Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Out of Play, by Jolene Perry and Nyrae Dawn

Barnes & Noble

Rock star drummer Bishop Riley doesn't have a drug problem. Celebrities—especially ones suffering from anxiety—just need a little help taking the edge off sometimes. After downing a few too many pills, Bishop wakes up in the hospital facing an intervention. If he wants to stay in the band, he’ll have to detox while under house arrest in Seldon, Alaska. 

Hockey player Penny Jones can't imagine a life outside of Seldon. Though she has tons of scholarship offers to all the best schools, the last thing she wants is to leave. Who'll take care of her absentminded Gramps? Not her mother, who can’t even be bothered to come home from work, let alone deal with their new tenants next door.

Penny’s not interested in dealing with Bishop’s crappy attitude, and Bishop’s too busy sneaking pills to care. Until he starts hanging out with Gramps and begins to see what he’s been missing. If Bishop wants a chance with the fiery girl next door, he’ll have to admit he has a problem and kick it. Too bad addiction is hard to kick…and Bishop’s about to run out of time

I have been in love with Nyrae Dawn's writing ever since I read What A Boy Wants.  So I jumped for joy when I was approved for this galley!

Like WaBW, the storyline is predictable (though there were a couple of surprises), but I didn't care.  Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry have created such a fantastic mash-up of characters that it really doesn't matter.  The characters are the most important, and they are perfect and perfectly flawed.

Penny is a kick-ass heroine: an ice hockey player who has always been on an all-male (except for her) team.  She's strong--both physically and emotionally--and is well-liked by her teammates and friends.  She's a tomboy and hates all of that "girlie" stuff, so we'd never be friends in real life.  But I'd admire her from afar and think she was really cool.  Scary--she could totally kick my ass from here to the next century--but definitely cool.

Poor Bishop just can't handle being famous and needs to chill with the drugs and alcohol.  He's a cocky asshole who gets taken down a peg in a place where no one knows his true identity.

I loved the snarky relationship between Bishop and Penny.  It was laugh-out-loud funny when they'd push each others' buttons.

And the make-out sessions?  Swoony.  Totally swoony.

I'm definitely purchasing the Kindle version for my personal collection.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

How to Lose Everything: A Mostly True Story, by Philipp Mattheis

Barnes & Noble

One summer, an incredible discovery gives Jonathan and his three closest friends many things they so desperately want – but at what cost?

Jonathan, Sam, Schulz, and Eric usually spend their summers hanging out at the park, skateboarding and dreaming about the days when they’ll finally move out of the suburbs.
But one summer, the four teenagers find a small fortune hidden inside a mysterious abandoned house, and that changes everything. The dizzying thrill of money and power makes the future seem irrelevant; the only question that matters is what they should buy next. It was a dream come true, but it couldn't last. What starts out as a blessing soon turns into a curse, as stress, drugs, criminal behavior, dwindling funds—and even death—raise serious questions about their choices, and their futures.

This coming-of-age novel is like nothing I've read before.  Due to the fact that it's based on a true story, I couldn't decide if I wanted it to be more memoir-ish or more fictitious.  I don't mean that in a negative way.  It's simply the fact that it scares the bejeezus out of me that much of what's in this book actually happened.  And I don't know which parts!

How to Lose Everything will appeal to teenage boys.  I think this would be a great book for parents of early- to mid-teens to read with their sons in order to launch discussions surrounding theft and drug & alcohol abuse.

I read this short book—only just over 200 pages—in one evening.  Mattheis doesn't use flowery language to move the story forward: he is concise and pragmatic and doesn't leave out any of the "good stuff."

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday #13: This Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that highlights soon-to-be-published books.  This week's selection is...

This Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales
Publication date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Barnes & Noble

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice,
This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

I love stories that feature non-perfect protagonists!

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

(Book Trailer Reveal) Soul Taken, by Katlyn Duncan

I am super excited to be able to participate in the trailer reveal for Katlyn Duncan’s SOUL TAKEN which released on June 4th!

This book sounds absolutely amazing and I can't wait to share the TRAILER and the EXCERPT the author provided, both of which are below.

There is also an awesome GIVEAWAY for an eBook Kindle copy of the book to one winner. So be sure to check that out, too!

With its gorgeous cover, it's intriguing description, its totally captivating excerpt and awesome trailer, I am thrilled to be able share SOUL TAKEN with you. So without further ado....


The SOUL TAKEN Trailer


About the Book

Title: SOUL TAKEN (The Life After #1)
Author: Katlyn Duncan
Publisher: Carina UK
Release date: June 4th
Formats: eBook

After-life just got a lot more complicated

Maggie is a Soul Collector. It’s her job to transport souls from the Living Realm to the After – but during a mission to find a stolen soul, she ends up stuck in a teen mean girl’s body.

Trapped, Maggie’s soul is catapulted into Ally’s life – and the human world she hasn’t experienced for one hundred years. But, as a descendant of the most powerful beings in the After, Maggie must rescue Ally before the girl’s soul dies…

To survive, Maggie must uncover devastating secrets – because with one soul taken by a terrifying enemy, Maggie’s could be next!


About the Author

Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.

Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.


The SOUL TAKEN Excerpt

A suffocating heat pressed all points of my soul. Even though I hadn’t breathed in a hundred years, I felt the need to inhale, yet I couldn’t. A fire burned in my chest.

I attempted to open my eyes, to move one finger, a toe maybe, but the pressure immobilized my body. The burning sensation tore through me over and over until I had just about given up the fight.

But, just as quickly as the pressure came, it lifted, bringing a seemingly endless barrage of images. I was experiencing someone else’s memories, as if I took a back seat in her mind and watched her life flash before our eyes. I caught her image in a mirror, a small golden-haired girl.


I tried to slow the images or possibly make sense of them but, just as I grabbed a hold on one of them, it slipped through my fingers and moved onto the next. I followed this girl through all the moments of her life as her memories flashed before my eyes.

Darker emotions overlapped the girl’s happy memories. I saw a young red-haired girl in an old-fashioned dress; her demure eyes looked back at me. Jealousy flared through me. My heart squeezed, watching this girl who was not part of Ally’s memories. A rush of energy pumped through my body; the power touched every fiber of my soul. Then the vision dissolved and I was forced back to experiencing Ally.

Was I dreaming?

Souls didn’t dream. I told myself firmly.

The visions started to slow and I was able to focus on one.

I had to tell them, even though Dad said I couldn’t. But in a week I wouldn’t be the same girl. Or would I? I still wasn’t clear on everything. Becoming a Guard: it was my life’s mission, he had said. A life that was no longer my own. Would it be easier to let this life slip away? I would regret each day if I didn’t. Maybe I would start with Seth. Sweet Seth. He’d be crushed, but someone would take my place. Dad had said something about people—humans— was I not human? Humans were drawn to those like me. Maybe Seth only liked me because I was different, unexplainably different.

I ripped the paper off the coffee sleeve. It was now or never.


The SOUL TAKEN Giveaway

An eBook Kindle copy of SOUL TAKEN to ONE (1) winner.

  • Must be 13 or older to enter
  • Must be able to accept Amazon Kindle eBook gifts from the U.S.

Enter in the Rafflecopter below...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wine and War: The French, The Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure, by Don & Petie Kladstrup

Barnes & Noble

The remarkable untold story of France’s courageous, clever vinters who protected and rescued the country’s most treasured commodity from German plunder during World War II.

In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and almost immediately the German army began a campaign of pillaging one of the assets the French hold most dear: their wine. Like others in the French Resistance, winemakers mobilized to oppose their occupiers, but the tale of their extraordinary efforts has remained largely unknown–until now. This is the thrilling and harrowing story of the French wine producers who undertook ingenious, daring measures to save their cherished crops and bottles as the Germans closed in on them. Wine and War illuminates a compelling, little-known chapter of history, and stands as a tribute to extraordinary individuals who waged a battle that, in a very real way, saved the spirit of France.

"To be a Frenchman means to fight for your country and its wine." 
–Claude Terrail, owner, Restaurant La Tour d’Argent

I received this book from my grandfather (?) a decade ago.  I wish I had read it when he was still alive so I could talk to him about the events in this book.  Like me, he was a Francophile and we shared stories of the different trips we took around France.  He fought in WWII, but never spoke about his time code-breaking.  I wonder if discussing this book could have opened that door.

This was an interesting look at the economics of wine during Hitler's reign and the Occupation of France.  The histories of the different vineyards, the details of the wines, and the stories of the owners--some who were left to run the vineyards and others who were in hiding or sent to concentration camps--make this book come alive.

And though war is a solemn subject, humor makes itself known throughout the novel.  My favorite is the section about the wolves:

The grapes had an "exhilarating effect" on the wolves.  "I suspect the stomach of the wolf is so constructed that the fermentation of the fruit juices proceeds rapidly after the animal has eaten the grapes.  At any rate, intoxication is frequently the result." 

Monsieur Le Brun says he recalls seeing a drunken pack running by his home.  "...the wolves were all intoxicated.  That was what caused them to run into the town in the first place, and it was
also what saved the townsfolk after they had come in.  They were too drunk to remember that they were wolves...they just lay down in the street, stupidly drunk."

This book isn't for everyone: if wine isn't your cup of tea drink of choice, or you don't care about French wines, then you'll probably find this too dry to swallow.*

* pun not intended, but it totally works

Monday, July 29, 2013

Munchkin Monday #3: Cozy Classics: Les Misérables

A quick look at the new books I have read with Boy Child and Girl Child

Give a kid a classic! Cozy Classics is the popular board book series that presents well-loved stories to children aged 0+ through twelve child-friendly words and twelve needle-felted illustrations.
Les Misérables is Victor Hugo’s sweeping French saga about one man’s search for redemption in a world of hardship and misery, and is one of the world’s most beloved classics.
Now you can share this classic with children of any age.

 Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Goodreads

I admit that the main reason I requested this from NetGalley was to see how on earth they were going to present a tale of thievery, prostitution, and bloodshed to children.
It's...uh... not something you see every day.

The felting is incredible, but that's about all of the positive praise I can give this book.  If you didn't already know the story of Les Mis, you would be terribly confused.

The Husband and I read this book to the kids, but twisted the story so that it wasn't so...depressing.
We'll introduce the Classics to them when they're older.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Heretic Queen, by Michelle Moran

Barnes & Noble

In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

Sweeping in scope and meticulous in detail,
The Heretic Queen is a novel of passion and power, heartbreak and redemption.

Michelle Moran is absolutely brilliant.  She has the ability to weave historical events and people with fictional accounts.  I loved her previous novel, Nefertiti, and The Heretic Queen is just as amazing.  

I've always had a interest in Ancient Egypt and I love the imagery that Moran presents.  I felt like I was right there in Thebes and Pi-Ramesses, praying to the Gods and loving my husband & country, all while the populace condemned me for my ancestors' actions.

I was so caught up the story that I forgot that this is--ultimately--a work of fiction.  Much is unknown about the 19th Dynasty, but Moran fills in the gaps beautifully.  She has given me a better understanding of a fascinating time period, prompting me to research further.

Stacking the Shelves #7

Stacking the Shelves is a book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews that allows book bloggers to share the books they have recently received.

Want to participate?  It's easy!
  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use Tynga's official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • You can set your post any way you want: simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog.  The sky's the limit! 
  • Tynga's Reviews posts Stacking The Shelves on Saturdays, but feel free to post yours any day that fits you. 
  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on Saturday and add your link so others can visit you!
  • Visit other participants' links to find out what they added to their shelves!

This week, I received:

From the Publisher:
Book Tour:

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday #7: What do you do with a Klondike bar?

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly event/hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.
It’s a great way to find new blogs and make new friends!

This week's Question:

What do you do with your books after you're done reading them?

I do a few things, depending on the type of book I'm reading and the rating I assign:

Audiobooks are either deleted from iTunes or archived via my Audible account.
The same holds true for Kindle and Nook books: deleted and archived.
Physical copies are given away unless I really love the book.
Borrowed books are returned to their homes.
Favorites are on a high shelf
or stay on my

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess, by Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin

Barnes & Noble

A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.

Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog--and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.

A funny, sad, and remarkable story,
A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

I shouldn't like this book.

I'm not a fan of stories where all of the action happens quickly.  I much prefer gradual progression because I have a hard time believing that anyone could form relationships that quickly.

But Justin, Emmy, and the other kids are thrown together into a situation where they are forced to become fast friends and confidants.  In an environment such as theirs -- where they are sent by their families to deal with personal issues -- the only people they can rely on are other "difficult" teens.

I'm not a fan of stories where the characters are self-actualized enough to figure out what's been plaguing them with very little effort.

But I had to remind myself that I was reading this YA novel as an adult.  Were I still an angsty, depressed teenager, I would have loved reading about their deepest, darkest secrets simply because it would have helped me discover my own. 

I am not a fan of stories where there is vulgar language thrown in just for kicks.  If it doesn't advance the story, it doesn't need to be a part of the book.

But I tend to forget that teenagers DO throw curse words around for no reason other than to shock and titillate.

And so--even though I shouldn't--I really like this book.

My adult self scoffs at how nicely the story is packaged.  But my teen self knows that--even though it moves quickly and neatly--this novel portrays an important reality that could help others get through some tough times.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #12: Just One Year, by Gayle Forman

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that highlights soon-to-be-published books.  This week's selection is...

Just One Year (Just One Day #2), by Gayle Forman
Publication date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Children's
Barnes & Noble

Can you fall in love in just one day? Can you become a new person? How about in just one year? In Just One Day--and its companion novel Just One Year--sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey and easygoing actor Willem De Ruiter are about to find out against a guidebook-worthy array of foreign backdrops. 

Equal parts romance, coming-of-age-tale, mystery and travel romp (with settings that span from England’s Stratford upon Avon to Paris to Amsterdam to India’s Bollywood) Just One Day and Just One Year show how in looking for someone else, you just might wind up finding yourself. 

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem's story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near-misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson's own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

:: swoon ::

I simply can't wait to read Willem's POV of Just One Day.  Gayle Forman is one of my favorite authors; I'm pretty sure she can do no wrong.

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty

Barnes & Noble
Release date: July 30, 2013

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died...

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well.
Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive...

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

I was first drawn to this book by its cover: it's a physical incarnation of what happens when you discover something that changes your life and your world falls apart.  The image itself is beautifully poetic.

I'm not usually a fan of women's fictionand I don't particularly like Emily Giffin, so her quote wasn't really a ringing endorsement—but I'm really glad that I took a chance and read this novel.  Liane Moriarty is a brilliant writer and I'm kicking myself for not having read her works before.  I even won a copy of The Hypnotist's Love Story a couple of years ago; it's still sitting on my bookshelf, unread.

The Husband's Secret is more than just chick-lit.  It's full of drama and intrigue and I didn't want to put it down!  Moriarty merges the stories of the three individual primary characters into a whole; it's a fascinating journey from start to finish.  What is the truth?  As we find out, it's not necessarily an easy answer.  On the way, lives are shaken up, boundaries are tested, and firmly-held beliefs are forced aside.

Highly recommended!

I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Munchkin Monday #2: Splat the Cat Series

A quick look at the new books I have read with Boy Child and Girl Child

It's Splat's first day of school and he's worried. What if he doesn't make any new friends?
Just in case, Splat decides to bring along his pet mouse, Seymour, and hides him in his lunchbox.
The teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple, introduces Splat to the class and he soon starts learning all his important cat lessons.

But when Seymour escapes and the cats do what cats do (they chase mice!), Splat's worried again.
Maybe now he'll lose all his friends, old and new!

Just in time, wise Mrs. Wimpydimple takes charge and teaches everyone an important new lesson. Maybe Cat School is going to be okay after all!

 Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Goodreads

Our whole family loves the Splat the Cat series.

We first read this book when my kids moved from a private, in-home daycare to a new, center-based "school."  I was probably more nervous than Boy Child (Girl Child was just a baby); this book likely helped to allay my own fears more than his.

It's a great book for shy students who are entering a new grade or moving to a new school.
And great for their worried parents, too.

We recently added a number of Splat the Cat books to our collection, including:
Fishy Tales
Love, Splat
 On With the Show

I love the lessons they teach, and it's easy to discuss the themes with my kids.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova

Barnes & Noble

Alice HowlandHarvard professor, gifted researcher, and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown childrensets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home.  She has taken the route for years, but nothing looks familiar.  She is utterly lost.  Medical consults reveal early-onset Alzheimer's.

Alice slowly but inevitably loses memory and connection with reality, as told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before.  Genova's debut shows the disease progression through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so readers feel what she feels: a slowly building terror.

I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to Alzheimer's.  My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with the disease when I was in my teens, but she lived halfway across the country and I never saw her health decline.  My paternal grandfather suffered from some dementia when he was in his 90s, but it was never very obvious.

Listening to this audiobook was not easy: Alice is a brilliant woman who loses everything about herself.  It's a heartbreaking story and one that I hope I never have to experience.

Lisa Genova narrates this audiobook and she does an amazing job.  Not all authors are qualified to read their own works; Genova is a rare exception.

Stacking the Shelves #6

Stacking the Shelves is a book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews that allows book bloggers to share the books they have recently received.

Want to participate?  It's easy!
  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use Tynga's official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • You can set your post any way you want: simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog.  The sky's the limit! 
  • Tynga's Reviews posts Stacking The Shelves on Saturdays, but feel free to post yours any day that fits you. 
  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on Saturday and add your link so others can visit you!
  • Visit other participants' links to find out what they added to their shelves!

This week, I received:

  • Fallon (Angels of the Knights #1), by Valerie Zambito
  • Flat Out Love (Flat Out Love #1), by Jessica Park
  • Reveal (Cryptid Tales #1), by Brina Courtney

What did you add to your shelves this week?