Friday, December 31, 2010

Michelle's Favorite YA Reads of 2010 (vlog)

Friday, December 31, 2010 with
Labels:
Happy New Year 2011 everyone! Isn't it crazy how tomorrow the start of 2011?! Well, for my last post in 2010 I am going to share with you all my favorite reads [though not necessarily published in] of 2010.

And because I made this video in early December... Well, I was partly wrong when I said no books I will read in December will knock the books I already mentioned off their top 6 positions. I didn't think I was going to find books I will LOVE as much I did the six but I did. They are:


annafrenchkiss Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
It's possibly the most romantic young adult novel I've ever read. I absolutely adored this book! Anna and St. Clair were just perfect in their imperfections. I quickly devoured the book because I wanted to get to that inevitable happily-ever-after end but when I did get to that last page I was sad that my time with Anna and St. Clair was over. Then, I immediately wanted to read the entire book all over again.




pronouncesomeone I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
This is one of those "less is more" books where the author gives the readers just enough to tell the story yet it doesn't skimp on humor, well-rounded characters, romance and substance. It has a fantastic heroine in quirky, charming Bronwen and a swoon-worthy love interest in Jared. It's light yet a very thoughtful novel about family, love and growing up. I loved the ending too because although it's not your typical happily-ever-after it's was perfect anyway.




dairyqueenDairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
D.J.'s personality and fresh voice shined throughout the book. Sometimes teen characters are so quick, so witty, so droll in their thinking and speech that it's just not plausible that this character is only 15 or 17 years old. Well, not so D.J.--she actually acts and thinks her age. I don't think I've ever run across a character like her before and I can't wait to read the sequel.





dairyqueenIf I Stay by Gayle Forman
I wasn't sure I was going to like this book when I first started because I love my happily-ever-afters and I knew it was going to be a sad book. Told mostly in flashbacks, you really get to know the characters and care for them, especially Mia. It was bittersweet and the tone was sad throughout but surprisingly not depressing. It was beautifully written novel overall, with great music references. I'm so excited for the sequel.



I highly recommend all ten books and if you, lovely reader friends, haven't checked them out yet, you simply must! Have a fun and safe New Years Eve everyone! **waving** See you all in 2011! :D

Thursday, December 30, 2010

astitchbeforedying Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Gallery

Release Date: Dec. 28, 2010
ISBN:
978-1439191392
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Amazon)
Stitching it together . . .
The Black Sheep Knitters: a fivesome with a knack for knitting—and for solving crimes.
hen Maggie Messina, owner of the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, is invited to give knitting workshops at a Berkshires spa resort, she manages to negotiate a cottage that fits all five of the Black Sheep for what promises to be a weekend of knitting bliss. But while the friends are expert at counting stitches, they haven’t counted on murder.
Guests and staff at the Crystal Lake Inn are as varied as a mixed bag of yarn, but most colorful is certainly the owner, charismatic self-help guru and former psychiatrist Dr. Max Flemming. The doctor may have told all in a revealing autobiography, but from his ex-wife to the widow of his former business partner—both employees at the inn—Max seems mired in shad­ows from his past. And when a killer strikes during a mountaintop retreat, the Black Sheep wonder what the good doctor might be hiding.
The police seem to be following the wrong thread. But while Maggie’s workshops have given the knitters a unique view of the tensions at the little inn, can they make sense of a crime that is as complexly stranded as a Fair Isle sweater? When the killer murders a second time, the Black Sheep won­der if they’ve dropped a stitch and put themselves in mortal danger. . .

Michelle's Review:
In A Stitch Before Dying (ASBD), five women make up a knitting group and they take time every week to meet, share dishes, gossip and of course knit. The book begins with Maggie announcing that she had been invited to give knitting workshops at this New Age-y spa resort and secured a cottage large enough that their knitting group can all go. And so they do. As the ladies got settled in, they met other hotel guests, employees and the most intriguing character of all, spa owner and self-help guru Dr. Max Flemming. When a guest was murdered, most of the clues point to Dr. Max and the police were ready to make their arrest. However, the ladies were not satisfied and continue to speculate the murderer's identity. When the killer strike the second time, the ladies make it their mission to piece together the clues and help the police find the true murderer before it's too late.

ASBD is the third book in Anne Canadeo's Black Sheep Knitting Mystery but it can be read as a stand-alone. Also, the author included a nice "meet the knitters" page that quickly filled me in on who was who in the group and a little bit of background info of each one. I really liked the camaraderie and easy friendship between the ladies. They were all smart and resourceful but each has a different personality and I think readers will find one or two of the ladies they can relate to. I thought the mystery was well done. The ladies did not deliberately or purposely go out looking for clues--it's pretty much just them gossiping with employees who were in-the-know and overhearing gossip from others. More times than not the clues seem to find the ladies and the possible suspects seem to just like pouring their hearts to one of the ladies. But overall there were enough clues and possible suspects to keep me guessing until the very end.

This was my first cozy mystery read and about a third into reading this book I realized I missed my darker, grittier and more dramatic romantic suspense. Although a cozy mystery isn't something I would normally pick up on my own, I thought ASBD was a fun, non-serious read that will keep you entertained and puzzling over the clues along with the ladies. I wouldn't mind picking up another cozy mystery in the near future. 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hi everyone! Gah! Leslie and I haven't posted in almost a week but we're just enjoying our winter break and reading as many books as we can before we are back in school. Anyway, for this here post, we're going to share with you all a book we recently discovered and cannot wait to read...

Why we covet this book: Since reading Real Mermaid Don't Wear Toe Rings, I've been wanting to read another mermaid book. Leslie covets it for its beautiful cover. We both love Disney's The Little Mermaid and this sounds like a fun retelling of it.

betweentheseaBetween the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore (out June 2011)
For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. Then Dosinia runs away to the mainland, and Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.






"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series I am going to be doing here. It will feature books I am very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is similar to the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. However, some of the books may already be published and others may still be in pre-order. I will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. Click on the WoW image on the left to join in!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Giveaway Alert: You can win a copy of this book HERE.

realmermaids Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Release Date: Dec. 1, 2010
ISBN:
978-1402244124
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Freak of nature takes on a whole new meaning...
If she hadn't been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?
Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.
Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?
Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?
This summer is about to get a lot more interesting...

Michelle's Review:
Our heroine in Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings was 13-year-old Jade. She finds out she's a mermaid after a crazy day at the mall where she first got her period while trying on bathing suits. If that wasn't bad enough, she bumped into a cute boy while shopping for feminine products with her dad. Jade just wanted to forget about her stressful day by taking a nice relaxing soak in the tub when she came out with scales and a tail instead. It turned out her mom was a mermaid who was washed ashore during a hurricane and was breathing air for too long that her lungs and gills changed and couldn't live as a proper mermaid anymore. But a year ago, Jade's mom mysteriously drowned and now it's just Jade and her father. Still grieving from her mom's sudden passing, Jade had to wonder if her mom was once a mermaid how could she have drowned?

There are two words to describe this middle-grade read: cute and fun. Jade was very likable and brave and she had a unique voice. I really liked that Jade was plus-sized, adorably awkward and had insecurities about herself but she didn't spend time whining about it--many young girls can definitely relate to her character. She also had a great relationship with her dad and I liked his character as well. You kind of feel for the man because he's trying his best to raise his daughter but Jade doesn't hesitate to go to him when she is in trouble and he was always there to help her. Other characters I liked were Jade's best friend Cori (she's the kind of best friend you want your heroines to have) and her crush Luke. The twist in the end was unexpected but made the ending all the more sweet. I thought the author did a good job mixing real-life "firsts" with fantasy. Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings had plenty of humor, action and a mystery. Younger girls will especially eat it up and wish for more of Jade's story. 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, December 23, 2010

WINNERS

Thursday, December 23, 2010 with
I'm here to announce the winners for our giveaways that ended earlier this month. Thank you all for entering!

ceden
The 3 lucky winners of the book Tempted by Fate by Kate Perry are...

Carol Wong
Vonda M. Reid
Donna Drymon


ceden
The 3 lucky winners of the book Duchess of Sin by Laurel McKee are...

Robin K (Intense Whisper)
Joann Downie
Cecile (cecile.smith75@y)


ahopcus
The winner of the signed Shadow Hills poster is...

Katie



Congratulations winners! I will email you all in a bit for your info or email me at chelleyreads AT gmail DOT com with your US or Canada address in the next 72 hours.

Those who didn't win this time around, don't despair. There are other giveaways you can still enter--just look on over to our left sidebar. Season's Greetings everyone! :)
Merry Christmas everyone! Today, Leslie and I are excited to have Hélène Boudreau, author of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings here on our guest posting today. Her book is already out in stores and before Hélène takes over, here is the blurb:
Freak of nature takes on a whole new meaning...

If she hadn't been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?

Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.

Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?

Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?

This summer is about to get a lot more interesting...
Doesn't that sound good? Read on for a chance to WIN Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings! Okay, without further ado, here is Hélène...

How You Celebrate the Holidays: Unusual family holiday traditions

I have a big family. So big and so scattered that we usually plan a pre-holiday get-together to avoid traveling during the iffy weather of late December. Given that I live in Canada, (the land of woolly hats, hockey and hypothermia) it’s always good to plan ahead.

This year it was my turn to host and, as it is with big families, it was next to impossible to nail down a date when everyone could make it. We finally settled on THE day—but in very early November. The pumpkins hadn’t even been composted yet and we had just packed away the flip-flops, but I was determined to make our get-together as festive as possible.

So, a fresh tree was acquired (not an easy task right after Halloween!) and we were pleasantly surprised to find tons of Christmas decorations in stores already (it was right after Halloween, after all…). As our guests arrived, we began the task of baking, broiling and basting enough food for our thirty-three invitees. Although, itty bitty problem; cooking while entertaining that many people in a smallish house means things can get a bit cramped and a LOT hot.

As the house’s temperature began to rise, everyone started to get a little bit shack-happy. The kids had already blasted through the fourteen holiday crafts I’d planned and the noise level from the card game in the living room was rising to a crescendo.


I stole a crazed glance at my husband across the crowded room. What to do? It was only 3 pm! By the time dinner came along, everyone was going to have to strip down to their underwear to stay cool. (A whole OTHER kinda party.)

My husband understood my look of despair, grabbed my brother, and hustled out of the house. No, they weren’t escaping to the peace and quiet of the nearest Home Depot—they were actually putting our pre-planned Operation: Zamboni plot into play.

Yeah, so, remember that hockey reference from earlier? Well. Canadians play hockey ALL year round. You can tell by the banks of rink snow dumped by Zambonis in arena parking lots throughout the year. And, twenty minutes later, after a quick dash to the local rink, my husband and brother returned and dumped a truckload full of that very Zamboni snow right on our front lawn.

Snowball fight!

A sure-fire way to cool things off AND get into the holiday spirit on a spring-like November afternoon.

That's awesome and quick thinking on your husband's part! We think it should definitely be a yearly family tradition. Thanks for joining us here today, Hélène, and sharing your pictures.

GIVEAWAY
Reader friends, here is your chance to win a copy of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings. Thanks to Kay and Sourcebooks, we have two copies to giveaway! Just fill out the form:


Click HERE if you can't see the form above.

Open to U.S. or Canada addresses only (no P.O. boxes). This giveaway will end on January 8. See "Special Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers. Good luck!



Here are additional information about Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings that might interest you:

*Audiobook: Dreamscape Media produced the audiobook of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings. Check it out HERE and watch to Hélène's interview HERE.

*Signed Bookplates: Also, in a fun promotion for the holidays my publisher, Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, is offering signed Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings bookplates with proof of purchase. More info HERE.

*You can find Hélène on Twitter, Facebook and on her Website.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I was reading Shelf Awareness (which, by the way, is a must-read for all book enthusiasts if you haven't check it out yet) this morning and one of the blurbs was about book covers. Me being a sucker for book covers, it got me thinking. They had a quote from Jamie Raab who is an executive v-p and publisher of Grand Central Publishing:
"Book covers are important. You go into a bookstore and what do you see? You see covers. The bookstore experience is about the design, the color, the shape, the feel. I mean when you walk into a bookstore, sometimes you're overwhelmed. But aren't you stimulated by the art? And it is art."
Many of us agree that book covers are important and definitely plays a key factor when browsing in a brick and mortar store or online like on Amazon. These days publishers, especially in the young adult genre, are coming out with the most amazing covers like these three soon-to-be released-in-2011 novels:
blessed entwined wither

My interest for these books were definitely first sparked by the beautiful covers (pretty dresses!) and I am very much highly anticipating reading these books. And yes, a book cover is definitely art and there's no question about it--they have always been in my eyes.

Have you ever bought a book just for its cover? I have, many times. Here are just three:
seachange deadtossed pronounceyou

I buy a lot of books, more books that I could ever read in a year probably because these days with my job taking up most of my time, I'm lucky if I can read one book a week. But I keep buying anyway and it's mostly just to own a particular book, to have it in my collection. However, I usually do my "research" (reading numerous reviews both good and bad, reading excerpts and extras, looking up the author, etc.) before making my purchases to make sure I'll enjoy whatever I buy. But the books above have such pretty covers that I just want them on my self so I can stare at them when I'm looking through my book collection. Now, I know book covers don't always reflect what is between its pages. Some, despite how eye-catching the covers are, doesn't reflect the story at all. Case in point (according to Leslie because I haven't read it yet), Fallen by Lauren Kate. But this doesn't stop me from being a cover whore and I'll probably keep picking up (and buying) books for their covers.

Ms. Raab goes on to say:
"I have what I call the subway test: Will a man be comfortable carrying that book? And it can go the other way. People are conscious of what they're reading and what people see them reading."
This had me think of covers I stay away from or feel I must hide when reading in public. I'm going to focus on young adult books here because romance covers are a whole 'nother story. Okay, maybe it's because I'm not that big of a paranormal reader anymore but I always find myself staying away from these type of covers:
tempted thefallen wither

If it wasn't for all the buzz these books are getting, I probably would just keep disregarding them whenever I'm browsing online or at a physical bookstore. I'm just not attracted to these type of covers.

As for reading in public, I'm generally comfortable reading most YA in public but out of the covers above Tempted, Spirit Bound, City of Bones and even Sea Change will probably leave me semi self-conscious even though they are far from romance clinch covers. You know, someone online actually "lectured" me (through a discussion and the topic was romance covers) about how I shouldn't care what others think about I'm reading and what I read is my own business and as a twenty-first century woman what other people think shouldn't bother me... Sigh. When it comes down to it, I am very conscious of what I read and what people see me reading. You know, despite of what that person said about romance novels, I have yet to see someone reading a romance with a clinch cover in public.

Reader friends, what about you? Have you ever bought a book just for its cover? Have a type of cover you stay away from? Are you conscious of what you read in public?

Friday, December 17, 2010

There were two videos for this week that we watched, we loved and had even us excited about the books more than ever. The first one is Delirium by Lauren Oliver and it's a dystopian. As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I wanted to read it. In the video, the author shares how she came up with the idea for Delirium, why she set the book in Portland, Maine and more.

I'm sure most of you have heard of Delirium. But if you haven't (and I think this book is worth looking into), here's the blurb (from Goodreads):

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Next is Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton and this book is a paranormal. Leslie is super excited for this book--she's the bigger YA paranormal reader between the both of us. Nowadays when it comes to paranormals I'm wary because most are so formulaic and Twilight-esque that it feels like I'm reading the same book over and over, the only difference being the characters' names. However, once I saw this video and looked more into the book I pretty much share Leslie's excitement. In the video, the author tells us the basic plot of the book but the highlight is when she shows us weapons from the book and how they are used to kill reapers.

Here's the blurb for Angelfire (from Goodreads):

This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Let us know what you think of the videos. If you already read one or both of the books, did they live up to your expectations? Happy Friday everyone!! :D

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book We Covet: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 with
Why we covet this book: Love the tagline "What if the love of your life is literally right in front of you?" This book just sounds like a fun contemporary read.

playinghurtSean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt (out March 2011)
According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object—an item to concentrate her emotions on. It’s supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold’s head. They’ve been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas—it’s an alphabetical order thing), but she’s never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father’s newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it’s working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking—er, focusing on—Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He’s cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.


"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series I am going to be doing here. It will feature books I am very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is similar to the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. However, some of the books may already be published and others may still be in pre-order. I will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. Click on the WoW image on the left to join in!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

Monday, December 13, 2010 with


This year I decided to participate in the Book Blogger Holiday Swap for the first time ever and I'm glad I did because it's really fun. That feeling of anticipation--it's just awesome! My package from my Secret Santa came on Saturday and I immediately ripped through the box and packaging like a little kid. And here's what was inside:

Fire by Kristin Cashore
(SQUEE!! I've been dying to read this book since I read Graceling last year.)
Paper Tweet notepad
A jar of homemade bath salts (smells like candy cane)
A sachet of lavender, mint and rosemary
A lovely card

My Secret Santa was Chris of Stuff As Dreams Are Made On... Thank you so much Chris!! I love everything! :D
secondhandcharm Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Teen

Language: English
ISBN:
978-1599905129
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Julia just graduated as her high school valedictorian, has a full ride to college in the fall and a coveted summer internship clerking for a federal judge. But when her older sister, Sophie, shows up at the graduation determined to reveal some long buried secrets, Julia's carefully constructed plans come to a halt. Instead of the summer she had painstakingly laid out, Julia follows Sophie back to Vermont, where Sophie is opening a bakery—and struggling with some secrets of her own. What follows is a summer of revelations—some heartwarming, some heartbreaking, and all slowly pointing Julia toward a new understanding of both herself and of the sister she never really knew.

Michelle's Review:
Julia just graduated from high school and in a couple of weeks she's going to start her internship with a federal judge. In the fall, she's going to attend the University of Pittsburgh on a full ride scholarship and eventually become a lawyer like her father. But all of Julia's plans were shot to hell when her much older sister Sophie came to visit. Sophie and Julia were never close, partly due to their age difference but mostly because Sophie's anger and hateful attitude--every time she comes to visit, arguments and fights always ensued between Sophie and their parents. This time was no different except Sophie was determined to reveal long-held family secrets. Intent on learning what Sophie and her parents were keeping from her, Julia decided to follow Sophie to Poultney, Vermont. But what began as a weekend stay with a sister Julia didn't really know became a summer of learning about each other, family relationships, friendship, revelations and eventually understanding.

I absolutely loved everything about this book, from the title and the simple cover to characters and plot. This book surprised me--I was expecting a scandalous secret and for the plot to go another way. Instead, I was treated to an emotional yet ultimately heartwarming story about two sisters and the journey they went through in understanding each other and themselves. Julia was a very likable narrator and I think there's some aspect to her that many girls can relate to. But my favorite character was Sophie because for the longest time in the book, like Julia, I couldn't figure her out. You're not sure whether to like her or be wary of her. In Julia's flashbacks, Sophie was very dark and angry and in the present you can tell she has this deep pain that's consuming her psychologically, emotionally and physically. I really felt for her. There was fantastic character development in this book as both Julia and Sophie were well-rounded and complex.

I also really liked many of the secondary characters like Aidan, a boy Julia befriends and who was getting over a family tragedy himself. Julia and Aidan formed a genuine friendship with nothing romantic whatsoever between them, which I thought was a welcome change. I just really liked the mood of this book and how it flowed--it was an emotional read but not so much that you get bogged down by all that was happening. This book was just a great contemporary read with wonderfully complex characters, a great small town setting and a plot that sucks you in and keeps you reading. If you're in the mood for a book about sisters and family secrets, I highly recommend The Sweetness of Salt. 5 out 5 stars

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In Our Mailbox (11/29-12/11)

Sunday, December 12, 2010 with
"In My Mailbox" is a weekly event that gives book bloggers a chance to show off their book haul for the week. It was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie and hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. Click on the link to check out what other book bloggers got in their mailbox this week and join in on the fun!

Hi everyone! Leslie and I hope you are all having a great December so far and enjoying all the holiday pre-parties, shopping and just plain pre-Christmas craziness! We missed IMM last week so we are going to play catch up. These book we received in the last two weeks and what an awesome two weeks it was. Many of the books that came, we can't wait to read! :D

My Holiday Blogger Swap package from my Secret Santa also last week but that will be on it's own separate post. But Secret Santa got a book that has been on my wish list for a very long time and I'm so happy to finally get a copy!

Okay, on to the books...

Review Books
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes (a surprise review book)
A Lot Like Love by Julie James (SQUEE!!)
Choker by Elizabeth Woods
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Entwined by Heather Dixon (SQUEE!! The cover is amazing!)
(A big THANK YOU to Erin+Berkley/NAL, Simon & Schuster and HarperTeen for sending us the books.)



Bought
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Good Girls by Laura Ruby
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (super excited for this one!!)
Heist Society by Ally Carter (impulse buy)


Won
Torment by Lauren Kate
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
(Thank you to Random Buzzers!)


What did you get this week?

Blog Tour Alert: You can read a lovely Christmas short story featuring Graham of Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus and enter to win a signed Shadow Hills poster HERE.
ahopcus We are fortunate enough to be part of the Shadow Hills Blog Tour--Shadow Hills is written by Anastasia Hopcus who is one of the nicest authors we've ever been in contact with. Today we have a Christmas short story written by Anastasia especially for this blog tour. It features one of the characters (and one of my favorite) in Shadow Hills... Graham! Also, read on for a chance to win a signed SH poster.

And now onto the story...

Ghosts of Christmas Past---Graham
San Francisco, Christmas 2009

The presents had all been opened. Mom was wearing the chunky amber necklace and earrings that Deanna had given her, and Tripod, Dee's three-legged cat, was batting at a big red bow that had fallen on the floor. Deanna was at the kitchen counter, with Jeremiah the Corgi and Pinball the mutt at her feet, waiting for food to drop. Mom and I were perched on the barstools on the other side of the island, discussing what movie to go to for our traditional Christmas Day outing.

"How about The Hurt Locker?" Deanna asked.

"For Christmas?" Mom looked up from her laptop, where she was perusing movie times.

Deanna shrugged. "I hear it's really good."


"Yeah, but a bomb disposal unit in Iraq? For Christmas?"

"Well, what would you like?"

"Avatar might be nice."

"Blue people with tails? Now there's the true meaning of Christmas," Deanna snarked. She turned to me. "What about you, Graham? What do you want to see?"

I held up my hands in surrender. "Hey, there's no way I'm getting into this. I learned my lesson three years ago with your Steven Speilberg/David Lynch argument. I'm fine with whatever."

"I guess going to a movie isn't much of a holiday tradition, is it?" Mom propped her chin on her hand.

"You been talking to Gran?" I guessed.

"Yes." Mom sighed.

"You know they say you marry a person like your mother," I said.

"You think I'm like Mrs. Edmonds?" Deanna looked at me with horror.

I laughed. "No, not you. My dad."

"Oh, God." Mom made a face. "Talk about traditional."

"Besides, we have plenty of other holiday traditions. There's going to see the lights at the Wharf. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair." I ticked them off on my fingers. "The Annual Celebration of Craftswomen fair."

"That's where I got Saundra's necklace. And it's almost as beautiful as the woman wearing it."

Dee flashed Mom a grin before she turned back to me. "But I'm sorry you missed all of them this year."

"Of course, there's always your favorite Christmas tradition---" Mom gave me a wicked grin, "Tofurkey."

"Yes, we all know how much I love the Tofurkey."

My mom's cell phone rang and she hopped off her stool with a sigh. "The clinic, of course."

She answered it with a short "What's wrong?" as she headed upstairs to take the call.

"Hopefully the plumbing hasn't stopped up like it did last year." Dee poured herself a cup of coffee and held out the pot toward me questioningly.

"Sure."

"How's it going with your dad?" Dee asked carefully as she refilled my cup and added a small splash of milk.

"Like always, I guess." I took the coffee she held out for me.

"I hope…" Deanna set down her cup on the counter and shoved one hand back through her short gray hair, then started over. "Sometimes I worry that you might feel that Saundra chose me over you by sending you to Devenish Prep." She raised her eyes to mine. "It wasn't like that. It was hard for her, taking care of me when I had that relapse and after the chemo and everything the first time, she knew what a struggle it was going to be. But Saundra would never choose anyone over you, honey."

"I remember. I was here for it the first time, too."

Deanna reached out and covered my hand with hers. "Which was all the more reason why Saundra didn't want you to have to deal with it again. It was too hard, and she felt guilty at putting you through it. And I hated you seeing me so sick. Even then we talked about whether you should go stay with Darren, but Saundra just felt you were too young to spend that much time away from her. But we knew that by sending you to Devenish, you wouldn't have to live with your dad full-time, and you'd be getting a great education."

"I know all of this, Dee." My voice came out kind of hoarse, and I cleared my throat.

"I hope so." She patted my hand again. "'Cause Saundra wouldn't put anyone else before you, ever. And neither would I."

I raised my head and looked at Dee. She was frowning, her eyes uncertain.

"You're my kid, too, Graham. You know that, don't you?"

I smiled. "Sure." I gestured toward my coffee cup. "That thing with the coffee? The way you put the milk in it without having to ask. I lived with my dad all last summer, but he wouldn't have known that I put a little bit of milk in my coffee. And I knew---I know---that you wanted what was best for me. And I wanted Mom to be there for you. I never thought she was choosing you over me. I really didn't." I stopped, then admitted, "But I did kind of feel---well, I felt bad that you didn't want my help."

Deanna raised a hand to her mouth. "Oh, Graham…no, honey. I never dreamed you'd think that. It isn't true at all. You helped me so much! Obviously more than you know. Every time you called or e-mailed me about what you were doing at school, it made me feel better. It made me more determined to get well and see what you're going to do with the rest of your life. You helped me beat the cancer all over again. I don't want you to ever, ever think I don't need you."

She came around the island and gave me a fierce hug.

"Turns out it was nothing important." My mom walked back into the room. "Just Janice feeling insecure about---" She stopped and her eyes filled with concern. "What's going on? Dee, are you crying?"

Deanna shook her head, wiping the tears from cheeks. "Don't worry. I'm fine. I was just telling Graham how much I missed him. You know how I get sometimes."

Mom looked from Dee to me.

"And I told her how I missed her but not quite as much as I missed tofurkey." I rubbed my stomach. "Can't get any of that at Devenish Prep, I'll tell you."

"I'll just bet you can't." Mom gave me a one-armed hug, then slipped her other arm around Deanna. "Merry Christmas, Graham."

"Merry Christmas, Mom." I put my arms around each of them, too. "Moms."


GIVEAWAY
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed Shadow Hills poster! Please leave your email address so we can contact you for your mailing address if you win. Ends 12/22 and US only. Good luck!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Romantic Holiday GIVEAWAY - CLOSED

Saturday, December 11, 2010 with
Labels:
CLOSED

Hi everyone! We are given the opportunity to host the Romantic Holiday Giveaway sponsored by Forever publishing (an imprint of Hachette Book Group). Three winners will win a set of the following books:



TO SIN WITH A SCOUNDREL
By Cara Elliott
Format: MASS MARKET
Price: US$6.99/CA$8.99
ISBN: 9780446541299

A TOUCH OF SCANDAL
By Jennifer Haymore
Format: MASS MARKET
Price: US$6.99/CA$8.99
ISBN: 9780446540278

BOUND TO PLEASE
By Lilli Feisty
Format: MASS MARKET
Price: US$6.99/CA$8.50
ISBN: 9780446541923

A HIGHLANDER NEVER SURRENDERS
By Paula Quinn
Format: MASS MARKET
Price: US$6.99/CA$8.50
ISBN: 9780446619134

To win a set of these very steamy reads that will sure to warm you up during cold winter nights, simply complete the form below:


If you cannot see the form, click here.

Open to U.S. or Canada addresses only (no P.O. boxes). This giveaway will end on December 31. See "Special Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers. Good luck!

Friday, December 10, 2010

secondhandcharm Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Teen

Language: English
ISBN:
9781599905112
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
In a secluded village, magic sparkles on the edges of the forest. There, a young girl named Evie possesses unusually strong powers as a healer. A gypsy's charms—no more than trinkets when worn by others—are remarkably potent when Evie ties them around her neck. Her talents, and charms, have not escaped the notice of the shy stonemason's apprentice. But Evie wants more than a quiet village and the boy next-door. When the young king's carriage arrives one day, and his footman has fallen ill, Evie might just get her chance after all . . .
Berry's debut novel garnered glowing reviews and strong sales—and now she's done it again with a beautifully woven tale to keep all readers, young and old, absolutely charmed.

Michelle's Review:
Evie, a powerful healer, lives in Maudley, a secluded village in the kingdom of Pylandrian. She just graduated from what was the equivalent to high school and she had nothing to look forward to except marriage. Evie wanted more; she dreamed of attending a university and becoming a doctor. When the king came to her village and awarded her a scholarship to the Royal University, Evie jumped at the chance to leave Maudley and chase her dreams. Accompanied by Aidan, her childhood friend and who will later become Evie's love interest in the story, she travels to Chalcedon. But what Evie thought will be an uneventful journey quickly turned into something bigger. First, Evie and Aidan were stopped by a bandit and then the ship they were on was shipwrecked. But most interestingly of all, Evie found her leviathan--her "other half" she didn't know she had. Full of twists and turns, Evie will discover secrets about her mother that changes everything she thought she knew about her family and herself.

Secondhand Charm was a light fairytale/fantasy story and I'd forgotten how fun these types of books were. Evie told the story in first-person narrative and she was your typical smart, headstrong and impulsive female character and she's easy to like. I love the unexpectedness of this book and the plot twists as both kept me turning the pages. The plot took a few unexpected turns that I didn't see coming because the blurb had me expecting something else. I also liked that this book doesn't really take itself too seriously--there were plenty of action and surprises in the plot but it was a very easy and can be read in a few hours. There were numerous secondary characters but my favorite was one of the villains. I like my villains to be more than just plain mean or evil but has an unexpected soft side too. I knew something was off about the villain's character from her actions throughout the book but it was from her that Evie learned about her mother and herself. I thought that was an interesting twist.

I quite enjoyed this light read for the most part but afterward I was left wanting a little bit more. A bit more development in the romance, the world building and back story about the leviathan, the characters--it maybe just me but it was lacking that wholeness and left me a bit unsatisfied and hungry for a bit more. But if you're in the mood for a light fairytale-esque fantasy novel, look no further than Secondhand Charm. This fast and fun read will certainly entertain you for a few hours. 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I just bought a copy of Heist Society from Borders last night because the hardcover was on sale for $5.99 and I couldn't resist. It was an impulse buy because I didn't know anything about HS other than what I read in the blurb at the store. But as soon as I got home, I looked it up and it received pretty good reviews. Now, I'm very excited and thinking of bumping it up on my TBR pile.


Here's the blurb (from Goodreads):

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster's art collection has been stolen, and he wants it returned. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s (very crooked) history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

If you have read Heist Society, please let me know what you thought of it. Was a good impulse buy? Should I bump it up the pile? Have a wonderful rest of the week everyone!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

theirondaughter Trade Paperback: 359 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Language: English
ISBN:
978-037321013
Source of my copy: I bought it
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

Leslie's Review:
Meghan has defeated Iron King Machina and has brought her little brother safely back to the mortal world. But without the help of her beloved Ash, the prince of the Winter Court, she couldn't have done it. In exchange for his help and to uphold her end of the bargain, she is being held hostage by the queen of the Winter Court (Ash's mother). The winter fey treat her coldly and brutally and she is accused of lies when she mentions the deadly iron fey--ironbound faeries that only she and Ash had seen. But Ash has been giving her the cold shoulder too, making her think what they shared was just an act to bring her to the Winter Court. Meghan can't trust anyone, but as a war looms between the Summer and Winter court and the iron fey growing stronger again, will she be able to stop it?

The Iron Daughter was an easier read than the first book Iron King. I think it's because now that the world of faeries has been introduced, we just get to the meat of the story faster and continue where Meghan's adventure left off from the first. This series just gets better and better--The Iron Daughter was as thrilling, fantastic and just plain awesome as the first (if not more!) with new characters and more surprises. The love triangle between Meghan, Ash and Puck was more developed too. As Ash seemed to pull away from Meghan, she turns to Puck. I'm Team Ash all the way and it might just be me but I can tell that even though Meghan tried really hard to like Puck as much as she liked Ash, she couldn't. I felt sorry for Puck but I know Meghan's heart belonged to Ash.

I really liked the ending of this book. I liked how it wasn't a cliffhanger ending, instead it concludes the book nicely. Still, the ending left me wanting more and I can't wait for the next book to come out. If you haven't checked out the Iron Fey series, you're missing out on an outstanding, must-read story. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, The Iron Queen. 5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, December 5, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Duchess of Sin by Laurel McKee

Sunday, December 5, 2010 with
Labels:
On the spotlight today is...




The Author: Laurel McKee

About Laurel (from the author's website)
Laurel McKee is the pen name for regency romance writer Amanda McCabe.

Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen--a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject...)

She's never since used algebra...

To read Laurel's complete bio and for more info on her books, check out her website.



The Book: Duchess of Sin
(Blurb taken from the Hachette website)

Blonde and beautiful Lady Anna Blacknall is in the mood for mischief. Entering Dublin's most notorious den of vice, she finds herself in the arms of a mysterious, emerald-eyed Irishman. And although he is masked, his tender kiss is hauntingly familiar.

Conlan McTeer, Duke of Adair, has come to Dublin to fight for a free Ireland. But he's suddenly reunited with the young Englishwoman who had once claimed his heart, and his passion turns from politics to pleasure. When their sizzling encounter brings danger to Anna's door, she must decide where her loyalties lie-and quickly. For someone will do whatever it takes to destroy Conlan... and anyone he dares to love.





Do you want to win your very own copy of Duchess of Sin?

Thanks to Anna and Hachette, I have 3 copies to give away.

To enter, fill out the form:


See "Special Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers. Good luck!

Friday, December 3, 2010

This sounds like such a fun book. I love Pride and Prejudice and I love retellings so this sounds like a winner to me. I've also been wanting to read Elizabeth Eulberg as well. Check out this really cute book trailer for Prom and Prejudice.


Here's the blurb (from Goodreads):

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

If you have read Prom and Prejudice, please let me know what you thought of it. I'm thinking of pre-ordering it. Have a wonderful Friday everyone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Tempted by Fate by Kate Perry

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 with
Labels:
On the spotlight today is...




The Author: Kate Perry

Fun Facts About Kate (from the author's website)

I'm a social butterfly. Going out? Dancing? Dinner with friends? I'm so there.

I golf. Actually, I don't just golf—I'm a golf maniac. A recent obsession, I've decided I'm destined for golf greatness. Watch out, Tiger Woods.

I cook. Really, I only cook when I have friends over. But when I cook, I cook. Herb and garlic crusted lamb, roasted chicken, steak with champagne mustard sauce... I'm also a freak who makes and freezes her own broth, fresh tomato sauce, and even bread crumbs.

For more info about Kate and her other books, visit her website.

The Book: Tempted by Fate
(Blurb taken from the Hachette website)

Willow Tarata is a Guardian who trusts no one. She hunts those who prey on the vulnerable. And she's driven by a vengeful goal-find the man who murdered her mother. Yet suddenly Willow's quarry now has her on the run... straight into the sights of San Francisco's most dangerous detective.

Three bizarre murders have Inspector Rick Ramirez baffled-and determined to uncover the truth. But to catch the real killer, he needs the help of his prime suspect, Willow Tarata, even though this fierce and sexy blonde is challenging his professional cool. And now, unless they believe in each other and trust their deepest instincts, a relentless evil will end both Willow's and Rick's life-and claim this Guardian's extraordinary powers forever...



Do you want to win your very own copy of Tempted by Fate?
Thanks to Anna and Hachette, I have 3 copies to give away.

To enter, fill out the form:


See "Special Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WINNERS

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 with
I'm here to announce the winners (chosen by random.org) for November Forever Romance. Thank you all for entering!


The 3 lucky winners of the November Forever Romance are...



The 3 winners of Stronger than Sin are...

Vicky (nhmoose99@y)
Pam S/pams00 (pams00@a)
Darkreaderd (denisetobar@y)








Congratulations winners! I already emailed so please email me (chelleyreads AT gmail DOT com) with your US or Canada address in the next 48 hours so that I can pass it on to Hachette.

Those who didn't win this time around, don't despair. There are plenty of giveaways you can enter here on the blog in December:
ceden
ceden
ceden
(a four-book giveaway!!)

... and many more!
lgriffin Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Language: English
ISBN13:
9781439152966
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Amazon)
TRACING KILLERS IS MIA VOSS’S BUSINESS. AND HER WORK JUST GOT PERSONAL.
At first, Mia Voss thinks it’s just bad luck when her already lousy day ends with a carjacking, but what seems like a random incident is followed by another sinister episode. A DNA expert, Mia has made it her mission to put away vicious criminals. Suddenly, she’s become the target of one. And the only way to protect the people she loves most is to deliberately destroy her reputation and risk letting a killer walk free.
Once, Mia trusted Detective Ric Santos, but that was before Ric let his turbulent past ruin his chances with Mia, the sexiest, most intriguing woman he’s ever met. But he can tell when she’s lying—and when she’s scared. The key to catching a sadistic madman lies within a long-buried cold case that has haunted Mia for years. Only she can uncover the truth, but first, Ric will have to get her to entrust him with her secrets . . . and her life.


Michelle's Review:
Mia Voss was carjacked one night and was nearly killed and Detective Ric Santos was the one assigned to her case. Ric and Mia, being a DNA expert, had worked on cases in the past and even had a thing at one time that went beyond a professional relationship. However, Ric didn't want a relationship while Mia did and he backed away. However, when it became apparent that a madman connected to an old case of Mia's and was targeting her, Ric knew the only way to keep her safe was to keep Mia close and to catch the killer. Being forced to work together again, that undeniable spark between Ric and Mia was back and stronger than ever. But will they be able to catch the killer in time before he takes Mia down?

Unforgivable was my first book by Ms. Griffin and it certainly won't be my last. This book is the third in the author's Tracers series but it's very much a standalone. This book reminded me of all the Tami Hoag suspense novels I read one right after the other like candy in college. I thought Unforgivable a perfect blend of suspense, mystery, police procedural action and romance. As for the two main characters, I thought they were both fantastic. Mia was your typical strong, slightly stubborn heroine but she was likable. Ric was her opposite in that he was reserved and distant but there was great tension between the two and I rooted for their happy ending. I really liked the way the author told the story--it was well-written, well-paced and exciting. It had great main characters, an interesting setting, a relationship drama with terrific tension and a gripping mystery that will keep you turning the pages into the night. I think I may have found a new go-to romantic suspense author. I really enjoyed Unforgivable and if you're looking for your next romantic suspense read you cannot go wrong with this book. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Winner of the Unforgivable giveaway is jacque! Congratulations, I think you're going to like this book! I already sent you an email so please respond back. Thank you all for entering everyone!