Saturday, August 31, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #12

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:

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths #1), by K.A. Tucker

Barnes & Noble

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgivable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

This was a good book and a good start to a new series.  I don't normally read series until they're complete, but I loved this cover and the description, so I plunged in.  And I liked it.  Unfortunately, I don't like it enough to continue with the next book.

There isn't a whole lot to distinguish Ten Tiny Breaths from other New Adult books: stereotypical characters; tragic pasts; and insta-love.

The writing is good and it's a quick read, but it's very cookie-cutter.

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Twigs, by Alison Ashley Formento

Barnes & Noble

One pint-sized girl. Ten super-sized crises. And it’s high noon.

They call her “Twigs,” because she’ll never hit five feet tall. Although she was born early, and a stiff breeze could knock her over, Twigs has a mighty spirit. She needs it, as life throws a whole bucket of rotten luck at her: Dad’s an absentee drunk; Mom’s obsessed with her new deaf boyfriend (and Twigs can’t tell what they’re saying to each other). Little sister Marlee is trying to date her way through the entire high school; Twigs’ true love may be a long-distance loser after a single week away at college, and suddenly, older brother Matt is missing in Iraq. It all comes together when a couple of thugs in a drugstore aisle lash out, and Twigs must fight to save the life of the father who denied her.

I seem to be in a NetGalley funk this past week.  I've read some real gems and some real...not gems.  And by "read," I mean "no way could I finish this book."

I really wanted to like this book, but there was SO. MUCH. GOING. ON. that it was hard to keep track of everything.  Really, how much melodrama does one person attract?

This is the review that most resembles what I would write if I wanted to spend more time on this book.

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

The Shadowy Horses, by Susanna Kearsley

Barnes & Noble


Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.

Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he's finally found it—not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has "seen" a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.

Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason.

I absolutely adore Susanna Kearsley!  She knows how to tell a story and make you fall in love with the characters.  I thought that the narrator did an amazing job distinguishing between the different players and I freely admit to swooning over her Scottish accent.

Speaking of swooning, I loved the relationship between Verity and David.  First colleagues, then friends, then:

DED.  Though I do wish she hadn't faded-to-black.  Give me smexy times!

Did I mention the kilts?

Yes, please!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Eloise, by Judy Finnigan

Barnes & Noble

Yesterday I almost saw her.

I was standing on the sun deck, looking out to sea, revelling in the unexpected warmth of the February sun. A butterfly trembled on a nearby buddleia and suddenly I smelled her perfume.

She wasn't there, of course. How could she be when I had seen her lying in her coffin just two weeks ago, the day before she was buried, her casket surrounded by the scented candles she loved?

She lay in Cornish ground now...

She was a daughter, a wife, a mother. She was a friend. But what secrets did Eloise take to her grave? Compulsively-readable and haunting, this is the Sunday Times bestselling debut novel from Book Club champion, Judy Finnigan.

I just couldn't finish this book; I was annoyed almost right off the bat.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

(Book Blitz & GIVEAWAY) Life, Love & Lemons, by Magan Vernon

Barnes & Noble

When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to say screw the lemons and bail.

Seventeen-year-old Bentley Evans had it all. Then her Dad got laid off.

Now she has to move across town to a small apartment and leave her life of luxury for public school and a job at the local burger place. Just when her world seems like it's crumbling she finds solace in the unlikely punk boy next door, Kai Stone. But as their relationship blossoms, a jealous ex-girlfriend and a secret to tell that threatens to bring disaster back into Bentley’s life.


"You know I'm pretty sure that all that's involved in high school dancing is just dry humping and swaying back and forth," I said as Kai helped me move my parent's couch back.

"Well, I don't want to dry hump or just sway back and forth," he said with a big grin on his face before setting the couch down.

"We don't have to do this right now either. It's a Sunday morning and all." I walked over to the front of the couch, not taking my eyes off of him.

"Homecoming is Saturday, and the only dance I know is the Hokey Pokey." He shrugged. "Besides Mom and my sisters are at small group and your parents can sleep through anything, so why not now?"

"Okay." I let out a deep breath and opened my computer. "But you really didn't take any kind of dance classes? I had ballroom dancing freshman year in gym."

"Bentley, I've gone to public school all of my life. The only dance we ever learned was line dancing when I was in grade school up in Wisconsin, and I'm not doing that at Homecoming." He laughed.

I started up the song and set my laptop down and stepped in front of Kai, putting my right hand up toward him. “I definitely don’t think there will be line dancing at Homecoming,” I said, putting my hand in his.

“And you make fun of my music?” Kai asked as the song crooned through the speakers on my laptop. I put Kai’s right hand on my hip, and then placed my left hand on his upper arm.

“This is Sinatra, I really don’t think there is anything to be making fun of, and besides I don’t think we could really do ballroom dancing to punk rock.”

“I’m sure we could try." He smiled and kissed my forehead.

I rolled my eyes. “Okay, now that we have the arm position it’s time to move our feet, and if you step on my bare feet I am going to punch you.”

He playfully hovered his foot over mine, so I pinched his arm. “If you don’t behave then I’m switching the music to country.”

He let out a big sarcastic sigh. “Fine.”

“Okay, so left foot then right foot then together,” I said as we moved in unison.

“Then right foot goes back and then the left foot meets it.”

We moved together doing a few box steps. It felt kind of silly to be dancing in my pajamas in the living room.

“You know, I really don’t think that anyone is going to be doing the waltz at Homecoming,” I muttered

I looked up to see him mouthing ‘left, right, together’.

“Well what do people usually do then?" He looked down at me and stopped mouthing the words.

The Sinatra song ended and a slower punk rock song played, one that Kai had actually put on my computer.

“Usually…" I put both my arms around his neck. “It’s kind of more of a close, swaying motion.”

“Oh." He wrapped his long arms around my waist and pulled me as close as I think two people can get when one was over six foot and the other was barely over five foot three.

“Like this?" He swayed slowly back and forth.

“Usually it’s not some sort of a giant dancing with a midget.” I laughed.

“Fine then." He bent at his knees and picked me up off of the ground, so that my legs were dangling in the air while he continued to sway back and forth. “Is that better, shorty?”

I wrapped my bare legs around his waist. “Now it is."

I leaned in and ran my tongue along his bottom lip, tracing the lines of his lip ring.

“I don’t think that’s part of the waltz." He smiled and pressed his forehead to mine.

“It is now." I kissed him, pretty hard, since he fell back into the couch with me still in his arms.

Maybe I should have taken him up on the night alone instead of Homecoming. It felt so good to just be in his arms, and the kissing wasn’t so bad either. I could forget about the world every time that Kai kissed me. It was like his lip piercing had some kind of magical powers that just made all my problems disappear as long as we were kissing.

Magan Vernon is a Young Adult and New Adult writer who lives with her family in the insurance capital of the world. She is in a very serious, fake relationship with Adam Lambert and constantly asks her husband to wear guyliner. He still refuses. She also believes her husband is secretly an alien, disguised as a southern gentleman.

Author Links:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Screwed, by Laurie Plissner

Barnes & Noble

Flattered by the attentions of Nick, the cutest guy in school, seventeen-year-old Grace Warren, captain of the math team, lets down her guard and gets pregnant the night she loses her virginity. Hopeful that Nick will drop to one knee and propose when she breaks the baby news to him, Grace is heartbroken--Nick wants nothing to do with her.

Her best friend, Jennifer, thinks she should get an abortion, but Grace is certain that her morally upright parents will insist that she keep the baby. After she comes clean to her super-religious, strait-laced parents, they surprise her by insisting that she terminate the pregnancy to avoid humiliating the family.

But when she sees the fetus on the ultrasound, she decides she can't get rid of it. Deciding to save the tiny life growing inside of her, Grace must face the consequences of being that girl - the good girl who got knocked up.

I wasn't a fan of Plissner's previous work, Louder Than Words, but I wanted to give her another chance.  I won't do that again. 

This YA novel feels like it was written by a twelve-year-old, not an established author.  And I have a very hard time believing that staunch Pro-Lifers would suddenly want to force their daughter to have an abortion.  I am Pro-Choice and would never ever ever force someone to terminate a pregnancy.

There was a lot that was unrealistic, but what really pissed me off was all of the slut-shaming.  Why do women do that to each other?  Sex is a natural part of life.  It's healthy.  It's fun.  Yes, teen pregnancies happen.  But they don't just happen to the "bad" girls--those who have sex more than once(!).  Grace is portrayed as so.much.better than those stupid whores who got knocked up.  They're all low-class, low-GPA, unambitious leg-spreaders.  Smart girls don't get pregnant, so Grace is at a complete and total loss about how this happened!  AS IS HER DOCTOR.

I just...can't.

I'm so pissed off at this book.  I won't be reading anything else by Laurie Plissner.  EVER.

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

(Book Tour & GIVEAWAY) The Silent Swan, by Lex Keating

Barnes & Noble
Release Date: August 26, 2013
Publisher: AltWit Press

Once upon a time – better known as “now” - Gabriel Pritz reigns as king of his high school. Easy grades, perfect baseball season, a pretty date for prom—he's coasting into a golden future. Until his parents demand he cook dinner once a week. Caught between kitchen fires and ballpark withdrawal, Gabe is thrown into Tam Swann's orbit. Hostile, friendless, and stubborn, she's exactly the sort of person he'd prefer to avoid.

Tam's sphere of influence expands beyond Gabe's sad domestic skills, rapidly invading everything from his favorite game to parts of his soul he didn't know existed. It's uncomfortable, it's hard work, it's...making him a better man. And that's just what she does to people she doesn't like. The better he gets to know her, the more he has to face the truth: this sharp, heart-breaking outcast is worth fighting for. How many families, fairy tales, and felons will he go through to ride to the rescue of the bravest person he's ever met?

I absolutely, positively hated putting this book down.  I was drawn in to Keating's world immediately and loved how the characters grew throughout the story.

There were parts that seemed confusing and choppy--and I felt like I had missed something--but it didn't take away from the story.  That may be the fact that I didn't know the fairy tale behind the story until I finished the book.  It makes somewhat more sense now that I know it's a derivative.

Gabe was highly irritating at the beginning: a spoiled brat who couldn't get over himself enough to cook dinner for his family once a week.
Gabe had nightmares all week, about being chased by oven fires and flying saucepans.
A little melodramatic, aren't we?  But it totally worked in the context of the story.  Gabe is actually pretty funny, even if I didn't enjoy all of the physical fighting and "threats" to kill his brothers.
Mike stood there, staring, as she pedaled out of the neighborhood with considerable speed.  "She has really good balance."
Gabe smacked the back of his head. Hard.
"You weren't looking at her balance," he said darkly.
Perverts. They started so young these days.
My only other pet peeve in the book was the name-calling and slut-shaming.  A girl who is mean and deceptive should not be called a "ho."  A bitch?  Sure.  An asshole?  Absolutely.  But not a whore.

Gabe's strategic thinking helps him throughout the book.  Not only as a baseball coach, but also when he decides he likes Tam and wants to be with her.
Gabe needed to tackle this less like a game and more like a government grant.  Hard work, dedication, research.  This entire campaign would depend on one woman's vote.  Look out, Tam.  This candidate was coming for her.
And then he starts getting all moony-eyed over her.  It's terribly sweet.
She made his life better--not simpler, but more full--and she challenged his character.

But he still snarks about his siblings.
Brothers.  Put on this earth solely to make him look like the smart one.
I also found some great advice re: public speaking.  It's especially timely since I am starting to work on my final speech for my Toastmasters Competent Communicator designation.
A captive audience needn't be entertained, but neither are you best served by talking for the pleasure of hearing yourself.
Whether they're interested or hostile, people respond better to sincerity.  It cuts down on a lot of posturing, and it leaves you with only the important words.  Harder to hear, sometimes, but it also makes silence an effective tool.
Point taken!

I doubt I would have read this book were it not for the blog tour, so I'm very happy that I took part.

Highly recommended for fans of YA Contemporary fiction.

Lex Keating has been engaged in a passionate affair with books ever since the Velveteen Rabbit wanted to be real. She graduated from a liberal arts college with a BA in literature, and currently resides near Charleston, South Carolina, in a swamp full of barbarians and all their cats. She has been a teacher, a paralegal, a computer programmer, and a hospice caregiver. She currently divides her time between studying old fairy tales and making up new ones.

Quotes used in this review were pulled from the ARC version of this book.  Wording may have changed during the publication process.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 26, 2013

Munchkin Monday #7: Love, Mouserella

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

Mouserella misses her grandmouse, so she writes her a letter. At first she can't think of anything to say, but once she starts, the news begins to flow--she found a cat whisker at the zoo, she taught her ladybug to fetch, she made shadow puppets with Dadmouse during a blackout--and just like that, the events of the past few days come to vivid life in her letter, as does her love for Grandmouse.

Children will enjoy reading the story from top to bottom, like a real letter, and Mouserella's funny drawings and lively adventures will spark their imaginations and just might inspire them to start a correspondence of their own.

 Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Goodreads

So. Flipping. Cute!

The whole family has enjoyed reading this book over the past few days.
Boy Child is just starting to understand how much fun it is to write letters.  Both kids love getting mail, and now they can give some, too!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

ARC August: Update #4

ARC August is a meme hosted by Octavia of Read. Sleep. Repeat.  The goal is simple: read and review as many of your ARCs as you can!  I love this challenge; I usually feel overwhelmed by the number of books I need to review, and this is helping me put them in order.  (I love order.)

My goals, prioritized:
  1. Read 10 15 ARCs
  2. That will be published in August
  3. Or September
  4. And also coincide with tasks from the Nest Book Club's Summer Book Challenge

I finished two ARCs this week:

 Both books were published in August.  Both qualify for the Summer Book Challenge.

One week to go!  Let's see if I can make it to my second goal of 15 ARCs.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

Barnes & Noble

A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.

They succeeded by transforming habits.

The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation. 

I love stuff like this!

The Power of Habit created so many "aha!" moments and the desire to challenge myself.  Thanks to this book and the stories therein, I purchased a FitBit -- with which I am already completely head-over-heels in love -- to get in the habit of exercising more.  I'm more aware of my own patterns and those of my children, which I hope will make me a better parent.  And it helps to know why I crave certain things, even when I tell myself that I don't really want them.

Highly recommended.

Stacking the Shelves #11

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:


What did you add to your shelves this week?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Good as Gone, by Douglas Corleone

Barnes & Noble

Former U.S. Marshal Simon Fisk works as a private contractor, tracking down and recovering children who were kidnapped by their own estranged parents. He only has one rule: he won’t touch stranger abduction cases. He’s still haunted by the disappearance of his own daughter when she was just a child, still unsolved, and stranger kidnappings hit too close to home.

Until, that is, six-year-old Lindsay Sorkin disappears from her parents’ hotel room in Paris, and the French police deliver Simon an ultimatum: he can spend years in a French jail, or he can take the case and recover the missing girl. Simon sets out in pursuit of Lindsay and the truth behind her disappearance. 

But Lindsay’s captors did not leave an easy trail, and following it will take Simon across the continent, through the ritziest nightclubs and the seediest back alleys, into a terrifying world of international intrigue and dark corners of his past he’d rather leave well alone.

I think that three stars is being a bit generous.  It's more like a 2.75: better than okay, but not good enough to say that I liked it.

The story was compelling and I wanted to keep reading, but I was constantly rolling my eyes at the melodrama and non-stop action.  Seriously.  Simon starts off all manly and turns into an emo teenager.  He kept talking about how he hated violence, but he was constantly getting into fights with other characters.  

I have a hard time believing that all it takes is one clue or roughed-up bad guy to know the exact location where Big Bad Guy is headed.  I like action in my mysteries, but this was over-the-top.

This was a quick read, but would have been better if it were fleshed out more with another 100 or so pages.  I don't think I'll be reading anything else by this author.

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

Friday, August 23, 2013

If You Could Be Mine, by Sarah Farizan

Barnes & Noble

In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

I really, really, really wanted to love this book: how do two homosexual women in Iran fight to be together?  What a fantastic premise!

But I hated the characters.  Sahar is a total biznatch to Nasrin the majority of the time and I have no idea why they're together.  Sahar makes this monumental decision for their relationship WITHOUT CONSULTING HER GIRLFRIEND.  That really pissed me off.  I also don't understand why she didn't think about any other alternatives.  Why did she turn immediately to a sex change operation?

I dislike when books tell you what's happening instead of showing you: it bogs the story down and leaves me unsatisfied.

Were this novel put in the hands of the right editor, it would be a fantastic story.

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Doctor Who Series 1: Winter's Dawn, Season's End

Barnes & Noble

Writer Tony Lee is joined by artists such as Matthew Dow Smith, Al Davison, Blair Shedd, and Kelly Yates to bring you the last comic adventures of the 10th Doctor!

The complete 16-issue Series 1 featuring the 10th Doctor, as portrayed by David Tennant, plus the 2010 Annual are collected in this oversized hardcover.

You know what would have been really cool?  If this had been the book advertised on NetGalley.  Instead of 400 pages of the swoony 10th Doctor, I was treated to 101 pages of the 11th.  Which would be fine if that's what I wanted.  I love Amy Pond and the two stories were enjoyable, but it's not what I expected.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Don't Get Too Comfortable, by David Rakoff

Barnes & Noble

Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems 

David Rakoff takes us on a bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess. Whether he is contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the good-times-and-chicken-wings populism of Hooters Air; working as a cabana boy at a South Beach hotel; or traveling to a private island off the coast of Belize to watch a soft-core video shoot—where he is provided with his very own personal manservant—rarely have greed, vanity, selfishness, and vapidity been so mercilessly skewered. 

Somewhere along the line, our healthy self-regard has exploded into obliterating narcissism; our manic getting and spending have now become celebrated as moral virtues. 

Simultaneously a Wildean satire and a plea for a little human decency, Don’t Get Too Comfortable shows that far from being bobos in paradise, we’re in a special circle of gilded-age hell.

I don't get the hype surrounding the likes of David Rakoff and David Sedaris.  I don't find either one charming, or witty, or funny.  I read this book as part of a challenge and have no desire to read any of his other works.