Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What is my favorite book?

What is my favorite book? That is probably the most common question asked of a bookworm. And, at least for me, the toughest to answer! There are soooooo many books that I could name. But, if I had to narrow it down, the first title that always pops in my head is:

I picked up this book with no intention of reading it myself. The summer before her 6th grade year, my daughter got a letter in the mail from her English teacher advising them to read this book over the summer and bring it to class to discuss and do projects. So, I ventured to Barnes and Noble, and was dismayed to find that it was only available in hardback, therefore, more than what I usually am willing to spend on a book. But, I bought it, because she had to have it. Once I got it home, I thought, "If I am going to spend $20 on a book, by golly, I am going to read it too." That's the thriftaholic in me. So, I started reading. And couldn't put it down. I then raced through Catching Fire, but then had to impatiently wait for Mockingjay to be released. I bought it the day it came out. I was disappointed with it, but that's a whole other story. Anyway, The Hunger Games introduced me to the dystopian genre, and it is now my favorite genre to read.

Needless to say, I am VERY excited for the movie to come out - it better be done well! So, what is YOUR favorite book?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

First of all, thank you Bookaholics Book Club for hosting the Traveling Book Club from which I received this book!

Second, I was one of the biggest fan of Sweet Valley books when I was a kid. I must have started reading them about the age of 7 or 8. I even had the Sweet Valley High board game! So, I couldn't pass on the chance to read about what happened to Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield!

This story picks up when the twins are 27 years old. Elizabeth is working as a struggling writer in NYC, and Jessica is a successful executive for an organic makeup company in Sweet Valley. Through flashbacks interspersed throughout the story we find out that Elizabeth and Jessica had a major falling out when Jessica "stole" Todd, Elizabeth's high school sweetheart, from her. Elizabeth has promised to return to Sweet Valley for her grandmother's 80th birthday, and will be forced to confront Jessica and Todd. Will she ever be able to forgive her? Will they ever get their special twin relationship back? Will Elizabeth find her own happiness?

Sigh. I should've just stuck with the memories and my own imagination. No offense meant to Ms. Pascal...for me, this book was just a hot mess. The writing....oy. Like, every other word, like, was like. Yes, I realize this is California...but c'mon. It was not just in the characters was, like SO annoying. Also, my memories of Sweet Valley centered on how wholesome they were. Yes, tough topics came up in the Sweet Valley High books...but, I don't know. It was just disturbing to me when our sweet little Elizabeth dropped the f bomb in numerous situations and had a few "flings."

This book was painful for me to finish. The ending was relatively satisfying. Elizabeth and Jessica both end up happy. And I like how Pascal did a little epilogue updating readers on the status of ALL the well known characters from the series, even if many of them were pretty ridiculous. But, overall....not a book I'd recommend. For all you Sweet Valley fans out there - just cherish the memories.

Another AWESOME giveaway!

Go check out this giveaway! Wow! I will jump up and down screaming if I win this!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Another dystopian title....but with a really unusual plot.

In the effort to eradicate diseases like cancer, and to extend life expectancy, an unexpected result occurs. While the first generation born after cancer is cured does indeed live longer, something goes drastically wrong with their own offspring and every generation thereafter...males do not live past the age of 25, and females past the age of 20. Because of this, men take multiple wives at young ages in an effort to keep the population up. Girls are sold into polygamist marriages. Rhine is one of these girls.

Rhine is taken from the only home she has ever known, and from her twin brother. She finds herself being wed to a wealthy man, named Linden, along with two other girls, Cecily and Jenna. Jenna is also a reluctant bride, but resigned to her new life - she grew up in an orphanage and then a brothel. Cecily, however, is excited to be a wife and, one day, a mother - at the young age of 13.

Linden is really a very decent man, and is actually in love with Rhine. But Rhine's thoughts are only on escaping and finding her way back to her brother. She forms a friendship with her sister wives, and with a house servant, Gabriel, who she develops feelings for.

Can she escape, despite the watchful eye of Linden's father and Housemaster? Time is ticking...

I really enjoyed this book. However, I felt really bad for Linden, and I actually liked him. He truly cared for Rhine, and treated her very well. I found myself kinda hoping that she would reciprocate his love...but then, that wouldn't make for a very exciting plot, now would it? Can't wait for the sequel, Fever, to come out!

From the Library - 8/27/11

So, I went a little crazy at the library today...

My friend, Tristen, has been going to a particular branch of our county library (we are blessed to have 28 branches in our county!!), and I have never actually been to this one. See, in our library system, all 28 branches are connected. As long as you have a county card, you can go to any branch you want. You can even order books online from ANY branch and have them SENT to any branch. It is truly awesome! I always like to visit new ones, so I ventured out today. I was NOT disappointed! It was a very small library -- but the selection certainly was not lacking! I could not make a decision as to what to leave behind out of these, so I took em all. I can always renew them later...So, here's what I got:

1) Elixir by Hilary Duff -- hey, I have to see if Lizzie McGuire can write, as well as act and sing! My daughter started reading it tonight, and she's already half way through.

2) Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - my friend, Tristen, read this and really liked it, and we have very similar tastes, so I had to check it out. My daughter is also wanting to read it. She seems to have a thing for werewolves lately.

3) XVI by Julia Karr - interesting sounding dystopian plot. One of the discussion boards I participate in is considering this as the book of the month for September.

4) So B. It by Sarah Weeks - I've been eying this for awhile. It's about a girl being raised by her mentally handicapped mother. This kind of stuff interests me, for some reason.

5) The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting - I've seen this on several other blogs, and it just sounds like a good paranormal read.

6) Haven by Kristi Cook - Again, saw this on some blogs and it caught my interest. Other blogs are the #1 place I look for interesting new titles.

7) A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb - a ghost story

8) Need by Carrie Jones - another recommendation from my pal, Tristen

9) Blood Red Road by Moira Young - I spotted this at Walmart, and it sounded good!

As you can see, I will be quite busy! I also have books to review, and I got 2 in the mail today from a traveling book club! Guess I should get a move on! :) Happy reading!

Friday, August 26, 2011

In My Mailbox - 8/26/11

Not too bad of a week! Especially considering I haven't spent a single dime! :)

Cabin Fever: a Suburban Father's Search for the Wild by Tom Montgomery Fate - autographed hardback won from goodreads!

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd - won on goodreads!

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - paperbackswap

Fifties Chix series book 1: Travel to Tomorrow - ARC won on goodreads

The Mother Who Stayed by Laura Berman - ARC won on goodreads

Gotta love free books! :) What's in YOUR mailbox this week?

Friday, August 19, 2011

From the Library

I limited myself to 2 books this week (they came in by request) because I still have so many in my pile.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm excited to read the last book in the trilogy! My daughter's already read it, and is having a hard time not telling me what happens, lol!

Sarah's Key by Tatiana deRosnay. Wanted to read this before the movie comes out :) I've always been interested in books that take place during the time of the Holocaust.

In My Mailbox

Pretty good week :)

Kissed by an Angel (first 3 books in one) by Elizabeth Chandler from paperbackswap
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead from paperbackswap
Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters - sent to me by the author for review
No Longer a Slumdog by K.P. Yohannon - freebie I found by facebook link from publisher
Gifted: Better Late Than Never by Marilyn Kaye from paperbackswap
The Glitter Scene and The American Girl by Monika Fagerholm, AND t-shirt from goodreads giveaway

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Sam Kingston could be described as a "mean girl." She and her best friends, Ally, Elody, and Lindsey are the queen bees of their school, and they think nothing of how their words and actions affect others. But one night, after a party, a car accident claims Sam's life. But, this is not the end...she wakes up to the same day starting over again. Over the course of 7 days, she is given chance after chance to make changes in her actions to try to alter the outcome of her life - and those around her.

Amazon refers to this book as a cross between Groundhog Day and Mean Girls. This is pretty accurate, but it is so much more. It will really make you think about how serious the consequences of bullying can be.

I really enjoyed this book - fast paced and emotionally charged. Word of warning: Moderate language, sexual situations, teen drug and alcohol use, and disturbing material. Not suitable for under the age of 14.

Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD by Beth Alison Maloney

This is a memoir written by a mother who's world is turned upside down when her 12 year old son suddenly develops some very strange symptoms. It starts with a few "quirks" such as having to touch everything he passes, but quickly develops into something much more serious. Every moment of his life is taken up by strange, obsessive behaviors and compulsions. Doctors say he has OCD, but how did this come on so suddenly? A friend mentions to Beth that an acquaintance developed similar symptoms and it was linked to a strep infection. Sammy is tested, and he does in fact test positive for strep! Relatively new studies have indeed linked high strep levels to OCD. However, Beth finds out that there are very few doctors who will accept this. This book is about her struggle to find a cure for her son's terrible illness, and for support and acceptance from the medical community. It is horrifying what they went through, but Beth's fierce determination is inspiring.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

First off, I have to say that the cover to this book is so gorgeous! (yes, I DO judge a book by its cover!)

This book is a different take on the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." I do not normally read fairy tale type books, but I was intrigued (maybe because of the beautiful cover?). Azalea and her 11 younger sisters have just lost their mother, the queen, and are supposed to be in mourning - which means NO dancing allowed. However, they discover a secret passage in their enchanted castle, and a mysterious man known as "Keeper" that provides a way to keep dancing in secret. However, the more time they spend in this secret place, many dark secrets about the family's and castle's pasts come to light. They discover that their father is in danger. Though, as a father he is distant, they don't want anything to happen to him, and their fight to keep him from danger brings them closer as a family.

This book had plenty of adventure, romance, and excitement. One thing I really loved was that there is absolutely no bad language, sexuality, or anything like that, and yet still a very good book.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

I received this book in the mail as part of a "traveling" book club that I signed up for. It was my first time to do this, and I am hooked!

This was a different genre than what I've been reading lately - an adult psychothriller. It had me hooked from the beginning.

Imagine waking up EVERY SINGLE MORNING, not knowing who you are, or where you are. And not recognizing the man sleeping next to you as your husband of 25 years. This is Christine's reality. A terrible accident has resulted in a rare form of amnesia where her memories are erased every time she goes to sleep. Every day her husband, Ben, has to explain to her what has happened to her, and tell her her life story.

Under suggestion of her doctor, she starts to keep a journal to help her remember everything. She is shocked to open it and find these three words "Don't trust Ben." Now, she is suspicious of everything her husband does and tells her. But who CAN she trust? Can she even trust herself? Through her daily journal, Christine must unwrap a complicated mystery of what REALLY happened to her, and who really can be trusted.

Every single page of this book is like a puzzle piece - a puzzle that is not completed until the very end. It was exciting, shocking, and full of twists and turns. It is a fabulous book that I highly recommend!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

This is the "companion" novel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I LOVED. And I have to comment on the cover of this book - I think it's gorgeous and extremely eye-catching (yes, I do frequently judge a book by the cover!)

Ok, it took me several days to get through this book. It just wasn't as captivating as the first one. It was kind of slow, actually, in a lot of places. Oh, and I have to confess that I had one of those "I feel really dumb" moments about 50 pages in. See, since the cover says "companion" novel, and not "sequel" - I read the first several chapters thinking this was a prequel. See, the main character in this book is named Gabry, or Gabrielle. Well, in the first book, Gabrielle was the girl that Mary was drawn to in the forest who ended up turning into a Mudo (zombie). So, I totally thought this book was going back and telling Gabry's story...Well, that wasn't the case. Gabry in THIS book is actually Mary's daughter - named after the Gabry from the forest, of course. Soooooo, this IS a sequel, several years in the future.

Mary and Gabry live in the lighthouse by the ocean. Mary's job is to decapitate the Mudo that wash up on the shores to keep them from infecting the town of Vista. Gabry has grown up scared of what's outside her secure, fenced in world. One night her friends manage to talk her into going over the fence into unsafe territory. She receives her first kiss from Catcher, a boy she has loved most of her life. But then, her greatest fears were realized when Mudo appear and attack her friends, thereby infecting them and causing them to turn into Mudo. Catcher, included. Gabry is torn - does she stay with Catcher, and risk being in trouble with the Militia, or does she escape? Catcher convinces her to go.

Unfortunately, she was the only one who was able to escape. Her friends, who were not infected (including Catcher's sister and Gabry's best friend, Cira) are arrested and ordered to join the "Recruiters" - a fate almost as bad as death. Cira threatens to turn her in, unless she is able to find Catcher and bring him back.

In the meantime Gabry meets a mysterious boy, Elias, who offers to help her find Catcher, as he knows where he is. Gabry is confused by his intentions as well as her growing feelings for him.

They do find Catcher, and discover that he is immune to infection from the Mudo. Which makes him extremely valuable to the Recruiters. It is only a matter of time before the Recruiters come after him, as well as for Gabry as they find out the things that she has done. They are on the run - back through the forest of hands and teeth...

Overall, I really liked the had long moments that dragged, interspersed with nail-biting adventure. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. And I will be reading the final book The Dark and Hollow Places.

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

This is the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. This series has had a huge fuss made over it, so I was super excited to read them. To be honest, I didn't think it was as awesome as I expected...but I DID really like it. It's sort of light and fluffy reading material, with enough excitement to keep you interested. Also, the romance between Sam and Grace is sweet and sigh-inducing.

In this continuation of Shiver, Sam has been cured from turning into a werewolf. It seems that he and Grace will be able to continue their relationship without fear of him turning and her never seeing him again. First, Grace's parents, who up until now were pretty uninvolved in her life, decide that their relationship is getting way too serious, and forbid her from seeing him anymore. Then Grace starts displaying very disturbing symptoms...she is very sick, and noone, except her and Sam, really know why. Now, it's only a matter of time...and I can't wait to read the finale, Forever, to find out what happens next...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Other book blogs

One of the things that I love to do is to read other book blogs! There are SO many great ones out there. I have so much to learn from them, as I am definitely a newbie in the blogger world. One that I have come across recently is called Bookish. (www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com_) They are having a really awesome summer giveway - 5 winners get to pick a book from a list of new summer releases! Go check out her site and giveaway!