Monday, April 14, 2014

A Blogging Hiatus

Picture taken by me at The Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, North Carolina

With Easter right around the corner, I decided that I am going to take a brief hiatus to spend time with family and also prepare for my 4th Annual Summer Kickoff. I am so excited to share some of my favorite summertime reads with you. Plus, there will be some fantastic giveaways coming up. It will start on May 1st, so keep your eye out for it!

I will still be active on Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram if you need me. I am looking forward to warm days, beach reads, and some sunshine.  After this winter, I bet most of you are ready, too!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (45)




Undone by Cat Clarke - Thanks to Sourcebooks and NetGalley
The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy - Won a signed copy from Always With a Book - Thank you!
Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James - Thanks to Penguin and NetGalley

So what do you guys think? Have you read any of these books? Let me know! This meme is hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: The Taking by Kimberly Derting

Pages: 368
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Pub. Date: April 29, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.  Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.  Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?"
Kyra is one sixteen year old who seems to have it all. She's got a dedicated boyfriend, Austin, whom she has been friends with since they were kids. Her dad is her biggest fan and she has a bright future as a softball pitcher in college since scouts already have their eyes on her.  Her father wants more for her than to just attend the school of her and her boyfriend's choice and while discussing her future with her father in his car on the way to a pizza place to celebrate a softball victory, she gets out on the side of the road in anger.  Kyra's plans for her future include her boyfriend, Austin, whereas, her dad thinks she should branch out a bit more.  Before she knows it, she is on the side of the road disappearing in a flash of white light.  She remembers nothing after she wakes up behind a dumpster at her town's gas station.  She has no recollection of what has happened to her and starts to head home, only to find that her mother remarried, she has a baby brother, and her boyfriend is in college and is dating her best friend.  What is most alarming is the fact that it has been five years since she disappeared and she hasn't even aged one bit.  Kimberly Derting's latest novel, The Taking, is an addicting tale that fans of science fiction won't want to miss.

While Kyra was an interesting character in The Taking, she ultimately drove me nuts. I, along with her father, wanted to pull her aside and tell her to not plan her college career around a boy, even if she thinks he is the love of her life.  She needs to focus on her and her softball career, but instead makes choices that I don't necessarily agree with.  But who can rationalize with a stubborn teenager in love anyway? Kyra doesn't even get to explore the consequences of the argument with her dad since she lost five years of her life and comes back to a world that she barely recognizes.  She doesn't get to be a senior, graduate, play softball in college, or even grow up. She's stuck as a sixteen year old, whereas Austin and her best friend Cat, are twenty-one.  The only solace she finds is in Tyler, Austin's younger brother, who is now her age.

Oh, Tyler. I wanted to really like him. I did. I was hoping Derting would have created a male protagonist that could tug my heartstrings, just like Jay in The Body Finder, but I couldn't get past the fact that it was Austin's brother.  She spends the first chapter of the book completely obsessed with her relationship with Austin and then the rest of the book she is crushing on his brother, Tyler! Kyra and Tyler sort of had a case of insta-love and Tyler, apparently, has had a crush on her for years. As the story progressed, I felt like Tyler was getting himself into a lot (aliens and National Security Agency!) just for a girl that he "crushed" on as a middle schooler and watched his brother date five years ago.  Their relationship kind of seemed rushed in that sense and wasn't entirely believable. I had a hard time believing that Tyler was able to hold onto his feelings for Kyra for five years after she was missing even though she didn't give him the time of day since he was just a kid. It seems unlikely to me, so, I was not 100% invested in their relationship.

After finishing the novel, I was trying to decide if The Taking deserved 3.5 stars or 4 and what bumped me over to 4 stars is the fact that the premise is so darn interesting. An supposed alien abduction of a teenager makes for a compulsively readable tale.  Even though I wasn't feeling the relationship between Tyler and Kyra, I liked the science fiction aspects of the story.  Derting does a great job hooking the reader in and there's a lot of action in this story, which I liked. Plus, there's this whole concept of people who have been "taken" and are now "returned."  It's a fascinating premise, no doubt.

Derting ends The Taking with a cliffhanger and leaves readers with many questions, namely, why was Kyra abducted in the first place? Hopefully the next book will give us more backstory on that and answer a few major questions regarding the cliffy ending.  If you like the sci-fi genre and stories involving aliens, definitely check out The Taking this spring.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Winterspell

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand
Pub. Date: September 30, 2014


Goodreads says, "New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer. Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes. Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all. Inspired by The NutcrackerWinterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear."
Inspired by The Nutcracker? New York City, 1899? YES!  What do you guys think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Unique Books I've Read

The topic was extremely tough this week, because it had me examine the question of what makes a novel unique? I had to really think about that and I decided that for me, it could be the author's writing style, the narrator, the setting, or something I've never encountered before.  So, with that said, here are my top ten most unique books I have ever read:


1.  The Book Thief Markus Zusak - This book is narrated by Death and takes place in Nazi Germany. Enough said.

2.  The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - This series is unique to me, because I have never come across a series with such a vast and diverse fan base. My little cousin loves this series, my dad loves this series, I love this series, my neighbor loves this series…everyone loves this series.  It reaches such a wide audience and for that in itself is unique.

3.  Animal Farm by George Orwell - Although this isn't my favorite book, one can't deny its uniqueness. It's a satire against Stalin after all, so politics + art = a win.

4.  The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - Cue the teenage angst….I remember when I first read this novel in high school. I thought to myself, "I have never read anything like this before."

5.  Looking for Alaska by John Green - This Printz award winning novel felt so unique to me when I first read it a few months ago. It was meaningful, it was dark, and it was powerful. I loved how the main character was obsessed with famous people's last words and how that sort of framed the story.

6.  The Maze Runner by James Dashner- This was one of the first young adult dystopian novels I read that had me going, "Wait….what?" I was completely blown away by this book and all the twists and turns. It's very hard to put down and is action packed. Ultimately, it got me interested in young adult dystopian literature.  I am looking forward to the movie!


7.  The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe- Granted this isn't a novel, but this is no doubt one of the most unique stories I have ever read. It was my first encounter with an unreliable narrator who is unnamed, which adds to the story's creep factor.

8.  Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse - This Newbery award winning novel is set during Oklahoma's Dust Bowl and is told in the form of free verse poetry. This was the first book I had read that was told in this fashion and I thought it was really powerful and well done.

9.  The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - This book is heart wrenching! I thought it was unique because the point of view is from a girl who has tragically died and is watching her family from Heaven. I have never read a book whose narrator is in Heaven, so that felt really unique to me.

10.  The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway- This is one of my favorite novels, mostly because I am in awe of Hemingway's modern style, which is extremely unique it its own right. Iceberg theory, anyone?

So, which novels are unique to you? What do you think of my list? Let me know in the comments below. This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, so check it out! 





Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins

Pages: 464
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: April 29, 2014
Series: Sweet Evil (#1), Sweet Peril (#2)
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "It’s time.  Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the earth of the demons and their oppressive ways. The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous—especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting. When the Duke of Lust sends Anna’s great love, Kaidan Rowe, to work against her, Anna must decide how much she’s prepared to risk. In the most sensual and fast-paced installment yet, Sweet Reckoning brings all the beloved Neph together one last time to fight for their freedom."

After reading Sweet Peril, readers know that Anna has to fulfill her destiny, which isn't an easy task. She must rid the world of demons, along with the help of her father, a Duke, and her other Nephilim friends.  Also, Anna gets to be with Kaidan for real this time (FINALLY!) and their relationship gets their first major test when he has to start working against her.  We know that Kaidan is devoted to her in this book, but he is the son of the Duke of Lust and readers can't help but worry.  Plus, Kaidan's father is highly suspicious of Anna and wants to make sure she fulfilled her promise as well as test out what kind of bond Kaidan really has with her.  Lastly, there is the epic showdown between Anna and the Dukes. Wendy Higgins's final book in the Sweet trilogy, Sweet Reckoning, is an edge of your seat read that I thoroughly enjoyed.  

Just like in Sweet Peril, Anna grows in Sweet Reckoning.  We learn a little bit more about her mother in this final book and Anna continues to gain confidence.  Sometimes I feel like Anna suffers from Bella Swan syndrome from time to time, but she really holds her own for the most part in this conclusion. I like that she leans on Kaidan and her friends from time to time, but can hold her own against Kaidan's dad.

I was pleasantly surprised to see where bad boy Kaidan and good girl Anna's relationship was headed in Sweet Reckoning.  I love these two together, so I was glad that they finally had their moment.  Their relationship is tested a lot in this final novel, but readers will be pleased with the outcome.  

This is definitely an action-packed conclusion with many edge of your seat moments as well as swoon-worthy moments between Anna and Kaidan.  I am very happy with the conclusion in Sweet Reckoning. My only critique would be the final fight scene seemed a bit cliché and I did notice that the religious undertones were a bit stronger in this book. However, Anna is part angel, so I get it.

If you are looking for a paranormal romance story that is steamy, action-packed, has a hot bad boy, but doesn't involve the usual vampires, witches or werewolves, then check out Wendy Higgins's Sweet trilogy.  If you like the idea of angels and demons, good vs. evil, and temptation, then this is a series you won't want to miss.




Saturday, April 5, 2014

Stacking the Shelves and Giveaway Winner (44)




Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell - Thanks to Running Press
Fly Away by Kristin Hannah - Thanks to St. Martin's
Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan - Thanks to Book Sparks
The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford - Thanks to St. Martin's
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly - Thanks to Disney and Big Honcho Media



The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank 
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally


And the giveaway winners for Tempting Fate by Jane Green are:


#17 Jeffrey  and # 59 Deloras

Thank you to St. Martin's for allowing me to host this giveaway! 
I hope you both enjoy the book.


So what do you guys think? Have you read any of these books? Let me know! This meme is hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

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