Sunday, July 31, 2011

100 Follower Giveaway Winner!

I'm so excited with my first giveaway and will definitely have more in the future! ^_^ First off, thank you to everyone who participated to make this giveaway a great success.  A special thanks goes to Carmel from Rabid Reads for posting about the giveaway during her Rabid Bites (18).  Once again, here is the prize, a brand new copy of C.C. Hunter's Born at Midnight.

And the winner is...

Denise Z!!!

Congratulations!  I have sent an email notifying her of her winnings.  If I receive no response within 24 hours 
I shall choose a different winner.

Update: I just received Denise's response, so congratulations to her!

Be on the lookout for future giveaways, everyone!  ^_^

Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Blogger Hop Day: July 29-31

Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTis an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!

This week's question is:

“Highlight one book you have received this week (for review, from the library, purchased at the store, etc.) that you can’t wait to dig into!”

My Answer: Another tough question! I've purchased so many great books the past week, but if I must narrow it down to a single book, it would have to be Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier.  I'm really excited about this book because it was a bestseller in Germany before it even came to the United States.  The story sounds fascinating and the cover is very beautiful.  Here is the book cover and summary from

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Awesome story, right?  And it's part of a trilogy, which means book number two will be coming out soon.  Be on the lookout for Sapphire Blue!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books Tackling "Tough" Issues

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a state that you don't have to worry about being deprived of more books as long as you're near a library.  This week's Top Ten is:

Top Ten Books Tackling "Tough" Issues

1. Shine by Lauren Myracle
Tackles: Homosexuality, intolerance, and abuse

2. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Tackles: Suicide, bullying/cyber-bullying, rape

3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Tackles: Rape, bullying, ostricization

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Tackles: Bigotry, segregation

5. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Tackles: Bullying, abuse, hazing

6. Blacksad by Juan Diaz Guarnidos and Juanjo Carnales
Tackles: Bigotry, communism, nazisim 

7. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Tackles: Drug abuse, sexuality, rape

8. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson 
Tackles: Anorexia, bulimia

9. Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Tackles: Bullying/cyber-bullying, abuse, underage drinking

10. Dear Bully by Various Authors
Tackles: Bullying

I know a lot of the books on here have been on my Top Ten before, but so many of them reflect the tough issues that need to be read, reviewed, and remembered.  Many of these titles deal with bullying, an issue that I feel needs to be brought to light more often for the sake of kids everywhere and for those who were bullied as children in some way.

Review: Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

Title:  Rival
Author:  Sara Bennett Wealer
Summary:  Brooke "I don't like Kathryn Pease. I could pretend everything's fine between us. I could be nice to her face, then trash her behind her back. But I think it's better to be honest. I don't like Kathryn, and I'm not afraid to admit it."  Kathryn "I saw a commercial where singers used their voices to shatter glass, but the whole thing is pretty much a myth. The human voice isn't that strong. Human hatred is. Anybody who doubts that should feel the hate waves coming off of Brooke Dempsey. But I don't shatter; I'm not made of glass. Anyway, the parts that break aren't on the outside."

Brooke and Kathryn used to be best friends...until the night when Brooke ruthlessly turned on Kathryn in front of everyone. Suddenly Kathryn was an outcast and Brooke was Queen B. Now, as they prepare to face off one last time, each girl must come to terms with the fact that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had.

The Dish:  There were definitely two reasons I had in mind when I chose to pick up Rival; the cover is absolutely gorgeous and the summary brought back a lot of memories.  Fortunately, my times in high school choir were some of the best times I had, and though my best friend and I were competitive, it was definitely not to the extent of Brooke and Kathryn.  I had to know what would turn two girls against each other in such a way when both shared such a love of music and performing.  What I got from the story was much deeper than a music competition between two former best friends turned heated rivals.

Kathryn and Brooke couldn't be more opposite when it comes to their lives.  Kathryn has been more of a wallflower within their high school, active while at the same time not within the spotlight.  She focuses on her schoolwork and music in order to help ease the financial burdens placed on her family.  On the other hand, Brooke has always been within the limelight at high school, mostly due to her older brothers' presence.  But there is an authority that resonates from her that has the entire school in awe of her, though not for what she is most proud of, namely music.  If not for music and then a slumber party during their junior year, it's doubtful that their paths would have really crossed, leading to their friendship.

It is when that friendship extends to Brooke's long-time best friend, Chloe, that things begin to weaken due to Kathryn's acceptance into the "A-list" circle and not spending as much time with just Brooke.  As Chloe seems to monopolize more of Kathryn's time, Brooke begins to question her relationship with Kathryn.  Their strained friendship ultimately culminates in Kathryn doing "something very bad" to Brooke which then leads to a punch in the face in front of the entire A-list at school.  And with that punch, Brooke has sent Kathryn back to the outskirts of the student body.

Now, here is where readers might start complaining about how both girls did fairly rotten things to each other, but you have to remember, these are teenage girls.  They do stupid things because they are teenagers and they don't know how to handle certain actions, slights, or behaviors.  Who didn't want to belong with the "A-list," the popular crowd in high school?  Kathryn was just one of those few that wanted to belong, and when she got the chance she did what she could to stay there.  Brooke could have explained her feelings to Kathryn about a lot of things or at least tried to be more open, but she chose to go the silent route until it built up so much she exploded.  I'm not trying to condone Kathryn's actions or Brooke's inaction rather I'm putting into perspective the reality that Wealer has created, and I do believe she has captured a part of high school life.

What I really liked about both characters is that they possess honest and real voices, each seeing the greener grass on the other side of the fence even after their friendship falls apart.  Kathryn and Brooke see what they lack within the other's life and cannot understand why that goodness isn't appreciated, such as Kathryn's loving parents or Brooke's freedom in socializing.  But when it comes to music there is no question about how much it means to either of them, and both girls do not hold back in choir.

Readers will definitely see Wealer's own love of music woven into the story, and that was what really drew me to Rival in the first place.  The use of musical terminology definitions to set up the tone of the story was a nice opening to each part whether from senior year or junior year.  While reading, I couldn't help feeling that if Brooke and Kathryn had just started talking while in choir during their junior year, just the two of them, a lot of heartache and hurt might have been avoided in the long run.  With their love of music, one would assume that Brooke might have approached Kathryn to initiate conversation, but perhaps even the high school socialite lacked courage in that regard.

Overall, Wealer delivered a great story of the trials that can occur with relationships in high school through characters that felt real and also managed to grow throughout the story.  I think most readers would enjoy Rival, and readers who have a musical background, especially while in high school, will hopefully appreciate the nostalgia as I did.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (9)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where bloggers post about all the books they have received whether in the mail, if we purchased it, or checked out from our local library.  ^_^ Once again, I'm so behind and this week's IMM includes books over the past several weeks.  Just call me the book squirrel. 

From Barnes & Noble:

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Strip Mauled edited by Esther Friesner (I so blame a fellow blogger for this, lol)

From Barnes & Noble Marketplace: 

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

From Half-Price Books:

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
(Funny thing about this trilogy is that I bought this one without realizing it was the third book, thus I had to search for the first two books.  Luckily Barnes & Noble Marketplace had both available. ^_^)

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst

That's all for my mailbox!  What did you get this past week? ^_^

Special Side Dish: Don't forget to check out my Giveaway ending July 31st!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Blogger Hop Day: July 22-25

Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTis an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!

This week's question is:

What’s the ONE GENRE that you wish you could get into, but just can’t?

My Answer: I wish I could get into more realistic fiction. For some reason, I just can't always read such titles unless they are an updated rendition such as Lara Chapman's Flawless. If it has some element of the paranormal or supernatural in it regardless of what genre be it fantasy, horror, romance, or young adult literature, I can usually get into the story. But without that element, the story line has to really draw my interest before I will check it out.  

What genre do you wish to get into but can't?  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I Believe Should Be Required Reading For Teens

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a state that you don't have to worry about being deprived of more books as long as you're near a library. ;) This week's Top Ten is:

Top Ten Books I Believe Should be Required 
Reading for Teens
(In No Particular Order)

1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - One of the most powerful books out there for teens is also one of the most challenged books as well.  There are too many people who need to read this book or others like it such as Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.

2. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White - Somehow I just imagine book clubs making good use of a book like Paranormalcy, and I think it would be a great way to get teens involved in book clubs.  There would definitely be a lot to discuss. 

3. Shine by Lauren Myracle - Although I haven't read this one yet, from what I've read in the summary and others' reviews, this would be a great book on hidden intolerance.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I know this one is a bit on the lengthy side, but I like to think this novel would help to give a more detailed account of what life was like back in the 1960's South.  

5. Flawless by Lara Chapman - So many required reading titles are so heavy and dense, it's no wonder teens avoid them like the plague.  This novel gives a much more light-hearted story and can be read right alongside Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac

6. Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley - A unique take on Beauty and the Beast that will have some teens raising their eyebrows.  I would recommend it be read with the fairy tale to see the differences in the two. 
7. The Internet Girls Trilogy by Lauren Myracle - I really cannot get enough of these books, and I think it's a great way to explore a unique way to tell a story. Teens always complain about writing, but what about writing in internet text?  I'm not saying they should be allowed to do that for school papers *can just picture her teacher friends glaring at her* but it does serve as a writing exercise.

8. The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci - Because you can find 'art' anywhere, and this graphic novel proves that the most unlikely of people can come together to do something great.

9. Watership Down by Richard Adams - As one of my favorite novels of all time, I think most people can find something to appreciate in this novel.  There's unique scenery, adventures along a perilous journey, and battles all starting out with a group of rabbits leaving their home.  I have sung it's praises before and will continue to do so in the future. 

10. Shiver, Linger, and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater - Just because everyone should read these amazing books by a wonderful author even though I'm sure most have already. ^_^

Special Side Dish: Be sure to check out my Giveaway!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review + 100 Follower Giveaway: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Title:  Born at Midnight
Author:  C.C. Hunter
Summary:  One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls--a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren't just "troubled."  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and fairies train side by side--learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie's never felt normal, but surely she doesn't belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn't complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek's a half-fae who's determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin' hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn't be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear--Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs...

The Dish:  It seems I'm giving a lot of love to Texas authors, and I'm happy to continue that love with C.C. Hunter's Born at Midnight.  Kylie Galen has just been sent to a summer camp for supernaturals, and she definitely has something to say about that.  Namely that she's at the wrong camp.  She's determined to prove to the camp leaders that's she's not one of them, but everyone seems to believe the opposite, especially when she keeps seeing the ghost of a soldier always following her.  Hard to argue with that logic that she is indeed supernatural, which makes her stuck where she is.  With a vampire and a witch for roommates that always seem to bicker with each other along with a half-fae who's very interested in her, a werewolf who knows Kylie from the past, and a sneaky shape-shifter, life at this camp is far from ordinary.

Readers have to look at Born at Midnight as an introduction to Kylie's life and the supernatural world that Hunter has created.  The story is about Kylie's journey in finding out just who and what she is as a supernatural along with meeting those who will help her in discovering that truth.  Fortunately for Kylie, she has many people who not only assist but to just have time to be a teenage supernatural.  Take Della and Miranda, the vampire and witch that she rooms with.  While Della can be a bit cold especially when it comes to Kylie's aversion to even saying the word "blood," the vampire is willing to stand up for her roommate against a troublesome she-werewolf.  Miranda is a boy-crazy witch with dyslexia that always seems to be "in-the-know" on camp news.  Readers get insight into how the vampire and witch dynamics work in this world, and despite their constant arguing, Della and Miranda are there for Kylie when she needs friends most.

Then there are the two males vying for Kylie's attention namely in Derek, the half-fae who has the ability to sense others' emotions and Lucas, the werewolf who knew Kylie from when they were children and whom she thought did a great misdeed to her.  Their dynamic in the story is...interesting to say the least.  When one is not spending time with Kylie, it seems the other is.  It doesn't seem that their "conflict" is as realized save for one confrontation when Derek and Kylie are on a "Meet Your Campmates Hour" activity when Lucas comes out of nowhere after Kylie screams when she sees a water moccasin.  As characters both males intrigue me since you have Derek's almost "boy-next-door" charm and then there is Lucas's "mysterious-speak-only-when-necessary" demeanor.  However, on a personal note, werewolves tend to trump fae with me (apologies to those who favor the fae, it's just my preference).

When you get to pacing of the story itself, it is a steady flow of Kylie's experiences both at camp, coming to grips with her parents in their divorce while she's trying to prove she's not supernatural, and also when dealing with the ghost, "Soldier Dude" as she named him.  There is a LOT going on in her life, so it's understandable that the story have a more relaxed yet inquisitive feel to it.  I definitely did not feel rushed though I did want to learn more of the different situations at Shadow Falls and involving Kylie's parents, determining whether they were supernaturals or not.

Most of the action doesn't get going until close to the end of the book, but as I mentioned before, readers should look at this book as an introduction to Kylie's world.  With Born at Midnight being the start of The Shadow Falls series, the main conflict cannot be revealed nor can the climax come at the beginning of the overall story.  Lucky for readers, Awake at Dawn is coming out in October of this year, and I'll be looking for that in stores to read more of Kylie's story.

UPDATE: The Giveaway is Closed! Check back for future giveaways!

Giveaway Time:

Now for the fun part!  To celebrate both reaching 100 Followers and also to show my love for Texas author, C.C. Hunter, I'm giving away a new copy of Born at Midnight to one of my awesome readers.  Rules are as follows:

1.  To enter please leave a comment with your paranormal of preference (werewolf, vampire, witch, fae, shapeshifter, etc.) along with your email address.
2.  You don't have to follow my blog to enter, but if you are a follower (old or new) please leave a second comment.
3.  The winner will be chosen using a random number generator on July 31st.

Good luck, everyone! ^_^

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