Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: My To-Buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors That I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List
3. Neil Gaiman: Author of American Gods and The Graveyard Book, among others
4. Maggie Stiefvater: Author of The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys, among others

7. Maria V. Snyder: Author of The Study series and Insiders, among others

9. Sarah Ockler: Author of Bittersweet and Fixing Delilah, among others

What are some of your to-buy authors?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Keeping Secrets in Seattle by Brooke Moss

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Seattle hairstylist Violet Murphy always knew the day would come when her best friend Gabe Parker would want to settle down. She’d secretly wished it would be with her, but now that he’s chosen someone else—the prim, perfect Alicia—he wants Vi to be his best man.

Healing her broken heart isn’t easy, but when Violet meets Landon Harlow, a man who isn’t fazed by her funky style and less-than-delicate attitude, she takes a step in the right direction. Until Gabe’s fiancé’s gorgeous façade begins to crack, and Violet’s disturbing past comes back to haunt her, that is. Vi now finds herself armed with a series of lies that would break Gabe’s heart—and his engagement—if he knew their truth, and a secret from their childhood that could change everything.

With the wedding looming, her relationships unraveling, and the bachelor party of the century to plan, Violet must choose between a fresh start with Landon, or confronting her painful past and risking it all for a chance at a future with Gabe.

Book Review:
I knew as soon as I started this book, I would have a difficult time setting it down. In fact, I polished this beauty off in one sitting. Keeping Secrets in Seattle is like a cross between My Best Friend's Wedding and 13 Going On 30. The characters are flawed and realistic. Violet makes a fun, funky, and albeit frustrating protagonist. The chemistry between her and Gabe is undeniable. I felt bad for poor Landon, I felt that despite her best efforts, Violet just wasn't as into their relationship as much as Landon was (see...realistic!). One of my favorite components of Keeping Secrets in Seattle is that Violent was surrounded by two really GOOD guys! Girls, you know that a good man is hard to find. Usually when a love triangle(ish) occurs, there is a good guy and a bad guy. Both Gabe and Landon were really awesome guys. I would have a hard time choosing either of them as well! This adult contemporary was fast-paced, fun, and enjoyable. There were times where I laughed and times when I cried. I highly recommend this to fans of adult and YA contemporaries!

Thanks to Entangled Publishing for this copy
Published February 18 2013
This is my honest review.   

Favorite Quote:
"Betsy's eyes danced behind her glasses. 'We're going to an improvisational dance workshop for Valentine's Day.' 

I tried to stifle my laugh as I let myself out of the apartment. 'Wow. Sounds...incredible.'

'I'm picking up on some sarcasm,' Kim bellowed, just as I pulled the door shut behind me."

Cover Art Commentary:
How could you not love this cover?!  The curvy main character in a vintage dress, standing next to a stack of books just seems like an invitation to an interesting story. It immediately caught my eye the first time I saw it!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Things I know about Reece Malcolm:

1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.

Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.

L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.

But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?

Book Review:
The summary of this book had me intrigued at first glimpse. A daughter reuniting with her mother, whom she's never met? Sold! I also loved the idea of the daughter making a list of "known" facts about her estranged mother. I was a bit worried about the execution of the storyline, as contemporary books can be disappointing sometimes. However, I was blown away! I was captivated within the very first few pages. Spalding has created realistic, flawed, engaging characters that pull you in. Devan makes a fantastic protagonist. Despite the many misfortunes and uncertainties in her life, she keeps plugging along, making each day count. I really admired her composure. I also loved that she embraced  her talented singing ability with open arms, without being haughty. It was just a matter of fact. Her interactions with the other characters makes this character-driven novel riveting and engaging. I particularly loved the progressive relationship between Devon and Reese. I was not ready for this book to end! I really wish it was part of a series! I will definitely be picking up future books by Amy Spalding!

Favorite Quote:
"'I know, Reece keeps it all here' -she holds her hand to her heart- 'but it breaks through sometimes. I treat her like...' Kate's brow furrows. 'A wild squirrel. Yes! If you sat on your lawn every day, a squirrel would eventually trust you enough to eat out of your hand. But you have to be so still and patient.'

'Aren't all squirrels wild?' I ask. 

'Don't ruin my metaphor, Devon.'"

Cover Art Commentary:
This cover is sweet and whimsical, just like the main character Devon! 


Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

Book Review:
I first fell in love with Victoria Schwab when I read The Near Witch. Schwab has a wonderful writing style that subtly builds until you're gobbling up the pages as fast as you can read them. The Archived was no exception. This fast paced, character driven novel kept me up, devouring every word until I reached the end. I wished I had slowed down a bit and savored the story a bit more. On the up side, after completing this novel, I was REALLY EXCITED to discover that this is the first book in the series!!! I mean giddy happy excited. Ahem. My favorite characters are easily the protagonist Mackenzie and her counterpart Wesley (swoon!). Mackenzie makes for a great main character because she a flawed, easy-to-relate-to character. She makes mistakes for all the right reasons. She's kick-ass, but down-to-earth at the same time. I relished her flashbacks between Da and herself (not to be confused with her Dad). I loved the alternating story-lines. Very clever on Schwab's part. I am dying to know more about Wesley! I hope that the next book in the series focuses on him a bit more...I feel as if there's a story there begging to coming forth. My complaint about this novel is the relationship between Mackenzie and her parents. It was very disjointed, for good reason, but I would have liked to see more growth in that area. As far as world building goes, Schwab blew me away with the Outer, Narrows, and Archive (which totally exists in my mind now). I'd love to explore the Narrows and the Archives more (though we do get to see a fair amount of them). There is so much more I would like to say, but I don't want to ruin the story. I highly, highly recommend The Archived and cannot wait for book 2!!!

Favorite Quote:
"'Chop chop, Mackenzie.' Mom calls through the door. 'You know what they say -'

'I'm pretty sure no one says it but you -'  

'Up with the sun and just as bright'."

Cover Art Commentary:
I just LOVE this cover! It caught my eye immediately! The key is prominent in the cover, as it is in the story. I love the background which is subtle, but reminds me of the "archives." ;)


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Also Known As by Robin Benway

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.

Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

Book Review:
Ever since I first read The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June, I have been a huge Benway fan! So when I saw Also Known As on netgalley, I was really excited to request it (and even MORE excited to get approved)! Benway has a wholesome approach to her books that is refreshing and whimsical. Maggie is colorful main character who is sincere and humerus. I found myself wishing I knew her in real life. Her espionage background and friendship with Angelo added style and flair to the story arc. Roux was just adorable! She is a wonderfully flawed character, the perfect counterpart to Maggie. I also adored Jesse!!! I wish I had had a Jesse back in high school! What a charming young man! These three characters really make the novel sing, along with Angelo of course! It was also nice to see a genuine relationship between the main character and  her parents. I often feels that this relationship is strained or sometimes forgotten altogether in the YA genre. Overall, just a lovely story. Robin Benway is on my go-to authors list. She is just fantastic and I highly recommend her books! 

Thanks to Bloomsbury USA for this copy
To be Published February 26 2013
This is my honest review.  

Cover Art Commentary:
I haven't always been a fan of  Benway's covers, but this one is cute! I love the private school uniform and the green chalkboard background! Very original!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Temping Is Hell (Necessary Evil #1) by Cathy Yardley

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): WORST. JOB. EVER.

Kate O'Hara can't wait until this temp assignment is over. The woman who hired her is a psychotic pageant queen, her coworkers are convicts-turned-clerks, and it's so boringly corporate it makes her skin crawl. Even her sexy-as-sin boss, famed billionaire Thomas Kestrel, isn't enticement enough to keep her there. Once she makes enough to pay off her bills, she's out. Or so she thinks...


Next thing she knows, she's accidentally signed over her soul. Literally. And she's discovered Thomas's real mission: to kill thirteen bad guys in one year, in order to get his—now his and Kate’s—souls back.


From learning to boost the morale of some paper-pushing demons to navigating her way through blood-red tape, Kate has to work closely with her super-hot supervisor and get her flaky act together, before somebody clocks her out—permanently!

Book Review:
I'm sure I've mentioned this several times, but I am sucker for a good cover! I saw this baby pop-up on netgalley and I promptly requested it (then crossed my fingers). I was NOT disappointed! I feel in love with this book from page one! In the spirit of Molly Harper's Nice Girls series, Cathy Yardley delivers a evil-yet-sexy romance with a fiery heroine and a line-up of colorful characters. If I had to describe this series in one word, it would be FUN! I just adored Kate's voice. She is hilarious, impulsive, and snarky! Her counterpart Thomas is reserved, calculating, and sincere. It's hard not to root them on, despite the various obstacles that clutter their pathway. Yardley did a great job of providing a colorful back-story with ample details and dimension. It's hard not to get sucked into this story. I brought it everywhere with me...appointments, work, wherever. Anytime I had five minutes, I was reading this! I've been craving a deliciously evil book like Temping is Hell for a while. I will be continuing on with this series!

Thanks to Entangled Publishing for this copy
Published 25 2013
This is my honest review. 

Cover Art Commentary:
Yes! Yes! Yes! LOVE IT!!! Doesn't this book just look evil, yet fun?!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Jade Moon is a Fire Horse -- the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls, said to make them stubborn, willful, and far too imaginative. But while her family despairs of marrying her off, she has a passionate heart and powerful dreams, and wants only to find a way to make them come true.

Then a young man named Sterling Promise comes to their village to offer Jade Moon and her father a chance to go to America. While Sterling Promise's smooth manners couldn't be more different from her own impulsive nature, Jade Moon falls in love with him on the long voyage. But America in 1923 doesn't want to admit many Chinese, and when they are detained at Angel Island, the "Ellis Island of the West," she discovers a betrayal that destroys all her dreams. To get into America, much less survive there, Jade Moon will have to use all her stubbornness and will to break a new path . . . one as brave and dangerous as only a Fire Horse girl can imagine.

Book Review:
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I requested this ARC from Netgalley. What I discovered was a rich historical fiction novel on Chinese immigration into America in the early 20's. Wow. I can honestly say that I have not read any other book like The Fire Horse Girl before. I almost immediately connected to Jade Moon. Not understood, not willing to compromise herself, Jade Moon makes her own path in life, determined to find herself, no matter the cost. Jade Moon is fierce, intelligent, kind, and persistent. What more could you want out of a main character?! Sterling Promise and Harry both make great supporting characters in their own way. At times I would cheer on Sterling Promise, and other times Harry. What was most upsetting to me was Jade Moon's relationship with her father. Her father seemed to be a very unhappy person, which spilled out into his relationship with his daughter. I know that Chinese women are treated differently than American women, especially in the 1920's, but the disconnect in their relationship was saddening. I just adored the zodiac references and the brief glimpse into Chinese history, those were my favorite elements of The Fire Horse Girl. Overall, a fantastic piece of historical fiction!

Thanks to Scholastic Inc. for this copy
Published January 1st 2013
This is my honest review. 

Cover Art Commentary:
I just love the cover of this book. The bold backdrop with the opposing characters is just eye-catching! Their clothing adds an old world/new world touch.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reading Reflections: January 2013

Books Read:
Pantomime by Laura Lam
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington
The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis
Vintage Veronica by Erica S. Perl

Total Number of Books Read This Month: 6

Total Number of Books Read This Year: 6

Most Anticipated: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3)

Biggest Let Down: None!

Favorite Read: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3)

Highest Rank: 5

Lowest Rank: 4

Overall Reflection:
Not a shabby way to start 2013! I started this month (and year) out with an ARC of Pantomime by Laura Lam, which was a surprising jem of a book! Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill was a fun, romantic coming-of-age tale. The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington had spooky undertones which gave me goosebumps. The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken was a seriously dark dystopian novel that stuck with me for days. Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis proved to be a satisfying finale to the Universe series. While I was hoping for a more whimsical tale, Vintage Veronica by Erica S. Perl proved to be a more serious coming-of-age tale. Overall, a great start to 2013!