Tuesday, March 27, 2012

For Your Travels: Get Discounted Gas Cards!

Whether you are getting ready for Spring Break or some Summer travel, I'm sure a lot of you have the price of gas on the brain. Plastic Jungle is here to help though. If you don't know them, they offer discounted gift cards and right now there is even a SALE on these gas discounted gift cards.



Is your gas station amongst the list?

Arco Gas Card: 2% off = http://bit.ly/GUEimx
Shell Gas Card: 2% off= http://bit.ly/GYh4wZ
Chevron Gas Card: 2% off: http://bit.ly/GW55Dh

I know for my family we mostly use Shell, so I'm glad to see that on the list. We just noticed how high a gallon was earlier today, so don't delay in checking out this site. It might be just what you need to feel a bit better about your travels, and less worry on your part.

Get Great Deals on Gift Cards today!

What are your thoughts about the site, gas prices, discounted gift cards in general?


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by the company, and I do not own any the above photos.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Blog: All Grown Up Parties

do not own above image

I just wanted to make a quick post to let everyone know that I started a new blog. Yeah, I know, another one! I don't know when to quit!

But I'm really excited about this one and I do hope to keep it going and build it up.

It's called All Grown Up Parties and it's basically what it sounds like. The blog is about celebrating parties that adults put on for themselves. I'm thinking around 16 and up, but the age isn't too important. I just want more adults to remember what it was like to be kids, and throw themselves a movie night, a holiday party, or even a themed party...Hunger Games, anyone? I'm currently planning a Hunger Games party for May and I just had a Harry Potter themed party with some friends. It's fun, so why not share the effort you put into the party with others, and give us all ideas?

Plus, I'm offering my help in planning parties if you need more ideas...or don't even know where to start! So please, follow along, send in your party ideas, and spread the word.

Thanks for Celebrating!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: The Hunger Pains: A Parody + The REAL Gale and Peeta

The Hunger Pains: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon

Review by: Lauren

Copy from Publisher, All Opinions are My Own

Official Summary:

WINNING MEANS WEALTH, FAME, AND A LIFE OF THERAPY LOSING MEANS DEATH, BUT ALSO FAME! THIS IS THE HUNGER PAINS

When Kantkiss Neverclean replaces her sister as a contestant on the Hunger Games—the second-highest-rated reality TV show in Peaceland, behind Extreme Home Makeover—she has no idea what to expect. Having lived her entire life in the telemarketing district’s worst neighborhood, the Crack, Kantkiss feels unprepared to fight to the death while simultaneously winking and looking adorable for the cameras. But when her survival rests on choosing between the dreamy hunk from home, Carol Handsomestein, or the doughy klutz, Pita Malarkey, Kantkiss discovers that the toughest conflicts may not be found on the battlefield but in her own heart . . . which is unfortunately on a battlefield.

Review: I finished this book a couple weeks ago but the Capitol got a hold of me, hijacking my memory until I forgot the Games ever existed. I saw a preview for The Hunger Games on TV the other day, though, and all my Capitol-killer memories came flooding back…stinging me like a tracker jacker. Now I’m back with the information you all should know about…The Hunger Pains!

This is a parody of the best-selling novel, The Hunger Games. It's much shorter than the original book, but it still covers all of the information...just in a new, very amusing way, and with a slightly different ending. Even though this is a parody, it's really one of those "make fun of the things you love" type of books. I don't think anyone would really enjoy the book if they didn't already read and love The Hunger Games (so don't take the book seriously!) and to be able to write something like this really shows an understanding and appreciation for the source material.

In The Hunger Pains, Katniss Everdeen is Kantkiss Neverclean. Peeta turns into Pita, Gale is Carol (AKA a girl's name), and Primrose is Princess (or Prin for short). Effie turns into Effu and her Capitol accent sounds a lot like a Jamaican accent. These are just a few examples of how things are switched around. I don't want to give things away for those that want to read the book...so again, it follows the book for the most part but makes it a LOT funnier.

Here is a quote from the book that I found particularly amusing:
President Bernette repeats himself. "That's right, you can leave the arena at any time and go back ho-" An adviser cuts him off and whispers in his ear. After nodding, President Bernette continues. "Sorry, sorry, I was thinking of something else," he says. "Sorry about that." He laughs. "You can only leave if you die."
 Pretty awful, isn't it? But you gotta admit, it's kind of funny as well. That gives you an idea of the type of humor at least. Again, this isn't a book you take seriously, like any parody. It's supposed to be fun and amusing and will hopefully be enjoyed by actual Hunger Games fans. This is the first parody that I've read but I definitely enjoyed it! Very funny!

Pick up a copy now! Leave your thoughts in the comments!
And now, in addition to the review, I want to share the REAL Gale and Peeta!

This is actor, Gale Harold. Handsome, indeed!

This is Pita. Yummy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blog Survey + Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Hello everyone!

Lauren and I have been talking a lot about the blog lately, and how much we would like to improve it. To do that, we need your help. Below is a survey that we would love for you to take.

We also have a $20 Amazon gift card to give to one person! The contest will go until midnight PST on Monday, March 26.



Thank you for your help,

Alicia and Lauren

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review/Giveaway: The Good Father by Noah Hawley



Review by: Lauren

Out on March 20, 2012

Copy from Publisher, all opinions are my own

Official Summary: As the Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. He lives a contented life in Westport with his second wife and their twin sons—hard won after a failed marriage earlier in his career that produced a son named Daniel. In the harrowing opening scene of this provocative and affecting novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and Daniel is caught on video as the assassin.

Daniel Allen has always been a good kid—a decent student, popular—but, as a child of divorce, used to shuttling back and forth between parents, he is also something of a drifter. Which may be why, at the age of nineteen, he quietly drops out of Vassar and begins an aimless journey across the United States, during which he sheds his former skin and eventually even changes his name to Carter Allen Cash.

Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, ruminative son, The Good Father is a powerfully emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities—and limitations—of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.




Review:
This is one of those books that had me hooked from the very beginning. Even though Daniel is accused of assasinating a presidential candidate, this book isn't overly political. That isn't the point, if you will. Just take the title for instance...The Good Father. This book goes back and forth between Paul and Daniel's narrations, with Paul's in first person and Daniel's in third person. Paul believes himself to be a good father until, all of a sudden, his eldest son from a previous marriage has been arrested for murdering a man. He can't believe it. This isn't the same boy he once knew. Or did he ever really know Daniel at all? Paul is desperate to fight this though, and he doesn't want to give into the belief that Daniel is really guilty. He remembers things from Daniel's past...trying to piece together the picture and make it all fit. He uses all the resources he has to keep Daniel from being sentenced to death.

Inbetween this narrative, we get a look into the life Daniel led after dropping out of college and traveling across the U.S., where he first comes across Jay Seagram, the candidate for president. He even volunteers for his campaign, so how does he, months later, come to kill this same man with a wife and two kids? It's not exactly easy to understand Daniel, but you do get a deeper look into his life and mindset and it helps. The book wouldn't be quite the same without Daniel's "side" especially as he tells his dad very little.

One of the things that really stuck out in the book and I very much enjoyed were the moments in the book where Paul looks up other killers. You get the stories of other men who have shot, or tried to shoot, presidential figures...as well as other murderers that have some type of familial issue or aspect to their story, just like Daniel. For example, you have Sirhan Sirhan who killed Robert Kennedy and even Charles Whitman who shot many from the clock tower at the University of Texas. It's an intriguing aspect to the book, as it shows how what Daniel may or may not have done fits into the realm of history.

Basically, I would recommend this book. It's a fascinating portrait of life, death, family, love, responsibility...all mixed up with some wonderful psychology! It's a great choice for a book club or any type of discussion. After all, anyone can imagine being Paul (especially current parents) and wondering: What would you do?

Giveaway

Thanks to Doubleday, I have the chance to give one of YOU a copy of The Good Father

To Enter: Why does this book sound interesting to you?

Open To: U.S. only (copy coming from publisher)

Ends: Saturday, March 31

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: A Game About Books + Discount Code


Gone Reading has a wonderful mission. I'll let them explain it in their own words-

Gone Reading International donates 100% of our after-tax profits to provide new funding for libraries and reading-centered non-profits. By purchasing GoneReading brand gifts and merchandise, you’re treating yourself and the world at large to a wonderful gift. All purchases from GoneReading help contribute to our philanthropic work.

So what is this all about purchases? Well, to help fund reading for all, Gone Reading has an online store with all types of literary gifts. The item I want the most is shown in the picture above.

It is called It Was a Dark and Story Night: A Game About Books! It's all about the opening lines in a variety of books. Doesn't it sound amazing? Better yet...if you are buying the game from the U.S., the shipping is FREE! I love to hear that. And it make the price of $39.95 sound even better. Yeah, it's a bit pricey...but free shipping in the United States? A game about books? Money going to a great cause? I think it's worth it!

You can find all sorts of other bookish items in the store as well from book lights to book journals to t-shirts for men and women, and even book ends!

Gone Reading was even kind enough to offer my readers a discount code in case you want to start shopping right away!

Code: SHOOTINGSTARS25

This is good for 25% off of any purchases at www.GoneReading.com except our bookends!!

Expires: April 8th, 2012. You have a little under a month so start shopping now, and feel free to pass the code along to anyone you wish.

I ask you now: What first lines of a book are your favorite? What other items in the shop would you buy?
-Lauren

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Features: Make it a Gift and Song Picks!



In order to make the blog better, I'm always trying to think of new ways to jazz up the old and even come up with new ideas for you all to enjoy. Alicia and I have been discussing a few things we want to try and do more or try out these past couple days...so you're sure to start seeing some of that soon.

However, there are a couple things that I want to do more often when it comes to book reviews. I've included these things in the past but I'd like to make it more regular. I know how annoying it can be to see the same books featured over and over, with nothing that new attached. It's not the blogs fault! We often do read the same books around the same time. But for my blog, I want to try and be a bit different whenever I can and hopefully that will entice you to come back more.

And remember...if you comment on our blog, we'll comment on yours!

Now...back to my main point. Here are two "features" I hope to implement more. I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

1. Make it a Gift Reviews, hence the picture above. What this means is that with a book review, I will include a product or two that I feel fits the book somehow. It's called Make it a Gift because these are items I feel you could gift to someone with the book and it would make a really fun gift "basket" or "box." It may just be one item or it may be more. We all love to read though and one way I can think of making the purchase of a book more enticing for ourselves or to give to someone else is to find ways to spruce that book up, so it's not JUST a book, but a complete GIFT.

Past Example: John Belushi is Dead by Kathy Charles + Two Products



2. Song Picks, which is when I read a book and think of a song that seems to fit it. A lot of authors these days include playlists for their books; songs that fit the themes, the plot, the characters, etc. I love this! I often listen to songs and realize they fit a favorite book of mine, and so I want to include more of this when I review books. Therefore, if I have a song in mind that I think somehow fits the book, I will include that in the review. I know other blogs do this too sometimes and that's awesome. I love music, and it's great to see what songs people come up with for various books.

Past Example: If I Stay by Gayle Forman + Song Pick


I'm going to try and put Make it a Gift or Song Pick somewhere in the title of the post as well. This way, if you are scrolling through a bunch of blogs, it's easier to see that something ELSE is attached to this post than just the book review.

Now, again, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to comment. I'll comment back on your blog whenever you do!

Keep an eye out for more to come. We really hope to make Shooting Stars Mag bigger and better than ever this year!



photos are not mine

Friday, March 9, 2012

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: YA, 13+
My Copy: ARC
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: 1/31/12—Out Now
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Review by: Alicia
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Summary:

NEWSOUL
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

Review:

Reincarnation has always been a fascinating subject to me, so when I heard about Incarnate I knew I had to read it. I had high expectations for it because the summary made it sound awesome. Luckily for me (and you) Incarnate surpassed my expectations and I absolutely loved it.

Ana is a strong main character, though she doesn’t start out that way. In the beginning, Ana is alone, insecure, and doesn’t believe in herself, but as the book goes on, she grows and learns that she is loveable and that she can do things. Ana transforms and emerges from her cocoon, just like a butterfly.

Sam was kind and loving, and I loved his and Ana’s relationship. Though he did drive me a bit crazy with how hot and cold he was at times. Sam and Anna end up saving each other—whether it’s a life or death situation or just helping each other out—which I really enjoyed. I also loved that they made music together.

The world in Incarnate was fascinating. I loved learning about Heart, the people and creatures. There are dragons, sylphs, and centaurs in the book, which was very different from any other YA book I’ve read, and I loved that. I was disappointed that the centaurs didn’t show up in the book, but I’m hoping that they will show up in the next book.

The masquerade scene was probably my favorite part of the book. It was steamy and sexy and just perfect. Plus, who doesn’t love a masquerade ball?

I loved Incarnate and can’t wait to read the sequels! Book two will be out in early 2013 with book three to follow in early 2014.

Cover Comments: Sooooo gorgeous! And it has to do with the book!

Overall: 5/5

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: YA, 13+
My Copy: ARC
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover, 448 pgs.
Release Date: 12/27/11—Out Now
--
Review by: Alicia
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Summary:

My wish
is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy
love.

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you've lost it?

Love and Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

Review:

Love and Leftovers may be a quick read, but it packs an emotional punch. There is a lot going on in Marcie’s life: her parents are getting divorced because her dad is gay, she’s been dragged away from her boyfriend and friends and is now staying in New Hampshire, and she’s met a new boy. To say that there’s drama in her life would be an understatement.

Marcie goes through a big emotional rollercoaster in Love and Leftovers. For the most part I liked Marcie, the only thing I didn’t like about her were her decisions regarding her boyfriend and the new boy. But Marcie redeemed herself in that department by the end of the book. I was impressed by how much she matured throughout the book.

I am totally in love with the writing in the book and Linus' songs. All of the words felt like they were carefully chosen and everything was poetic and beautiful.

The ending left me feeling satisfied. I definitely recommend reading Love and Leftovers, especially to those who aren’t fans of verse novels. I can’t wait to see what Sarah Tregay comes up with next.

Cover Comments: So cute. And it definitely fits the book.

Overall: 4/5

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: I'm Not Tired Yet by Marianne Richmond

I'm Not Tired Yet

Written and Illustrated by Marianne Richmond

Review by: Lauren

Copy from Publisher (Sourcebooks), but All Opinions are My Own

Review: Ralphie is a six year old boy who just doesn't want to go to bed. I think we can all understand the dilemma. The book starts off with the following-

Ralphie brushed his teeth
and had three stories read.
But Ralphie Mix, at age of six,
didn't want to go to bed.

As much as his mom tries, Ralphie keeps coming up with excuses as to why he can't go to bed from monsters in the closet to a bug under the rug! Each time Ralphie protests, his mom comes back with what she thinks he really needs and Ralphie always replies "I think I do." This pattern continues with Ralphie and his mom giving each other gorilla hugs and caterpillar tickles after each new excuse for staying awake.

I found this to be a cute picture book. I liked how most of the story ryhmed and the bright, colorful pictures. The people are done pretty simply (as you can see from the cover photo) but all of the animals mentioned throughout are actually shown and seemed to be more intricately drawn, which I enjoyed.

Obviously, getting a child to go to sleep can be difficult sometimes, and I like the unique ways that Ralphie's mom answers her son. It also gives them time to bond and laugh after a long day, before...yes, Ralphie falls asleep.

This isn't exactly a baby shower type of book, as Ralphie is six, and it would hardly be used until a child is a bit older. I could see it going over well with certain three years old though, so I'd recommend the age range to be 3 or 4 on up.

I'm actually in a Children's Lit class right now and next week we have to bring a contemporary, realistic picture book. I think I'll bring this one along, because even though Ralphie and his mom are depicted as animals throughout, they aren't actually these animals. I figured it would be a fun one to share with the class!

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases people are excited for.

Title: Struck
Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Release Date: May 8

Summary:

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Title: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: May 22

Summary:

Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish.

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date: June 5

Summary:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one unlikely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life– a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart.

Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 5

Summary:

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

A huge store isn’t the worst place to be stranded. There’s food and water, bedding and books. But what if it’s not safe to leave? Emmy Laybourne had us from the get-go with her utterly fresh and fast-paced debut.

Six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids are trapped together in a chain superstore. Together they build a refuge for themselves inside, while outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapon spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

Why I want them:

This week I’m waiting on four books, specifically the Fierce Reads books. I choose them because not only am I ridiculously excited for them and dying to read them, but the authors are also going on tour together. They are coming to the Bay Area, which is where I live, and I can’t wait to meet them!

As for why I want the books: asdfjkl! Struck looks awesome! A girl who gets struck by lightning and two cults want her? Sign me up! Of Poseidon has to do with mermaids and I freaking love mermaids! Shadow and Bone sounds amazing. I can’t even explain why I want it so bad in words, but just trust me, I want it. Monument 14 sounds awesome. 14 kids trapped in a superstore during a series of bad events in the outside? Yes please. Long story short, they all sound amazing and I am eagerly counting down the days until I can read them! Also, hello pretty covers!

The dates in the Bay Area are: Thursday, June 7th at 7:00 P.M. @ Books Inc. (Opera Plaza); Friday, June 8th at 3:00 P.M. @ Copperfield’s (Petaluma); and Friday, June 8th at 7:00 P.M. @ Kepler’s. I’ll be at the Books Inc. and Kepler's events.

You can find out more about the Fierce Reads Tour at their Facebook page.

What are you waiting on?

-Alicia

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn



Waiting on Wednesday by Lauren

My Choice: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Out: June 5, 2012

Summary: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick Dunne isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but hearing from Amy through flashbacks in her diary reveal the perky perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister Margo at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was left in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

I Want This: Gillian Flynn has two other books out (Sharp Objects and Dark Places) and I've read and loved them both. I do have to say that Dark Places was my favorite of the two, but basically, Flynn is a great author (one of my favorites) and I'm very excited that her next book is coming out. Plus, it sounds amazing! I love that it takes a straight-from-the-headlines story and fips it on its head, or so it seems. Flynn writes amazing suspenseful thrillers for adults, and I highly recommend.

Reviews for the Book via Amazon-

Gone Girl is one of the best ­and most frightening ­portraits of psychopathy I've ever read. Nick and Amy manipulate each other ­with savage, merciless and often darkly witty dexterity. This is a wonderful and terrifying book about how the happy surface normality and the underlying darkness can become too closely interwoven to separate.” –Tana French, New York Times bestselling author of Faithful Place and Into the Woods

“The plot has it all. I have no doubt that in a year’s time I’m going to be saying that this is my favorite novel of 2012. Brilliant.” –Kate Atkinson, New York Times bestselling author of Started Early, Took My Dog and Case Histories

Gone Girl builds on the extraordinary achievements of Gillian Flynn's first two books and delivers the reader into the claustrophobic world of a failing marriage. We all know the story, right? Beautiful wife disappears; husband doesn't seem as distraught as he should be under the circumstances. But Flynn takes this sturdy trope of the 24-hour news cycle and turns it inside out, providing a devastating portrait of a marriage and a timely, cautionary tale about an age in which everyone's dreams seem to be imploding.” –Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of The Most Dangerous Thing and I’d Know You Anywhere

“Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is like Scenes from a Marriage remade by Alfred Hitchcock, an elaborate trap that’s always surprising and full of characters who are entirely recognizable. It’s a love story wrapped in a mystery that asks the eternal question of all good relationships gone bad: How did we get from there to here?” –Adam Ross, New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Peanut

“Just this minute I finished a week of feeling betrayed, misled, manipulated, provoked, and misjudged, not to mention having all my expectations confounded. Considering how compulsively I kept coming back for more, I am seriously thinking of going back to page one and doing it all again.” –Arthur Phillips, author of The Tragedy of Arthur

“I cannot say this urgently enough: you have to read Gone Girl. It’s as if Gillian Flynn has mixed us a martini using battery acid instead of vermouth and somehow managed to make it taste really, really good. Gone Girl is delicious and intoxicating and delightfully poisonous. It’s smart (brilliant, actually). It’s funny (in the darkest possible way). The writing is jarringly good, and the story is, well...amazing. Read the book and you'll discover—among many other treasures—just how much freight (and fright) that last adjective can bear.” –Scott Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan

“Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl reminds me of Patricia Highsmith at the top of her game. With Gone Girl, she’s placed herself at the top of the short list of authors who have mastered the art of crafting a tense story with terrifyingly believable characters.” –Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author of Fallen

"Flynn cements her place among that elite group of mystery/thriller writers who unfailingly deliver the goods...Once again Flynn has written an intelligent, gripping tour de force, mixing a riveting plot and psychological intrigue with a compelling prose style that unobtrusively yet forcefully carries the reader from page to page." –Library Journal (starred review)

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: YA
My Copy: ARC
Source: Won via publisher’s twitter
Format: Hardcover, 367 pages
Release Date: 03/05/12--Today
--
Review by: Alicia
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Summary:

It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

Review:

I was sucked into Embrace from the first page. Violet’s voice is easy to get into and I enjoyed her narration. I started off loving Violet, but there were a few times where I didn’t because of some of her choices. Despite my not liking her actions, I was still rooting for her and hoping everything would work out.

I don’t like love triangles, so I was a bit hesitant to pick Embrace up because of it. Usually I always like one boy over the other, and Embrace was no exception to this. My biggest complaint is the love triangle. There are two very different boys: Lincoln and Phoenix. I loved Lincoln and hated Phoenix. Phoenix just gave off the creepiest vibes to me. I just could not understand Violet’s actions regarding Phoenix. There are a lot of reasons as to why I disliked him and didn’t trust him, but I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free, so I won’t go into details. I will say that I had a big problem with chapter 23—just where did that come from!? The end of the book totally redeemed all of the Phoenix problems for me though. As for Lincoln, I wish there had more of him in the book. I understand why there wasn’t, and look forward to learning more about him. He always had Violet’s best interests in mind, even if it didn’t seem like it to her, and I could tell that he did genuinely care for her.

One thing I really loved was all of the angel mythology. I really liked all of the different types and levels of angels. Everything was really fascinating and I’m looking forward to learning more about it.

Despite my issues few issues, I really enjoyed Embrace. Violet’s voice makes for a quick read that will leave readers awaiting the sequels.

Book two, Enticed, will be out in September 2012 with book three, Emblaze, to follow in March 2013.

Cover Comments: I love the purple. It’s pretty, but it looks awkward with the title over the girl’s butt. Love the title font though. I like the ARC cover better though, especially the back of it.

Overall: 4/5

Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks (with photos!)

Not Mine
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Review by: Lauren

Copy from publisher, all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers.

Review: I really enjoyed Friends with Boys. The title does and does not make sense...it does because growing up Maggie was only friends with boys, mainly her three older brothers. When she starts high school, she even starts hanging out with a guy named Alistair. However, she's also friends with a girl...Alistair's little sister, Lucy. I figured I would point that out since the title might lead you to believe that Maggie is only ever friends with boys in the book. Just a small note...and back to my review!





Maggie, Daniel, Lloyd, and Zander
Again, really good book. Friends with Boys is a graphic novel. All the pictures are in black and white, but honestly, that doesn't take away from the story at all. The only issue I had with the pictures was trying to figure out Maggie's twin brothers, Zander and Lloyd. Here's the trick: Zander has facial hair and Lloyd doesn't!! Once you have that, the rest is easy.


The main characters are as follows:


Maggie: has been homeschooled all her life, until she gets to high school. The book starts on her first day. She also happens to see a ghost, who starts to show up outside of the cemetery...but she never talks, leaving Maggie to wonder what she needs/wants.


Zander and Lloyd: Her older brothers who must deal with the issues that come along with being twins. Mainly everyone always expecting them to be together and doing the same things. It was an interesting addition to the book!


Daniel: Maggie's eldest brother who has dealt with being bullied in the past, but is relatively popular and a drama geek.





Maggie, Alistair, and Lucy
Alistair: Lucy's older brother...has had a a rough high school experience, which you learn about as you read along. Daniel tells Maggie to watch out for Alistair, but doesn't really go into many details.


Lucy: She is the first person to really approach and befriend Maggie, taking her brother along with her. She's quirky and different and loves haunted stories...perfect to help Maggie with her "ghostly issue."

The Dad: Police officer...Maggie has always been closer to her dad than her mom. She would much rather hang with him and her brothers than go shopping and do other girly things.

Maggie and the Ghost

The Ghost: The identity of the ghost is revealed in the book. This is a silent character, who first only appears to Maggie at the cemetery...then shows up elsewhere.

The Mom: Absent character, which means you never see her since she left the family. I count her as a character, though, because she's often a topic of conversation. Lucy makes Maggie feel awkward by bringing her up, not knowing she is gone, and Maggie even has a heart-to-heart near the end of the book with her brother, Daniel, about their mom.


I'm not sure if this book will have a sequel or not but I do hope so, as I did highly enjoy it. I thought the characters were all developed nicely, especially since it's done in a graphic format. I liked that Maggie used to be homeschooled as it's more and more common these days and I had two friends in high school that were homeschooled before.


I do wish that the haunted aspect was played up a bit more. It is part of the main action in the story, as Maggie is desperate to find the ghost peace...and Lucy even helps her figure out who the ghost is in the first place. At the end of the book, something about the ghost is revealed which I found interesting. Again, this was a book that ended on a nice, wrapped up note, but there is still plenty I could see being explored in another novel...and I really liked all the characters so getting to know them more would be fabulous!


After taking a graphic novel class last semester, I've been curious to check out more books in that genre so this was a lot of fun and I would recommend it! It's great for boys, girls, big or casual readers, many ages, and for those that like paranormal and contemporary books.


*I found some photos online that go along with Friends with Boys, which I placed throughout the review. The black and white ones can be found in the novel.