Friday, January 30, 2015

Flashback Friday (5)

Flashback Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Fiction Fare and Swoony Boys Podcast, showcasing books that are at least two years old!

This week I am highlighting one of my favorite books! Why We Broke Up got a lot of mixed reviews. I think people either loved it or hated it and I absolutely loved it!

Why We Broke Up

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Goodreads Description
I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: Kiss of Broken Glass

: Kiss of Broken Glass
Author: Madeleine Kuderick
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Pages: 224
Rating: 4 Cows

Goodreads Description:

Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.

In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment. 

“Kiss of Broken Glass” is a verse novel, written about the serious issue of cutting.  From the start, what I really liked about this book was that it was written in verse.  For me, it took off some of the edge that can come with reading about such a serious topic.  Not to say that it sugarcoated it by any means, but poetry and writing in verse always seems to add some beauty to the subject itself, no matter how dark the topic gets to be.  It was my first time reading anything by Madeleine Kuderick, and I thought her writing was compelling and beautiful.  I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for any other books from her, because I’d be interested to see how her writing is on a less serious topic or just another story in general.

In “Kiss of Broken Glass” the main character Kenna is sent to a psychiatric ward where is she put under watch for 72 hours.  How she handles being in the ward determines her future: if she is let out, or sent to rehab.  When she is there she makes a few friends.  Donya (her roommate) and Skylar are both there for the same thing as Kenna, and warn her how to act if she wants to get out. They tell Kenna her freedom is dependent on what she says at group discussions and to her nurses.  If they think for a second that she’s not going to change when she gets out, they’ll send her to rehab.  At first, it’s the threat of getting sent to rehab that forces Kenna to straighten out and behave for a few days.  Over time though, she questions her reasons for cutting.  Eventually, by the time she is let out, she realizes she has a new chance to start over and Kenna honestly seems willing to try to get help.

These days before she is let out though, prove to be tougher than she’d ever thought.  The urge to cut is great, and the book describes the thought process Kenna goes through every time she wants to take the blade to her skin.  As someone who’s never dealt with this before, I found it really hard to read this book at first.  Madeleine Kuderick leaves nothing to the imagination, and is pretty graphic with her word choices in “Kiss of Broken Glass.”  As I got further into the book though, I realized how important it was that Madeleine’s writing was like this.  It was so descriptive that I put myself in Kenna’s shoes without even realizing it.  I believe Madeleine’s choice to be so descriptive in the book, was to present the reader with the harsh realities of what people who suffer from the urge to cut, are going through.  That connection that is formed when you start reading this book is crucial to understanding the pressures people go through.

One aspect of the book that I really want to touch upon was the motives behind Kenna’s decisions to start cutting.  While many people believe this is an issue associated with depression, low self esteem, or other issues (such as family problems) Kenna isn’t doing it for any of those reasons.  In fact, she is cutting because of something I’d never considered before: peer pressure.  When she first gets to school she meets a girl by the name of Rennie, who encourages her to start cutting as an escape.  In order to fit in with all the girls at her school who are cutting competitively, Kenna starts to do it.  As sad as it is to think that girls her age are actually doing this as a source of competition, it’s a phenomenon that’s been happening in schools all over the country.  After reading this book I did a lot of research on this because I couldn’t believe it.  What I found was shocking, and even if you don’t get a chance to read this book I urge you to research it as well.  Being informed is always a good thing.

 For me, reading the authors note in the back of the book really touched me.  Madeleine’s daughter suffered from the urge to cut, and she wrote this for all the people out there like her daughter who feel the urge to do this.  I admire her for writing this on such a touchy subject, and for giving her daughter the benefit of the doubt on this.  I’d imagine many parents would have a hard time understanding that their kids might be cutting out of peer pressure, and not for any other reason.  By using her daughter’s own experience, Madeleine wrote a book that will hopefully help and impact many girls worldwide that are dealing with the urge to cut.

“Kiss of Broken Glass” is an inspiring and informative read.  Whether you’ve dealt with something similar to this before, or whether you’ve never experienced this or known anybody who has, you should read this book just for perspective alone.  It can really teach you a lot about a struggle that many people are going through, and being aware of this is really important.  Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I felt like I took a lot away with it.  When I’m reading books for review there’s one question I always ask myself before I rate it, and that’s whether I would read it again or not. If I know I won’t, I take that into consideration on how many stars/cows I will give it. Although I enjoyed reading “Kiss of Broken Glass,” it’s not something I could see myself reading again. That was one of the only things that prevented me from giving this a 5.  Otherwise, “Kiss of Broken Glass” is a must read!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Release Day Blast: Love, Lucy

I am so excited that LOVE, LUCY by April Lindner releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome guest post from the author in which she shares “Some Rules of the Road” for traveling abroad, as Lucy did in the book.

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful new book by Author April Linder, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blast also includes a giveaway for a copy of the book courtesy of Rockstar Book Tours and 3 signed JANE posters courtesy of the author. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


Author: April Lindner
Release date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 304
Formats: Hardcover, eBook


While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

About April Lindner

April Lindner is the author of three novels: Catherine, a modernization of Wuthering Heights; Jane, an update of Jane Eyre; and Love, Lucy, releasing January 27, 2015. She also has published two poetry collections, Skin and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped. She plays acoustic guitar badly, sees more rock concerts than she’d care to admit, travels whenever she can, cooks Italian food, and lavishes attention on her pets—two Labrador retriever mixes and two excitable guinea pigs. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, April lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.


Like Lucy Sommersworth, the heroine of Love, Lucy, my parents gave me the gift of a lifetime: a backpacking trip to Europe. I was a bit older than Lucy—22, and just out of

college—but when I arrived in Milan, Italy with a Eurail pass, a copy of Let’s Go: Europe, and a seventy-pound backpack I could barely lift, I was a wee bit terrified. Like Lucy, I spoke only a little bit of Italian, just barely enough to get by, and I wasn’t particularly good at

reading maps or train schedules. Unlike Lucy, I was travelling solo.

Luckily, my journey began with training wheels. I’d just taken a college Italian class, and my professor had offered a safe crash pad for the first few days of my trip—in

her family home in the Alps. Less luckily, when I reached Malpensa airport, nobody was there to pick me up. Giddy with excitement and jet lag, I wandered around the airport, eavesdropping on Italians as they hugged each other hello and goodbye, and had noisy arguments. I’d never felt more alone in my life. Where would I sleep that night if my ride didn’t show up?

Luckily, my professor’s brother arrived at last to whisk me away to the family home in Domodossola. The extended family welcomed and fed me, gave me tours of their city

with its charming medieval center, helped me practice my Italian, and, when the time was right, brought me to the train station where my solo travels began for

real. It was time to take off the training wheels. 

If I’d felt alone back in the airport, I was even more so on that train to Verona, a city where I didn’t know a soul. In those pre-internet days, I could disappear into thin air and nobody would even notice I was gone. The thought was chilling, but oddly exciting.

By nightfall, I’d made it to Verona. I’d figured out the public transportation, found a youth hostel, and booked myself a bed. Best of all, I had introduced myself to a handful of other backpackers. We hung out together in the hostel’s common area, sharing bread and cheese, exchanging stories, discussing the rules of the road—those bits of practical wisdom our travels were teaching us. Here are a few.

Time passes differently on the road.  Spend a few very intense hours seeing the sites with strangers and by the end of the day, those strangers have become a part of your story. Years later you’ll see their faces in your photo album and still remember stray details of the adventures you shared together, even if you can’t quite recall their names. 

Spontaneity is key.  There are few things as magical as showing up at a train station with no idea where you’re headed next, picking a random train, and hopping on. 

Janis Joplin said it best: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.  When you’re carrying all your possessions on your back in a city where you don’t know a soul, you’re absolutely free. You can go anywhere, do anything. That freedom has its lonely moments—but it can be the doorway to all kinds of adventures.

Embrace misadventure.  As carefully as you plan there will be crazy mistakes: wrong turns, slept-through train stops, multilingual misunderstandings, and all kinds of other blunders—and these will make the best stories. My misadventures are some of my favorite memories. The time I missed curfew and had to climb into my hostel through a second-story window. The morning when, hanging out my recently washed clothes to dry, I dropped my wet underthings out the window, onto a

stranger’s head. The night when, with no room to stay in, I slept on Venice’s train station steps with about a hundred other backpackers, the stars above us and the Grand Canal stretched out before us.

Would I trade that last memory for a safe, comfy night in an actual bed?  Not on your life.

There is a blast-wide giveaway, ending February 6th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific, for:

  • 1 copy of LOVE, LUCY to be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository – Int’l
  • 3 JANE posters (signed) – US only

Enter in the Rafflecopter below...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 26, 2015

Payback is Sweet Blog Tour: Review

Today, we are happy to kick off the blog tour for Kristy Centeno's new book, Payback is Sweet!

Payback is Sweet
Title: Payback is Sweet (Love Gamble #1)
Author: Kristy Centeno
Date of Publication: August 21, 2014
Genre: contemporary NA romance

Janessa Rowe is a twenty one year old college girl with little respect for other people. She’s a rich, spoiled brat of a girl who gets her kicks out of humiliating others. When she discovers that her boyfriend of three years has in fact engaged in a physical relationship with someone else, Janessa will stop at nothing to get a little payback. Even if that means using her new rival’s disgruntled fiancĂ©e to get what she wants. Dakota Blackwater is everything Janessa is not. He’s kind, sweet, gentle, and a stand-up guy all in all, but when his girlfriend’s betrayal hurts more than his pride, he agrees to take part in a plan that will test both their self-restraints and their feelings for one another.

Problems arise, however, when Janessa’s interest for Dakota shifts from being a pawn to achieve her ultimate goal, to potential lover. After having her heart broken in the past, the last thing she wants is to get involved in matters of the heart, but how can she follow through with her plan when the more time she spends with Dakota, the less she cares about getting payback? Sooner rather than later they are forced to confront the reality that their game has slowly transformed into something else and that what seemed like a scheme to exact revenge, now comprises both their hearts in ways neither of them anticipated.

When I heard Kristy Centeno was releasing a new book, I scrambled to sign up for this blog tour!  I was recently introduced to Kristy a few months back, when I received an ARC of her book Keeper of the Innocents, the second book in The Keeper Witches Series.  After devouring the prequel, Keeper of the Lost Souls and then reading Keeper of the Innocents in almost one sitting, I knew I had found a new favorite author.  Kristy’s writing is fun, exciting, and extremely hard to put down!
That being said, I expected a lot from Payback is Sweet, and Kristy did not disappoint whatsoever with this one.  Admittedly, I was a little worried at first to see if I would enjoy her writing in another genre just as much as I did when reading her other two books.  Payback is Sweet is a NA romance novel, as opposed to her Keeper Witches Series, which are YA fantasy.  Also, this was only my second time reading anything NA!  It is a relatively new genre for me, and so far I’ve been loving it!
When I began reading Payback is Sweet, I hated the main character Janessa.  I almost want to believe Kristy wrote her this way, so that the reader would hate her character originally!  It was hard not to! She’s full of herself, and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her.  There was more than one line in the book where Janessa openly admits to having it all (think good looks and lots of daddy’s money).  One of my favorite parts about this book was the character development!  I know I’ve talked about character development in my reviews before, but it’s something that not all authors can get quite right, and it’s honestly one of my favorite aspects of reading.  I love to see the characters grow and learn from their mistakes!  As Janessa goes through her breakup, and learns to open up to someone again, some of that attitude is replaced with some modesty.  Whether it’s the influence of a new boy in her life, or just her growing up in general I can’t tell, (you’ll have to read it for yourself and let me know what you think it is!) but I loved watching the progression of this throughout the book.  Although she didn’t do a complete 180, part of loving Janessa means laughing at her not so humble behavior at times, and by the end of the book I was totally in love with her character!  You got to give it to the girl for having extreme confidence in herself!  I think at times we all wish we could have that quality!
One of my other favorite parts of this book was the diversity.  One of the main characters, Dakota Blackwater, is from a reservation where he grew up most of his life.  Payback is Sweet addresses some of the problems many children from reservations face, when leaving their homes to go to college or find a job.  I’ve read very few books in the past that have addressed these issues or included characters from a reservation, and I’m extremely glad Kristy chose to do so with this book!  
 Although it goes without saying, NA is an adult genre, so expect some steamy scenes in this book!  I’ve read some complaints about NA recently, where people mentioned the genre is pretty racy, even going so far as to compare it to 50 shades.  This is NOT true of all books in this genre, despite what is being said at the moment. It comes with the terriroty though.  What’s awesome about moving from YA to NA is that it gives authors the freedom to push the boundaries more, and expand on their characters’ relationships.  I think NA was the perfect genre for this book to reach it’s potential.  Payback is Sweet explores many of the issues people face after getting out of a messy breakup, and where to go from there.  It also looks at how people learn to trust again, after being cheated on.  I don’t believe YA would have been the right genre for the topics addressed in this book, and had Kristy choose to write this book for a YA audience, I don’t think I would have loved it as much as I did!  All in all, I flew right through this one, and enjoyed every minute of it!  With a rating scale using cows, I had to give this a 4, but it’s closer to a 4.5 in all honesty!  This is a great read, and if you’re new to NA or just looking for a good romance read in general, I highly suggest this one!  Kristy has outdone herself once again!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Best Audiobooks of 2014 Blog Hop

It's no secret that I love audiobooks! Today, I am happy to share with you my top 5 audiobooks that I listened to in 2014. These are in no particular order!

Click on the links and check out my reviews for each book and decide which one you might be interested in because I am giving away an audible download of one the books mentioned above to one lucky winner.

Also, there is a hop wide giveaway where you can when three Audible books!

My giveaway is for any of the books I mentioned above!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out all the other blogs for more giveaways!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (76)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

This week’s TTT post was a freebie, and at first I had a hard time coming up with an idea for it.  When I mentioned as much to one of my friends, she laughed and said for someone who’s always recommending books to people, this shouldn’t be that hard for me.  That’s when the idea for this post hit me.  Here are my top ten books (and series) I’ve been recommending to friends and family lately AND why I’ve been recommending them!

Top Ten Books I’ve Been Recommending to Friends and Family 

1.  Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
This is one of those books I’ve always heard good things about, but never got around to reading until pretty recently.  It was extremely cute, and one of the main reasons I’ve recommended it to friends my age, is because it can teach you a lot about life and finding yourself.  I strongly believe your 20’s are your time to shine, find yourself, and enjoy the world around you.  Let’s Get Lost is about a girl who goes on a road trip to rediscover herself and explore the United States.  I can’t say enough good things about it!  

2.  Percy Jackson and the Olympians/The Hero Series by Rick Riordan
Don’t laugh! Being middle age level, I know these 2 series are an extremely easy read, but I learned A LOT reading them!  If you love Greek Mythology or find it interesting at all, but have a hard time getting into it, you should definitely give either of these series a go!  Rick Riordan does a great job of incorporating tons of Greek mythology in his books in a fun way!  Plus, if you have to take a class on Greek mythology, it’s a great way to dip your toes in before you start.
3.  The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater
This recommendation always makes my friends laugh, because they automatically assume I’m recommending it because there’s wolves in it. (I have a reputation for loving anything with a wolf story or vampire in it!)  Despite their assumptions, the main reason I fell in love with this series years ago, was the love story in it.  It completely changed my view on love and how I perceived being in a relationship.  Prior to reading this I thought love had to be this big ordeal, choke full of passion, fights, and drama.  I never realized it could be as simple as finding someone you have something in common with, and just being content to spend time with them.  Some of my favorite moments in this series are when Grace and Sam are reading in her dad’s office together and drinking coffee.  At such a young age they figure out some of the most important parts of love and how it works, and this series taught me a lot.  I’d recommend this book to anyone, because I think we can all use a reminder of what real love is supposed to be like.  

4.  Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo
I know this is a touchy subject for some people, and while I don’t typically share many Christian books for that matter alone, I do have to mention this one.  I believe there’s this assumption that is often made about Christians, that our faith is unshakable, and that’s not true.  I get it a lot from friends who aren’t religious, or who are on their own journey to faith.  I hear it a lot, “well you’re religious, so you wouldn’t understand.”  Honestly though, as a Christian, we all go through moments of unbelief, when we are questioning our faith.  What I loved about this book, is that even though this boy’s father was a pastor and delivered a sermon each week, when it came to his son’s journey to heaven and back, he went through a period of unbelief.  It goes to show that no one is perfect, and as Christians we all go through this.  I loved this book, and I highly recommend it to any one who believes in God, or who doesn’t but is on their own spiritual journey.  

5.  Beastly by Alex Flinn
Perfect for anyone who LOVES a good fairy tale!  This modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast is set in the city and makes for a quick read!  

6.  The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan
I stand by the old saying that ignorance is not bliss, and therefore I’m always for a book that teaches me about new or diverse people and topics.  The Tragedy Paper is about an albino student, and the difficulties they have to go through in life.  While I will readily admit I never knew or thought much about albinism prior to reading this book, I’m extremely thankful I was sent this to review.  It taught me a lot about a group of people that are suffering from hardships everyday.  I recommend this to all my family and friends!

7.  My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins
This is a GREAT winter read if you’re in the mood for some love stories!  One of the main reasons I’ve been recommending this so much, is because I think it would be VERY hard for anyone to not like at least one of the twelve stories in it!  Written by 12 popular authors, these stories appeal to many different audiences and make for a quick read!  

8.  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Another great one that can teach you a lot about love.  This story is one that I recommend a lot to my younger cousins and friends, because I feel like it could have helped me a lot when I was at the same age some of them are, and dealing with love for the first time.  

9.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Bringing in a classic!  This one taught me a lot about the dangers of censorship and how a society can be impacted as a result.  Even if you don’t get a chance to read much, this book is a fast read and can teach you a lot about things other than book censorship.  

10.  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
This is one of my all time favorite books, so I don’t have any one specific reason for always recommending this to my friends and family.  This one is great for anyone who loves reading or fairy tales!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Flashback Friday (4)

Flashback Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Fiction Fare and Swoony Boys Podcast, showcasing books that are at least two years old!

The book I am featuring today is one of my all time favorites!! I love this series so much and the final book in the spin-off series is coming out next month! If you haven't read these books you need to now!!

Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: August 16, 2007

Goodreads Description:

Prepare to be Tested.
The story that kicked off the international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series is NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE.
Hit Theaters February 7th, 2014!

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Audio Review: Into the Still Blue


Title: Into the Still Blue
Author: Veronica Rossi
Pages: 392
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 Cows

Goodreads Description:
The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do—and they are just as determined to stay together.

Within the confines of a cave they're using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival--he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her earth-shattering Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

I have some mixed feelings about Into the Still Blue. I loved the action and excitement. There never was a dull moment but at the same time I felt that some of the action was just being repeated again and again. Trust the enemy because there are no other options, be betrayed by said enemy. However, for the most part, I enjoyed the final installment in this series.
Roar is going through a lot in this book and is either drunk, angry or both throughout the first half or so. It's understandable for what he's been through and my heart truly breaks for him. He takes out most of his angry at Perry. Eventually, it's Roar's anger and his need for revenge that gets the group in trouble. Still, my love for Roar remains strong!
Perry and Aria are finally able to stop worrying about what other people will think of their relationship and just be together. They realized that hiding their feelings didn't do them any favors in the beginning so this time they are upfront and honest about being together.
I liked that in Into the Still Blue, we see the Dwellers and Outsiders working together. At first, things are rocky but eventually we see them start to understand each other. They were people that had different cultures and life experiences but at the end of the day they were all people and I think at the end they finally see that too.
The only other thing that I didn't really like was the ending. It felt kind of rushed. A lot of things happen at the end and there are a lot of things that I don't think got the amount of page space it should have. There was one person in particular that I felt the characters and myself needed a little more closure with. I guess in a way they do give that character a good farewell but I just wanted something more. Obviously, it's hard for me to go into detail without giving away too much plot.

Under the Never Sky series is a good solid series. While it's not my favorite series, I still enjoyed it. I plan to read more books by Veronica Rossi in the future and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (76)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!
Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn’t Get To
1. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
2. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
4. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
5. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
6. Talon by Julie Kagawa
7. Rooms by Lauren Oliver
8. Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
9. Defy by Sara B. Larson
10. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: My True Love Gave to Me

Title: My True Love Gave To Me
Author: Various Authors edited by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 320
Rating: 4 Cows

Goodreads Description:

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

“My True Love Gave To Me” is made up of 12 winter romance short stories, written by some of the best YA authors around!  Ok, maybe I’m a little biased, but I love a majority of the authors that came together for this collaboration!  Some of my favorites include Holly Black, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and Jenny Han.

That being said, I can’t see how anyone could dislike this book, simply because there are 12 different stories written by separate authors.  So even if you don’t like one or two of the stories, you’re bound to find one you do.  Prior to ordering this book from a UK bookstore (have you SEEN the UK version?! Neon pink pages and a gorgeous cover! You have to check it out!) I read a few reviews online from other bloggers.  If there’s one thing I couldn’t agree more with, it’s everyone’s con to reading this book: you want more!  Some of the short stories were so great, and had so much potential, that I wanted to keep reading it!  There were a few that could easily have been a full book in themselves that I would have loved to get my hands on.  It’s hard to go from reading full books upwards of 300 pages sometimes, to short stories, because they seem to go so quickly!

Now I know I’ve talked about my love for fantasy numerous times on Wholly Books, but in case you haven’t heard: I AM OBSESSED.  Throw in any type of folklore, faerie, or other world adventure and I’m in.  It came as no surprise then that I loved the queen of fantasy herself, Holly Black’s, short story called Krampuslauf.  It was loosely based on the story of the Krampus who goes around punishing children during the holiday season for being naughty and is said to be Saint Nick’s opposite.  Leave it to Holly to turn this Alpine folklore into a modern day retelling, that includes cheating boyfriends and a New Year’s Eve party.  It was perfect! I fell in love from the start with this short story, and this was definitely one of those stories that had me wishing there was more!

Another one of my personal favorites from the collection was The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link.  This was my first time reading anything by Kelly Link, and if it’s any sign of how good her other writing is, then I need to get ahold of one of her books ASAP! This story was absolutely adorable, and I loved the concept of how Miranda and Fenny meet.  It was the perfect winter romance, and had me begging for more!  If you don’t get around to buying this whole book and you know someone that already has it, you should borrow it to read at least this story.  

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories.  There were honestly only 2 or 3 of the 12 stories that I didn’t love, but still enjoyed reading.  With such a diverse panel of authors writing stories for this collection I was a little hesitant to see how it would turn out, but I absolutely loved it!  Reading this book has definitely made me more optimistic in the future for reading short stories and collections in general.  I was also introduced to a few new authors in the process, that I plan on reading in the future.  Kelly Link and Matt De La Pena were two of my favorite (just discovered) authors that I hadn’t heard of prior to reading this.  Does anyone have any suggestions for books by them that they’ve read before?  I’d love to get a few recommendations!


Friday, January 9, 2015

Flashback Friday (3)

Flashback Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Fiction Fare and Swoony Boys Podcast, showcasing books that are at least two years old!

It's been a while since I did Flashback Friday so I thought it was time to do another one! This week, I am highlighting one of my favorite series. It's the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent! The final book in the series is one of my favorite series endings but If I Die is my favorite! If you haven't read it you should definitely give it a shot!!

Title:  My Soul to Take
Author: Rachel Vincent
Release Date:  January 1, 2009
Goodreads Description:

She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Title: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 288
Rating: 5 Cows

Goodreads Description:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han took me completely by surprise.  I’ll be brutally honest for just a second here; I had this book pegged as your typical run-of-the-mill high school romance YA novel.  Am I making sense here?  I hope so.  When I first heard of this book, it was this year at a YA book conference I went to in Illinois.  One of the girls I met and hung out with at the conference recommended this to me after we attended an author panel that Jenny Han was on.  When I bought books before leaving that weekend, I picked this one up and got in line to have Jenny Han sign it.  While this book wasn’t something I’d typically pick up on my own, I am always open to suggestions and recommendations from other book lovers, and if someone is truly adamant about a specific book, then I’ll usually give it a go.  As I was standing in line to meet Jenny though, I had my reservations.  Everyone in front of me had to be 16 or younger, and they were all screaming about how great the book was and how they couldn’t decide whether Lara Jean should pick Peter or Josh. I thought, great another love triangle trope. I almost got out of line right then and there.

Needless to say after I got home that weekend from the conference, this book wasn’t one of the first ones I picked up and started reading.  It sat for quite some time.  Until one day I read a review by another blogger that absolutely RAVED about it.  I begrudgingly picked it up and gave it a go.  And BOY AM I GLAD I DID.

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” has got to be one of the cutest books I’ve read in a long time.  It’s about Lara Jean, whose older sister, Margot, has just left to attend college in Scotland.  At a young age their mom died, and since then Margot has become a mother figure to her little sisters Lara Jean and Kitty.  When Margot leaves, Lara Jean is forced to take on extra responsibilities and not depend so much on other people.  This book is about how she handles these new responsibilities, as well as how she deals with the boys in her life.  Lara Jean used to write letters to all the boys she fell in love with, and hid the letters in a hat box her mom gave her.  One day one of her old crushes approaches her about a letter he received in the mail from her, and she finds out her hat box is gone, along with all its contents.  Someone mailed all her letters to the boys she’s been in love with.

One of my favorite characters in the book was Lara Jean.  She is extremely hilarious without meaning to be, and I found myself really relating to her as I was reading “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”  The thing is, Lara Jean was so mature and thoughtful for her age, that she had me questioning many of my own beliefs and thoughts.  She reminded me a lot of myself at that age, and I think many girls can relate to what Lara Jean is going through.  One of my other favorite characters was Peter, who brings out a side of Lara Jean that she didn’t even know existed.  I really liked watching their relationship develop throughout the book.  They were the perfect example of the saying - opposites attract – and I loved how honest they got to be with each other over time.  My favorite scene between them is when Peter asks Lara Jean why she’s never had a boyfriend before, to which she replied:

It’s scary when it’s real.  When it’s not just thinking about a person, but, like, having a real live person in front of you, with, like, expectations. And wants.

Lara Jean spent a lot of time dreaming about her crushes and writing these letters to them, but she was always too shy to do anything about it.  I think a lot of people can relate to this though, especially the part about the expectations.  It’s a scary thought that someone might learn to depend on you, and expect things from you, and I was impressed that at such a young age, Lara Jean was already picking up on this.  There is another point she brought up in the book that I really loved, about one of her fears.  As she’s thinking more about what Peter asked her, she realizes part of her issue stems from her fear of falling out of love.  Or more specifically, someone falling out of love with her.  She believes that’s one of the scariest parts of falling in love, to think that someone you loved so deeply, could one day stop caring for you.  And it’s a risk you have to take if you’re going to be in a relationship.

Overall, I thought Jenny Han’s writing was thought provoking and funny.  This combo made for a compelling read in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”  Had I not bought all my best friends Christmas gifts already, this book would have been under all their trees this year.  I can not say enough good things about this book, and there will definitely be a reread in the future for me.  Now I have to wait all the way till June for the sequel! Let the countdown begin!


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