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!

Monday, November 29, 2010

sambrose Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Language: English
ISBN13:
978-1439181294
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Amazon)
Her ex stole the jewels, but this bad boy just stole her heart...
After ditching the ruthless Banner Westfield, aka “the world’s worst husband,” sexy and fiercely guarded Janet Aims thinks the least she deserves for surviving attempted murder is a chance to cash in on her losses. Step one is hocking the wedding ring and ridiculously tacky necklace given to her by her conniving ex.
But just when Janet thinks she’s buried the past, the police claim that the necklace is part of the stolen Pellinni Jewel collection. Which means that even prison can’t stop Banner from dumping her smack in the middle of his evil schemes again.
With Colombian gangsters and jewel thieves hot on her trail, Janet has no choice but to turn to smoldering ex-con Rocky Hernandez, the one man who can make her fragile heart pound. Partnering up with a certified hottie who knows the ins and outs of Detroit’s seedy underbelly as well as he does a woman’s body might have its perks if Janet’s life—and her heart—weren’t on the line...


Michelle's Review:
With all the craziness caused by her ex-husband (who was the villain in the author's previous book Lie to Me) behind her, Janet Aims finally had her life back on track. She goes and sells her wedding ring and a really tacky necklace he ex gave her as a gift when she found out that the necklace was actually part of a priceless Pellini Jewel collection stolen from a museum hundreds of years old. Jewel thieves, thinking that she had the rest of the jewel collection and wanting it for their own, were suddenly after her and her life goes topsy-turvy again. Even with her ex-husband behind bars, he still managed to mess up Janet's life! The only one who could help her was sexy bad boy Rocky Hernandez, an ex-jewel thief and a man she can't help feeling attracted to.

This book was my first romance after two months of reading young adult and I've forgotten how fun light, romantic comedy romances were. This book was a fun, light read with a great heroine and hero and many secondary that were just as fleshed out as the main characters. Janet had a snobbish rich girl vibe to her in the first few pages and I was afraid I wasn't going to like her but after the first chapter she wasn't snobbish at all. I liked Janet--she's smart, tough and with just the right amount of stubborness. As for Rocky, he was equally likable and definitely hot. He was protective and a nice guy beneath his bad boy front and I can easily understand why Janet was attracted to him despite her trust issues concerning men. I liked that they already had a "thing" before the book began and this book was all about them finally doing something about their mutual attraction. There was great chemistry between Janet and Rocky.

Thieves Like Us is a sequel after Starr Ambrose's Lie to Me and I think it's a much more satisfying read for those who already know the two main characters and the cast of secondary characters from the previous book. However, it can be read as a standalone and I was able to enjoy it without reading LtM. There were a few humorous parts and I read through this book with a smile on my face; it was just a really fun and easy read. If you like light romances with a bit of suspense, look no further than Thieves Like Us. 4 out of 5 stars

**This book comes out in stores on November 30, 2010.**

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Our Mailbox (11/15-11/27)

Sunday, November 28, 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!

We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are having a wonderful after Thanksgiving weekend. We missed IMM last week so we are going to play catch up. We won a couple, bought some for cheap and received a few interesting ones for review. All in all, a pretty good two weeks.

Week 1

Unforgivable by Laura Griffin (already read and will review soon)
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (for review)
Duchess of Sin by Laurel McKee (for review)
(A big THANK YOU to Random House, Hachette/Forever and Pocket Books for sending us the books.)


Week 2

Trickster's Girl by Hilari Bell (for review)
Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (for review)
Blue by Lou Aronica (for review)
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers (bought)
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (bought)
Possessions by Nancy Holder (won)
The Evil Within by Nancy Holder (won)
(A big THANK YOU to Nancy Holder, Random House, Hilari Bell and Lou Aronica for sending us the books.)


What did you get this week?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

themockingbirdscover Trade Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Flux

Language: English
ISBN:
978-0738721484
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Welcome to Glenfair, New Jersey’s Little Moscow, where fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar lives with her Russian-born, Jewish parents. In their culture, drinking is as traditional as blinchiki and piroshkis. So when her mom starts having bad days, it seems like Alyssa’s the only one who notices-or cares.
Alyssa would love to focus on regular stuff like her first kiss with Keith, her cute track team partner-or simply come home without dread of what she might find. But someone has to clean up her mom’s mess. Her dad is steeped in work, the evening news, and denial. Her best friend Lana is busy-shamelessly vying for a place with the popular crowd who ridicule their Russian heritage.
It’s up to Alyssa to save her mom-and her family. But who will be there to catch Alyssa when her mom’s next fall off the wagon drags her down, too?


Michelle's Review:
The blurb does a great job summarizing what Inconvenient was about so I'll just go on about my thoughts and feelings about this book.
I've been reading out of my comfort zone lately, picking up "tough issues" type of books, and I am glad because Inconvenient was a fantastic, worthwhile read. While the book did mostly center around Alyssa's mother's descent into alcoholism, this book was a lot more than that. Themes of identity, family, friendship, loyalty, growing up, ethnic pride and first love were touched upon in this honest, emotional and unputdownable read.

I loved Alyssa's character--she was a real girl in her thoughts, emotions and actions. She wasn't perfect but I thought her first-person narrative was spot on. In the beginning and all through book, we are given hints as to how close and special Alyssa and her mom's relationship were and watching it deteriorate was painful. I really felt for her but I really liked how her character grew and evolved throughout the book. Besides the alcoholism--and this book definitely didn't shy away from the harsh realities of living with an alcoholic--what made this book a powerful read for me was that I related to Alyssa and her friend Lana in terms of their immigrant identity in school. I moved to the United States from the Philippines when I was nine years old and just like Alyssa and Lana, my friends and I endured teasing and innuendos in school and in the community. And just like Alyssa, I felt like an outsider for most of my years in school.

The glimpse of Russian-Jewish culture in the book were interesting and one of the aspects of the book I particularly enjoyed. The secondary characters added to the story and I thought Alyssa's blossoming romance with Keith, her running partner, was sweet. I was thoroughly riveted by this book until I got to the end. My one complaint about this book was that it ended abruptly--I understand that it's impossible for this book to have a happy ending concerning Alyssa's mom (I'm certain her alcoholism will be an ongoing battle for her and her family for many years) but what about Alyssa and Lana's friendship or Alyssa and Keith's romantic relationship? I don't know if there's going to be a sequel but this book reads like a standalone and an epilogue would've been nice. All in all, though, I really liked this book and thought it a fantastic debut by Maggie Gelbwasser. I am definitely excited for her next book. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, November 26, 2010

debutauthorchallenge2011In 2009 I signed up for a bunch of challenges for this year 2010 and all of them were pretty much fails, not because I didn't read the number of books required for the challenges (I wager for some I went above and beyond what was required) but because I never kept up with what I read--I never went back to my challenge posts and listed the books I read for the challenge. So, I pretty much suck at challenges and wasn't planning on taking on any challenges in 2011.

However, I can't resist signing up for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. I love YA and many middle-grade fiction and some of the best books I've read this year were written by debut authors so I am definitely joining this one. And not just me, but Leslie too. We are very excited! So, yes, this is our our official 2011 Debut Author Challenge but instead of going back to this post, we're going to list the YA/MG debut books we read and reviewed not on this post but on our sidebar (it'll be easier to keep up with the titles that way I think).

Reader friends, if you love YA/MG books you might want more info and sign up (if you haven't already). Go here for all the rules, list of debut books and more.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book We Covet: Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 with
Why we covet this book: It sounds like a lovely romance that is more than a romance: two former athletes with a lot of decisions to make and healing to do before they can find happiness. Reading about them in the blurb, I'm hoping for a happy ending for these two.

playinghurtPlaying Hurt by Holly Schindler (out March 1, 2011)
Playing Hurt centers on two former athletes: Chelsea Keyes, a basketball star whose promising career has been catastrophically snipped short by a horrific accident on the court, and Clint Morgan, an ex-hockey player who gave up his much-loved sport following his own game-related tragedy.

Chelsea meets Clint (who's working as a resort fishing guide) soon after arriving with her family for a summer vacation in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota. Sparks fly, igniting the pages, even though Chelsea has a boyfriend back home in Missouri...and even though Clint has sworn never to put himself in the position to be hurt emotionally again.

Their unlikely romance has the potential to heal their heartache and force Chelsea and Clint to realize just how timidly they've been living - but are they really ready to give themselves completely to one another? How will the weeks spent in another man's arms play into Chelsea's feelings for her boyfriend when she returns home? Will Clint allow himself to fall for a woman who's bound to leave him at the end of her summer vacation? By playing hurt - entering into a romance with already-broken hearts - are they just setting themselves up for the kind of injury from with they could never recover? Will Chelsea and Clint pull away from each other before they have a chance to find out just how beautiful their story could be?


"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!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

themockingbirdscover ARC: 352 pages
Publisher: Little Brown

Language: English
ISBN:
9780316090537
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.
Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.
In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.


Michelle's Review
:

 The Mockingbirds tells the story of a girl named Alex who goes to Themis Academy, a top-notch boarding school who caters to an exceptional student body. The school's administration thinks their students were above any wrongdoing. When Alex woke up one morning naked next to Carter, she was horrified that she had sex with a virtual stranger and had no memory of what occurred the night before. She was date raped and going to the teachers and the headmistress will do her no good. At first Alex just wanted to put the whole incident behind her but as her memory of that night returns, Alex realized that she couldn't just forget. Then she also had to deal with the lies Carter was spreading about her. Her roommates urged her to enlist the help of the Mockingbirds--a secret club whose members were the school's own underground police, judge and jury, committed to righting whatever wrongs of their fellow classmates.

I wasn't planning on reading The Mockingbirds once I saw the words "date raped" in the blurb but I was in a contemporary young adults kick and I thought it time I step out of my reading comfort zone so I nervously began reading what I thought will be a very depressing book. Depressing this book was not because instead of focusing on the awful incident, it instead focused more on Alex's healing process. Yes, there parts that were really hard to read like the flashbacks of the night the rape occurred (if I was watching a movie I'd have my hands over my eyes) but it's not a sad book. The author didn't sugarcoat the consequences of date rape and Alex's feelings of confusion, guilt, self-blame and fear was painfully honest and I felt for her. But ultimately Alex's story of redemption was moving, even uplifting because with the support of her friends, her sisters, the Mockingbirds and Alex helping herself, she did stand up for herself and did not let the incident define who she was. She learned that she was not to blame and that not saying no doesn't equal consent. She came out a stronger person and for fighting for what was right, Themis Academy became a safer place for female students.

I loved Alex's character; she was smart, a passionate musician, talented, had great friends and everything going for her. Through her first-person narration, you're able to get to know her and her thoughts. She was a very relatable character and if put in the same situation my thoughts, emotions and actions will probably be similar to hers. The secondary characters--her friends, the members of the Mockingbirds, the romantic interest (yes, there's even a lovely little romance in this book)--were all fantastic and the idea of the Mockingbirds society itself was very clever. I absolutely loved the way the author's voice, the way she wrote the story, its tone and how it flowed. The Mockingbirds is an unputdownable read that I quickly devoured in a couple of days (if it wasn't for my job I would've read it straight through). I am not doing it justice in my review but this book is a definite must-read for everyone. 5 out of 5 stars

Take The Contemps Challenge!
Book 2 out of 18 in read in The Contemps Challenge.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Edge of Sight WINNERS

Monday, November 22, 2010 with
I'm here to announce the winners (chosen by random.org) for Edge of Sight by Roxanne St. Claire. Thank you all for entering!

The 3 winners of Edge of Sight are...








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. Here are all the giveaways you can enter here on the blog:
November Forever Romance Giveaway
Win a set of 4 books; Ends 11/28

Stronger Than Sin by Caridad Pineiro
Win 1 of 3 copies; Ends 11/30

Unforgivable by Laura Griffin
Q&A with the author & giveaway

And stay tuned because there will be more giveaways to come in December!
Today, we have the honor of having romantic suspense author Laura Griffin on our blog to chat with us. Her newest release is UNFORGIVABLE which I am currently reading (and enjoying so far). Please join us in welcoming her.

Hi Laura! Welcome to our book blog! Please tell us about yourself in 140 characters--like a Twitter bio.
Thanks so much for inviting me! My Twitter-length bio: A former newspaper reporter, I am now the author of eight fictional & award-winning tales of romantic suspense.

Unforgivable is the third book in your Tracer series. Is there a story behind this series? What gave you the idea to begin writing this series?
I interview a lot of cops and forensic experts for my books, and I kept hearing about the gap between what is possible to do in forensic science, and what is actually happening in real life because of budget constraints. So I created the Delphi Center, a high-tech crime lab where an elite group of forensic experts known as Tracers work together with homicide cops and cold case detectives to solve the very toughest crimes.

If you could trade places with one of your characters in Unforgivable for one day, who would you choose and why?
I would absolutely choose the main character, Mia, who is a DNA expert. I would follow her around and see all the cool things she is able to do using her knowledge of forensic science. And of course, she gets to meet all those hot detectives who need help with their cases.

lgriffinDo any of your characters in Unforgivable or your other books have a quirk that is entirely autobiographical?
As you will see in the opening scene, Mia has a very special place in her heart for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Me too! But on a serious note, I definitely share Mia’s interest in victims’ rights. Her whole career is dedicated to putting repeat, violent offenders behind bars through her tireless work to clear the backlog of untested DNA evidence. It is a real problem. The backlog of rape kits alone is mind-boggling. Many people don’t realize that so many DNA samples are sitting in evidence rooms collecting dust, when they could be helping investigators solve crimes.

Do you plan to step out of the romantic suspense sub-genre in the future and write in a different romance sub-genre or in an entirely different one like young adults?
Right now I am loving suspense. If I ever get bored with one storyline, I start learning about something new and get excited again. At the moment I’m researching SWAT teams and interviewing police snipers for a new story.

What is next after Unforgivable? Do you have any current projects?
I have been thrilled with the success of the Tracers series, and my publisher has asked me to do three more books. SNAPPED comes out next fall (Oct. 2011). This will be Sophie & Jonah’s story. Readers often ask me if they need to read the Tracers books in order, and I tell them it isn’t necessary. The characters overlap, but each suspense plot stands alone, so feel free to dive right in!

Thank you so much for stopping by Laura and answering our questions! Everyone, UNFORGIVABLE comes out in stores on November 30. For more info on Laura and her books, check out her website.

GIVEAWAY
Thanks to the lovely folks at Simon & Schuster, I have a copy of UNFORGIVABLE to give away to one (1) lucky reader of this blog. All you have to do is leave a comment below with your email address.

**Open to US residents only; winner will be announced on November 30 along with my review of UNFORGIVABLE.**

Thursday, November 18, 2010

annexedcover Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Language: English
ISBN:
978-0547501956
Source of my copy: FSB Media
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex – but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?
In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter’s point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you’re being written about in Anne’s diary, day after day? What’s it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting.
As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them?
Anne’s diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter’s story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz – and ultimately the horrific fates of the Annex’s occupants.


Michelle's Review:
Before I begin my "review," I want to begin by letting you know that Annexed is a "
did not finish" NOT because it's a bad book. Far from it--I wouldn't even be featuring it here on the blog if it's bad. I will explain: I made it halfway and the part I read, I thought it well-written and the author captured the mood, the frustration, the fear and the helplessness the occupants of the hidden annex must have felt while they were hiding from the Nazis, especially Peter who was telling the story in first person. While reading the novel, it made me want to pick up The Diary of Anne Frank again for an overdue re-reading of it. I think this book would be a great supplemental read to any lesson on The Diary of Anne Frank and the Holocaust. However, it was very slow going and it wasn't keeping my attention long. I would pick it up and after a few pages I would put it down again with no desire to pick it up. Also, what a bit off for me was that the Anne Frank in this book (I guess through Peter's eyes) was childish and cheeky and different from the Anne Frank of The Diary of. But what I understand from the author was that the Anne Frank we "know" from the diary was different from the Anne Frank of real-life. Hmm...

Anyway, after 2 weeks and three books read-in-between later, I finally decided to stop and rate this book a DNF. It's a hard decision to make because I'm a little OCD when it comes to finishing books but unfortunately these days my reading time is very precious. With a shelf full of books I still need to read and review I just don't have the luxury to keep plodding through a book week after week. I might pick it up again in the future but right now I am giving it a DNF.

See reviews for Annexed on Goodreads or Amazon or another blog to decide whether this book is worth checking out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why we Michelle covets this book: Leslie doesn't covet this book... yet. But only because she doesn't know the awesomeness that is Jackson Pearce--I've read Sisters Red and As You Wish and I LOVED them both. Sweetly is a companion book to Sisters Red and I think I'm going to enjoy it just as much (I just wish it's coming out sooner). If you haven't checked out Jackson Pearce's books yet, you definitely should!

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
(Blurb taken from Goodreads)
SWEETLY is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel and a companion book to SISTERS RED and FATHOMLESS.

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

This book comes out either on June 7, 2011 (according to Goodreads) or August 23, 2010 (according to Amazon). For more info visit the author's website.


"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, November 15, 2010

ascendantcover ARC: 400 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen

Series: Killer Unicorns #2
ISBN:
978-0061490026
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Now a fully trained unicorn hunter, Astrid Llewelyn is learning that she can’t solve all her problems with a bow and arrow. Her boyfriend has left Rome, the Cloisters is in dire financial straits, her best friend’s powers are mysteriously disintegrating, and her hope of becoming a scientist seems to be nothing but an impossible dream.
So when she’s given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters and use her skills as part of a scientific quest to discover the Remedy, Astrid leaps at the chance. Finally, she can have exactly what she wants—or can she? At Gordian headquarters deep in France, Astrid begins to question everything she had believed: her love for Giovanni, her loyalty to the Cloisters, and—most of all—her duty as a hunter. Should Astrid be saving the world from killer unicorns or saving unicorns from the world?


Michelle's Review:
Whereas the first book in the series, Rampant, was all about Astrid going to Italy to train to be a unicorn hunter and hunting killer unicorns, Ascendant offers a different perspective. Astrid was finally a full-fledged hunter but she felt discontented with her life. She once had dreams of becoming a doctor but now she's pretty much just a high school drop-out and with her boyfriend Giovanni having left Rome, there was nothing to keep her in Italy. When the opportunity to leave the Cloister came up, Astrid jumped at the chance. She ended up working for Isabeau Jaeger who needed a unicorn hunter to "guard" the confined einhorns (a breed of unicorn) she kept as test subjects in the effort to discover the Remedy. For a while, Astrid was finally content: she has a mother she never had in Isabeau, she wasn't hunting unicorns day after day and she can finally use her scientific skills to find the secret of the Remedy. But Astrid soon finds that a long distance relationship with Giovanni wasn't easy, her loyalty to the Cloisters was tested and circumstances forces her to figure out what it truly means to be a unicorn hunter.

I have mixed feelings about this book but I still liked Astrid's character. She was still strong, smart and resilient but she was also very human. She stumbled a few times in this book and had to learn from her mistakes. It was also nice to revisit the secondary characters like Cory and Phil and the other hunters and I liked the complexities in Astrid's relationship with Isabeau and the captive einhorns. There were a lot of great inner conflict in Astrid's part and a few heart-rending scenes involving her and the einhorns. There was also great discussion on the pros and cons of animal testing and saving the unicorns (or animals that are a menace to society) versus killing them to extinction and the sex and virginity issue was touched upon again in this book. However, I thought Ascendant had a different feel from Rampant--not as many blood and guts scenes, it was a slower read and the questions I had after reading the first book weren't really answered in this one. At the end of this book, more questions arose and there were a few unresolved subplots. Also, like in the first book I thought some parts dragged and the last few chapters were a bit rushed.

Despite my mixed feelings, I think this book is worth checking out especially if you read Rampant as there were some unexpected plot twists in this book. I am definitely planning on reading the third book to see how the series will conclude. 3.5 out of 5 stars

Check out my review of Rampant, the first book in the Killer Unicorn series.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In Our Mailbox (Nov. 8-13)

Saturday, November 13, 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!

Unfortunately, after Leslie came home from marching band practice she didn't feel like making a video so I'm on my own this week. It was a bit like an early Christmas this week when a bunch of review books came. We are both super excited for these books!


For Review
You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry
The Sweetness of Salt by Cecelia Galante
Thieves Like Us by Starr Ambrose
(A big THANK YOU to Little Brown, Random House, Bloomsbury Teens and Gallery Books for sending us the books.)


What did you get this week?
On the spotlight today is...




The Author: Caridad Piñeiro

Five Fun Facts (from Hachette)
1. Although New Jersey is home to two professional football teams, neither one bears the Jersey name. So for her home state and Jesse Bradford, the hero in Stronger Than Sin, Caridad created a new team: The New Jersey Marauders.

2. If Caridad had to pick one character who was most like her, she’d pick Dr. Liliana Carrera because on the surface Liliana seems professional and logical, but deep down she is very passionate and likes to draw outside the lines.

3. The hero’s superhuman strength, speed and bone formation are paranormal elements based on real life science which was a natural for a former science major like Caridad.

4. To make the ethnicities of the hero and heroine accurate for what is seen along the Jersey Shore, Caridad chose to make Jesse Bradford of Irish descent while Liliana is Mexican.

5. To do research on the Jersey Shore, Caridad spent many a weekend traveling around the various towns in which Stronger Than Sin is set. You can check out the photos of the locations here and here.


The Book: Stronger than Sin
(Blurb taken from the Hachette website)

It's been six months since Liliana Carrera helped her brother rescue Caterina Shaw from Wardwell Laboratories, a group of fringe scientists experimenting on human beings. Now, Liliana--with funding from the FBI--has set up a new facility to continue testing the inhibitor complex, a cure for the patients of Wardwell. What's even better is the FBI has managed to recover another of the patients, Jesse Bradford.

When Jesse arrives at Liliana's facility, he has been drugged and displays violent erratic behavior. As Liliana helps him detox, Jesse demonstrates strange powers--superhuman strength and the ability to heal quickly.

Despite their growing attraction, Jesse is secretive and Liliana remains fearful of him. Eventually he admits that Wardwell scientists threatening his sister's life in order to maintain control over him and his powers. As they try to locate her, they begin to suspect that the scientists may have corrupted the FBI. Unless they can discover Wardwell's master plan soon, Jesse's sister, the other patients, and an unknown number of innocent people, will pay the price.



Do you want to win your very own copy of Stronger than 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!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today, we have the honor of having debut young adult author April Lindner on our blog to chat with us. Her debut release is JANE, the very entertaining modern retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Please join us in welcoming her.

Hi April! What was the most challenging part in writing a modernization of Jane Eyre?
There were definitely some roadblocks that had to be dealt with. The first and foremost was finding a modern equivalent for the huge difference in social class that keeps Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester apart, but once I came up with the idea of Mr. Rochester as rock star, the pieces started to fall into place. Finding a way to update the fate of Mr. Rochester’s first wife was tricky too, as was finding a way for Jane to steer clear of tabloid headlines at certain key points in the story.

Do any of your characters in Jane have a quirk that is entirely autobiographical?
There’s a lot of me in Jane herself. Let’s just say that her awkwardness in social situations isn’t something I had to work too hard to imagine.

Do you need complete silence while writing or are you the type of writer who makes playlists or has a theme song for different scenes in your book? If so, please share with us a few of the songs that would be in the Jane soundtrack?
I need silence to write, but whenever I’m not writing I’ve got the radio or my ipod on, and Jane most definitely has a soundtrack. Here’s a partial list of the songs that would be on it:

"Your Mind is Playing Tricks on You" – John Wesley Harding
"Rumors" – Josh Ritter
"Bad Reputation" – Freedy Johnston
"The Lucky One" – Alison Krauss and Union Station
"Janey Don’t You Lose Heart" – Bruce Springsteen

And, of course, Lou Reed’s "Sweet Jane" would have to be on there, preferably the Rock and Roll Animal version with the killer intro.

jlondonIf you could mash up two classic books, which two would you pick and why?
This is a wild question. One of my all time favorite characters is the smart and idealistic, but misguided Dorothea Brooke from Middlemarch. Another is the witty and ultra sensible Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. What would the two of them talk about if they could spend a fortnight together at Longbourn? I’m sure Elizabeth would try to talk Dorothea out of marrying the horrible Mr. Causabon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Darcy found himself admiring Miss Brooke, causing all sorts of mayhem.

Thank you so much for stopping by our blog and answering our questions April!

Everyone, you should all check out April's website for the latest news and extras about JANE and to learn more about April and her upcoming books. Also, check out my review of JANE HERE.
JANE is already out in stores so don't forget to pick up your copy or order here!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book We Covet: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 with
Why we covet this book: Apart from the very beautiful cover that we fell in love with right away, we love fairy tale retelling type books. It sounds like a lovely read.

Entwined by Heather Dixon
(Blurb taken from Goodreads)
Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . . Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.
This book comes out on March 29, 2011. For more info visit the publisher's website.


"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!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

beautifuldarknesscover ARC: 504 pages
Publisher: Little Brown

Language: English
ISBN:
9780316077057
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.
Sometimes life-ending.
Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.


Leslie's Review:
Ethan Wate has always thought that Gatlin is a boring town where nothing really happens--until he met Lena. Lena Duchannes opened his eyes to a hidden Gatlin that was there all along. Now the two of them must face the darker side of Gatlin and the deadly secrets that test their relationship. Lena is in great danger and only Ethan can save her. As he travels deeper underground in the Tunnels, searching for answers and the truth, he experiences visions only he can see but the only thing that can save her.

Beautiful Darkness was much better than its first book, Beautiful Creatures. Its plot was unpredictable, thrilling, and fantastic. I liked how it had more action and twists than the first, that it kept me turning the page and wanting to find out more. However, it did take me awhile to finish. Besides the fact that I've been extremely busy lately with school and marching band, the middle was dragged a bit. I would start reading and after 20-30 pages or so, I would skim ahead because I wanted something to happen already. But then the action did picked up eventually and I was hooked in the story again at the latter part of the book. I also liked how this book introduced new interesting characters and revealed some shocking secrets--it kept things exciting and me reading.

All I can say is that Beautiful Darkness is a great sequel and definitely worth reading, especially if you enjoyed Beautiful Creatures, the first book in the series. Well, even if you're on the fence about Beautiful Creatures, you should check this book out anyway because I thought it was better. I can't wait for the next one in the series. 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 8, 2010

November Forever Romance GIVEAWAY - CLOSED

Monday, November 8, 2010 with
Labels:
CLOSED

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



IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT
By Lisa Dale
Format: MASS MARKET
Price: US$6.99/CA$8.99
ISBN: 9780446406901

MONTANA LEGACY
By R.C. Ryan
Format: MASS MARKET
Price: US$6.99/CA$8.99
ISBN: 9780446548618

TALL TALES AND WEDDING VEILS
By Jane Graves
Format: MASS MARKET
Price: US$6.99/CA$8.50
ISBN: 9780446617871

TALK OF THE TOWN
By Sherrill Bodine
Format: MASS MARKET
Price: US$6.99/CA$8.99
ISBN: 9780446543293

Excited?! To enter, simply leave a comment and tell us your favorite Thanksgiving dinner dish (please include your email address so we can contact you if you win).

Extra entries: +4 for old visible GFC followers; +2 for new visible GFC followers (You do not have to be a follower to enter.)

Open to U.S. or Canada addresses only (no P.O. boxes). This giveaway will end on November 28. See "Special Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Our Mailbox (Nov. 1-5)

Saturday, November 6, 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!

Leslie and I decided to do something different this week for our IMM vlog... we decided to show our faces! LOL!

We finally received our B&N order, which we placed in July. But since we chose the free shipping, they wouldn't ship it until all the pre-released books we wanted are out. It's worth the wait though!

Books Bought
Darklight by Lesley Livingston
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
The Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
Something Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Book Won
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Other books mentioned
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott


What did you get this week?

Friday, November 5, 2010

This video is not a trailer, it's more the author discussing her inspiration for her newest release. I have Revolution on my shelf (it was released on Oct. 12) and after seeing this video, I'm all the more eager to get to it and I wish I can read it now.


If you haven't heard of this book, here's the blurb (from Goodreads):
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.
If you have read Revolution, please let me know what you thought of it. Have a wonderful Friday everyone!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

enchantedivycover Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Language: English
ISBN:
9781416986454
Source of my copy: author/publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet! Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.


Michelle's Review:
Sarah Beth Durst is fast becoming my go-to author for well-written young adult fantasy. I read her previous novel, Ice, back in March and it immediately became a favorite so I eagerly began Enchanted Ivy with high expectations.

The book opens with Lily, a junior in high school who dreams of attending Princeton University, her grandfather's alma mater. She's driving with her grandfather and her mother for a reunions weekend at Princeton. But once there, she finds out that she has been selected to take the top secret Legacy Test and if she passes it she gets an automatic acceptance to Princeton. Lily readily accepts and begins her search for the Key. Her first clue leads her to the library where bookshelves nearly crushes her to death but that's not the weirdest part. As Lily, continues her search she meets talking gargoyles, goblins, dragons and other creatures only found in fairy tales. Lily soon comes to find that there are two Princetons--the ordinary human one and the magical one that exists in a different realm and can only be accessed by the Key. With the help of two very different boys, she is able to gather more clues that not only reveals where the Key is but also secrets about Lily's own family.

Enchanted Ivy was an amazing, very faced-paced read with themes of family, search for identity and love. I read it all in a day because once I started I couldn't stop. It read like a fantastical Disney movie to me, the imagery the setting and the action evoked clear in my imagination. I really like the author's writing style--the way she told the story was in a simple, yet lyrical prose that I really liked. The author didn't waste words and you get the sense that every word in the book was important in telling the story.

The characters in Enchanted Ivy are fantastic and I especially like Lily. She started out unsure of herself and shy, worrying about her mother who was quickly succumbing to a sort of dementia. But as she delves deeper in the mystery of the magical world, you see her become more confident, strong, brave and a true heroine as the story goes on. However, the romance aspect in this novel didn't really grab me as much as it did in her previous novel, Ice. Tye and Jake, the two boys who guarded Lily in her quest were both nice, likable boys (with Tye having a more "rebel" edge to him) but I didn't particularly root for either one to be the one to "get" Lily and I didn't feel from Lily herself a strong connection to either boy. I wasn't particularly expecting an epic love in this novel like the one between Cassie and Bear in Ice but I kind of wanted... more. I liked the way this novel ended with everything tied up nicely and the ending doesn't scream "series," it's rare to find a non-series book nowadays but I think I'd like a companion book to Enchanted Ivy. I wouldn't mind revisiting Lily's Princeton again.

I began reading this novel with high expectations and I am happy to say almost all of my expectations were met. With excellent world building, great characters and written in a clean, imaginative style I've come to expect from the author--I highly recommend Enchanted Ivy. 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 1, 2010

janecover ARC: 384 pages
Publisher: Poppy

Language: English
ISBN:
9780316084208
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.


Michelle's Review:
The last time I read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre was in middle school and I barely remember the basic plot line. I'm not a huge fan of Jane Eyre but just the same I was curious about April Lindner's Jane, because I didn't think Jane Eyre would be the easiest classic to modernize.

Jane closely follows the original plot (which I had to "wikipedia" to jog my memory) but here Jane Moore just lost her parents in a car accident. She has no money and couldn't pay for her tuition so she was forced to dropped out of college. She also needs a place to stay and her greedy, self-centered siblings were no help. She applied to become a nanny to support herself and to save up enough so she can go back to school. Quiet, introvert Jane was placed at Thornfield Park where she becomes the nanny of rock star Nico Rathburn's daughter. There, she discovers the secrets of Thornfield Park all the while falling in love with her employer.

I read Jane Eyre a very long time ago, at a time when I was too immature to possibly pick up the deeper nuances of its characters so I'm not even going to try to compare the Ms. Lindner's modern characters to the original. I'll just talk about what I thought of the characters in Jane: At first I wasn't sure how I felt about Jane. She grew up with a distant father, an uncaring mother and siblings who made her life miserable so she lacks self-confidence and self-worth in the beginning. After reading many kick-butt, tell-it-like-it-is female characters, Jane took some getting used to but I did grow to like her. As the story went on, however, Jane did evolve and gained a quiet confidence in herself. Nico Rathburn was dark and broody and a little narcissistic and I don't know how I feel about him--he wasn't a hero I am particularly drawn to but he was interesting. I would've like to see a more natural progression in Jane's feeling for Nico because it just seemed like she was fascinated yet confused by him then suddenly she loved him all in a few pages. However, once the two got together, there was a nice chemistry between them and you root for them to work out because they complement each other.

I thought the author did a good job
modernizing Jane Eyre for most of the book but after Jane left Thornfield Park that's when things got a little sticky--some things that happened (or didn't happen) were just too unrealistic for modern times. All in all, I enjoyed this novel and I liked the simple, uncomplicated prose the author used to tell the story. Jane is a quick, entertaining read sure to appeal to teens today. 4 out of 5 stars

WINNERS

with
I'm here to announce the winners (chosen by random.org) for Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis and Season of Seduction by Jennifer Haymore. Thank you all for entering!

The 3 winners of Simply Irresistible are...

Victoria Zumbrum

Lexie C.

Jessica (jessicasue90@g)





The 3 winners of Season of Seduction are...

Marian (mariannguyen16@g)

Cathy MacDonald

Debbie (twoofakind12@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. You can enter to win a copy of Roxanne St. Claire's newest release Edge of Sight and we have plenty of other giveaways to come--just see our left sidebar!