Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reading Into the New Year Challenge

Thursday, December 31, 2009 with
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I've decided just now that I am going to participate in the Reading Into the New Year challenge, hosted by Kristen of Bookworming in the 21st Century.

Here's a little something about it (taken from her blog): "Reading into the New Year!! Whether you start five minutes before midnight or hours before, you can join me in Reading into the New Year. If you have kids, you can even involve them by reading them a picture book or having the family join you. The point is to read as it turns from 2009 to 2010. Whether it's just a half hour or 5 hours.

Easy enough, and I have one more book that I want to read before the clock strikes 12 midnight on my part of the world. Right now it's 9:38 PM and I am going to start reading at 10:15 and into 2010!!

I'm planning to finish Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I'm on page 404/471 and it's relatively quiet in my house, except for the fireworks outside so I'm confident I'll finish. I'll come back and update this post later tonight...

I failed this challenge.

It was going well at first. I was reading and thinking how cool that Hawaii is one of the last places on earth to ring in the New Year and while everyone already celebrated and their party is dying down, we still starting to party here
...

I came to at 12:32 (I looked at my alarm clock on the side of my bed), my reading lamp was still on, my book laying faced down next to my pillow the corners poking my cheek, and I realized I failed. I was so sad but I went back to sleep thinking Graceling was my last read of 2009 and my first for 2010 tomorrow. And I am definitely, for sure going to finish it today and will review it soon!

New Year Read-a-Thon Wrap Up
Although I read a whole lot before the Reading into the NY challenge, I officially began the challenge that night & that's where I'll start my wrap-up.

Reading into the New Year Challenge: 30 minutes (only read till around 10:45-ish--failed the challenge)
January 1: 2 hours (finished Graceling by Kristen Cashore)
January 2: 4 hours (started Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins)
January 3: so far only only 2 hours (I hope to finish CF today)
+ read an additional 3 hours but was too tired to read the last 5 chapters of CF
January 4: 2 hours (finished CF and at 6:30 am before getting ready for work!)

Books Read in December

Michelle:
Lucan by Susan Kearney (3/5 stars)
Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (4.25/5 stars)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (4.95/5 stars)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Leslie:
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (5/5 stars)
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong (4/5 stars)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (5/5 stars)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (5/5 stars)

lucan slavetosensation hungergames goosegirl awakening tokillamockingbird









Books Bought (& delivered) in December


Michelle:
Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh
Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh
Blood Magic by Jennifer Lyon
(After I scanned some of the books I bought last month and found they weren't for me, I actually exchanged them for the 3 listed above instead.)

brandedbyfire blazeofmemory bloodmagic










Books Won (& received) from Giveaways & Gifts from Friends in December


Michelle:
Skin Game by Ava Gray (won from Book Binge)
Wild Hearts by Lori Brighton (won from Fresh Fiction)
Sleeping with the Fishes, Swimming Without a Net, Fish out of Water by MaryJanice Davidson (won from Borders True Romance)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (holiday gift from a friend)

skingame wildheart swimmingwiththefishes catchingfire










**Disclaimer: All of the books mentioned above were all either both with my own money, were given to me as a gift or won from a giveaway. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing these books--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries. All images used in this post were from author's website, publisher's website, and from Amazon. Click on an image for links of where I found the image. **
It's still about 11 hours away until the new year in my part of the world, so I'm going to take this time to reflect back on all that's happened 2009. A lot of significant firsts, lasts and everything in between happened to me in 2009 and I sincerely hope 2010 will be just as memorable!

Personal life:
-I finished my last semester as an undergrad
-I did my student teaching in my last semester of college
-I graduated with a B. Ed.
-I got my teaching license and became a certified teacher
-I'm back home and living with my parents again
-I finally got off the "rock" and went to mainland USA for the first time (visited DC, PA, NY, NJ)
-I got my first real steady job

Blog:
I started my book blog in September 2009, with the idea of doing both book and makeup reviews but the whole makeup review thing became too much of a chore and I found book reviews are a whole lot more fun to write. Books have always been my first love, so I abandoned makeup and focused solely on books. I also got my little sister (she reads as much as I do and have a lot more free time) to doing reviews, and that lightened the "burden" a bit as with my full time job I wasn't reading as much as I could. I'm still finding my niche, but I really like having a book blog and sharing my thoughts.

I'm not going to make resolutions or anything like that (because I suck as keeping them), but I will make some vague goals for the blog. In the year 2009, I was able to post at least 4 to 5 reviews a month, participate in BBAW, host a small giveaway, sign-up for book challenges for 2010, and do some semi-regular post like "Midnight Confession" and "Books I Covet." In 2010, I'm hoping to find enough time to do consistent, regular posts and participate in weekly memes. Right now, I'm planning to do a giveaway in January, review Graceling (Leslie will continue to review other YA books as well) and of course more romance book reviews. When I first started blogging, I was adamant about not doing any publisher/author-sponsored reviews (I wasn't sure I had time to read a book within a time frame and also with all the FTC hullabaloo) but I think I'm going to try participating in blog tours later on in the year (I just figured out how to sign up for them!) and I'm really excited about that.

Thank you so much to everyone who followed, took time to comment and visited our blog [semi-inconsistent] little blog--you all don't know how happy we are every time we get a new follower, read a new comment and the visitor counter number go up at the bottom of our blog. A lot to look forward to in the coming year and we can't wait to see what it'll bring up!

fireworks

Have a happy New Year's Eve everyone!!

Leslie and I wish you all the very best wishes for your happiness and good health in the year 2010!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439023483

ISBN-13: 978-0439023481
Cover Image from: Suzanne Collins' website
Source of my copy: Borrowed from my local public library
Synopsis: (from GoodReads)
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss' sister is chosen by lottery, she steps up to go in her place.


Leslie's Review:
Now, here's my review of The Hunger Games (but I think it'll pretty much have the same idea as my sister's review).

This book was full of action, suspense and romance and it achieved the goal of blending each element together throughout the story. The action coming from Katniss trying to stay alive and the suspense beig if she does survive the game. I think the romance between Katniss and her district's boy tribute, Peeta Mellark, was really cute. I think she cares about Peeta but was confused about her feelings for Gale, who was her hunting buddy and best friend as well. I think it's going to be like a love triangle thing in the next book and I can't wait to see how that will turn out (my sister and I want her to end up with Peeta). I really liked how the author wrote the story. She really did well on blending the elements of action, violence, suspense, and romance.

Sorry, it's really hard to explain why I like about this book. It's like explaining why the Harry Potter series were so great--words are just not enough. Just know I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, which speaks for itself.

See my sister's review here.


**Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from my local library. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**
Hardcover: 281 pages
Publisher: Warner Books
Language: English
ASIN: B000071K5L

Cover Image from: With Good Reason
Source of my copy: birthday present from my sister
Synopsis: (GoodReads)

Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South -- and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred.

One of the best-loved stories of all time,
To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, served as the basis of an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father -- a crusading local lawyer -- risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

Leslie's Review:
This book was a birthday gift from my sister (along with two lip glosses and the Glee CD soundtrack!). It was totally awesome that I would've put it in my all-time favorite books list if I had finished it by then.

This book was humorous, sympathetic, lovely, realistic and cute (especially the ending). The ending of this book was probably one of those satisfying ending I've read. It was surprising (when Boo Radley was revealed and you learn more about), a relief (when the news of Bob Ewell's death was announced because they didn't have to worry about him anymore), and cute (when Scout falls asleep when Atticus reads her a story then Scout tries to convince him she was listening). Because of all that, in the end, I closed it with a satisfying sigh.

I'm glad m sister got me this book (thanks, sis!) and, like her, I'm a fan of it. So, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

(Michelle: I think she completely missed the point about the significance of this book and all its deeper meanings. But I must remember she just turned 13. I'm going to have her re-read it again when she's a little older and hopefully she'll be able to glean something from it other than how cute it is, LOL.)


**Disclaimer: My sister gave me this book for my birthday. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439023483

ISBN-13: 978-0439023481
Cover Image from: Suzanne Collins' website
Source of my copy: Bought from Book Depository
Synopsis: (from GoodReads)
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss' sister is chosen by lottery, she steps up to go in her place.


Michelle's Review:
I love this book, but I seem to be at a loss for words as to why I love it so much. The storyline is hardly original. Actually, when I first started reading it, it put me in mind of this fairly old Japanese movie called Battle Royale (which was based on a book as well). However, Ms. Collins can write a story that is disturbing, all too plausible in the near future, and very addicting. Once you start reading, it's impossible to stop. I haven't had a reading experience like this since the Harry Potter series.

The writing was fantastic--the story was fast, with non-stop action and violence--with 24 teenagers trying to fight each other to the death, yes, it was very violent. I couldn't stop reading though, but if this was a movie I'd be watching it with my fingers over my eyes. I was scared the heroine, Katniss, wasn't going to survive in the next paragraph (despite knowing there's a sequel) and once or twice I cheated and read a little ahead to make sure she was still alive. Despite the violence, there were many poignant scenes in this book that I wasn't expecting. I even cried at one point (literally tears flowing down my face) and not many books can move me to tears. Believe it or not, but there is also a little romance in this book that I also wasn't expecting going in.

The author made you care about her characters, which is very important when the plot is about survival of the fittest and killing or be killed (and the heroine did kill). The story was set in the future and the world building was excellent. Basically the whole time I was reading whenever I put the book down, I'd have to pick it up again ASAP and continue reading because I had to know what will happen next--the story will grab you from the get go and you can't escape it until you read it through.

I can keep going on and on about how awesome this book is, but I'll stop here. I'm giving this book a 4.95 out of 5 stars.

You might be thinking, what?! 4.95? Yes, nitpicky reader that I am. My tiny one complaint about the book was the abrupt ending. After I finished reading and was put through that emotional, action-filled roller coaster, for it to end like that was a little anti-climactic--but this makes me more eager to read Catching Fire (the sequel to The Hunger Games).


**Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from my local library. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009 with







Michelle & Leslie
are wishing you all the Pleasures of the Holidays--filled with Warmth and Blessed by Peace.









Two Girls Reading by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1890-91

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 with
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425212866
ISBN-13: 978-0425212868
Cover Image from: Nalini Singh's Website

Source of my copy: Bought from Book Depository
Synopsis: (from GoodReads)

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of "rehabilitation"- the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was....

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion-and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities-or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation...


Michelle's Review:
Every time I'd look up a paranormal book on Amazon this book, as well as the other books in the series, always show up in the "customers who bought this item also bought" list. I avoided clicking on it and the other books because the covers are so... unappealing (or I felt a lot more so than most paranormal covers). Add to that the silly titles and, well, I wasn't in the mood to read silly paranormals.

Slave to Sensation is the first in Nalini Singh's Psy-changeling series (I believe it is also the author's debut book) and I finally gave in and looked more into the series after hearing so many readers gushing about it. Then, I didn't just buy StS but I also bought all the books in the series as well. I hope I won't regret it because while this book is good, I'm not completely in love with it. However, I'm glad to report that the story had a lot more substance than what the cheesy covers and titles imply.

I enjoyed reading about Lucas. He was a changeling and can morph into his leopard form. He was the alpha of his pack of panthers so he was tough, strong, smart, sexy and was completely devoted to the heroine--the best kind of heroes in romance. However, he had a dark, tortured past and it makes him a fascinating, complex hero. Sascha also has a tortured soul because although she was cardinal Psy (Psy with the highest potential to be the most powerful), she'd always felt that something was wrong with her and believed herself flawed. The Psy race had always prided themselves in their "perfection," achieved through Silence, where the Psy were programmed from birth not to feel emotions. Sascha, no matter how hard she tried to suppress it, feels and she had to hide it from her people her whole life or else she'll be put through rehabilitation and turned into a vegetable. I also loved the fact that the heroine, Sascha, was of mixed descent (Japanese, Caucasian, Indian), something you don't see a lot in romance. Separately, they're great characters but together they're just okay. I'm just not convinced they loved each other in the end as much as they said they do--hopefully a growth in their relationship is seen when I read the rest of the books in the series.

The secondary characters were also very interesting and added to the plot. Many of the secondary characters were screaming for their own story so much so that often I wished I was reading theirs instead of Lucas and Sascha. Maybe it was just me but it became a problem because Lucas and Sascha became less interesting and their story started to drag. I think the best part of this book was the futuristic Psy-changeling-human world the author created and I could easily lose myself in it. I want to know more, especially about the Psy, and I can't wait to read Caressed by Ice (the third book in the series) because it features a Psy hero.

There was a mystery element to the book and I enjoyed that aspect of it. The author's voice in the story was also good and readable for the most part. There were some confusion when I wasn't sure if I was reading Lucas's thoughts or Sascha's because the author goes back and forth between the two in some scenes. Overall, a good book and I can't wait to delve more into the Psy-changeling world.

4.25 out of 5 stars

Here are the other books in the series in order: (click on the covers for blurbs)







**Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

FYI: "Curl Up With A Book...And A Nook Contest"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 with
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Lauren Dane and Anya Bast are hosting a contest and the grand prize is a B&N Nook. They also have a "book-a-day" giveaway going on on both their blogs. For more information about this giveaway or to enter, click here.





**This is NOT a Michelle and Leslie's Book Picks sponsored contest.**

Monday, December 21, 2009

I absolutely love ice cream and these books are like the ice cream to my soul. In no particular order, my all time favorite books... so far!

goosegirlThe Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.



witchofblackbirdpondThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare
Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1867. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.
Elizabeth George Speare’s Newbery Award–winning novel portrays a heroine whom readers will admire for her unwavering sense of truth as well as her infinite capacity to love.
(Note: I'm reading this book in English class and even though we haven't finished it yet, I'm already in love with it!)

witchofblackbirdpondThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.



witchofblackbirdpondThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of 14 year-old Lily Owens, whose life is shaped by her blurred memory of the afternoon of her mother's accidental death.

Confused and saddened by her daily life style, Lily looks to the bees that visit her room for comfort. Things take a turn; however, when Lily's black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, chewing snuff, spits on the shoes of a white man and then refuses to apologize. Rosaleen is beaten and jailed along with Lily. T.Ray only bails out Lily, even though Rosaleen had given him at least 10 years of housekeeping and nanny duties. Outraged, Lily ends up breaking Rosaleen out of a hospital. She decides their destination is Tiburon, South Carolina because she found a small, wooden plaque with an image of a black Virgin Mary pasted on it, and the words "Tiburon, SC" carved on the back in her mother's belongings. In Tiburon, Lily sees the same Black Madonna adorning a bottle of honey at a diner. She and Rosaleen go to find the woman who makes it, August Boatwright who lives with her sisters: May who is a bit light-headed, and June who is an ardent feminist.


shadowofthewindThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1945—A great world city lies shrouded in secrets after the war, and a boy mourning the loss of his mother finds solace in his love for an extraordinary book called The Shadow of the Wind, by an author named Julian Carax. When the boy searches for Carax’s other books, it begins to dawn on him, to his horror, that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book the man has ever written. Soon the boy realizes that The Shadow of the Wind is as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget, for the mystery of its author’s identity holds the key to an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love that someone will go to any lengths to keep secret.





I hope you have (or already had) a chance to read these and enjoy them as much as I did! :)


Disclaimer: The images and blurbs used above were either taken from the wikipedia, GoodReads, GoogleReader or from the back of the book itself--click on the images for the links.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This was really hard because picking just one favorite is impossible. But I've finally put together a list of romance book favorites and I've organized the books by romance sub-genres. My self-imposed rule being I can only pick one book in each sub-genres. These are the romance books you'll find me clutching to my chest if my house ever catches on fire (God forbid!).

Literature Classic

Pride&PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighborhood, the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and upside down. Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgements lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight. This new edition includes a new introduction, updated notes, and new appendices onsocial rank and dancing in 19th-century England.


Historical

Silk&SecretsSilk and Secrets by Mary Jo Putney
Second in the Silk trilogy, Silk and Secrets follows the adventures of Lord Ross Carlisle, the calm English aristocrat who was the hero’s best friend in Silk and Shadows. It’s a reunion story for Ross and Juliet, the headstrong wife who loved and left him when they were both very young. The two of them make a perilous journey to Central Asia to see if they can rescue Juliet’s brother Ian, an army officer who was taken captive in Bokhara. In the process, they must come to terms with the past if they are to have a chance at a future together.

(Note: The blurb above is not doing this book any justice. Easily my all-time favorite historical romance novel--if I am forced to choose one book from this bunch it will probably be this one. Very highly recommended.)


Contemporary

ParadiseParadise by Judith McNaught
Corporate raider Matthew Farrell had come a long way from the poor, scruffy kid of Indiana's steel mills. A long way from the country club where, feeling like an outsider, he had dared to fall in love with a beautiful blonde named Meredith Bancroft, and known a once-in-a-lifetime passion and betrayal that still haunted his memory... Now world leaders courted him, the media watched his every move, and he was ready to move in on the Bancroft empire.

A cool, poised executive in her family's legendary department store chain, Meredith had once defied her father for the sexually magnetic Matt Farrell--and their brief, ill-fated marriage was the disastrous outcome. Now, the Bancroft firm is threatened by a hostile takeover, Meredith is forced to confront Matt. As tensions build between them, bittersweet memories rise to the surface, leaving them suspicious, restless, and uncertain. Will they be able to believe each other--and grasp the tender miracle that is before them?


Suspense


BirthrightBirthright by Nora Roberts
When five-thousand-year-old human bones are found at a construction site in the small town of Woodsboro, the news draws archaeologist Callie Dunbrook out of her sabbatical and into a whirlwind of adventure, danger, and romance. While overseeing the dig, she must try to make sense of a cloud of death and misfortune that hangs over the project--fueling rumors that the site is cursed. She must cope with the presence of her irritating-but irresistible-ex-husband, Jake. Furthermore, when a stranger claims to know a secret about her privileged Boston childhood, she is forced to question her own past as well...

(Note: This book is also my all-time Nora Roberts book as she is almost a genre onto herself.)


Paranormal


LoverAwakenedLover Awakened by J.R. Ward
A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion, and terror is his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her…


Fantasy

DaughteroftheForestDaughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...

(Note: Although this book is marketed as fantasy, there are important romantic elements in this book. It's very lovely retelling to the fairy tale The Six Swans and I recommend this book to friends who are not romance readers but are looking for a good fantasy fiction.)

As you can tell from this list, I love the "second chance at love" plot line and can read it over and over. All the books listed above I've read and re-read way too many times to count and I've read my favorite scenes from these books to the point that I memorized them. These are just my romance picks. I'll write another post that will feature Leslie's favorite reads as well as our favorite series books (can't wait for that one!).


Disclaimer: The images and blurbs used above were either taken from the author's website, Fantastic Fiction, amazon.com, the publisher's website or from the back of the book itself--click on the images for the links.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Winner for 'First Giveaway'

Sunday, December 13, 2009 with
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Since our previous winner did not email me back, we have a new winner for 'first giveaway.' Congratulations to

MarthaE

I emailed you already. Please email me back with your shipping address in the next 48 hours. If the book is unclaimed this time around, it will be just be included on our next giveaway. Thanks again everyone for entering! :D

Friday, December 11, 2009

Image from HarperCollins

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Book Blurb (from the author's website)
If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl—someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I’m as far away from normal as it gets. I'm a living science experiment—not only can I see ghosts, but I can raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever. I’m running for my life with three of my supernatural friends and we have to find someone who can help us gain our freedom back before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

So, I'm back to reading my usual genre. The Awakening is the second book in the Darkest Powers trilogy.

Chloe Saunders is on the run from the evil Edison Group. She finds out that she’s a scientific experiment and was genetically altered by these people who want to keep her hostage! But Chloe knows that these people are liars and that they just want to experiment with her. So, along with her three supernatural friends (a sorcerer, a werewolf, and a witch), they try to find a way to stop the Edison Group’s evil experiments “or die trying.”

This book really got me hooked. I finished it in three days, which was really fast--for me anyway. It began where the first book of the series, The Summoning, ended but I think this book was better because there was more suspense and excitement in this one. Chloe finally escaped the Edison Group and had to live in dirty abandoned houses to hide from them. Chloe had lots of creepy experiences that I really enjoyed reading (like when she was being attacked by zombie bats or finding a dead body in one of the houses they stayed the night in). She also had a little romance with Simon the sorcerer which was a cute read.

The thing I loved about this book was that Chloe was easy to relate to. For example, she kept on getting yelled and laughed at by her other two friends (the werewolf, Derek and the witch, Tori) and she felt offended and stupid--which is what I always feel whenever my friends that to me. Luckily, she has Simon to always cheer her up (now, if only I had a Simon to cheer me up!).

Overall, I give this book 4 stars. I really like how Kelley Armstrong writes and I can’t wait for the next one!

Here are the other books in the series. (FYI The Reckoning's release day is April 27, 2010.)







**Reviewed by Leslie**


**Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from the library. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Image from Logan Library, Utah

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

To take a break from vampires, ghosts and such, I read The Goose Girl. The story was based on the Grimm Brothers fairytale of a girl who became a goose girl before she became queen, but since I’ve never heard of that fairytale I read the story not knowing what to expect.

This book was about Ani (short for Anidora-Kilandra), the crown princess of the kingdom of Kildenree. Unfortunately, before her sixteenth birthday her father the king dies and her mother tells her of the treaty they have with the neighboring kingdom Bayern. The treaty was Ani’s betrothal to the crown prince of Bayern to ensure peace between their two kingdoms.

Ani then packs and began her journey to Bayern to meet the prince. Accompanying her were guards and Selia, her lady-in-waiting who ended up betraying her during their journey. Selia and the guards who believed that Selia should have been queen killed Ani’s faithful guards but she was able to escape into the forest.

At Bayern, Selia took the role of princess while Ani, who was in hiding, disguised herself as one of the workers that handle the geese in the palace grounds. As time went by, Ani made true friends and grew into her gifts and talents. She was able to count on her friends as supporters when she tried to tell the king of Bayern of her true identity—she told the king despite the fact that she doubted he’ll believe her.

The Goose Girl was the best book I’ve read this year! I haven’t read fairy tales in a long time and I’ve been reading way too many vampires and ghosts books. Reading this book had been refreshing. I liked the plot of the story because it was exciting. I liked how it wasn’t rushed. I liked the author’s patient voice in the telling of the story. I also really liked Ani’s character. She was patient, courageous, and determined—qualities I would love to have. I guess the lesson of the story was not to let your doubts hold you back.

I also liked Geric, the boy that Ani falls in love with. I liked how he was boyishly clumsy and yet cute. His personality reminds me of some of the boys I know in real life. His character made me laugh. I even liked Selia, the evil lady-in-waiting who was after Ani’s crown. I wasn’t expecting her to be the bad guy of the story because I really thought she was Ani’s true friend in the beginning. But when Selia began to betray Ani, I really hated her. I loved how a book can make me hate or love a character and that I root for a happy ending for Ani.

I liked everything about this book. I definitely recommend it to everyone.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

**Reviewed by Leslie**


**Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from the library. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing and reading this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

My sister (whose birthday is tomorrow... Happy Birthday Aubrey!) had a lot of fun picking the name of the winner:





First, she folded the strips with the names of those who entered.
(thank you for entering everyone!)








Then, she shook the container.









Last, she reached in and picked a name. And the winner of MBP's first giveaway is...








Andrea [Buried In Books] who won Bergdrof Blondes!
YAY!! Congratulations Andrea!!
(I've already emailed you. Please email me back your snail mail address within 48 hours and I'll mail your book to you ASAP.)



This was was a lot of fun, and hopefully I'll be able to host many more giveaways in the coming year. Thank you again everyone for entering! You didn't know how happy I was whenever I got a new entry. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

LOL!: Book Cover Models--Celebrity Look-Alike

Thursday, December 3, 2009 with
Labels:
Vampire Academy




The first time I saw this book I had to double take and look at it again. Doesn't the cover model look like Angelina Jolie or is it just me?






random magic



I saw this book around blogland a lot last month and there was just something about the girl on the cover that always reminded me of Nicole Kidman.





anastasia's secret




And doesn't this girl looks a lot like Quin (Dianna Argon) from Glee but with puffier lips?








Anyone else have a book cover that reminded them of a celebrity? Please share :)


Click on covers for links of where I found the cover art.