Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review: Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook

Pages: 272 
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 5, 2012
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "From the acclaimed bestselling author of Must Love Dogs comes a winning and witty new novel about a woman who emerges from the shadow of her overbearing family and finds herself “dancing with the stars.” Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the around-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as gatekeeper to Tag at his New England seaside compound. Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman, who just happens to be having the baby he told Deirdre he never wanted. While drowning her sorrows in Tag’s expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use his massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. It’ll get her back in shape, mentally and physically. It might even get her a life of her own. Deirdre’s fifteen minutes of fame have begun. Irresistible and offbeat, Wallflower in Bloom is an original and deeply satisfying story of having the courage to take a leap into the spotlight, no matter where you land."
Deirdre Griffin is someone I immediately felt bad for.  She is her overbearing brother's assistant and all around peon.  Her brother is a famous guru that everyone fawns all over.  She even lives, along with the rest of her family, on his property in New England.  Her brother, Tag, is demanding, unappreciated and pompous; I'm not sure how Deirdre puts up with him on a daily basis as she rarely gets a say as to what happens in her own life. On one especially rough day, Deirdre finds out her on-again-off-again ex-boyfriend (who never wanted to get married or have a baby!) is doing exactly that with another girl.  He shows up at her door to tell her the news and Deirdre, rightly so, freaks out.  Later that night while intoxicated, she decides to use Tag's fan base to her her voted on Dancing with the Stars as she has always loved and enjoyed dancing.  She wants to do something for herself for once and it would be like chasing one of her dreams.  Claire Cook's Wallflower in Bloom is a quick summertime read that will have you smiling and rooting for Deirdre from the start.


Deirdre sort of reminded me of one of my favorite protagonists, Bridget Jones.  She has low self-esteem, is a tad overweight, is somewhat of a doormat, but has a funny attitude.  It takes a life-altering moment with her ex-boyfriend to make her take a chance and put herself out there.  From then on, it's a fun journey for Deirdre, especially if you are a fan of the television show, Dancing with the Stars.  My favorite part of the novel was reading about her metamorphosis, thanks to that show.


Deirdre's family in Wallflower in Bloom is quite interesting.  They all worship Tag as well and everyone seems to walk on eggshells around him.  I hated the way he treated Deirdre and I had a hard time with their banter.  They actually sounded like middle school students.  For me, it was one of the annoying aspects of the book. They are grown adults saying things that I know my middle school students say back and forth when they are picking on each other.  That was a little bit strange and frustrated me.  


If you are looking for a quick read with short chapters that's perfect for a lovely poolside day, then Wallflower in Bloom is a must read this summer. This is especially true if you are a fan of the underdog and the protagonist finally recognizing her full potential.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Pages: 368
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction/Fantasy
Pub. Date: September 18, 2012
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister. Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay. Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him. Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste."


There are three girls that are very different from one another and will ultimately team together to seek revenge on some people who have done them wrong.  First, there's Lillia and she is always in the shadow of her best friend and ultimate mean girl, Rennie.  She's a bit of a follower and finds herself doing whatever Rennie wants.  However, when it comes to her younger sister, she is protective of her, especially with guys taking advantage of her.  Then there's Kat, Rennie's ex-best friend, and she is often mistreated by Rennie and the "popular group."  Kat has had it and wants Rennie to pay, especially since they used to be such good friends as kids and Rennie has completely written her off.  Lastly, there's Mary, who has returned to Jar Island after going through a rough childhood filled with bullying from one of the popular guys on the island.  But she's back to the island and she's different now and wants to prove it.  All three girls' paths intertwine while planning revenge on three people who have negatively impacted their lives.  Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivan's Burn for Burn is an entertaining story about friendship and revenge.


If you have read my reviews before, you know how much I worship Jenny Han. She is one of my favorite authors.  I knew I HAD to read Burn for Burn; however, this novel is entirely different than the Summer series.  This novel is much darker and focuses on achieving revenge at all costs, very Pretty Little Liars meets The Count of Monte Cristo.  Each chapter switches point of view from Lillia, Kat, and Mary. I had a hard time connecting with one of the main characters over another, which is a rarity for me. I found each girls' story to be interesting, but I wasn't overly invested in one particular character. 


All three cases of revenge are "revenge" worthy, but I really didn't connect with Lillia's case as much as the others for various reasons as I felt it wasn't as life altering as the two other cases.  On the other hand, Rennie is such a mean-girl, so I had no problem with Kat wanting her to be knocked off her pedestal a bit.  Mary's case deals with Reeve, an uber popular athlete, who tormented her as a child. Yes, he's horrible, but a lot of what the three girls did regarding him was taken too far.  After a while, I wanted the girls to move on and rise above the high school drama.  Yes, it makes for an interesting story, but it had me thinking about pay backs. Are they really worth it?


One strange thing about Burn for Burn is the fact that there is a slight supernatural/fantasy element to the novel that comes up late in the story. I knew it was coming based on some foreshadowing; however, I am not sure it fits in the story. I think Burn for Burn could have worked without it, but I could be wrong. I guess time will tell once the second book in the series comes out, which should explain that supernatural element a bit more.


If you are a fan of Pretty Little Liars or novels similar to that, you will enjoy Burn for Burn.  However, if you are looking for something similar to Han's Summer series, don't expect to find it here.  Burn for Burn takes readers down a totally different path, but it's still a fun path nonetheless.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Pages: 395
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 14, 2012
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.” The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself? A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over."

Samantha Reed has always been the go-to reliable teenager; the one her mother never had to worry about.  She spends a lot of her summer nights on her balcony looking at her next door neighbors, the Garretts.  The Garretts are the opposite of her family.  First, there are a ton of them, they are messy, lively, and there's always something going on.  Samantha lives with her mother, a senator, who is strict and her older sister, who tests her mother's boundaries. Her sister is spending the summer at the Vineyard, so that leaves just Samanatha and her mother at home.  Her mom is so preoccupied with the campaign that she is pretty much never home.  This gives Samantha a lot of time to "watch" over the Garretts.  One night Jase Garrett climbs up to her balcony and they hit it off.  Her summer changes instantly.  The one catch is that her mother hates the Garretts and has pretty much forbidden her to hangout with them.  The plot thickens as Samantha and Jase's relationship progresses and she's forced to make some tough decisions.  One thing is for sure, it's a summer to remember forever.  Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut, My Life Next Door, is a captivating summer read that will delight fans of Sarah Dessen.

Samantha is a tough main character. I found myself a little bored of her whole "vanilla" routine and compared to Jase, she sort of is overshadowed by his dynamic personality.  Once Samantha started to break out of her shell, I found her to be a little more entertaining, but she isn't one to normally press the boundaries.  Jase, on the other hand, is a fabulous character and one of my favorites in My Life Next Door.  He's such a good guy and any teenage girl would dream of having someone like him climb up to their balcony.  I can see many teenagers swooning over Jase this summer.

The Garrett family is juxtaposed by the Reeds and I can't help but love the Garrett family.  There are a ton of kids, there's always something going on, there's kids running around, etc, whereas the Reeds are pretty much fake, pretentious, and boring.  Samantha's mom is one of the most annoying parental figures that I've read in young adult literature to date.  Fitzpatrick did a great job really making us hate Samantha's mom and I was always frustrated by her antics, especially when dealing with her campaign manager.  As the story progresses, Samantha's mom starts to see the light, but for a good portion of the book, I found myself rolling my eyes at her in my true teenage fashion.

My one issue with My Life Next Door is one of the main conflicts.  It comes up pretty late in the story and I wasn't sure how I felt about it.  I almost wish that either it was introduced earlier or perhaps left out.  Let's just say it's a major conflict that could take down Samantha's mom's political career in one swift motion and it will leave Samantha in a major predicament.

My Life Next Door is reminiscent of some of my favorite summer reads by Sarah Dessen.  If you are a fan of Dessen, you will love Fitzpatrick's debut.  It has everything you are looking for in a light beach read, but also a conflict that will make readers think.  It should definitely be in your beach bag this summer.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Revel

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

Revel by Maurissa Guibord
Pub. Date: February 12, 2013


Goodreads says, "There's an island off the coast of Maine that's not on any modern map. Shrouded in mist and protected by a deadly reef, Trespass Island is home to a community of people who guard the island and its secrets from outsiders. Seventeen-year-old Delia grew up in Kansas, but has come here in search of her family and answers to her questions: Why didn't her mother ever talk about Trespass Island? Why did she fear the open water? But Delia's not welcome and soon finds herself enmeshed in a frightening and supernatural world where ancient Greek symbols adorn the buildings and secret ceremonies take place on the beach at night. Sean Gunn, a handsome young lobsterman, befriends Delia and seems willing to risk his life to protect her. But it's Jax, the coldly elusive young man she meets at the water's edge, who finally makes Delia understand the real dangers of life on the island. Delia is going to have to fight to survive. Because there are monsters here. And no one ever leaves Trespass alive."

Doesn't this one sound fantastically eerie? I am definitely looking forward to Revel. Let me know what you think!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Giveaway: The Little Women Letters


Last year I was on vacation at the Outer Banks and I read a really enjoyable novel, The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly.  It was the perfect read for vacation; plus, I am a huge fan of Little Women.  

The Little Women Letters has just come out in paperback, which is perfect for summer, and thanks to Simon and Schuster/Touchstone, I am hosting a giveaway of two copies to US/Canada readers.

If you are interested in my review of The Little Women Letters, you can check it out here or read the synopsis below:

"Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women remains as beloved today as when it was first published in 1868.  Gabrielle Donnelly’s THE LITTLE WOMEN LETTERS (On-sale June 5, 2012; Touchstone; $15.00/paperback) brings the story 150 years into the future through the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants—three sisters living in London who are thoroughly modern and at the same time thoroughly March.  Sisters Emma, Lulu, and Sophie Atwater couldn’t be more different. They adore each other and drive each other mad in equal measure. Middle sister Lulu feels that she is the failure of the family. One day, she goes to the attic in search of a book and stumbles across a collection of letters written by her great-great grandmother Jo March. Finally, Lula feels there is someone who would understand her. It seems that Jo didn’t always adore her own sisters Meg, Beth, and Amy, and like Lulu, Jo found herself alone at a crossroads in life. As Lulu discovers hidden secrets about her ancestors, she also finds solace and guidance in Jo’s words, discovering that they share so many similarities, even though they are worlds apart. And that the fierce, undying—if sometimes infuriating—bond of sisterhood links the Atwater women today every bit as firmly as it did the March sisters all those years ago. The Little Women Letters is a warm, engaging tip of the hat to the multitudes of Little Women fans who wonder what Jo’s descendents would be like today."

Be sure to read my giveaway rules. The deadline is July 8th and to officially enter, please click the link below.  Good luck!




Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

Pages: 438
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: October 4, 20122
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books In Series: Hush, Hush and Crescendo
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past...bridged two irreconcilable worlds...faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust...and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for—and their love—forever."

Silence starts off with a bang.  We find Nora waking up in a cemetery with no memory of how she got there.  She can't remember the past few months of her life and even worse, she can't remember Patch.  As she starts to piece it all together, she realizes that she has was kidnapped by an enemy.  Her mom and Vee are happy to have her home, but aren't really helping Nora piece it all together.  She must figure out what happened to her, who her enemy is, and who the good looking boy (who seems vaguely familiar) is.  Becca Fitzpatrick's third book in the Hush, Hush series is just as entertaining and will leave fans turning the pages until Nora figures out the truth.


Nora can't remember much of anything, which at first I found frustrating, because I just wanted Vee or her mom (who, if you read my previous reviews, is my LEAST favorite character!) to clue her in.  As Nora pieces parts of the puzzle together, it became more and more entertaining.  She really tries to take matters into her own hands and is determined to do so, regardless of what her mom says.


Patch is still in Silence and Nora spends most of the book drawn to him, but she's not sure why.  Once she realizes her connection to him, things pick up again.  Scott is also in this book and his story is just as interesting as ever.  Thankfully, he tries to help Nora figure out some of the mysteries that surround her kidnapping. Of course there's still Hank, Marcie and other characters that we love to hate.  Fitzpatrick does a good job of developing the conflict in Silence and although predictable at times, I must admit I was completely absorbed. 


Fans of the series must have patience when reading Silence since Nora has amnesia and spends most of the book just trying to overcome that major obstacle.  Once readers can get past that and hold out for Nora's "ah-ha" moment, they won't be disappointed.  Silence sets us up for what I hope will be an epic ending to the series.  Finale, the final book, comes out this fall. I am excited to see how Fitzpatrick will tie up the loose ends and I'm wondering how things will come to a close for Nora and Patch.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

In My Mailbox #75

I have been on a book buying ban (unless it was a baby book!) these past few months and finally bought some great summertime reads with a gift card.  Tell me what you think! If you want to learn more about the books, I've linked the titles to the Goodreads' page.


Underworld (Abandon #2) by Meg Cabot


My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick


Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson




Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins





So what do you guys think? Have you read any of these books? Let me know! This meme is hosted by The Story Siren.    



Friday, June 15, 2012

Off to the beach.....

My favorite New Jersey beach
I'm off to the beach this weekend for some relaxation and of course, some beach reading. The weather is supposed to be nice and not too hot. Thank GOD, because I am 8.5 months pregnant and the heat/intense humidity is no longer my friend.  


This weekend I am putting My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick in my beach bag.  This book has been on my summer TBR list for awhile now and I'm excited to start it.  


Have you read it? What do you think?  


I hope everyone has a great weekend!  


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Pages: 417
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Pub. Date: October 18, 2011
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?  The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire. In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love."


Imagine a world in the future where although it may be technologically advanced, society is more like it was in the Victorian Era with a class system, fancy balls, tea parties, strict rules and strict etiquette.  This new world is called New Victoria and Nora, essentially an orphan, lives with her aunt who runs a tight ship.  She wants her to marry for money and climb the social ladder; however, Nora cares more about about history and educating herself.  One day Nora is almost kidnapped by zombies and she meets Bram, a soldier, who is "dead."  There is definitely more to Bram than meets the eye and their relationship evolves as Nora learns more and more secrets about her world.  Lia Habel's debut, Dearly, Departed, is a new take on zombies and is no doubt entertaining; however, it left me feeling rather indifferent.


I must admit that Dearly, Departed is outside of my comfort zone. I remember reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth and was completely freaked out, so I want to preface this by saying Dearly, Departed isn't a book that I would normally read.  Thankfully the zombies in this novel aren't as freaky as I expected, thanks to the technology in Nora's world.    Due to advances in science, some of the undead can hold onto their personalities, mannerisms, behaviors, etc, and that is the case with Bram.  Habel does a good job developing a connecting between Nora and Bram, but for me, it didn't work. I wasn't completely absorbed as I would have liked and it wasn't believable enough.


On the other hand, the setting is really very cool.  The year is 2195. I like how Habel is able to juxtapose advances in technology with the strict world of New Victoria.  I admired Nora for not being a typical "Victorian" female; she is feisty, determined and unconventional.  Also, I enjoyed learning more about her past, her family and the secrets surrounding New Victoria.  That is what held my interest the most in Dearly, Departed.


One of the major flaws with Dearly, Departed is the fact that are way too many first person narrators.  With each chapter, the narration would switch from Nora, Bram, and many other characters. For me, I would have rather it focused on just Nora and Bram as it got disjointed and rather spread out. I felt that this is what contributed to the fact that I felt Nora and Bram's relationship wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been.


If you are a fan of zombies, the horror genre, or dystopias, I would suggest picking up Dearly, Departed this summer.  However, if you are like me and tend to be shy about from anything that could fall under the "horror" category, I would skip Dearly, Departed as the paranormal romance aspect of the book wasn't strong enough for me to get over my disdain for zombies.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Time Between Us

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

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Pub. Date:  October 9, 2012



Goodreads says, "Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility.  As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together. Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, TIME BETWEEN US is a stunning and spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new talent in YA fiction."

* I love all things time travel, so this one really stood out for me.  I love the cover, too! Let me know what you think!



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Winner of Goddess Interrupted

And the winner of Goddess Interuppted by Aimee Carter is..............



#13 Ladette from PWNMom

Congrats, Ladette! I hope you enjoy this summer read! Thanks to Harlequin for allowing me to host this great giveaway.  

If you didn't win, check out my international giveaway for your choice of two awesome summer reads!




Friday, June 8, 2012

End of "Summer Kickoff" Feature and International Giveaway!


Thank to everyone who participated in my "Summer Kickoff" feature. I hope you had as much fun as me. I will still be reviewing many beach reads this summer, so keep your eye out for them.  


To end my feature, I am hosting a fabulous international giveaway of two of the many summertime reads that I reviewed or featured here.  One lucky international winner will win two books of their choice and of course I am adding in three of favorite beach reads to the list.....We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (which features bonus content-Conrad's letters!), Along For the Ride and The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire

Until I Die by Amy Plum

Summer in the South by Cathy Holton

Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Lies Beneath by Anne G. Brown

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

Whole Latte Life by Joanne DeMaio

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini 

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Star Shack by Lila Castle


Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Remember that if the book hasn't been published yet, you will receive it after the publication date.  This giveaway is open to international readers as long as Book Depository ships to where you live.  Since I am hosting this event, you must be a follower of my blog in order to enter.  Refer to my giveaway rules and the deadline is June 29th.  Good luck and thanks for entering!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review: The Star Shack by Lila Castle


Pages: 216
Pub. Date: June 1, 2010
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Source: Personal copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Once a perfect pair, Pete and Annabelle are separated by Annabelle's obsession with astrology. When Annabelle dares Pete to open a summer business on the beach, generating personal horoscopes, their hilarious bickering rises to a fever pitch."


Pete and Annabelle have known each other since middle school. They spend their summers at Gingerbread Beach and even though they root for opposite sports teams (Yankees/Red Soxs), they have had major crushes on each other for years. They have both been counting down the days till they can return to Gingerbread Beach for the summer again.  Except this summer is different. Annabelle has become obsessed with astrology and even uses it to help her predict the outcome of sports games.  Pete, who is not into New Age trends, does not like this new change in her at all.  This immediately creates a lot of tension, so Annabelle dares him to open a "Star Shack" on the boardwalk with the hopes that she can spend more time with Pete and prove that astrology is real.  However, the plan backfires and what was supposed to be an incredible summer starts to fall apart fast.  The Star Shack by Lila Castle is a cute summertime read that will put a smile on your face.


Annabelle is a likable character, although her obsession with astrology was over the top.  I could see why it would drive Pete nuts.  I liked their chemistry though and their witty banter.  The chapters alternated with Annabelle and Pete's point of view, which was a nice touch.  I was rooting for them to get back together from the instant they parted; they are such cute couple.  I think my middle school female students would love this book mainly for that reason.  


The setting of Gingerbread beach is also really cute.  Even though it rains there a lot, I found myself making some personal connections to the various places there, like the local coffee shop, the boardwalk, the beach, etc.  All of the places all seemed like real locations that you could encounter at any beach community.  


The Star Shack is similar to a lot of Sarah Dessen's novels, but it lacks that extra depth and spark.  Although I enjoyed The Star Shack, if you really want a summertime read that is deeper and has more character development, go with Dessen; however, if you want a quick beach read that will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face, The Star Shack won't disappoint.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Debutantes

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

Debutantes by Cora Harrison
Pub. Date: August 2, 2012



Goodreads says, "It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away. Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country. But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever."
*I've been really enjoyed historical reads lately and this one sounds really good. I also LOVED Cora Harrison's I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend, so I am excited to read this one.  What do you guys think? 



Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore


Pages: 398
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: May 15, 2012
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free—and love comes at the highest price of all. When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men—the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head."

Kitty's best friend, Cat, or Catherine Howard, is the type of girl that attracts attention, whereas Kitty is quite the opposite and remains Cat's loyal shadow.  Kitty doesn't usually mind though as Cat is one of her only friends and pretty much her only family.  While growing up, Cat doesn't follow the rules of the household. She throws wild midnight parties, disobeys her elders, spends time with boys, and is all around the "Queen of Misrule."  As they get older, Cat is sent to the court of Henry VIII and starts to live a life very different than the one that Kitty and Cat are accustomed to.  Finally, Cat sends for Kitty to come to court and as time goes by, it becomes very apparent that Cat, or Catherine Howard, will be the next Queen of England as she has stolen Henry's heart.  Kitty and Catherine try to survive amongst a crazy court and deal with Henry's ups and downs, but Catherine never plays by the rules.  There are major consequences for her choices, both good and bad.  Put simply, Gilt by Katherine Longshore is one of the best young adult historical novels I've read in a long time.


Kitty is the type of character that is easily lead by others and that drove me nuts.  One on hand, I felt badly for her as sometimes she had no choice in her decisions, because she was stuck between a rock and a hard place.  The problem with this is the fact that Catherine is a royal brat and I wanted to slap her across the face. One minute I liked her, the next minute she would do something so annoying and backstabbing that I loved to hate her.  The dynamics between Kitty and Cat were interesting nonetheless as Gilt also examines friendship and popularity.


Just when I thought I was over novels about the Tudor Era, I get sucked into Gilt.  I can confidently say now that I am NOT over this era and that Longshore has brought me back in.  What is not to love? There's major drama, backstabbing, lies, intrigue, affairs, romance, gossips, etc. Half of what occurs is unbelievable, but what is even more captivating is the fact that most of these events actually occurred.  Henry VIII is downright crazy and I loved being thrown back into his unpredictable court.  Gilt reminded me not only of how much I love this time period, but how much I miss the show The Tudors and Gilt was a nice fix.


Even though we know how things end for Catherine Howard, I was still hopelessly addicted to Gilt. I devoured it book quickly and was totally invested in Kitty's story.  I highly recommend Gilt to fans of historical fiction; you won't be disappointed.  So, if you plan on reading any historical fiction this summer, it quite simply has to be Gilt.  Katherine Longshore is one debut author that I definitely have my eye on.




*Buy Gilt
*Read a Q&A about Gilt

Sunday, June 3, 2012

In My Mailbox #74

Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook
*Thank you to Touchstone for sending me this one for review. It's high up on my summer reading list, so I can't wait to read it!
Goodreads says, "From the acclaimed bestselling author of Must Love Dogs comes a winning and witty new novel about a woman who emerges from the shadow of her overbearing family and finds herself “dancing with the stars.” Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the around-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as gatekeeper to Tag at his New England seaside compound. Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman, who just happens to be having the baby he told Deirdre he never wanted. While drowning her sorrows in Tag’s expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use his massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. It’ll get her back in shape, mentally and physically. It might even get her a life of her own. Deirdre’s fifteen minutes of fame have begun. Irresistible and offbeat, Wallflower in Bloom is an original and deeply satisfying story of having the courage to take a leap into the spotlight, no matter where you land."

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
*I am obsessed with Jenny Han. She is one of my favorite authors, so I'll read anything she writes. Thanks to NetGalley for this one.
Goodreads says, "BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY... THEY GET EVEN. Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister. Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay. Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him. Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste."

So what do you guys think? Have you read any of these books? Let me know! This meme is hosted by The Story Siren.    


Friday, June 1, 2012

April/May Confessions

Avalon, NJ- picture from travel.yahoo.com
I have been so busy with baby book addict on his way, it seems I haven't had much time to read for pleasure; however, that all changed towards the end of the glorious month of May. I took a lot of time for myself to relax and read, especially when I put my feet up after a long day of teaching. 

I was even able to get away for the weekend to the beach and it was incredible! We had a major heatwave at home, so it was nice to avoid all that humidity and be where the ocean breeze is refreshing.  I can't believe it, but we only have two more weeks of school left and then it's summer vacation!

I hope everyone has been enjoying my "Summer Kickoff." I'm going to have a pretty awesome giveaway concluding my feature, so keep your eye out for that coming up soon.

Books Read in April and May:
1.  Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren  (3.5 stars)
2.  Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (4 stars)
3.  Lies Beneath by Anne G. Brown (3 stars)
4.  Until I Die by Amy Plum (4.5 stars)
5.  Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame (4 stars)
6.  Dreamless by Josephine Angelini (4.5 stars)
7.  Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson- (3.5 stars)
8.  Gilt by Katherine Longshore- Review to come!

(*Also, many baby books read and mini-reviews posted here!)


My April/May Top Five:

1. Favorite Book- Gilt by Katherine Longshore- I DEVOURED this book! Wait till you read my gushing review!

2.  Biggest Surprise- Dreamless and Until I Die are tied, because I was pleasantly surprised by both.  Many times the sophomore book in a series can leave me feeling flat, but both books were entertaining.

3.  Biggest Letdown- Lies Beneath was a let down for me; I liked the premise, but overall, I felt lukewarm about it.

4.  Favorite post- The Best Beach Reads For This Summer According to My Favorite Bloggers: Part I and Part II

5. Favorite part of April/May- My weekend at the beach!


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