Thursday, May 31, 2012

Movie Review: What to Expect When You're Expecting


What to Expect When You're Expecting

Movie Review by Lauren

All Opinions Our My Own
 
The movie is now available via Redbox if you wish to check it out for a cheaper price!

I wanted to see this movie when I first started seeing previews for it. I think the Dude's Group aspect of the movie really interested me because it was kind of amusing to see a bunch of guys sticking together through the trials and tribulations of being a parent.


Now, I'm not a parent myself, but I'm kind of baby obsessed anyway. A few of my friends have kids and I'm an aunt to a one-year old girl, so I'm definitely surrouned by the little ones. However, I started reading reviews of the movie and it kind of lessened my enthusiasm. It was still a movie I wanted to see, but did I want to pay 8 to 10 bucks to go see it?

At any rate, I hung with two girlfriends of mine this past Monday night (one friend had her birthday on Saturday and mine was Wednesday) and we decided that seeing a movie would be fun...except there really wasn't much out that I hadn't seen already, so we headed to see What To Expect When You're Expecting!

Overall, I enjoyed the film. It was cute at parts, funny at others...but it's not something I would tell people to run out and go see pronto, as it was slightly long and dragged in moments for me. Let's break it down a bit more for you though-

"You pee on a stick. It's pretty idiot proof."

Anna Kendrick (I'm going to use the actors' names and not the characters' names throughout this review!!) was one of my favorite people in the film. For one thing, I'm already a fan of her acting and it was fun to see her in something a little different. She was the youngest pregnant lady in the bunch as well, so perhaps I just related to her getting pregnant without planning it.

"If I knew I'd have a rack like this, I would've gotten knocked up years ago."

I should probably preface this by saying that I'm not a huge fan of Cameron Diaz, in general, so her character kind of annoyed me. She's a reality star host who helps people lose weight, a la, Biggest Loser. These shows are great for the people that get help, but I also think that the people who are helping them honestly seem like jerks sometimes...so I don't watch them. Cameron's character was kind of the same, and she was also a bit TOO independent in terms of the baby. She wanted everything done her way and didn't really care about the dad's opinions...even though he honestly cared and wanted to help.

"I can't wait to meet my baby."

I do actually like Jennifer Lopez as an actress. Her character was interesting because she couldn't get pregnant and was finally going to adopt. I love the idea of adopting, so it was cool to see that included in the film. I didn't really have a problem with Jennifer's character. She was definitely more of the emotional one, since her husband is having a hard time accepting the idea of being a dad and sometimes I was really confused on why the two of them were together. This movie is obviously a "chapter" in everyone's lives, though, so I guess you have to look past the bad moments they had and understand that they just needed to communicate more.

"I'm calling bullshit. Pregnancy sucks."
Elizabeth Banks was my other favorite character, after Anna Kendrick, as she was just so real. She runs a breast-feeding store, but this is her first baby...and it took her a long time to get pregnant. Her husband was actually one of my favorite guys in the whole film. He was just too adorable and really sweet to his wife. He also had a bigger role (for the males at least) in the film because his dad's new and very young wife (played by Brooklyn Decker) gets pregnant at the same time as him and his wife...and he doesn't really have a great relationship with his winning-obsessed dad. But for Elizabeth, her character is pretty hilarious and when she gives her speech about pregnancy later in the film it's one of the best moments!

"I just have all this extra energy. Plus I'm like crazy horny."
Brooklyn Decker does a good job in the film, but her character is one of those pregnant women that you really want to smack. She stays uber skinny, minus the baby belly, the whole time and she just seems completely void of all the not-so-fun side affects of being pregnant...plus, when she finally gives birth, it's shown as being really quick and simple. Obviously, the pregnancy is used for comedic purposes, but it's true that some women have really simple births. She does stand up to her husband about his son though at one point in the film and it makes you want to cheer for her, showing a more mature side to her young nature.

In the end, it was a cute film. It's something that worked as a great girls-night-out movie, but it's definitely not a "buy another ticket to see it again" type of thing. I did think it was a bit longer than it needed to be...but I guess following so many women, they wanted to fully showcase their pregnancies, and I think they did.

I liked that they showed all types of pregnancies-

adoption
unplanned pregancies
miscarriage
c-sections
twin births

Final Verdict: Not bad, but if you're not DYING to see it, I'd wait for it to come out in the cheaper theaters or on DVD.

And for those of us, like me, who aren't planning on having babies any time soon...grab a chocolate bar:



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review- The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith + Music to Read Along With




Review by: Lauren

Copy from Publisher, but all opinions are my own

Out Now!

While reading the following review, feel free to play the Law and Order Theme Song, which I just feel fits the tone:


Official Summary:
Geiger has a gift: he knows a lie the instant he hears it. And in his business—called "information retrieval" by its practitioners—that gift is invaluable, because truth is the hottest thing on the market.


Geiger's clients count on him to extract the truth from even the most reluctant subjects. Unlike most of his competitors, Geiger rarely sheds blood, but he does use a variety of techniques—some physical, many psychological—to push his subjects to a point where pain takes a backseat to fear. Because only then will they finally stop lying.


One of Geiger's rules is that he never works with children. So when his partner, former journalist Harry Boddicker, unwittingly brings in a client who demands that Geiger interrogate a twelve-year-old boy, Geiger responds instinctively. He rescues the boy from his captor, removes him to the safety of his New York City loft, and promises to protect him from further harm. But if Geiger and Harry cannot quickly discover why the client is so desperate to learn the boy's secret, they themselves will become the victims of an utterly ruthless adversary.


Review: The Inquisitor is a difficult book to explain but it's definitely one that I greatly enjoyed reading. It's partly suspenseful and partly mysterious...but it's also a lot about human nature and what makes people do what they do. Essentially, Geiger uses torture to retrieve information from people, but he does it in a way that minimizes the overall danger. So, I suppose, in the world of "information retrieval," Geiger is the good guy. He's also really difficult to figure out. He has a recurring nightmare and therefore goes to a psychiatrist to talk it over every time it happens. He's beginning to go more and more though, and open up in ways he didn't exactly plan on. The doctor is fascinated by Geiger, even though he knows very little about his actual, everyday life, until Geiger shows up later in the book for help.

The truth is, nobody knows much about Geiger. Not even Geiger. His co-worker, Harry, was saved by Geiger one night from a bunch of thugs and ends up working with him...but Harry justifies his life by keeping himself mostly in the dark. He sets up the "meetings" and gets part of the pay, but the rest of it is left up to Geiger. Obviously, in The Inquisitor, their plans begin to change when a boy is brought to Geiger and he takes off with him. Geiger has a strict rule. No kids. Again, that good guy part of Geiger comes out. But taking the kid -named Ezra- isn't such a great idea...because now some pretty bad guys are after Harry and Geiger.

One of the interesting things about this book is that Geiger gets flashbacks before his life in New York (which he can't remember) and it allows us, and him, to slowly see part of what made him into the man he is today. He didn't have a great childhood, and even the present circumstances are pretty brutal, but the book isn't too graphic or extreme. Like I said before, it's a lot about character development too...and not just one big thriller with guns and threats and blood and anger.

You get a bit of the calm blue mixed in with the harsh red.

I really enjoyed that most of the chararcters have two sides to them. Harry might be involved in a bad business, but he uses a lot of his money to take care of his sister (who happens to be with him when the bad guys coming calling). Even Hall, the "leader" of the bad guys so to speak, is stuck in a life that he can't quite control. He just wants the information that Ezra holds, because he is being told to do this, and if Geiger takes Ezra away? Well, Hall must follow after and uses violence if necessary to get back what he needs. There are many things revealed throughout this novel that will make you stop and think about these characters, allowing you to truly wonder about the term "evil."

In the end, we are left with a mini cliff-hanger. It's just enough to make you want to know what will happen next (as a sequel is in the works, I hear!) but nothing too big that should anger readers. It's also an ending that is both happy and sad, and it definitely makes one curious to see how a sequel will be set up.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Movie Review: Men in Black 3 + Back in Time Video

Men in Black 3

Review by Lauren

"Back in Time" by Pitbull, Video Below. Feel free to play the song while reading the review!

Brief Summary from IMDB- Agent J travels in time to MIB's early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

My Thoughts- This was an awesome movie! 'Nuff said.

Well, okay, I guess I can say more. I saw this movie at midnight (it's release day is today) with my sister and we both highly enjoyed the film. It's been awhile since a MIB movie was released, but I think most people will be highly satisfied by this  addition to the now-trilogy. While Josh Brolin does play a young Tommy Lee Jones, fans of Jones still get quite a bit of him. When seeing the previews, I thought Jones would be more MIA, but it was cool to see how the film blended just enough young and old Agent K.

However, Josh Brolin was fantastic as young Agent K. Seriously, it was kind of creepy at times. After all, Brolin was doing Agent K, but in a big way, he was doing Tommy Lee Jones and it was pretty spot-on. I'm not sure how you could be disappointed in his portrayal. Young Agent K is different enough in the past for Brolin to do his own thing, but still keep a respectable amount of Jones' future K. As for young Agent K, he's definitely a lot more open and willing to talk...which, as MIB fans know, is pretty odd for K. All will be explained in the film though...and I have to admit, the ending made me pretty sad, in a bittersweet kind of way.

Bill Hader as Andy Warhol

As for Agent  J, Will Smith does a wonderful job bringing his character back. I love seeing Smith in comedic roles, as those are few and far between it seems lately, so having Agent J's humor was a wonderful addition to the film. He isn't the only humorous character, of course, as both young and old Agent K add laughs in their own unique way and Bill Hader's appearance as Andy Warhol- who is really a MIB agent- is quite amusing.

Andy Warhol: Dammit K, trying to blow my cover?
Agent J: Whoa, Andy Warhol's one of US?
Andy Warhol: Who's the dumbass?
Agent J: You know, I'd have no problem pimp-slapping the shiznit out of Andy Warhol.
-------quote from IMDB (this was in the trailer, so it's not a spoiler alert in that sense!)

Boris the Animal

The villian of this story is Boris the Animal (though he likes to just be called Boris) and is wonderfully played by Jemaine Clement. Remember Flight of the Conchords? Yeah, one of those guys. It's kind of creepy how different they make him look in MIB, but if you know Clement, you should be able to recognize his voice...like I did. Regardless, he's wonderful as Boris, an alien who wishes to take over Earth and get back at Agent K for something he did to Boris in the past (hence all the time traveling!)

Jemaine Clement is on the right

In the end, I would highly recommend this film. At 103 minutes, I was hooked the entire time. I didn't feel like the movie was too short or too long, and it is definitely a film I would go see again.

And finally...

During the credits at the end of the film, you can hear Pitbull's song "Back in Time" which I really enjoyed, so here is the official video for you to enjoy:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pretty Little Liars Giveaway Promotion


The Second Season of Pretty Little Liars will be released on DVD June 5, 2012...so not too long now. However, for those of you who are current fans, you can now enter to win a fun prize pack of gifts!

Can you ‘Find the Pretty Little Lies?’

This "online promotion will entail video clips from the second season. The challenge will be to guess who said specific lines or to find hidden characters from within the season."

Even if you aren't a current fan, you can pass this along to anyone you know who is, and perhaps they will gift you one of their "prizes" in thanks, depending on what they win! :)

What Can You Win?

If you enter, you have a chance to win Heather Belle Bags, Accessories and DVDs Signed By The Cast!!

Pretty awesome, huh? You know you want to check this out. I'd try entering even if you haven't watched the show much, because you just never know, and it sounds like a ton of fun.

Links

"Find The Pretty Little Lies" Online Promotion

Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Season on DVD



I have been hired by Warner Bros WBWord division to raise awareness for Pretty Little Liars.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Review: Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach


Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach

Review by: Lauren

Copy from Sourcebooks

Summary: In the first book, Stupid Fast, Felton Reinstein went through a lot of changes and became an incredibly fast, wonderful athlete. It's the next summer though and his girlfriend, Aleah, decided to go to Germany for the summer and the two of them to go on a break. At the same time, his mom is doing better, but now his younger brother, Andrew, might have run away and Felton goes on a road trip to bring him back home.

Review: There isn't really a nice, official review that I can find for this book so I tried to do my own. To be honest, though, it's probably easier to understand if you just read the rest of this. First off, Nothing Special is the sequel to Stupid Fast but you don't need to read the first...though I would recommend it, as I highly enjoyed Stupid Fast when I reviewed it.  It's fascinating to get inside of Felton's head, as he's pretty honest about the things that he can see. Nothing Special is a lot about him coming to terms with the world around him and how his actions have consequences. He's upset about things in his own life and he takes that out on his brother, Andrew, who he doesn't realize is going through a really hard time as well.

Instead of going to camp, Andrew takes off for Florida. I can't really say the reasons why as it would give a large part of the story away. But the reasoning behind it is just to get on his own, try and figure himself out, and because he's also really angry with Felton and the lack of concern he seems to show for other people. It isn't that Felton doesn't care though. He just gets stuck in his head a lot. Nothing Special allows you a look into Felton's head, but the entire book is written after the events...so you understand that Felton has learned a lot and that he regrets the things he did in the past, which is nice. It makes it easier to relate to him and empathize with what he's done, as well as what he's been through.

The entire book is written as a journal that he addresses to his girlfriend, Aleah, who he also does a lot of thinking about and he must come to see things from her point of view and how he didn't always do so. This book is perfect for the summer, though, and not just because it takes place then, but because it's sort of a trip novel. The current moment is Felton traveling to Florida near the end of the summer and the planes and bus trips he must go on to get there. The places he goes are mentioned, but it's not really about that. It's a trip, yes, but it's very much a mental journey. At the same time, Felton is telling Aleah about the trip earlier in the summer when he and his friend, Gus, drove to Florida to find Andrew and figure out just what is going on with him. This is a wonderful moment in the book as it shows how a long-running friendship can change as people get older and develop other friends and interests. Gus is angry at Felton too, and he clearly shows it, but by the end of the trip, they both realize what they have done wrong in terms of their frienship.

Nothing Special would be a great book for people graduating, even though Felton is not, just because it deals a lot with worries and fears about the future and wanting to just do things for the love of it, and not because you want to be famous or have people tell you how wonderful you were. Just do things for fun sometimes. Do what you love. Surround yourself with people you love. This is also a wonderful statement about family and how you can be so close to people, and yet not really know them at all. You have to be there for the ones in your life, be open to them, and yet, understand that you are all your own people and you can't judge yourself in comparison to others.

Wonderful book. Felton is a great narrator. There are some wonderfully profound moments in this book, but it's also funny and sad and adventurous and brave and exciting and maddening and just a great story.

~~~~~
Do you want your own copy of Nothing Special? Check out the author's guest post for a chance to win! Extra point if you comment on this review too!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Boy Dream Guest Post by Geoff Herbach + Giveaway!


Book Boy Dream Guest Post by Author Geoff Herbach, whose novel, Nothing Special, is out now (sequel to Stupid Fast)!

All photos from the author's website
~~~~~

Stupid Fast has been out for almost a year.  It’s been really great.  I’ve traveled a bit, met lots of writers and librarians and bloggers.  Best of all, though, I’ve met “elusive” teen boy readers – both through my blog, email and in person.  Good stuff.

I do have some concerns, though.

A really smart 16-year-old from Brooklyn wrote to tell me how much he loved Stupid Fast.  He also said, “I hate books, always have.”  What?  A freshman at a high school I visited the other day told me: “I only like two books.  Stupid Fast and this other one I can’t remember.”  Okay…  I have had similar exchanges again and again in the last year.  It reinforces the reason I wanted to write Stupid Fast in the first place: there is a good-sized subset of kids who don’t have enough books to read.  I was that kind of kid.

When I was fourteen-years-old, I played sports and played in the orchestra, tried out for plays and did okay in school. On paper I looked like a normal kid, maybe even a pretty high achieving kid.

Here’s the truth, though: I was all crazy on the inside. I was all like: “I should shower again because… is there a weird smell? What are you looking at? I think Kerri and Audrey are laughing at me. I hate them!  My shirt doesn’t fit. What’s that smell?   I love Jenny. I love her. She hates me! What’s wrong with my shirt? There’s definitely something wrong with my ear. What are you looking at? What’s that weird smell?” ETC.

Crazy. But… here’s the truth: not abnormal.

Having taught writing to college kids for the last six years, I know something for a fact: Almost everyone (male or female) felt like a dork as a teen. They write essays about it. But, boy culture puts a premium on hiding the truth. The girls in my classes are better at expressing it.  Many have read books for years that help them make sense of things.  Boys, who need the help most, have very few books that address their concerns.  A few years ago, my son decided fantasy no longer spoke to him, then he read a few books that did, then stopped reading, because he could find nothing that spoke to him.

I had a similar experience.  When I was fourteen, I read. A lot. If I hadn’t read Catcher in the Rye my life would’ve been much worse. Holden Caufield’s thoughts were so familiar to me. Even if they were a little terrifying, and he was on the edge, I knew that I wasn’t alone. I began to devour anything with a male protagonist. The more gritty, the more down to earth, the better (this was a big change, because up until that point, I pretty much read fantasy). Vision Quest, The Chocolate War, I am the Cheese, A Separate Peace… But soon, I ran out of material.  I read some adult titles, but slowed down and almost stopped.

The publishing industry believes that boys don’t read, so they don’t publish books for them.  My anecdotal evidence contradicts this belief to some extent.  The boys I’m meeting enjoyed reading books that were meant for them, that directly address their way of thinking – which isn’t always pretty, but isn’t dumb or simple, either.   

I’m on a mission, I guess. I want to write good stories aimed squarely at teen boys. In a decade, I want to have dudes come up to me and list ten books they love.  The girls I’m meeting are able to do this!  Girls are so lucky to have dozens of great books coming every month that speak to their experience. 

If you’re a writer, maybe think about writing for boys?  If you’re a reader, ask a librarian what’s new that speaks to boys.  They’ll know (because there aren’t many titles).  Maybe we’ll build a bigger market for these young men who need material so much!

Yeah, that’s my dream.

~~~~~

What an awesome dream! I may be female, but I like to read books that are aimed at boys too, and I can't imagine being a guy and not having books that speak to you. I've always been a huge reader, and even if I didn't always read books about people like me, I still had a multitude of stories that featured female protagonists. I know the publishing industry says boys don't read, but it's not true. We really do need to publish stories that they will read, that speak to them, that make them feel included in this great, big "world of books." Thanks for the guest post, Geoff, and if you want to win your own copy of Nothing Special (sequel to Stupid Fast)...then keep reading!

-Lauren

~~~~~
Giveaway-

To Enter: Leave a comment about this guest post: share a boy-centered book you love, your own thoughts about publishing for boys, etc.

Prize: One copy of Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach (you don't need to have read Stupid Fast to enjoy it, but I would recommend reading it at some point!)

Open To: U.S. and Canada only I'm afraid!

Ends: Wednesday, May 30 (because it's my birthday!!)

Extra Entries-

-Leave a new comment if you also comment on my review for Nothing Special (will be up tomorrow, Tuesday, May 22).

-Leave two new comments if you somehow enter the Pay it Forward giveaway (button in the right hand sidebar that leads you to all the details. The easiest way of entering is just spreading the word).

There you go, four ways to win this awesome book! Enter away!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Upcoming Releases I'd Promote!


You may or may not know, but I actually run my own freelance publicity business. I work with authors or smaller businesses in trying to answer their questions, as well as come up with the most ideal ways of promoting their product. I even try and do most of the emailing, etc. if I can when it comes to contacting others to promote your work...as I know you're probably super busy doing other things, like selling your products or writing your next book! At any rate, I'm currently open to accepting new clients so if you're interested, please get in touch. I'd be happy to do a guest post or interview for your blog about my business if you think your readers would be interested as well!

The main reason I'm making this post though is to share some upcoming books that I'm super excited about reading. The reason I mentioned my business above is because essentially, these are some of the books/authors I would love to work with in terms of promotion!  Each book title will be linked to Amazon so you can add this to your wish list, pre-order, or just read the summaries!!


Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills

Out: Oct. 8, 2012



Flawed by Kate Avelynn

Out: July 10, 2012



Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie

Out: Sept. 11, 2012



Splintered by A.G. Howard

Out: Jan. 1, 2013



Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Out: Oct. 9, 2012


Again, I think all of these books sound amazing and I'd love to do something to help spread the word. Whether that is posting about it on my blog, or adding the author as a client, it doesn't matter!

But for the rest of you, do these books sound just as good to you?! What other titles are you waiting for?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Discount on Gift Cards for B & N and Fandango

Plastic Jungle is a great website if you want to buy gift cards for less than the actual price you get, and really, who wouldn't want to do that? Right now, there are some great deals going on and I know all you entertainment lovers would enjoy this.

Thurs - Barnes and Noble - 14% to 15% off (gotta act fast!)

Friday - Fandango - 11% to 12% off (a bit more time for this...stock up for the summer movie season!)






*sponsored post, but I'm only sharing because I wanted too! Do not own any of these photos!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Avengers Review with Lots of Pictures and Quotes


The Avengers Movie (with a lot of pictures I do not own) 

Review by Lauren

I saw Iron Man 1, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America...and finally, I saw The Avengers and it.was.awesome. It was one of those movies that held my attention throughout the whole thing and when it was over, I was totally ready to go and see it again. Now, I didn't see The Hulk with Edward Norton (though I hear it's not too bad so I probably should) but I did see most of the Eric Bana one...and oh god, not good.



BUT, Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers as the Hulk was amazing. Joss Whedon definitely made him more humanistic, and you feel bad for Bruce Banner. He doesn't want to be this monster that he can't control, so he tries to put himself in situations where he can keep track of the anger and do good for people. In The Avengers though, he shines, just like Ruffalo does playing the character.

One of my favorite people was Loki though. Yeah, I know, he's the bad guy. But I really enjoyed him in Thor and I couldn't wait to see him again in The Avengers. Loki is played by Tom Hiddleston, who does a brilliant job. There are a few moments where Loki is watching someone and, all of a sudden, he has this little grin. Just totally evil. But awesome. Definitely awesome.



One of the best lines is between Thor and Black Widow-

Thor: He's my brother

Black Widow: He killed 80 people in two days

Thor: He's adopted

It just so serious and hilarious. But poor Thor. He really did keep believing that Loki could change. Alas, that man is evil to the core...but Hiddleston plays him oh so wonderfully. I didn't want Loki to win, but I didn't want him to die either...which I guess says something!



Besides Loki, Tony Stark aka Iron Man is probably my favorite. Robert Downey Jr. was just made for this part. Tony is hilarious but in a sarcastic way most of the time. He plays by his own rules, he's insanely smart but often too smart for his own good, and he just commands your attention whenever he's on the screen!

When Agent Coulson visits Stark in the beginning of the film about the Avengers coming together, we get some classic dialogue that really just shows Stark's nature (quotes from IMDB):

Agent Phil Coulson: [Over telephone] Mr Stark, we need to talk.
Tony Stark: You have reached the life model decoy of Tony Stark, please leave a message.
Agent Phil Coulson: This is urgent.
Tony Stark: Then leave it urgently.
[Coulson enters]
Tony Stark: Security breach.
[to Pepper]
Tony Stark: That's on you.
Agent Phil Coulson: Mr Stark.
Pepper Potts: Phil! Come in.
Tony Stark: Phil? Uh, his first name is Agent.

Random things about the film I wish to note is that Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance for a brief moment. He does talk though, so it shouldn't be hard to miss him. Also, Cobie Smulders plays Agent Maria Hill...though most of you will know her as Robin on How I Met Your Mother. It was fun to see her in something else and she did a great job.


Oh, and Jeremey Renner was amazing as Hawkeye. If they give him his own movie, I'm totally in line to see that. I don't want to say too much about him because it gives a big part away...but I do hope we get more Hawkeye in The Avengers sequel. At any rate, Hawkeye sure does give Katniss a run for her money when it comes to archery skills. Bad.Ass.

One final thing-

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: 7 Clues to Winning You by Kristin Walker

7 Clues to Winning You by Kristin Walker

Review by: Lauren

Out Now!

Copy from publisher- all opinions are our own and we do not own any pictures in this post

Official Summary: When a humiliating picture of Blythe goes viral, she's instantly the target of ridicule at her new school. To salvage her reputation, Blythe teams up with Luke to win the Senior Scramble scavenger hunt. But Luke is an unlikely ally and potentially can't be trusted.

Perhaps it's his Shakespearean witticisms that reel Blythe in despite her better judgment . . . or maybe she just craves the thrill of the game. But as the hunt progresses, their relationship heats up. Soon their madcap mischief spirals out of control. Blythe is faced with arrest and expulsion, among other catastrophes - until Luke shows her what the Scramble (and love) is really about.


Review: I've already read and reviewed Kristin Walker's debut, A Match Made in High School, so I was excited when I was able to review 7 Clues to Winning You.  To be honest, I'm not sure the summary would have really struck me if I wasn't already a fan of Walker's, but I was, and I definitely enjoyed this one as well!

Blythe might have been pretty and popular at her old school but she isn't really as snobby as you think she would be. She certainly has selfish moments, but who doesn't?! I liked that she learned a lot about herself and grew as a person but there were no "preachy lessons" that would annoy, so that was great. I also enjoyed that Luke wasn't the perfect leading man. It seems that YA wants to make guys seem a bit too fairy-tale esque and not as realistic. That's not really Luke though. Him and Blythe play off each other, in good and bad ways, and they both definitely make mistakes and must learn to make things work.

Some of my favorite characters were Cy and Jenna, two outcasts at Blythe's new school that she finds herself eating lunch with and getting to know. The old Blythe would have assumed they were burn-outs, not really giving them a second thought, but with Blythe herself being a bit of an outcast, she gets to see behind the layers of these two.

Blythe also volunteers once a week at a nursing home and Ms. Franny and Ms. Eulalie are HILARIOUS. These two older women love Blythe but they spend the majority of their time in bed, bickering with each other (as they are roommates and very, very different). They band together a few times to help Blythe out though, with the scavenger hunt and personal issues. Blythe even sneaks them out one afternoon for one of the funniest moments in the book. You have to read it!

I've also come to really enjoy Shakespeare while being in college so it was nice that quoting the Bard was something that Blythe and Luke did throughout the book, especially when they wanted to express a feeling or thought that just sounds so much better when quoting instead of messing it up with your own attempt.

Finally, I loved that Blythe's parents weren't absent in the book. I don't mind the parents not having a huge role in YA novels, as I know it just doesn't work sometimes, but I like having them around every now and then. In 7 Clues to Winning You, both of Blythe's parents are a huge part of the book...especially Blythe's father, who is the principal of her new school. She deals with a lot of anger toward her parents and has to figure out how to navigate her changing relationships with both mom and dad. The blog, YA Outside the Lines, recently posted an article about the lack of parents in YA which I thought was particularly relevant.

Overall, another good one from Kristin Walker. I would recommend!


Cover: Normally I don't comment on the covers. That's Alicia's thing! However, I had to mention that I'm not really a fan of this one. It's not bad, but I just feel like the people on it look too young. Blythe is a junior and Luke is a senior. Am I the only one that doesn't see it? I would have guessed freshmen if I was judging the character's based on the cover...even though we all know covers aren't always accurate.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pay it Forward Giveaway Hop and Contest!

Adam from Roof Beam Reader and I are hosting a giveaway event in honor of author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, where you can win one of four prize packs...a fifth might be added later if we get lots of entries. However, this event is also leading up to a Pay it Forward blog hop where any and all bloggers can take part. It will be at the end of June (23-30 I believe) and all you have to do is host a giveaway (of any value) for an item that you believe deserves more recognition...hence, Paying it Forward. Adam and I are honoring Catherine right now but you don't need to be a book blogger to take part.

You can spread the word about the event and/or buy copies of Catherine's books to be entered into the prize packs!

For the blog hop, visit the same link to sign up your blog and spread the word about that as well...and be entered into the prize packs!

So please, visit Adam's post and enter, sign up for the hop, and spread the word!!

I will be adding a page to my blog (you can find it above) where I will keep score of who has entered and how many points they have. If you buy a Catherine book, I will include the book title(s) as well. If you want your name linked to your blog on this page, let me know in your email and I will do so. So, please enter! Great publicity for your own blog too.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Make it a Gift Review- Pro Files: Baseball

Sports Illustrated Kids Pro Files: Baseball
Intel on Today's Biggest Stars AND Tips on How to Play Like Them

Review by: Lauren

Copy from: Goodman Media, All Opinions are Our Own

We do not own any pictures in this post!

This book would be perfect for any budding Baseball fan, though the seasoned ones might love it too. It's from Sports Illustrated Kids, but I don't think it's just for child fans...as it does give some interesting information from various top players in the MLB (Major League Baseball). This is not a complete book, which means you don't need to read it front to back. You can search through the pages at your leisure, reading up on your favorite players or learning about some new ones.

Each Pro File starts off with a picture of the player in action with the basic facts: Team, Position, Height, Weight, Birth Date, and Hometown. I found it interesting to see where the players were from as opposed to what team they play for now. Turn the page and you get some Background Information on the players, their Baseball Resume, Career Stats, Inside Information (answers to a few fun questions) and a section called Running the Numbers (which include number-related facts about the player...). Then you get the section that gives people an idea on just how to play like this player, a Player Analysis, and one of my favorite parts...In His Words, which is a quote from the player.

Joey Votto
Since this isn't the type of book that you read from front to back, I did not read all the Pro Files, but I did start out with Joey Votto. I live near Cincinnati, Ohio so I just had too since Votto is the First Baseman for the Cincinnati, Reds. The Background info is really interesting because it shows you just how the players started out, and for Votto, he grew up playing baseball in Canada.

The Inside Information shows the players on a "normal" level, and by that, it gives you a look into some of what the players like besides playing baseball. For example, Votto's favorite subject in school was English. Nice, huh?

As I said above, I liked the In His Words section because it's interesting to get quotes directly from people and Votto's was "I felt like a lot of people blazed a trail for me. At some point I just started saying to myself, 'Why don't you set your own standards? Why don't you see how good you can be?'" I really like this quote because it's true for all people, doing whatever they love to do, and not just baseball. We should all set standards against ourselves instead of other people to see just what we can accomplish.

Justin Verlander

Since I focused mainly on Votto (since he plays for my local team and I wanted to really showcase what a Pro File could contain) I wanted to let you know a random fact that I enjoyed from another player. His name is Justin Verlander and he's a Pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. The fact I enjoyed is what's listed as his favorite movies: Harry Potter films. I could get behind someone that loves HP!!

Make it a Gift

NY Yankees

M & M's has a website where you can personalize your own, which I think is pretty awesome, but since this book is all about baseball, why not get your own MLB M & M's? The website allows you to pick your favorite team and they will send you some candy with the team's logo. You can get a 7 oz. bag for $10.99, which I think is pretty good. That should be enough candy, plus it's personalized, and it would make a wonderful gift all on its own or paired with this book or some other baseball-themed item.

Cincinnati Reds -

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Read Destiny for Free (Expires 5/7)

In honor of the the sequel, Destiny Unveiled by Laura DeLuca, being released this Monday (5/7), you can now read Destiny for free via Smash Words. Be quick though, you only have until Monday to do so!

If you're not aware of this book, then please check out the guest review Shooting Stars Mag posted of it.

To get Destiny, visit Smashwords here. The information you need-

Coupon Code: DY64R
Expires: May 7, 2012





*I do not own any of these photos. The top is Destiny and the bottom is Destiny Unveiled, the sequel.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Review: Tuesday Night Miracles by Kris Radish

Tuesday Night Miracles by Kris Radish

Guest Review by Chris

Copy Sent to Review- all opinions are our own. We do not own any photos in this post.

Official Summary: Free-spirited psychologist Dr. Olivia Bayer suspects she’ll need a miracle to help the four wildly different women in her anger management class. Grace, a single working mother, can barely find a moment’s rest. Jane, a high-profile real estate agent, is struggling in the recession. Kit, in her fifties, has had it with her taunting older brothers. And Leah, a young mother of two, is starting over after ending a troubled relationship. All have reached a crossroads, and Dr. Bayer has an unconventional plan to steer them on the right track. As the class gets taken everywhere from a bowling alley to a shooting range, the women’s Tuesday meetings transform from tense, reluctant gatherings into richly rewarding experiments in female bonding. As Grace, Jane, Kit, and Leah open up—revealing secrets, swapping stories, and recovering long-lost dreams—old wounds begin to heal, new friendships are forged, and miracles manifest in the most surprising ways.


Review: This is a fast paced book about four women from different backgrounds who meet in a court appointed anger management class. They make friendships and learn in unique ways to help them understand why they have these issues.

I enjoyed how they became empowered by going to the outings they had to go on. They had to stretch themselves in ways they thought they never could.

As women, I believe we all have to do many things we might not want to do, but it makes us stronger and that empowers us.

One thing I took away is a Happy Journal. I think this is something we all should do.


(In order to learn a bit more about the book and our guest reviewer's thoughts, I asked her some specific questions---Note from Lauren)

What's a Happy Journal?

You write what made you happy that day. It can't have any negativity.

What did you not like in the book?

Parts in the book where Dr. Bayer's dog would talk (their perspective - nobody could hear). It was odd. Not really necessary.

Would you read other books by this author?

Probably


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Did Someone Say Brownies?!

not my photo

Gourmet Gift Baskets Review - Brownie Sampler

Review by: Lauren

Product sent by company, but all thoughts are our own. I do not own any photos used in this post (found them via google)

Cost if you buy: $34.99

I've reviewed a gift basket from this company in the past and really loved it, so when they contacted me about checking out their brownie sampler, I just had to say yes and share what I thought! Did you know Gourmet Gift Baskets has a baked goods section? I did not! So, now you know, and you can get your own brownies or other assortment of items. I shared all these brownies with my family and the following review is a collection of what my mom and I had to say:

First off, the sampler (if you buy from their website) will include-

 2 of Each Flavor:

· Belgian Chocolate Chunk
· White Chocolate Macadamia Blonde
· Butterscotch Blonde
· Cheesecake
· Peanut Butter
· Fudge Walnut

You can see what they all look like in the photo above. Yummy-ness, huh? The sampler we got to review only contained one brownie per flavor but believe me, that's enough too. These brownies were the perfect size and I think each one would be great to share with another person, to be honest. Getting two flavors of each would be like the motherload...but perfect for a gift or a larger family!

All the brownies were moist and full of rich flavor. I actually ate the Belgian Chocolate Chunk last night after having the brownies for a little while. I just put it in the microwave for fifteen seconds and voila! It was perfect to eat again and very good. The chocolate chunks were delicious!!



My mom's favorite of the bunch was the White Chocolate Macadamia Blonde. She said it had a hint of coconut inside, which was a gentle surprise. Her reply to these: Awesome!

We thought it had a nice mix of brownies...a little something for all tastes and types. There is chocolate in most of them, though.

As for my favorite, I really enjoyed the Peanut Butter as well. Nice blend of chocolate and peanut butter...I think it would be a kid favorite for sure!

Again, this would make a really great gift and its a product I would definitely consider buying in the future!!

What about you? Any flavor jump out and say EAT ME (ala Alice in Wonderland)?!




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