Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The Steampunk Chronicles #2, by Kady Cross

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine for us to share the upcoming releases we can't wait for.  Since I just read The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Kady Cross I am really looking forward to the next book in this series.  Since this was the just released a few days ago I expect the next one to come out around this time in 2012.  We'll see, but typically writers seem to get their books out once a year.  And obviously since the release is so far away there is no cover or title available yet, but I can only hope they'll continue the theme of beautiful dresses and striking composition, because I loved the first cover.  Go ahead and take a look at that one again and click my link to read my review if you haven't yet.  :)

Teaser Tuesday - The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading so we can share a bit from the book we're currently reading.  I just finished The Forest of Hands and Teeth (a great zombie apocalypse book), but I haven't started anything else yet, so that is the book I'll share from and this is my favorite creepy part...

"There is a child - a baby - who long since kicked off her blankets.  Her skin is ashen and her mouth open in a perpetual yet silent scream.  She isn't old enough to roll over, to sit up, to climb.  So she lies there kicking her fat legs against the footboard of the crib, eternally calling for her mother.  For food.  For flesh."

GFC Not Working!

Has anyone else had any problems with GFC (Google Friend Connect) lately?  Mine isn't showing up, but I checked on some other blogs and they were up and working.  Perhaps there have been waves of errors rolling throughout the blogosphere.  It's certainly a super-bummer and I hate when anything is having functionality issues.  So if you just stumbled upon my blog and you can't follow me now, please be a dear and bookmark me to add me later!  Thanks and hopefully Google gets these issues under control soon, because it is so annoying.  Share your stories of annoyance with me if you have some frustrations too!   

The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Kady Cross was my first steampunk book and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it.  There are many reasons this particular book was good though and the genre was only one of them.  Let me start at the beginning... Finley is your average Victorian-era housemaid living in England, except she has a dangerous, darker side that she can barely control.  When her employer, Lord Felix August-Raynes, tries to force himself upon her, Finley lets her other side take over and easily overpowers the lord to quickly escape into the night.  Then luck, or perhaps even fate, leads her to cross paths with a quirky band of characters that decide to take her in.  Surprisingly, they might know more about Finley's darker side than she does herself and they promise to help her gain control and achieve balance.  They all happen to have their own secret talents or abilities too and soon Finley will begin to understand more about how they're all connected.  She tries to make herself at home and struggles to open up since she's never had a true friend before, but Finley is lucky to find some amazing people in this group of mysterious new allies.  Emily is Irish, smart as a whip and able to use organites or what she likes to call her "little beasties" to help her friends heal faster.  Griff is handsome, kind and also a very rich and important figure in royal circles.  Jasper is a cowboy from America who is bold and loyal.  And Sam is a little wary of Finley, but his recent past has caused him to to doubt his friends' judgement he's concerned what new trouble Finley might bring.  Finley is a little worried about the trouble she might bring too though, because her other half has started taking complete control of her and she doesn't even remember what happens during those times.  She's got to learn to trust her new friends, and quickly too, because they're her only hope to gain control and to be a complete person with both good and bad, just like everyone else.  I would recommend The Girl in the Steel Corset to any fans of steampunk, technology-based fantasy, romance, action, fight scenes, strong female characters, stories of friendship or just anyone looking for something new and fresh to read.

Favorite things:  the similarities to both the old Final Fantasy games and one of my recent favorite books called Wither, by Lauren DeStefano, the exciting action scenes, Finley's incredible strength that allows her to be completely capable in a fight against anyone, the descriptions of the finery Griff is able to provide including amazing dresses and strange technology, Emily (whose intelligence made her a very endearing character to me), the connections and friendships that developed between the characters, the gorgeous cover, the cool steampunk technology, the mistakes and decisions each character make that lead to interesting conflicts and the overall atmosphere of the book which was dark and intriguing.

Criticisms:  the long periods of calm made this a hard book to stay interested in at times, the sequel was set up too abruptly, some of the characters weren't flushed out enough - which left me wanting more and the love triangle wasn't realistic enough for me due to the encouraging behavior from both guys.

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  After reading this, I actually like Wither less *gasp*, because The Girl in the Steel Corset gave me the same atmosphere and juxtaposition of wealth against a backdrop of darkness and it went a step further giving me more characters to love and the fun element of steampunk technology too.  I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Note:  I was able to read this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  I did not pay for this book, however that did not affect my opinion or review in any way.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Fever, by Lauren DeStefano

Waiting on Wednesday is a great meme to share our excitement about upcoming books.  It was started by Breaking the Spine.  This week I am excited for the sequel to Wither (read my review for that one here) which I just found out is called, Fever.  I look forward to continuing this dark series and I hope the next one is even better than Wither (which will be hard to do).  Fever is scheduled to be released in February of 2012, so it's still quite a long wait!  By then, I'll have a little baby in the house, so who knows if I'll even have time to read like I do now.  I will take a few breaks here and there for my favorite pastime, but I'm sure it won't be a book every other day like I've been averaging lately!  No matter what though, I'll manage to finish Fever some how, because I can't wait to find out what happens next!  The cover still hasn't been released, so here's a look at the first book's gorgeous artwork.  I really look forward to seeing the next one!  I hope it's a similar design. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

When the plane carrying the Miss Teen Dream contestants crashes on a remote island it might seem like a pretty dismal situation, but even a few deaths won't get these pageant pros down for long.  It's a constant competition and these ladies aren't going to stop applying lip gloss just because they're all alone on an island!  They've got to keep their skills sharp, their routines polished and everybody alive and well until their grand rescue.  Beauty Queens is one part Miss America, one part Survivorman and one part prime-time sitcom (insert your favorite one here).  It comes complete with footnotes and extras that poke fun at some current culture trends by cleverly renaming them and being vague enough that they could truly be about several different people/products.  I found those tidbits funny, cute and a nice change of pace from the standard style of writing I usually read.  These Teen Dreamers aren't going to just simply survive either, they're going to do it in style.  They decide to keep feeding their souls as well as their bodies as part of their survival plan and what's more satisfying than winning the hut decorating contest?  Nothing, if you're a pageant queen stuck on an island in the middle of nowhere!  It's not all just fashion and life-or-death problem-solving though, because the island, the pageant directors and even the leader of a small country are connected in twisted and surprising ways.  The girls are actually in more danger than they can possibly know.  As they navigate the uncharted waters of island survival they also learn a lot about themselves and each other.  When faced with issues of mortality, people often reprioritize and the Miss Teen Dream ladies begin to examine their true purpose in life.  What is there beyond pageants?  What inspires them?  What impact do they want to have on the world when and if they're ever rescued?  I would recommend Beauty Queens to any fans of pageants, survival, adventure, dark humor, Libba Bray, coming-of-age stories or LGBT books.

Favorite things:  the diverse cast of characters, the laugh-out-loud moments, the positive examples of female strength and ingenuity, the inventive ways Libba Bray used pageant skills as survival skills, the funny commercials and footnotes added in, the writing in general, the pace near the end of the book that kept me engrossed and the fight scenes were fun as well.

Criticisms:  the pace near the beginning was a little slow, a comment was made about Colorado that was untrue and annoyed me since I'm from this great state (a character said there is only one African-American in Colorado but, in fact, we are very diverse so, I just wanted to state that for the record), the alternating perspectives made my focus feel scattered at times and it was hard to keep track of all the characters since there were so many. 

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars!  If I came away with one main thought from this book it's that I want to read more from Libbra Bray now.

Note:  I was able to read this book as part of an ARC tour in exchange for my honest review.  I did not pay for this book, however that did not affect my opinion or review in any way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Giveaway from LC's Adventures in Libraryland!

LC's Adventures in Libraryland is having an awesome giveaway to celebrate 200 followers.  If Lea gets to 300 followers before the end of the giveaway signup period (June 1st) she'll give away another book too!  I'm earning extra entries by sharing of course, but I wish you all good luck too!  Post back here and let me know if you win.  I selected Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher to be the book if I win.  Which out of those choices did you pick?

Waiting on Wednesday - Fins Are Forever

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme started by Breaking the Spine so we can talk about the books we can't wait for!  I'm really excited for the release of Fins Are Forever, by Tera Lynn Childs.  I read Forgive My Fins already and I've really been enjoying the mermaid theme in paranormal lately.  I know a lot of people are anticipating this release as well since I've seen a lot of the counters on sidebars around the Blogosphere.  This will be available on June 28th, 2011 and I will definitely preorder it so I can have it on my NookColor that very day.  :)  What are you looking forward to?  Share you WoW with me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Poll - What should I read next?

Well, thanks for sharing your input on the last poll and most of you (10) like reading all types of posts, but some of you (6) like reading reviews the most!  Thanks for the feedback!

Now for the new poll and I'd like to get some help sorting through my TBR list again.  The choices that look really good for next are as follows (click the link for the Goodreads synopsis):

Thanks for your help everyone!  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Playing Hurt, by Holly Schindler

Playing Hurt, by Holly Schindler is a story of two different tragedies that end up bringing two lost souls together.  It's a story of hope and resilience, of things lost and things gained, of new love and old love, of right and wrong and mostly it's a story about perseverance.  Chelsea Keyes has everything going for her as the star of her basketball team, with her choice of excellent recruiters lining up hoping to be her college pick.  She knows the ache in her hip will go away if she just gets some rest after this next game...  Tragedy comes in many forms.  Sometimes we lose someone we love, sometimes it's some thing, sometimes it's the chance at the life we always thought we'd have.  For Chelsea, basketball is everything.  Without it, will she even know who she is?  Can she learn to ignore her regret or learn to think about things differently?  Or will she drift and wallow in self-pity?  This was a different kind of read for me, since I don't normally seek out romances or sports-themed books, however it was definitely worth my time, because it reminded me a lot of my competitive spirit and of my love confusion in my younger years as well.  As we grow up we learn there are different kinds of love and different amounts of passion are possible in a relationship and that is something Chelsea is able to find out throughout this book too.  I keep talking about Chelsea as if she is the only main character in this book and perhaps that's because I relate more to female protagonists, however, there is another leading role and he goes by the name of Clint.  He's had his own share of tragedy in his life too and although it's very different than what Chelsea went through, the loss and the pain are the same and eventually it brings these two together.  They need each other, to learn from and to grow from.  They help fill a void for each other that neither one even knew was there.  Clint is the strong, outdoorsy aloof type, but it's his heart and his past that connects him to Chelsea as soon as she arrives at the Lake of the Woods fishing resort in Minnesota.  Chelsea expects a boring family vacation with some outdoor activities and Clint expects another boring summer working at the resort.  What they end up getting is much more memorable and life-changing instead.  I would recommend Playing Hurt to any older (16+) fans of romance, sports, stories about overcoming adversity, moving on after grief, summer flings or books about finding yourself and finding real love.

Favorite things:  the sports references brought back some nostalgia for me as I remembered winning races and competitions in school, the descriptions of nature in Minnesota, the two main characters and the way they grew and changed, the tone of the book which wasn't sad even when dealing with sad topics, the theme of the book which was not letting your circumstances define you and finding a way to love your life even in the face of great challenges, the pace was pretty good and kept me interested and I also loved the moments of suspense that were integrated into this love story.

Criticisms:  I really didn't like the amount of similes in this book, I am not a fan of the cover because those two people don't seem like the two main characters and it also seems like they're on a dock by an ocean and there wasn't an ocean in the setting of this book, there were a ton of explicit moments in this book which was very surprising to me (I was under the impression this book was YA, but I definitely wouldn't call it that based upon what I read) and I felt the book was wrapped up too nicely and it didn't sound like a sequel was in store, but I think the overall tale could be better if there was one lined up.

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars.  I caution younger readers and parents about this book, because it's a bit excessive when it comes to the sexual content. 

Note:  I was able to read this book as part of an ARC tour in exchange for my honest review.  I did not pay for this book, however that did not affect my opinion or review in any way.

Giveaway from Deranged Book Lovers!

Deranged Book Lovers is doing a 6 month/almost 500 followers giveaway and they have some pretty nice options up for grabs.  I'm earning some extra entries by sharing this info with everyone as well as getting this nice blog some more followers hopefully.  It's a win/win, but it will really be a win once they write me an email saying I get to pick a book!  Lol.  Anyway, good luck to everyone *cough, cough* me and let me know if you win!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Disappearing Posts and Comments?

So, recently I've had some disappearing comments and even a whole post of mine disappeared as well.  Has anyone had this happen too?  Thankfully most of my Illusions post was saved as a draft, but I had to rewrite the end of it and I lost all my comments.  I also lost comments on my most recent Blog About Your Dog post as well.  It's made me hesitant to blog lately, but I think whatever problems were happening are probably resolved by now.  What's done is done and I'm bummed it happened, but I can only hope it doesn't happen again!  Please repost your comments if they're missing or leave me a new one to help me get over this terrible loss!  Lol thanks.  :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Illusions (Laurel #3), by Aprilynne Pike

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike is the third in the Laurel series and you can read my review of the first one, Wings, here and you can read my review of the second one, Spells, here.  Laurel certainly has a lot going on in her life in Illusions.  She's left Avalon to try and return to her human life which she holds loyalty for considering she doesn't even remember her childhood in Avalon.  Her human life is the only real life she's ever known, so she is going to make sure nothing interferes with that.  Her boyfriend from the human world, David, has missed her a lot during her summer away in Avalon and it starts to show in his insecurities.  David is disappointed to find out that Laurel's time away is the least of his concerns, because Tamani shows up at school posing as a Scottish foreign exchange student by the name of Tam.  Tam is eager to resume his post as Laurel's guardian and going to school with her is his first idea.  Of course spending more time with Laurel doesn't hurt either.  This is the first book where the love triangle got me emotionally involved and I can finally say I'm Team Tamani now, so I really liked getting caught up in that.  It wasn't all romance this time around though, because with trolls still looming and even the introduction of a new (supposedly wild) faerie there is a lot to ponder and worry about.  What season is this new faerie?  Is she the most powerful winter kind?  Is she a threat to Laurel or Avalon?  I am still waiting to find out some of these answers myself.  I would recommend Illusions and the whole Laurel series to any fans of paranormal, new takes on faeries, YA romance, love triangles, stories about people leading double lives or supernatural action.

Favorite things:  the romantic journey that finally got me emotionally invested in the love triangle, Laurel and her self-exploration that finally leads her to consider new possibilities, Tamani and his personality in the human world which is more actually more charming, the different directions Laurel is being pulled both by her loves and her two potential futures, Laurel's continued improvement as a mixer and I forget what else I like, because stupid Blogspot deleted this post and my draft ended here...  so annoying.

Criticisms:  the cover was too similar to the Spells cover and I didn't like it as much, a lot of this book seemed to be primarily leading up to the next book instead of being a self-contained story,  the presence of the new faerie was distracting and never seemed to go anywhere and I liked David less and less as the story went on thanks to his insecure behavior.

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  I wasn't bothered enough by the negative things to like this book any less!  I love this whole series and I look forward to finding out what happens in the fourth book!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blog About Your Dog Monday! (May 9th, 2011)

Well, it's Monday again and I haven't done this meme in awhile, so I wanted to make sure I remembered this week!  Time to share the cuteness...

Here is our girl dog and she loves sitting on the chair by herself in the sunshine.  She is so funny!  Her name is Tsukiko (Japanese for 'Moon Child') a.k.a. Kik (pronounced Keek), a.k.a. Cake, a.k.a. Snuggle-Face, a.k.a. Little-Face, a.k.a. Silly-Face, a.k.a. Funny-Face, a.k.a. Skinny-Face, a.k.a. Face, a.k.a. Boney Butt, a.k.a. Pokey Butt, a.k.a., Cuddle-Monster, a.k.a. Sun-Berry, a.k.a. Berry-Berry, a.k.a Cuddle-Berry, a.k.a. Little Miss Sun-Bug, a.k.a. Silly Lady.

Here is our boy dog and he stole this piece of a banana I dropped.  He didn't want to eat it though, since it was weird and slimy, but he wanted to own it and keep it.  He's my little hoarder.  His name is Chanceux (French for 'Lucky'), a.k.a. Mr. Man, a.k.a. Chub, a.k.a. Funky Butt, a.k.a. Stink-Head, a.k.a. Fart Monster, a.k.a. Crazy Guy, a.k.a. Wild Guy, a.k.a. Silly Guy, a.k.a. Crazy-Face, a.k.a. Chanceux the Horse-Dog, a.k.a. Jumping Guy, a.k.a. The Pogo Dog, a.k.a. Mr Bounce-a-lot, a.k.a. Speedy McSpeed Pants, a.k.a. Not Our Dog (lol). 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I am a Winner of the 400 Follower Giveaway from iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books!

Thank you so much to Lucia from iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books and I can't wait to receive my two books from the YA prize pack.  It was really hard to pick, because I have read and own most of the books listed, but I really wanted to pick one of the packs instead of trying to decide upon a new book from the hundreds on my wishlist instead.  That would've taken me forever haha.  I am really excited to have the hard copies of two of my ebooks and it's going to be especially wonderful, because I can lend those to my step-daughter.  I love sharing my love of reading with others so this is the perfect gift for me.  Thanks again Lucia!  <3
I chose the YA package and it included The City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare and The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa.  I only started The Iron King and I really enjoyed The City of Bones already, but once again, I look forward to owning the hard copies!  :)  Ah it's always a good day when you win something.

Spellbound, by Cara Lynn Shultz

I knew it was a paranormal romance going into it, but I wish I had known it was primarily a romance with very little paranormal.  If I had, I think I would've appreciated the pace and style more.  With my incorrect preconceptions however, I ended up spending a lot of the book wondering when the foreshadowing would finally reveal itself and make this book more magical.  Thankfully the buildup and the romance were interesting and kept me engaged throughout this book.  The main character is named Emma and when unfortunate circumstances force her to move to New York City to live with her wealthy aunt, she has no idea her life is about to change forever.  Her new school, Vincent Academy, is the kind of place many would wish to attend (aside from the terrible cafeteria food anyway), but Emma is just hoping to get through it invisible and unnoticed.  It takes her just one day to realize that's going to be impossible.  She's definitely not the type to stand down when someone tries to intimidate her, so when one of the school bullies, Kristen, decides to be rude, Emma has a few choice words in return which immediately earn her the praise of the hottest guy in school, Brenden, which just pisses off Kristin the Queen Bee even more.  Clearly blending in won't be an option for her, but it never would've been possible anyway, because Emma is hiding something dangerous from everyone... even herself.  She's managed to forget some key things from her past and she chooses to ignore some important things from her present too.  Thankfully Emma befriends the one person who can actually help her uncover all these secrets.  Her name is Angelique and everyone at school thinks she is a witch, but she is the most genuine friend Emma finds at Vincent Academy and they might even be destined to cross paths.  Over the course of the book we get to know Brenden and Emma better and see their back-and-forth relationship that would frustrate anyone.  What is his problem?  Why is he so hot and cold?  You'll just have to read it yourself to find out.  I'd recommend this book to any fans of romance especially, paranormal, witchcraft, curses, high school stories, tough characters that stand up for themselves and stories about overcoming great odds.

Favorite things:  Emma was a very likable character for me and I always love reading about people who don't let their circumstances define them, the addition of the paranormal aspect was so subtle and even resisted at first which made this book more realistic and thus easier to relate to, Angelique was a wonderful character to read about and was so unique and distinctive, Emma's cousin Ashley was another wonderful character full of positive energy and warmth, the scenes with physical violence were so well-written that it was easy to "see" the conflict in my mind, Cara Lynn Shultz was able to pull my emotions from me with her writing as well and I found myself laughing and responding to this book out loud multiple times, Emma was so funny at one point when she pretended to take a shot and just poured it over her shoulder when she thought no one was looking, I loved the way the pieces of the puzzle fit together and, finally, the cover (which I didn't get a copy of since it was a NetGalley) is really eye-catching and beautiful.

Criticisms:  I found it took a long time to get going and I personally would've preferred some more magic/paranormal in the book and less of the school scenes (or perhaps if this book had been setup as a romance first it would've been okay), some of the violence made me uncomfortable and was a bit more disturbing than I had braced myself for, Emma's self-deprecating attitude about the scar on her arm annoyed me and I kept thinking of the gorgeous Padma Lakshmi who wears her scar with pride and I wished Emma would come around to thinking like that about herself too (which she never did) and then, lastly, I thought the ending was a bit rushed and there were a few too many things smooshed together there. 

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars!  And the sounds of the ending made it seem like perhaps there will be another one from Angelique's perspective next and if that's so, I am definitely reading it and I think it will be even better than this one.

Note:  I was able to read this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  I did not pay for this book, however that did not affect my opinion or review in any way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Divergent, by Veronica Roth is a debut from the author, the beginning of a trilogy and all-in-all a great dystopian.  Many have said it is similar to the Hunger Games and I see that in the violence, but that's about it.  This is a new and unique story and I loved reading it.  The main character is a girl named Beatrice and she lives in the Abnegation district which is the district that values selflessness above all else.  Soon the time will come when she takes her aptitude test and finds out what district she would be best suited for before making the final decision herself.  Unfortunately the test results are inconclusive and reveal that she is in fact, Divergent.  Beatrice doesn't know what that means, but she is quickly warned to never speak of it and to hide that information at all costs, because it's dangerous.  So, she tries to put the mysterious word out of her mind as she makes the decision to join the Dauntless faction.  Their core value is bravery and there are a lot of tests in the initiation designed to showcase the applicant's courage or lack thereof.  She knows she has to do well or she risks being rejected by the Dauntless and forced to spend her life with the factionless, poor and lonely.  Jumping off a moving train or willingly entering a fight with a much stronger boy are easy to do, but betraying her family and writing them off proves much more difficult for Beatrice.  Even with her new version of her name, Tris, there is still some of her old self left inside.  She might be right at home with the Dauntless, but she can't forget her Abnegation heritage.  This book follows her life as she proceeds through the testing, gets to know the Dauntless, reconciles her old life and even as the dangers of being Divergent dance around her.  I really loved this book and my only regret is that I read it so soon after its release, because that means I have the longest possible amount of time to wait for the sequel.  Thankfully it didn't end on a cliffhanger like some books do, but I am still eager to continue the tale.  I would recommend this book to any fans of dystopians, action, fighting, violence, coming-of-age, stories about personal growth or fans of YA in general, because it was a great read and most people would be able to enjoy it I think.

Favorite things:  the strength of Tris as she endures more than most could, the developing romance which was back-and-forth and played a secondary role to all the action in this book, the characters (some so easy to love and others so easy to hate), the description of the various locations that helped me "see" everything clearly in my mind, the interesting element of the simulation serums which gave this book a unique layer of danger, the ethical questions that easily parallel many aspects of real life and the atmosphere of the whole book.

Criticisms:  I forget who said it, but there was a quote that says perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away and I think the author really could've benefited from taking that idea to heart, because the word "and" was used far too much and there were several unnecessary sentences as well, but other than that, I have no complaints.

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  Definitely different than the Hunger Games, but similar enough to be enjoyed by fans of that series.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins is a YA romance set in Paris, France and although I don't normally read romances, this one was definitely worth branching out for.  Normally I like to go into a bit more detail about the plot before I share my overall feeling about the book, but in this case, I feel my opinion says more than any summary ever could, because no matter how many times this book was recommended to me, simple recommendations could never do it justice.  Perhaps the setup of the plot is too generic.  Girl goes to Paris and finds love.  That could be the description of a dozen books or movies, but this book truly is unique.  I felt it was so much more than just a romance.  I felt it was a coming-of-age story, it was a story about grief and cancer (that was an unpleasant surprise for me actually), it was a story about culture shock and new experiences, it was a story about French cuisine and it was a story about friendships and hypocrisy.  As you read you become more familiar with French words, cuisine, customs, The School of America and lots of other uniquely French things.  It almost feels like taking a trip there yourself for just a few thousand dollars less!  I love my poor-girl vacations haha.  The romance in this book was reminiscent of my feelings of new love as well and I loved the buildup throughout the book.  Often in YA there isn't much of a foundation before, "true love," is declared, so it was really nice to enjoy the journey and the flirtation beforehand.  I would recommend Anna and the French Kiss to any lovers of YA, romance, coming-of-age, France, foreign culture, travel or boarding school stories.

Favorite things:  the French culture, the budding friendships and relationships that helped make this book exciting, the fully developed personalities of the characters, the character growth of Anna, one of my favorite male characters ever: Etienne St. Clair (who also has a cool combination of names as well), the interesting tidbits about the food and life in general in Paris, the journey to independence and confidence that is reminiscent of anyone's path to adulthood and the writing in general was poignant and beautiful: I had so much to quote!

Criticisms:  I didn't really like the cover and the model isn't at all like my brain's vision of Anna, there was a little too much explanation about various words and such (at least for me) and I felt like I was being talked down to almost, I felt that Anna struggled to come to some pretty obvious conclusions for quite awhile which contradicted her otherwise intelligent personality and there was a character battling cancer in this book which didn't sit well with me due to my personal history (it made me rather sad, but that was my own problem and not really anything to do with the book).  

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  Read this one if you haven't yet, I really doubt you'll be disappointed, no matter your tastes!

Win a Box of 20 Books from Once Upon a Twlight!

Wow, there is an awesome giveaway going on from Once Upon a Twilight and you can win one of two prizes and each prize is a box of TWENTY books!  You can try to win the YA collection, the adult collection or either!  I'm earning myself some extra entries by sharing this giveaway here on my blog, but I still wish all of you good luck, even though I really want to horde all the luck for myself!  Mwahahaha *laughs an evil laugh*  Anyway, I'm trying to win the YA one (obviously) and there are a few ARCs, possibly signed books and a few I've been considering from my wishlist for a long time, so I would be so excited to win this one!  Of course, anyone would be with such a huge reward!  Okay, quit reading if you haven't already and go sign up.  Just follow the link and let me know if you win so I can be jealous and/or sneak over to your house to steal them!  Haha.

Monday, May 2, 2011

April in Review!

Woo, my second complete month of blogging is over and I slowed down a bit with my reading and posts, because I've been sleeping a lot since I'm pregnant.  :)  Thank goodness my sleepiness is for a reason and I'm not just being lazy!  Haha.  Anyway, I wanted to go over all the books I read and pick some favorites again.  :) In April I read and reviewed 10 books and my favorites were (in order of preference):

Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce was a fun fantasy that really pulled me into the amazing world of Tortall and inspired me to eventually buy and read all of her books.  I just loved the unique world she created and the characters really come to life in this book, so I expect more great things from her books in the future. 

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare was a great introduction to the Mortal Instruments series.  Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to read this one sooner rather than later, because it didn't disappoint.  There are a lot of things going on in this book, but it didn't seem to drag at all and I thought the pace was pretty good throughout.  I love Cassandra Clare's writing style too, it's so descriptive and beautiful.

Spells, by Aprilynne Pike is the 2nd in the Laurel series and I really enjoyed the added element of potion-making in this one.  It's like magical chemistry and I don't think I've read anything like it in awhile, if ever.  I also continued to love the fresh take of faeries with the flower/plant element.  I truly love this series and it surprises me when people say they didn't like it, but to each their own!  :) 

April Recap:

Gingerbread, by Rachel Cohn
Blood Ninja, by Nick Lake
Syren (Septimus Heap #5), by Angie Sage
Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce
Crashed/Shattered (Gripping Trilogy #2), by Robin Wasserman
Angel Burn (ARC), by L.A. Weatherly
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodges Burnett
Spells (Laurel #2), by Aprilynne Pike
Bless This Mouse (NetGalley), by Lois Lowry
City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

All-in-all, it was a good month filled with good reading and lots of great things in my personal life.  I did read a few less this month, but hopefully there was plenty of posts for everyone to read and think about anyway!  Thanks for stopping by and I hope to make May a fun month here at Sandra the Nook Worm!