Sunday, August 30, 2009

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi
Sugar Time by Jane Adams
BookSurge Publishing (PB- June 2, 2009)
"What if you got one last chance at both love and success but getting one meant giving up the other? Sugar Kane hasn't created a hit TV series in years but now she's older, wiser, and ready to prove she can still deliver - unless her young, scheming assistant doesn't steal her new show out from under her. Then Sugar faces a crisis that threatens her career, her health, and the unconditional love she's finally found, long after she stopped hoping she ever would."
Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle 
Dutton Juvenile (May 14, 2009)
"Growing up in a world of wealth and pastel-tinted entitlement, fifteen-year-old Carly has always relied on the constancy—and authenticity—of her sister, Anna. But when fourteen-year-old Anna turns plastic-perfect-pretty over the course of a single summer, everything starts to change. And there are boys involved, complicating things as boys always do. With warmth, insight, and an unparalleled gift for finding humor even in stormy situations, beloved author Lauren Myracle dives into the tumultuous waters of sisterhood and shows that even very different sisters can learn to help each other stay afloat."
The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir by Laurie Sandell
Little Brown and Company (July 29, 2009)
"Laurie Sandell grew up in awe (and sometimes in terror) of her larger-than-life father, who told jaw-dropping tales of a privileged childhood in Buenos Aires, academic triumphs, heroism during Vietnam, friendships with Kissinger and the Pope. As a young woman, Laurie unconsciously mirrors her dad, trying on several outsized personalities (Tokyo stripper, lesbian seductress, Ambien addict). Later, she lucks into the perfect job--interviewing celebrities for a top women's magazine. Growing up with her extraordinary father has given Laurie a knack for relating to the stars. But while researching an article on her dad's life, she makes an astonishing discovery: he's not the man he says he is--not even close. Now, Laurie begins to puzzle together three decades of lies and the splintered person that resulted from them--herself."

I won all these books from contests! Didn't have a busy week, but it's all good! 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Check out the Living Your Five website!

"Living Your Five is about making the world a better place, one person at a time. It's about understanding what you care about most and how you can make a positive difference in your world."
Kay Cassidy, Tera Lynn Childs, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Alyson Noël have started this AMAZING and very inspirational blog. It's called LIVING YOUR FIVE
Go check it out! You have the chance, not only to read their FIVE, but to win their books and other great prizes! 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In My Mailbox (6)

Okay, I was out of town most of last week and I didn't have internet access, so I couldn't do my In My Mailbox. So, I'm just going to add the books I got this week with the books from last week.
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren.
Mailbox Pictures, Images and Photos
Secret Society by Tom Dolby
Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott
Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
The Clique Summer collection by Lisi Harrison  
 #1 - Massie
 #2 - Dylan
 #3 - Alicia
 #4 - Kristen
 #5 - Claire
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles (signed)
Lessons From A Dead Girl by Jo Knowles (signed)
I won Secret Society from a little giveaway I saw on twitter, I won the E. Scott books from Chelsea over at the Page Flipper (along with a bamboo notebook!), I won the Clique Summer collection from teenfaze, along with two pair of flip flops, and I won Jo Knowles books (signed!) from a contest she had.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Magic Under Glass ARC contest!!

 
Coming 12/22/09 from Bloomsbury... Nimira is a music-hall girl used to dancing for pennies. So when wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing accompaniment to a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life. In Parry's world, long-buried secrets are about to stir. Unsettling rumors begin to swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry’s involvement in a group of corrupt sorcerers for whom the rules of the living and dead are meant to be broken for greater power. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing fairy gentleman is trapped within the automaton, she is determined to break the curse. But even as the two fall into a love that seems hopeless, breaking the curse becomes a perilous race against time. Because it's not just the future of these star-crossed lovers that's at stake, but the fate of the entire magical world. Want to win an ARC with original sketches from the author inside? See http://fabulousfrock.livejournal.com for details!
This book looks so interesting! Go check this contest out! :) HERE

"Charmed Thirds" Review

Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Crown (April 11, 2006)
Hardcover, 368 pages
Reading Level: YA
Jessica Darling’s in college! Things are looking up for Jessica Darling. She has finally left her New Jersey hometown/hellhole for Columbia University in New York City; she’s more into her boyfriend, Marcus Flutie, than ever (so what if he’s at a Buddhist college in California?); and she’s making new friends who just might qualify as stand-ins for her beloved best friend, Hope. But Jessica soon realizes that her bliss might not last. She lands an internship at a snarky Brooklyn-based magazine, but will she fit in with the überhip staff (and will she even want to)? As she and Marcus hit the rocks, will she end up falling for her GOPunk, neoconservative RA . . . or the hot (and married!) Spanish grad student she’s assisting on a summer project . . . or the oh-so-sensitive emo boy down the hall? Will she even make it through college now that her parents have cut her off financially? And what do the cryptic one-word postcards from Marcus really mean? With hilarious insight, the hyperobservant Jessica Darling struggles through her college years—and the summers in between—while maintaining her usual mix of wit, cynicism, and candor. 


I recently started reading the Jessica Darling series. I loved the first 2 books, Sloppy First and Second Helpings! I was really excited to start reading this book. The first part of the book was okay, but I didn't really like the rest of it.
Now, I know that the Jessica is in college, but it was just: sex, sex, and more SEX! I mean, I guess I'm still looking for those bashful guys in the stories and awkward girls, and the first kiss is always hesitant and sweet. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with sex in YA, it was just unexpected.
One part of the book, I really loved however, was when Marcus sends Jessica a couple of through a course of a couple of years, while he is away in California at a 'college' and is going through some sort of phase. On these postcards are just one word and I really like what it spells out in the end.
And all though, I think this will probably be my least favorite book of the series, it was still an okay read! I look forward to reading the other two.
Writing: 7/10
Voice: 5/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Ending: 8/10

Overall: I give this book ★★★ stars
Will have the 4th and 5th book reviews up in the next couple of weeks!
Edit: Review of Fourth Comings.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Handle With Care" Review

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Atria (March 3, 2009)
Hardcover: 496 pages

"Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?"

I think Jodi Picoult is completely amazing. I love her books. However, Handle With Care left me feeling so freakin' depressed, after I finished it. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was good for the most part.
In the book, six year old Willow O'Keefe has a disease known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which causes her bones to be brittle and fragile. Something as small as rolling over on the bed, could cause Willow to break a bone. This book definitely emphasizes on what a parent is willing to do for his/her child.
I loved how each chapter alternated between the characters POVs (as most Jodi Picoult novels do) and my favorite character was Amelia, Willow's older sister. Not only does Amelia have to deal with her sister's condition, but she's also deals with cutting and an eating disorders. I thought that she was the one of the most unique characters and I liked her witty remarks.
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 3/10
Voice: 10/10
Originality: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Overall: I give this book ✭✭✭ and half stars. I would've given it a 4 stars but the ending...But give it a try, I loved most of it!

Be expecting a few more Jodi Picoult reviews in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday. (6)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 6, 2010
I liked him first, but it doesn't matter.  I still like him.  That doesn't matter either.  Or at least, it's not supposed to. 
Why I want this: IT'S BY ELIZABETH SCOTT! 

Sunday, August 9, 2009

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (May 31, 2004) Paperback 176 pages 
Publisher: HarperFestival 

When Coraline explores her new home, she steps through a door and into another house just like her own . . . except that it's different. It's a marvelous adventure until Coraline discovers that there's also another mother and another father in the house. They want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to keep her forever!

Coraline must use all of her wits and every ounce of courage in order to save herself and return home.

I won this book at my library's summer reading program. 
Seventeen Real Girls, Real-Life Stories: True Love (June 1, 2007) Paperback 128 pages
Publisher: Hearst
From love triangles and cheaters to summer romances, these stories will touch every teen’s heart. One seventeen-year-old’s story talks of her sweetheart who joined the Army and was sent to the Middle East, and how his love letters kept their romance strong. In another, one girl learns (the hard way) how playing the field can only lead to heartache. Whether the ending is happy or sad, there is no doubt that love has changed these teens’ lives forever.
I won this book from my library's summer reading program. Short book, looked nice. 
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty (April 14, 2009) Hardcover 272 pages
Publisher: Crown
Old flames are reignited in the fifth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series. Captivated readers have followed Jessica through every step and misstep: from her life as a tormented, tart-tongued teenager to her years as a college grad stumbling toward adulthood. Now a young professional in her mid-twenties, Jess is off to a Caribbean wedding. As she rushes to her gate at the airport, she literally runs into her former boyfriend, Marcus Flutie. It’s the first time she's seen him since she reluctantly turned down his marriage proposal three years earlier–and emotions run high.  Marcus and Jessica have both changed dramatically, yet their connection feels as familiar as ever. Is their reunion just a fluke or has fate orchestrated this collision of their lives once again? Told partly from Marcus’s point of view, Perfect Fifths finally lets readers inside the mind of the one person who’s both troubled and titillated Jessica Darling for years. Expect nothing less than the satisfying conclusion fans have been waiting for, one perfect in its imperfection. . . .
I got this book from the library, I wasn't trying to get any new books, but it was one of my holds and I LOVE THE SERIES. I'm on book 3, right now!!!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (July 21, 2009) Paperback 784 pages
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books 
The cloak of inevitability hangs on the final installment of the Harry Potter series. One must die, one will live. Friends will be distinguished from foes. All will be revealed. To Rowling's great credit, she manages this finale with the flair and respect for her audience that have permeated the previous six novels, though the mood here is quite different. The story has a certain flatness that extends through much of the book. Rowling can no longer rely on diversions like Quidditch matches and trips to Hogsmead for relief; Harry has made the decision not to return to Hogwarts. Aided by Hermione and Ron, he will instead search for the remaining Horcruxes that hide pieces of Voldemorte's soul. Danger and death are in the air, but Rowling skillfully deals both out in tightly controlled bursts that are juxtaposed against periods of indecision, false leads, and even boredom as the trio try to divine their next moves. Most startling are the new elements, including the not-altogether-successful introduction of the Deathly Hallows. These magical artifacts unnecessarily up the total of things that Harry is looking for by three, and the ownership of one of the Hallows, a wand, may lead to confusion for readers at a climactic moment. More successful additions, adding depth and weight, are the multilayered revelation of Dumbledore's family history and the brilliantly handled answer to the question of Severus Snape's allegiance. Throughout, Rowling returns to and embellishes the hallmark themes of the series: the importance of parental influences, the redemptive power of sacrifice, and the strength found in love. These truths are the underpinnings of a finale that is worthy of fans' hopes and expectations. Cooper, Ilene-Booklist
I won this book in a contest! Along with a Harry Potter pin! I also have this book in hardcover.
Fade by Lisa McMann (February 10, 2009) Hardback 256 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse

SOME NIGHTMARES NEVER END.

For Janie and Cabel, real life is getting tougher than the dreams. They're just trying to carve out a little (secret) time together, but no such luck.

Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody's talking. When Janie taps into a classmate's violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open -- but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie's in way over her head, and Cabe's shocking behavior has grave consequences for them both.

Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability -- and it's bleak. Seriously, brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what's to come is way darker than she'd feared.... 

Got this from the library. I was trying not to get any new books, but it was on hold.
Wake by Lisa McMann (March 4, 2008) Hardback 224 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant.... 

Got this from the library, was trying not to get any new books, but it was on hold. 

I also got some piano books from the library! I finally, started piano lessons. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mrs. Magoo Reads!

If you would like to win NINE books, head over to Mrs. Magoo Reads! She writes extremely awesome reviews and always has wonderful posts. Go check her out & be sure to become a follower. :)
Some of the books, Sophie is giving away include.....
-Slept Away by Julie Kraut
-ARC of Castration Celebration by Jake Wizner
-ARC of The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro

Click here to enter the contest! Hurry before contest ends! 

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Fill Ins (1)

1. The Sandlot is my favorite summertime movie. 2. My favorite John Hughes movies is Pretty In Pink. 3. An animal is something I love to touch. 4. The full moon reminds me of Remus Lupin :P. 5. I should go running right now. 6. When daylight fades I am probably in my house, by that time.  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading and watching some TV, tomorrow my plans include running and Sunday, I want to to run a good race, at The Race For The Cure!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Everything Sucks" Review

Everything Sucks: Losing My Mind and Finding Myself in a High School Quest for Cool by Hannah Friedman
Publisher: HCI Teens (August 3, 2009)
Reading Level: Young Adult
256 pages (paperback)
Summary: When everything sucks, change everything . . .

And that's exactly what Hannah Friedman set out to do in an ambitious attempt to bust out of a life of obscurity and absurdity and into an alternate world of glamour, wealth, and popularity.

Being dubbed 'That Monkey Girl' by middle school bullies and being pulled out of sixth grade to live on a tour bus with her agoraphobic mother, her smelly little brother, and her father's hippie band mates convinces Hannah that she is destined for a life of freakdom.

But when she enters one of the country's most prestigious boarding schools on scholarship, Hannah transforms herself into everything she is not: cool. By senior year, she has a perfect millionaire boyfriend, a perfect GPA, a perfect designer wardrobe, and is part of the most popular clique in school, but somehow everything begins to suck far worse than when she first started. Her newfound costly drug habit, eating disorder, identity crisis, and Queen-Bee attitude lead to the unraveling of Hannah's very unusual life.

Putting her life back together will take more than a few clicks of her heels, or the perfect fit of a glass slipper, in this not-so-fairy tale of going from rock bottom to head of the class and back again.

Review: After watching Hannah Friedman's YouTube videos, I knew I had to read her memoir! I thought Everything Sucks was fantastic! Hannah Friedman writes about her life with a monkey as an older sister and being teased about it in elementary, and how she missed the first year of middle school to go on a band tour with her family. When she finally gets back to the States, Hannah is determine to not be the "monkey girl" in middle school. Only, things don't exactly go her way and she is taunted even more so. Finally, after a while, her parents decide to get her into a private school. Hannah decides that she will fit into this new school. She soon becomes popular and struggles to keep fitting in.
My favorite part was when Hannah got accepted into CitySemester. CitySemester is a program for high school students and they got to experience life in New York City. Hannah goes during her second semester of her Junior year. I just loved that Hannah was happy and got along with the people there, and the freedom she was given.
Towards the end of the book, it started to getting really depressing for me. Hannah starts struggling with drugs and eating disorders and grades...as well as a death. Then, there was the epilogue. I loved the ending to that, it was such a nice closure!
Writing: 10/10
Voice: 10/10
Cover: D+. I didn't like the cover picture but I thought the guitar was nice.
Who I liked: I loved Hannah and I also thought her mom was amazing in. She reminds me of my mother of how she's so overprotective, but she was also sarcastic and hilarious.
Wicked quote: I absolutely loved the dedication "For everyone who is sure they will never fit in. And for my parents, who taught me that it's just more fun not to."
Overall: If you are looking for a realistic young adult book, this is it!
The song that is used in the trailer, Glamourous by Fergie is the *perfect* song about the boarding school!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday. (5)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.
I am waiting on.....

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles 

Release date: August 11, 2009  Publisher: Candlewick

Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind. 

I know I don't have too long of a wait, although it will probably be on a my wishlist.

What are you waiting on??

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Monday, August 3, 2009

A BBAW Meme!!

For those of you who don't know, Book Blogger Appreciation Week is around the corner. Remember that nominations close on the 15th and everything will be a flurry of activity after that! To register your blog and nominate other blogs be sure to go to BBRW.

One of the things on the site is a meme that participants of last years BBRW or newbies can fill out. Here's mine.

1)  What has been one of the highlights of blogging for you?

I would definitely say the fact that I've found people who share my interest in books. Before I found out about the book blogging world, I didn't know a lot of people who I could talk to people about books with. Now, I have found people that can relate to the books I read and I'm able to connect with a lot of people though my blog. I also find out news about books that haven't hit the shelves yet and get to know authors better!

2)  What blogger has helped you out with your blog by answering questions, linking to you, or inspiring you?

Around the time I first started my book blog, I joined FiveAwesomeYAFans and Genevieve immediately messaged me and gave me lots of tips and answered all the questions I had about book blogging. She was the first person who actually helped me with my blog! Korianne is another person that has helped me with my blog. She is incredibly nice and she made my blog header for me. :)

3)  What one question do you have about BBAW that someone who participated last year could answer?

I would absolutely love to get involved and help out any way I can. I'm not too sure on how to go about that..

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn (paperback) April 21, 2008
Ghost story fans have a spooky treat in store with Hahn's eerie new novel. Molly, the 12-year-old narrator, and her brother Michael dislike their bratty 5-year-old stepsister Heather and resent the family move to an isolated converted church in the country. The adjourning graveyard frightens Molly, but Heather seems drawn to it. Molly discovers that the ghost of a child (Helen) who died in a fire a century ago wants to lure Heather to her doom. Molly determines to save her stepsister. In so doing, she learns that Heather's strange behavior stems from her feelings of guilt at having accidentally caused her mother's death by playing near a stove and starting a fire. Eventually, Molly wrests Heather from Helen's arms as the ghost attempts to drown them. The girls discover the skeletons of Helen's parents, and their burial finally puts to rest Helen's spirit. This is a powerful, convincing, and frightening tale. The details of everyday life quickly give way to terror. The pace never slackens. Characterization is strong, and descriptive passages set a mood of suspense. There should be a heavy demand from readers who are not "faint at heart."
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. 
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (ARC) September 3, 2009
Told from the point of view of young Sarah, the daughter of one of the first women to be accused, tried, and hanged as a witch in Salem, this novel paints a vivid and disturbing picture of Puritan New England life. Based on fact and the author's family history, the story portrays Martha, Sarah's mother, as a strong-willed nonconformist who knows she is a target of the zealots who pit family members against one another with their false accusations. All but one of the siblings end up imprisoned with their mother, and much of the story is told from the inhumane and corruptly run jail. When Martha is finally executed, her husband "would stand for all of us so that when she closed her eyes for the last time, there would be a counterweight of love against the overflowing presence of vengeance and fear."
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. 
The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll (paperback) May 1, 1999
It seems like there's no end to Irish tales depicting unhappy, squalid childhoods in crowded, working-class flats. While Brendan O'Carroll's The Mammy maintains many elements of the traditional genre--the saintly, overworked mother, the Catholic family with an enormous posse of children and any number of abusive alcoholic fathers--it's a somewhat cheerier vision of Irish youth than we've come to expect. The mammy in question, one Agnes Browne, has enough spunk to look after her brood of seven, run a fruit stand at the local open market, gossip viciously with her best friend Marion, and still daydream about dancing with a famous singer.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. 
Peter Loon by Van Reid (paperback) July 23, 2003
Peter Loon, a 17-year-old boy from backwoods Maine whose mother, Rosemund, sends him on an odd quest after the Revolutionary War. When she was a girl, Rosemund had two suitors: Silas Loon and Obed Winslow. She married Silas, but never really loved him, and when he dies in an accident in the 18th year of her marriage, she sends Peter to find Obed. The initial chapters display the same country charm that made Reid's prior books so endearing, but problems start when the author introduces several romantic subplots. Peter's first distraction is the beautiful Nora Tillage, who has been "sold" into virtual slavery by a corrupt preacher named Nathan Barrow. Peter joins a rival preacher, Zachariah Leach, to liberate the girl, but he soon finds himself disturbed by Nora's skittishness. After Peter gets mixed up with a local militia group in a muddled plot twist that includes a village uprising after several unjust arrests, Nora is replaced in his affections by the fiery Elspeth Gray. Peter is a likable if somewhat underdeveloped character.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest.
Robin Meade's Morning Sunshine! How to radiate confidence and feel it too. (ARC) September 10, 2009
Robin Meade is the poster child for confidence and self-assurance. But the anchor of Morning Express with Robin Meade wasn't always that way. In fact, there was a period in her career when she was plagued with anxiety and panic attacks. In MORNING SUNSHINE, she tells how she overcame her fear of public speaking to go on and achieve her dream of becoming a news anchor.  Robin Meade offers her own tried-and-true four-step approach to building confidence. Her trademark warm, personal style translates from the screen to the page in this book, which will give readers even more insight into the young woman who came out of nowhere to become one of the most popular news anchors on television today. 
One of the 10 books I won in a contest.
Creepers by Joanne Dahme (ARC) September 8, 2008
In this brooding debut teen chiller, 13-year-old Courtney "never had believed in wicked witches, invisible ghosts, or haunted ivy," but everything changes when she and her parents move into an 18th-century stone house adjacent a Puritan cemetery in Murmur, Mass. Gazing at the vine-draped house and trees, Courtney wonders, "What's with all the ivy?" Quickly obsessed with the equally ivy-infested cemetery, Courtney finds herself drawn to Christian and Margaret Geyer, an eccentric father and daughter intent on resolving a family mystery. As Courtney and the ethereal Margaret piece together clues from old journals and newspapers, the ivy invasion of Courtney's house becomes increasingly demonic. Frightened, but determined to help her friends, Courtney realizes spirits both visible and invisible are using her to find the missing remains of Margaret's ancestor Prudence to release an ancient spell surrounding the house. The suspense builds, but like a true gothic heroine, Courtney keeps her cool and retains just enough disbelief to prove credible amid the graveyard gloom and irrational ivy. A creepy but grounded caper.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest.
Cruel Summer by Alyson Noël (paperback) May 27, 2008 Seventeen-year-old Colby Cavendish's plans are tossed overboard when her parents decide she should spend the summer with her aunt on a remote Greek island. They are jeopardizing her hard-won spot as ultracool Amanda's "new best friend," and now that she's hooked up with hottie Levi Bonham, how is she supposed to hang on to him? Crazy Aunt Tally, who talks to her plants and sells handmade jewelry, doesn't have a cell phone, TV, or Internet access. Colby's feelings and experiences are relayed through clever, but sometimes typographically confusing, emails, journal entries, letters, postcards, and a "Cruel Summer" blog. (The island has an Internet café.) The story is one of understandable teen frustration and resentment: adults don't make sense to her, and she's insecure about her new social status. She's far away from the usual connections, electronic and otherwise, that she and many comfortably middle-class, modern American teens rely on. An islander, Yannis, complicates her feelings for Levi, and Colby finds herself becoming involved, against her will, in the rhythms and lifestyle of this charming, remote place. The protagonist's venting and observations are alternately whiny, wistful, strident, and hilarious. Despite typical teen self-obsession, Colby is likable and ultimately well intentioned. As she deals with her feelings, she blunders her way rather charmingly into a new maturity.
I won this book from Feed Your Imagination.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (ARC) August 4, 2009
An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time. 
The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul.  A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life—and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished. 
One of the 10 books I won in a contest. 
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming (Paperback) May 26, 2009 Laurel, a high-end quilt maker, sees the ghost of a little girl in her bedroom one night. When it leads her to the backyard and a dead girl in the swimming pool, the life Laurel had hoped to build in her gated Florida neighborhood with her video-game designer husband, David, and their tween daughter, Shelby, starts to fall apart. Though the police clear the drowning as accidental, it soon appears that Shelby and her friend Bet may have been involved. Bet, who lives in DeLop, Laurel's impoverished hometown, was staying over the night of the drowning and plays an increasingly important role as the truth behind the drowning comes to light. Meanwhile, Laurel's sister, Thalia, whose unconventional ways are anathema to Laurel's staid existence, comes to stay with the family and helps sort things out. Subplots abound: Laurel thinks David is having an affair, and Thalia reveals some ugly family secrets involving the death of their uncle. What makes this novel shine are its revelations about the dark side of Southern society and Thalia and Laurel's finely honed relationship, which shows just how much thicker blood is than water.
One of the 10 books I won in a contest. 
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink (ARC) August 1, 2009
An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-One good...One evil... Who will prevail? Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.  Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust. They just know they can't trust each other.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. Can't wait to read this!
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr (ARC) October 1, 2009 Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.  In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed---about God, about your family, about yourself---is transformed.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. Love Sara Zarr's books!!
Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman (ARC) August 25, 2009
Andromeda Klein has a few problems. Her hair is kind of horrible.
Her partner-in-occultism, Daisy, is dead. Her secret, estranged, much older and forbidden boyfriend-in-theory, has gone AWOL. And her mother has learned how to text. In short, things couldn't get much worse. Until they do. Daisy seems to be attempting to make contact from beyond, books are starting to disappear from the library, and then, strangely and suddenly, Andromeda's tarot readings are beginning to predict events with bizarrely literal accuracy.  Omens are everywhere. Dreams; swords; fires; hidden cards; lost, broken, and dead cell phones . . . and what is Daisy trying to tell her? In the ensuing struggle of neutral versus evil, it's Andromeda Klein against the world, modern society, demonic forces, and the "friends" of the library.
I got this book for review and I'm super excited to read this!
Far From You by Lisa Schroeder (hardcover) December 23, 2008
Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole.
Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but 
time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife. But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.Perhaps she's not so alone after all.... 
I won this book from Feed Your Imagination
Intensely Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (hardcover) June 2, 2009
Wouldn't it be great to go back to the time before Pamela got pregnant, before Patrick left for the University of Chicago, before anyone was making any big decisions about sex or college or life in general? Wouldn't it be great to get the whole gang together again, just once? But what it takes for this to happen will change Alice (and the whole gang) forever.Full of life -- the good, the bad, and the heartbreaking -- the latest Alice book reminds us all just how much can change in an instant. 
I bought this book on Monday. To read by review go HERE.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer (hardcover) May 6, 2008
In this tantalizing SF thriller, planet-hopping parasites are inserting their silvery centipede selves into human brains, curing cancer, eliminating war and turning Earth into paradise. But some people want Earth back, warts and all, especially Melanie Stryder, who refuses to surrender, even after being captured in Chicago and becoming a host for a soul called Wanderer. Melanie uses her surviving brain cells to persuade Wanderer to help search for her loved ones in the Arizona desert. When the pair find Melanie's brother and her boyfriend in a hidden rebel cell led by her uncle, Wanderer is at first hated. Once the rebels accept Wanderer, whom they dub Wanda, Wanda's whole perspective on humanity changes. While the straightforward narrative is short on detail about the invasion and its stunning aftermath, it shines with romantic intrigue, especially when a love triangle (or quadrangle?!) develops for Wanda/Melanie. I won this book from the Tome Traveler's Weblog
Special thanks to The Tome Traveler's Weblog for hosting the 100th giveaway contest, where I won 10 books! 

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