developed than I would've thought just from reading the summary.  The summary talks about bullying, Florida, owls and a boy, but this story is much more than that and those words only penetrate the surface of this book.  Roy's personal growth reflects the growth in each and every one of us and it was wonderful to read about his navigation through those difficult teenage years when you learn to pick your battles.  I was first interested in this book because of the obvious reference to owls (and who doesn't appreciate those adorable creatures?), but there is so much more to love about this story than just those fuzzy little birds.  This book is also about friendship in all its different forms.  It's about standing up for yourself, no matter the risk.  It's about learning to "settle the argument between [your] heart and [your] brain."  And it's about figuring out where your home really is, whether it's a new place you're uncomfortable in or even somewhere besides your own house.  I really loved this book and there was even a tear in my eye at one point.  I didn't think I would become so emotionally involved in this boy's story or so concerned about the plight of tiny burrowing owls, but Carl Hiaasen really knows how to pull at your heart strings.  Hoot alternates perspectives throughout the book as well so the reader can follow the journey of bumbling rookie Officer David Delinko and the constantly worried foreman named Curly, as they try and figure out who is responsible for all the pranks and vandalism at the construction site of Mother Paula's All-American House of Pancakes.  I loved the characters in this book as well, I felt like they were so different from one another and I, too, was intrigued by the presence of a barefoot boy running through the chapters just like Roy was intrigued by the presence of a barefoot boy running through the streets.  There are so many layers of this story to peel back, I'm surprised Carl Hiaasen was able to tie up all the loose ends in less than 200 pages (NookColor page count), but he did and I definitely liked this book more than I thought I would before reading it.  I would recommend Hoot to anyone who likes adventure/survival, coming-of-age, the male perspective and anyone who loves animals, nature or politics. 

Favorite things:  the Floridian setting, the barefoot boy (whose name is a secret), the tiny fuzzy owls and the relatable themes of standing up for yourself and standing up for something you believe in.

Criticisms:  the summary of this book doesn't do it justice and should've been reworked so less people would miss out on this fantastic story.

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  This is definitely the kind of book I would like to read again and share with family.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stranger and Stranger (Emily the Strange series #2), by Rob Reger

This is the second book in the Emily the Strange series and I never reviewed the first one, because I read it before I started this blog (it's hard to believe, but I've only been blogging for a little over a month), but there isn't much to say about the first one that isn't applicable to the second one as well, so don't worry my dear readers!  You won't be left in the dark if you just read this review alone.  I was first drawn to this series, because of the interesting covers and the first book is a little more gothic and a little more black, but other than that, it's very similar, so you get the idea.  These books are epistolaries as well and I love a unique format or concept to switch up my reading options.  Emily the Strange is very strange, but she is also relatable as well.  I can relate to many of her primary characteristics to a point at least, Emily just takes it to the next step.  I share a love of all things cuddly, but Emily is specifically a cat-fan and has anywhere from 3-5 cats as pets at any given time.  I share a love of science and experiments, but Emily can build almost anything using science as a sort of magic (and it's especially magical with the help of a magic liquid black rock Emily has a small supply of).  I always enjoy a good prank or booby trap, but Emily is constantly coming up with the next elaborate plan (she reminds me a lot of Data from The Goonies for any lovers of that classic movie).  I love black clothes, but Emily only wears black.  I'm glad I stumbled upon this series and started reading, because there are a ton of laughs, interesting illustrations and great characters to love.  I would recommend this to any fans of interesting formats, humor, anyone who has ever been (or has ever known) a goth, any science-lovers or any cat-lovers. 

Favorite things:  the journal-style entries, the sharp wit of Rob Reger that provided me with so many laughs, the striking red and black covers, the illustrations that look so good on my NookColor, the short length that allowed me to have a quick read between some of my more lengthy options and the interesting and lovable characters.

Criticisms:  the book takes awhile to get going and didn't pull me in as much as I would've liked and the length was a positive thing, but it was also a negative thing so I will list it here, because with so few pages, it's hard to have enough substance.

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars.  I think this series is unique and definitely worth reading, but a little more finesse is needed to take these books to the next level.

Waiting on Wednesday (Hex Hall #3, by Rachel Hawkins)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where we can discuss books we are eagerly waiting for!  I just finished the second book of the Hex Hall series and it ended with a cliffhanger, so I am definitely waiting for the third to come out!  Unfortunately the second was a newer book, so the release date for the third hasn't even been narrowed to a specific month yet and the cover hasn't been released either.  I definitely have a long time to wait and I hate that!  I always felt like this while waiting for new Harry Potter books to come out too, it seemed to take forever, but I suppose a good book does take a long time, so I'll try to be patient.  :)  Update: the expected release date is now March 13th, 2012.  

Ttyl everyone!  *hugs*

Demonglass (Hex Hall #2), by Rachel Hawkins

Demonglass is the second book in the Hex Hall series and you can read my review of the first one here.  The similarities to Harry Potter didn't end as the second book went along, so the people who didn't like that aspect of Hex Hall will continue to be disappointed.  I loved that aspect personally though, because I was sad the Harry Potter books were over and I hadn't found a book that filled my cravings since the final one was published a few years ago.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who felt the same way about J.K. Rowling's best series, because it helped me fill the void and I think other readers will feel the same.  In Demonglass the main character, Sophie, is introduced to her new home, Thorne Abbey, and is eager to leave the danger and drama of Hex Hall behind her.  Little does she know her new home has its own share of danger and drama too.  While she's at Thorne Abbey she is supposed to get to know the father she had never met before and there is certainly a lot to learn about him.  Things she thought she always knew are revealed to be wrong and Sophie has to learn how to be the person she really is, instead of the person she thought she was.  This was another quick read, but there were a few long passages of history and I felt they could've been worked in a bit more smoothly, because I did find my mind wandering a few times throughout Demonglass.  I really hoped this one was going to be worthy five stars and I was really excited to read it, but it didn't quite hit the mark.  The book ended in an enticing cliffhanger though and I can't wait for 2012 for the third book to be released so I can find out what happens next.  I would recommend this series to any fans of Harry Potter, fantasies, school-related fiction, magic or YA.

Favorite things:  the continuing similarities to Harry Potter, the beautiful descriptions of the gardens and the building at Thorne Abbey, the unexpected surprises, the overall storyline and the amazingly gorgeous covers for this series!

Criticisms:  there were a couple dull moments throughout and then I don't know what exactly is missing, but both this book and Hex Hall were lacking something that could've made them great.

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars.  I was really hoping this one was going to be great, but I'm still eager for the third to be released, because I am interested to know what's to come!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blog About Your Dog Monday!

I think this a great idea and I had been planning on posting about my dogs sometime anyway so I will start with the dog we got first and he just turned three a little while ago!  His name is Chanceux (French for "lucky") and he was abandoned as a puppy with all his brother and sister pups in a box up in the mountains here in Colorado, in the middle of winter, near the side of a road!  (0.0;)  Thankfully the box was spotted quickly and, as far as I know, all the dogs survived.  Most were adopted from a shelter near where they were found in Montrose, Colorado, but Chanceux and his sister hadn't been adopted after a few weeks, so they were sent to Boulder, Colorado to try and find their forever home from The Humane Society of Boulder Valley which they swiftly did!  The girl had already been adopted by the time we got there and we just barely turned in the card in time to adopt Chanceux, it was close to Christmas and many people were eager to get a puppy for their family, so that was how we came up with the name Chanceux.  He was lucky to survive, we were lucky to find him (via the internet first and thanks to their great photos and updated information) and he was lucky we adopted him too, because not everyone is as generous with their pets as we are!

Chanceux - 3 Months Old
Chanceux - 3 Years Old
Our second dog was already eight months old when we adopted her from the Longmont Humane Society and she had been relinquished by her first owners for being vicious and dangerous and she was extremely malnourished and didn't seem to understand many things like singing, TVs, stairs and the only command she knew was, "sit," but after completing the Bite Program at Longmont Humane Society they determined she was safe to adopt out, but they had to warn us about her.  I suspect the people who first adopted her never had a dog before and had no idea how to raise or treat one, because she has learned a lot in the time we've had her (she is so proud of herself after she completes a round of fetch now) and she is the sweetest, most cuddly dog I've ever had the privilege of knowing and we love her to bits!  We named her Tsukiko which is Japanese for, "moon child." because she is as dark as a night sky and her eyes are huge saucers, as big as the moon!  :)

Tsukiko - 8 Months Old
Tsukiko - 2 Years Old
Oh and that is a picture of her playing, "The Blanket Game," which I taught to Chanceux when he was a puppy to protect my delicate fingers from his razor-sharp puppy teeth and he in turn taught it to Tsukiko and they always want to play it now so they play by themselves with a blanket that used to be the couch blanket, but is now a dog-toy haha.  We just tuck it in tightly enough and they don't need our help to play anymore, so that's nice for us too and it's really cute to watch as well.  Snorting and rolling puppies chewing each other gently through a blanket is more entertaining than most shows on TV!

As for the languages we chose for the names, I am part-French and my husband is half-Japanese and we love the sounds from both of those languages.  :)

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed "meeting" my Plott Hound puppies for the first time and I will post more adorable pictures of them next Monday!  Ttyl.  (^_^)

Win a Signed ARC of Enclave from Mystifying Paranormal Reviews!

Update: This contest is over now and someone is a winner, but I will still keep the link up about... Mariya from Mystifying Paranormal Reviews was hosting an awesome giveaway of a book I know I'd really like to win!  Click on my link to follow her and blog or tweet about it for extra entries!  Good luck to everyone and congratulations to whoever won this awesome book!  :)

I Am a Winner of Little Princes!

I usually don't win things, but luck was on my side recently and I was one of five randomly chosen winners to receive Little Princes!  I just got it in the mail and I am now the proud owner of this book about a man who goes to Nepal to volunteer at an orphanage and comes to find out that most of the children there aren't even orphans.  They've mostly been kidnapped after their parents paid huge sums to get their children out of their war-torn country and somewhere safe.  Instead of getting out of there, the children have been abandoned at an orphanage in one of the biggest cities in Nepal.  The young man from America decides to take on one of the biggest challenges of his life to reunite these children with their parents.  I'm so glad I was a winner and I would like to thank Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews for hosting this giveaway and even taking the time to send me another email when I was about to reach my time limit before she picked someone else (reminder to everyone out there to check your email more frequently if you participate in giveaways lol) and I'd also like to thank Harper Collins for this giveaway as well!  *hugs for everyone!*  Of course I will review this when I read it too.  :)  I already started looking through it and the center of the book stores a collection of amazing photographs as well so I have a feel for the atmosphere already without having read a single word inside yet and I'm excited to find out the full story!   Anyway, ttyl everyone!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pretties (Uglies #2), by Scott Westerfeld

Pretties is the second book in the Uglies quartet and I just finished it yesterday.  Read the review for Uglies here if you have not or if you don't know what this series is about, because I give all the basic info about the storyline and such there.  As for Pretties, I actually only had ten pages left from my reading the night before, but I had been too tired to finish even that tiny amount (haha).  So, my reading yesterday was short and surprising.  I didn't think ten pages was enough room for a twist, but apparently it was!  I bought the next book, Specials, and I have started it already as well.  As I was saying before, I recently reviewed Uglies and I gave it 5 out of 5 stars, but I can tell you now, Pretties won't be receiving the same review.  I did not enjoy the second one as much as the first one and there are a few reasons why.  My biggest pet peeve from this book came from the phrasing.  Scott Westerfeld uses different jargon to indicate whether someone is a Pretty or not and the Pretty-talk is terribly annoying.  I can see why he did that and it serves its purpose, however, I can't help but cringe when I read about something being, "pretty-making," or, "bubbly," a hundred times in one book.  I also was being driven to madness by Scott Westerfeld's love of an old phrase that isn't really used anymore, so it stood out and echoed in my mind every time he used it, which was a ton!  The most annoying phrase of this book is, "tried to gain purchase."  Every time anyone was climbing, hoverboarding, swimming, etc. he or she inevitably would need to, "gain purchase," and I swear I woke up with those words replaying over and over in my brain after a night of reading this book.  Maybe that phrase is more common and less of an eyesore where ever Scott Westerfeld lives, but in Colorado, that verbage is never used, so it was painfully noticeable and he used it way too many times in this book.  He used it a few times in Uglies as well, but he didn't go crazy, with what is apparently his favorite phrase, like he did in Pretties.  I am definitely wishing to see less of that phrase in Specials.  Hopefully someone else noticed and complained before he started writing the third one.  I don't know how his editor/proof-readers didn't mention it to him either.  Perhaps that phrase really is common somewhere else, but it seems more like an old-fashioned phrase that is out of use to me.  As far as the content and the storyline goes, it wasn't as much of a disappointment to me, but I did feel the book took awhile to get going and the first 75 pages or so were filled with a lot of fluff.  Pretty-headed fluff lol.  I still found myself looking forward to the upcoming pages though, because I wanted to know how everything worked out and Scott Westerfeld added a few last-minute surprises and twists that set you up, just in time, for the next book, Specials and I'm hoping that book will be worthy of five stars like Uglies was, because Pretties fell short.  I would recommend this series to any lovers of dystopians, sci-fi, fantasy, action or adventure.

Favorite things:  the twists and surprises in the storyline, the unique way Scott Westerfeld was able to develop a love triangle, the ideas for and descriptions of all the futuristic technologies and gadgets, the adventure elements that seeped through into this sci-fi/dystopian, the blurry line between friend and enemy that is so reminiscent of real life since many times a character in a book is flat and predictable it's nice to have such round supporting cast, and the brilliant lead-in to Specials at the end of the book.

Criticisms:  overuse of certain words or phrases, a slow start, more criticism about our generation than the last book almost to the point of being insulting and an ugly cover that doesn't match my other ones (some people might not be bothered by such things, but I know I am not the only one who is). 

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars...  needed improvement, but was released anyway.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (March 19th, 2011)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea and all you have to do is talk about any new books you got during the week.  Whether they were delivered, picked up at a bookstore, downloaded from a satellite or borrowed from a library it doesn't matter, but this is the place to share!

This is my first time doing this meme, but I think it's a great idea and I plan on doing it every week from here on out!

B&N had this book on sale and I've always loved The Chronicles of Narnia, so I got this leather-bound collection for less than $20.00!  It arrived earlier this week.  I normally buy all my books on my NookColor now, but I thought this was such a good deal and such a beautiful cover, so I made an exception.  I've started rereading these books and apparently it's been a long time, because I don't remember all of it.  I keep having bits and pieces come back to me as I go along, so it's almost like a new book!  I thought I had read them more recently, but it's a funny thing how time can work as you get older.  What seems like just yesterday can really be fifteen years ago when you take the time to figure out how old you really were and do the math haha!   And thanks Kelly for letting me know about this sale!
I decided to search for some fairy tales while in my NookColor shop and there were a bunch of options for free available.  This one is my favorite selection out of all the ones that I took the time to download and preview.  I love the cover and it's so interesting to read stories from other countries and see the differences and similarities.  I also love all the cultural references that you can only know if you've been there.  It makes me feel like I am truly transported to another place.  I've also started reading it and there aren't as many errors as I am used to for free editions like these, so that was a nice surprise!  I would definitely recommend this for any Nook or NookColor users!  $0.00 really is the best price.  (^_^)  Download it here.
This is the second book in the Wings series.  The first of which I already reviewed here and as some of you already know, I loved it, so hopefully this one lives up to its predecessor!  I don't like the cover for Spells as much, so I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that's the only thing that falls flat compared to Wings.  I guess it's hard to keep the momentum when you start off so strongly though. 

I bought, read and reviewed this book already, you can see the details here, but overall I gave it 4 out of 5 stars and I certainly liked the fact that it was on sale and it had quite a catching cover obviously as well haha!

I just read Uglies as well recently and you can read my review of that here, so I bought the second one in the series and I am almost done reading that, so expect a review soon!

One of my B&N book club friends wanted to read some more guy books since most of the book club members, such as myself, are women and he rarely gets his picks for the selections and this is one of the ones I suggested that I would read with him.  I know he likes action and Blood Ninja certainly has a lot of that!  I was intrigued by this book, because it takes place in one of my favorite countries, Japan (please use the link on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen to donate to the relief fund) and I like ninjas too.  This also has a striking cover and as all of you should know by now, I love a good cover!  (^_^)

So, there are my newest editions to my TBR list!  It's out of control and so am I, but I love collecting books and building my new virtual library.  Ttyl everyone!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Win a Giveaway from Embrace Your Oddities!

Embrace Your Oddities is hosting a giveaway to usher in and celebrate her first 100 followers!  To come be a part of the fun and get a chance to win her awesome prize pack, just help her spread the word and become a follower if you're not already!  Follow the links and good luck everyone!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Follow Friday/Blog Hop (March 18th, 2011)

Today's question:  How did you come up with your blog name?

My answer:  I just thought of it when I decided to start my blog (almost a month ago now!) and I thought it was a cute twist on a classic phrase and I certainly am a "nook worm" with how many books I read and almost all of them are on my NookColor now.  

Book Blogger Hop

Today's question:  Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?

My answer:  I used to stick to one book at a time since it was so confusing trying to remember what I had been reading and trying to keep enough room for all my current books near my bed or trying to have a large enough bookmark collection as well.  However, now that I have all my books in one place (my NookColor), it's just as easy to put one off to the side and start something else, so I find I usually have a bunch of books I am part-way through these days.  If I get a really good book, I'll often read it cover-to-cover, or at most, in two sittings, but if it gets a little boring, I might set it aside and look for something else.  It's so great knowing I can return to these books at anytime and the NC will have my spot saved and I don't have piles of unfinished books laying everywhere.

Uglies (Uglies #1), by Scott Westerfeld

The book Uglies was one of the first books I bought for my NookColor, but it took a long time for me to finally read it.  I kept putting it off because it's one of four books and I wasn't ready to commit all that money (especially when I've already delved into a dozen or more series) and I've also heard a few negative reviews about these books as well.  However, the impending date for the new covers is looming and it encouraged me to get reading, and buying, the rest of this series (assuming I liked the first one of course).  I really hate having different sets of covers to my books.  Even if all the books are on my NC, and I don't have to look at the mismatched sets on my bookshelf, it still bothers me.  Unfortunately I already think the second cover is from another design set, but I couldn't find a white one like this cover.  Oh well, as long as I get them all in neutral colors it will look a lot better than any of the new garish, bright-colored ones.  Lots of people love the new covers, but I am not one of them (haha).  So, enough about the covers and on to the writing within.  I have never seen the morning sky and thought, "The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit," but after reading those words it sounds like an accurate description and I applaud Scott Westerfeld's bravery to use something so ugly to describe something so beautiful, but it's almost a metaphor for the entire series, presented right in the very first sentence, so I was impressed with those words in more ways than one.  Now as many of you already know, I love dystopians, so perhaps I am biased, but I really liked this book.  I read it in one sitting, which might not sound that impressive since many of the books I've reviewed thus far were read in one sitting as well, but I have to say that is truly not the norm for me.  I read before bed and I often fall asleep after 50-100 pages and resume the following night, so most books take me at least 2 days to finish, but if something really interests me, I can't seem to put it down and I found that to be the case with Uglies.  Tally is our protagonist and has spent her entire "ugly" life waiting to become pretty.  In this future world everyone goes to have a multitude of surgeries once they turn 16 to change everything about them and provide them with "perfect" looks based upon symmetry, gender preferences and The Pretty Committee's choices for the year.  Tally has always looked forward to moving to the New Pretty Town across the river where constant parties and beautiful people everywhere seemed so promising.  Her birthday is quickly approaching, but after meeting a new friend with rebellious ideas everything she ever knew is thrown into question.  She ends up between a rock and a hard place after she is forced to choose between her new friend and her lifelong dream to finally become pretty.  Scott Westerfeld does a great job of explaining what has happened to change the world we know into the world Tally knows and I love how he he offers faults for our generation without placing the entire blame on us as well, because it allowed me to focus on the entertaining elements of the book instead of the morals as is often the case in many dystopians.  There are definitely a lot of ethical questions to consider while reading, but Scott Westerfeld dances around them while adding elements of romance, action, suspense, mystery and futuristic science fiction.  While I was reading, I was mostly just entertained, but after I was done I was left with a lot of the ethical implications lingering in my soul.  What is true beauty?  How do we ever know the information we're receiving is accurate?  How much trust should we place in our government?  How much trust should we place in each other?  How much trust should we place in ourselves?   I would recommend this book to any fans of dystopians, YA, adventure/survival, sci-fi, fantasy, action or romance. 

Favorite things:  the descriptions and metaphors, the hoverboards and all the mental imagery that allowed me to feel like I was flying too, the character growth of Tally, the surprising twists and turns that allowed this book to spread its wings into a full series, the various settings, it had a great, even pace that kept me engaged all the way through and all the interesting moral issues that were so subtlety introduced.

Criticisms:  some of the characters weren't fleshed out enough to get me emotionally involved and that was a missed opportunity in my opinion.

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  I can't remember why others gave this a bad review, but I had to search to find something to I dislike about this book.  I already started the next one before falling asleep as well.  More to come whenever I finish it!  I may read something else next though.  Ttyl everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

100 Things I Hate About Pregnancy, by Kate Konopicky

Well, as some of you may already know, my husband and I are planning to expand our family and I often find myself interested in books regarding pregnancy and babies as a result.  During one of my frequent searches through the store on my NookColor I found this book with a slightly different point of view on pregnancy.  The title is actually more negative than the content and it's mostly filled with short humorous chapters and interesting factoids complete with working links to the websites where they were sourced from.  The book is very short (88 pages on my NC), but it's also a lower price ($5.56 on sale from $6.95) and I thought it was fair for what I got.  It was a quick read and I would recommend it for anyone who is expecting, trying to conceive or even friends or family of those who are.

Favorite things:  the humor, the informative tidbits at the end of each chapter, the working links (obviously you need an e-reader though), the rounded perspective on pregnancy and the stand-out cover.

Criticisms:  extremely short and while I said it was fair for the price, I would've just rather paid more for a full book.

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars... I could've given it 5 had it just been longer.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wings, by Aprilynne Pike

I have had Wings on my wishlist for a long time now, but my B&N book club recently added the third in this series to our upcoming reads list, so I figured I better hurry and at least read the first one!  I had read the sample a long time ago, so technically I had already started this book, but untechnically I read it in one sitting.  I read The Tail of Emily Windsnap, grabbed a key lime muffin from the kitchen and returned to the bedroom to start and finish Wings.  I had just started Spells (the second in this series) when I decided to take a break from all my reading and do something else for awhile (or I would probably be posting my review for Spells immediately after this review, just as this one comes mere minutes after the review for Emily Windsnap).  This series seemed to give me everything the Need series didn't.  They're very similar in their unique perspective on faeries (oops I was just reminded by my friend Lexa that they were pixies in Need, so oops on that, but they were similar enough in my mind haha), but the lighthearted atmosphere and parallels between being a faery and being a green-loving vegan made me enjoy this book so much more than Need.  I loved the characters Aprilynne Pike created and the vivid descriptions of grass, trees, wind, sun, water and nature in general made me feel as if I was right there, in the midst of a beautiful forest or walking barefoot across thick, lush, dew-laden grass and it was amazing.  I've been longing for spring and summer to return to me and I felt as if I got to visit my favorite seasons through these words.  I finished the book and went to take my dogs out, just in time to be greeted by early morning fog, birds chirping and the sun peeking through clouds that had just watered everything in fresh rain.  I felt the breeze and the sun as if I was a flower, craving the outdoors just as Laurel does.  Laurel is your typical teenager except she only eats vegetables and fruit (and in very small amounts) and she loves the sun and the breeze more than humanly possible and she has this strange bump growing on her back and she can hold her breath forever and... well, I guess she's not your typical teenager after all...  I loved reading about Laurel and the strange characteristics that start to make her question herself and her past before her adoption.  I didn't want to stop reading and if my dogs didn't need to go out, I would probably be in my bedroom now reading Spells.  I made myself put it down, because I had a feeling I wouldn't want to stop reading that book either and my dogs would have an accident in the house haha.  Thankfully for all involved I mustered up some self control and plugged in my NookColor to charge while I took care of my responsibilities like a good dog-mom.  I'm still thinking about Laurel's world though and I am looking forward to finding out what happens next.  I might get back to reading it after this post...  I would recommend this book to any fans of YA, fantasy, chick lit, paranormal or faeries. 

Favorite things:  Aprilynne Pike's writing that transported me to a beautiful summer day in the middle of my gray winter, the characters who were easy to care about and get to know, the concept and the unique twist on an old idea and even the romance (normally not something I care much about in a book).

Criticisms:  the willingness of two guys to be part of a love triangle is a bit unrealistic and the feelings of guilt or confusion about these two loves for Laurel were slow to actualize as well.  By the end of the book the love triangle seemed a bit more realistic and believable, so I think that aspect will be more interesting in the second book. 

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  This is the best paranormal romance I've read in a long time.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap, by Liz Kessler

I am always on the hunt for a cheap book to read and when I saw a book with a price of $4.79 and a mermaid theme, I was sold.  I have not read Forgive My Fins, but reading this definitely makes me want to give that book a try as well.  The Tail of Emily Windsnap is a short children's book about a young girl who discovers she morphs into a mermaid whenever she's been in water for awhile.  Mystery and whimsy inevitably follow as innocent Emily Windsnap begins to figure out the clues to her past.  Soon, Emily finds her first true friend who just so happens to be a real mermaid (instead of a half-mermaid like Emily) and starts learning more and more about this watery world she never knew existed, even spending a day at a mermaid school with her new friend.  One of my favorite things about reading is the ability to experience things you never could and reading The Tail of Emily Windsnap gave me a chance to be a mermaid for a couple hours and for less than five bucks too!  Quite a bargain if you ask me.  However, I would caution other readers before buying this book to be prepared for some annoying gaps in the writing that make for a bit of a stumble instead of a smooth journey.  The transitions are definitely in need of some work, but it was a debut from this author and definitely geared for the youngest of readers, so I tried to overlook that and just focus on the story itself, which was quite enjoyable.  A few of the situations in the book were set up a little too conveniently as well, so I found that to be a bit disappointing.  I enjoyed the concept and the journey; I just wasn't a fan of the writing itself.  Sentence structure, grammar, flow, etc. all could use some improvement, but I would still recommend this to fans of mermaids or anyone wanting to read to their young daughter (this would be a great story to share).  There are a lot of prevailing themes of love, friendship and family that make this story touching as well.  I'm not sure if I'm going to continue this series or not, but I don't regret buying the first one and it definitely sparked a new interest in mermaids for me.  I might buy Forgive My Fins next.

Favorite things:  mermaids, the main theme which was true friendship and true love, the descriptions of the sea and swimming as a mermaid, the mermaid school and of course the amazing low price!

Criticisms:  poor transitions, some things were a bit too convenient and some of the basic writing in general made for a disjointed read at times.

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars, could've been better, but I still liked it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Win all five Breathless Reads signed books!

Well, this is a pretty awesome giveaway hosted by Beth Revis and you can get all five of the Breathless Reads books signed if you win!  How awesome would that be?  Super-awesome I think!  Check out the site here and good luck to everyone who participates!  (^_^)

Follow Friday/Book Hop (March 11th, 2011)

Today's question:  Who are you?  The boy/girl instead of the blogger...
My answer:  I am a city-girl who likes horses and nature.  I'm a health-conscious girl who drinks Cherry Coke.  I'm an optimist and a cynic at times.  I am a series of contradictions mostly.  (^_^)  I'm a dyslexic who loves reading and writing, even if it's hard to keep the letters in order haha!  I'm also a girl with a headache, but I'm not going to take any medicine for it, because my husband and I are TTC (trying to conceive) and I hope my headache goes away on its own and doesn't turn into a full-blown migraine.

Book Blogger Hop

Today's question:  If I gave you £50 ($80) and sent you to the bookshop right now, what would be in your basket when you finally staggered to the till?
My answer:  Well, spending money on books is always hard for me, because I always have so many more options than what I can afford (147 on my wishlist right now) and I tend to spend hours reading samples and mulling over my choices.  However, I will do my best to spend my imaginary money quickly.  :)

I would definitely preorder Wither right now since I still haven't done that.  This was my Waiting for Wednesday option I already talked about it more right here as well.  This book costs $9.99 so I would have around $70.00 left afterward to buy...
This book called, Bloodthirsty, is an fun twist on a clichĂ© and I keep meaning to buy it sometime.  What if a boy decided to use his pale skin, sun allergy and innate strangeness to his benefit?  This book explores that possibility when a boy pretends to be a vampire to get girls in his new school.  I read that it was really funny too and I always enjoy a good laugh, so it costs $8.99 and that would leave me with around $60 pretend dollars left.
Kissed by an Angel has been on my wishlist forever now and a lot of my fellow bloggers seem to be reading the latest one now and that cover is just stunning.  I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but a beautiful cover always pulls me in to give the writing a chance.  I've also heard good things about this too, so I keep meaning to read it.  This book is only $7.99 on the Nook, so I would have $51.00 or so left (my estimates have been including tax too).
I keep considering Girl in Translation, but I always shy away from the $12.99 price tag, since I usually don't spend more than $10.00 on a book (unless it's an anthology or collection).  However, this book looks great and my money that I am spending is imaginary so I will just buy it!  Haha!  It's about a young girl who immigrates from Hong Kong to Brooklyn and spends most of her free time working in a sweatshop hidden in Chinatown.  I've heard a lot of great reviews for this book and as I already said, a beautiful cover always pulls me in and this cover is gorgeous.  I love the color (it's almost the same as my bedroom walls, speaking of getting to know me the girl instead of me the blogger).   This book leaves me with about $37 left still overestimating for tax.
Nothing, by Janne Teller has been passionately recommended to me by one of my reading friends and I think the concept sounds intriguing.  This book is called a Lord of the Flies for the twenty-first century and that's definitely a rave review in itself.  This book costs $13.99 and with my imaginary money quickly running out I have to make my last two choices with just $23.00 left.
I am always in the mood for a good fantasy and The Faerie Path looks like it might be one.  It's also part of a series with even more beautiful covers to come.  Gah, I am clearly a sucker for good artwork!  However, I do read samples before buying, so it's not just the outside that has to pull me in.  The story, the writing, the characters or the setting have to really speak to me within the short sample and if not, I usually won't give it a chance.  So, I am not really sure about any of these books, because I have not read any samples, but this is imaginary money, so I don't have to spend all that time reading before spending it lol.  This book is $8.99 and I am down to $14.00-ish for my last choice.
Torn a.k.a. Wired (these books apparently had their titles changed recently or something) is the third of the Gripping Trilogy and I just started the second one.  I've already reviewed the first one here and I loved it.  It's a dystopian which, as many of you know already, is one of my very favorite genres and it involves a girl who nearly dies only to be saved and wired into a robotic body.  So, she'll live indefinitely, but she's not sure she wants to, because her new life is nothing like her old life and many of her friends, family and even her boyfriend start to fade away, no longer interested in the strange thing she has become.  I love the writing in these books, the concept, the characters and the emotions so much.  I highly recommend this series to anyone and I would love to spend the last of my fake money on this book for $9.99.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (Wither, by Lauren DeStefano)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and I definitely have a book I am waiting on now, so I thought I would participate!

Available for preorder, Wither, by Lauren DeStefano is going to be out on March 22nd, and I am excited for this one!

Cassandra Clare reviewed this book already and I'll share her review here:

"Lauren DeStefano’s new book, Wither, heralds the coming of a promising new voice in young adult dystopian fiction. Wither introduces us to Rhine Ellery, age sixteen, who lives in a world decimated by the results of genetic engineering. In an attempt to render humanity almost immortal and disease-free, scientists accidentally introduced into human DNA a ticking time bomb — all women live only to age twenty and men to age twenty-five. In this world, riddled with brutality and stricken with poverty, girls are married off as young as thirteen and forced to bear children in a desperate attempt to keep humanity ahead of the wave of disease that threatens to eradicate them.

Lately readers have been seeing an influx of books handling new and old topics in a different, more female-centric way. Part parable, part warning, Wither puts women and girls at the heart of a dystopian tale mixing progress and disempowerment, science and secrecy. After being kidnapped from the home she shares with her twin brother, Rhine is "sold" to a rich man, Linden, along with two other girls, Cecily and Jenna. Their polygamous marriage is seen as necessary, for Linden’s father is a scientist trying to find a cure for the "virus" that strikes down youth, and he needs new subjects for his experiments — subjects in whose DNA, he hopes, a cure can be found.

The day-to-day lives of Rhine and her sister-wives — parties, pregnancy, babies — contrasts starkly with the shadow of death that looms over every action. Even Rhine’s growing romance with a servant, Gabriel, could lead to vicious punishment for them both — as could her repeated attempts to escape her gilded prison. This story, the first of a trilogy, leaves us with a glimmer of hope but no easy answers."

Overall: This book sounds great and I can't wait to read it!

Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly

Diandra Xenia Alpers, or Andi and she understandably likes to be called, is the main character in this thought-provoking novel that seamlessly intertwines the French Revolution with modern-day France.  So many seemingly different subjects come together brilliantly in this book.  Somehow Jennifer Donnelly is able to write about history, music, grief, romance, family, France, Brooklyn, fireworks, revolution, war, school, depression, medication, psychology and friendship without getting lost in random tangents as many would if they were approaching so many topics at once.  Somehow she is able to stay focused and guide the reader on a long, but coordinated journey through the lives of Andi and Alexandrine, over 200 years apart, yet connected in surprising ways.  I loved this book.  I just want to skip ahead of everything else and come out and say that, because it is the best way to describe Revolution in one sentence.  The majority of the book takes place in France and I always love writing that can take me on a journey.  This book took me on a journey through time as well and gave me a chance to look at a historical event with a touch of fantasy and mystery.  I found the writing to be so beautiful and often poignant as well.  I haven't had a book that I wanted to highlight as much as this one ever since I got my NookColor, so that should say a lot about it.  There are so many amazing moments in this book!  It shows up as over 400 pages on my NC (I don't trust those page counts though, because sometimes I change the page twice and it still says the same page, so I'm not sure, maybe that's a hardcover page count... anyway) and I read it in two sittings.  I read the first 100 pages Monday night and then I read the last 300 pages Tuesday night and into this morning.  Who would've thought a book so heavily relying on history would be such a page-turner?!  Thankfully I trusted other reviews and ratings of this book and gave it a chance, because it was one of the best reads in a long time for me.

Favorite things:  poignant and beautiful writing, Jennifer Donnelly's ability to intertwine so many topics without getting lost, the characters who were real, interesting and unique, the main setting, and the amazing internal journey of the protagonist.

Criticisms:  I think the book was a little slow at the beginning and then too fast at the end, so I think the pace could've been a bit better. 

Overall:  5 out 5 stars!  I am definitely looking forward to reading more from this author after this!