Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday with Mind of Winter


Waiting on Wednesday is brought to you by Breaking the Spine

First off, sorry for the lack of commenting/posts this week. I know it hasn't been that empty but my computer is having some trouble so if things do slow down a bit, that's why! I'll be back soon though.


Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

Due Out: March 25 (so not too long!)

Official Summary: On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens with the fragments of a nightmare floating on the edge of her consciousness. Something followed them from Russia. Thirteen years ago, she and her husband Eric adopted baby Tatty, their pretty, black-haired Rapunzel, from the Pokrovka Orphanage #2. Now, at fifteen, Tatiana is more beautiful than ever—and disturbingly erratic.

As a blizzard rages outside, Holly and Tatiana are alone. With each passing hour, Tatiana’s mood darkens, and her behavior becomes increasingly frightening . . . until Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter.

Why I Want to Read: I've been really into mysteries/thrillers lately and I think this one sounds fascinating. There isn't much I can say, to be honest. I just hope it's as interesting as it sounds. I really like the cover too!

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett


The Uncommon Reader: a novella by Alan Bennett

Review by Lauren

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


copy from library, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.

Review: I reviewed Alan Bennett's book Smut a couple weeks ago, and now I'm here to share this novella, The Uncommon Reader. This is a book I've seen around for awhile and was always curious to read. Now that I have, I would definitely recommend it to others, especially those of us who wish we had more time in the day to read.

The basic idea is that the Queen of England slowly begins to develop a true love of reading. As she becomes more and more obsessed, the more her staff worries. They are not used to this Queen, who sees her duties as more of a chore, as she would rather be reading. 

It was exciting to read about someone finding their love of reading and seeing how all they wanted to do was either read or discuss books. At the same time, you wanted to yell at the people who worked around her for not understanding the passion. Granted, there is always a balance in life and the Queen tried to find that, but it was difficult. The things she used to do as part of duty became tedious and more obviously annoying.

One of the most interesting parts of this novella is the end! I was enjoying it throughout, of course, but the end left me going "wait, what?! I need more!!" Definitely worth checking out!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Finds: One Book, 20 Authors


FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased). Brought to you by Should Be Reading.


Inherit the Dead, a novel by 20 authors

Readers will enjoy an introduction by Lee Child, an afterword by Linda Fairstein, and chapters by bestselling authors Mary Higgins Clark, John Connolly, Charlaine Harris, CJ Box, Mark Billingham, Lawrence Block, Ken Bruen, Alafair Burke, Stephen L. Carter, Marcia Clark, Max Allan Collins, James Grady, Heather Graham, Bryan Gruley, Val McDermid, SJ Rozan, Jonathan Santlofer, Dana Stabenow, Lisa Unger, and Sarah Weinman. What's more, the editor, Jonathan Santlofer, has arranged to donate any royalties in excess of editor and contributor compensation to Safe Horizon, the leading victim assistance agency in the country making it a worthy and winning triumph.

Pericles "Perry" Christo is a PI with a past; a former cop, who lost his badge and his family when a corruption scandal left him broke and disgraced. When wealthy Upper East Side matron Julia Drusilla summons him one cold February night, he grabs what seems to be a straightforward (and lucrative) case.

The socialite is looking for her beautiful, aimless daughter, Angelina, who is about to become a very wealthy young woman. But as Christo digs deeper, he discovers there's much more to the lovely Angel than meets the eye. Her father, her best friend, her boyfriends all have agendas of their own. Angel, he soon realizes, may be in grave danger and if Christo gets too close, he just might get caught in the crossfire.

This classic noir tale twists and turns down New York’s mean streets and along Hampton beaches and back roads during a bitterly cold and gray winter where nothing is as it seems and everyone has something to hide.


***

I found this book on the blog Minding Spot and I was immediately interested! The review was very favorable, which is a plus, but I also love the idea of one full-length novel being written by so many wonderful authors. I want to read more suspense/mystery novels and this is a book that falls under that category.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith


The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Review by Lauren

copy from author, all opinions are my own

Official Summary: What happens when "happily ever after" has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven's wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven's fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White's own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what "happily ever after" really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.


Review: I'm not someone who has read many fairy tale retellings, and I don't know a lot about the original stories. However, from what I know of Snow White, this was definitely an interesting adaptation. The basic idea is that the Snow White we all know from the stories is now a grown woman with a child of her own. Her daughter, Raven, is about to be married but Snow White can't summon the energy and excitement as the own love of her life, Prince Charming, has passed away.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that you do get plenty of "stories" from the childhood of Snow White. This occurs through the famous mirror. I don't want to give too many details about the mirror since I think it's a unique aspect to the book and it makes understanding Snow White's world and mindset easy.

I will say that the basic idea behind this novel is showing Snow White that she is just as strong and capable on her own as she was with Prince Charming by her side. Some of the examples given to show this had me a bit confused, as I didn't get a strong sense of Snow White's personal bravery. Overall, though, I do think Snow White is shown to be a capable woman who does everything she can to live the roles she was born and cast into. Yes, she is seemingly more capable with Prince Charming, but that comes more from their love for each other than him being a man over her being a woman.

I don't know the exact age level for this book. Most of it is fine for the YA crowd, but there are a few sexual moments that are adult level. Overall, I'd classify this as an adult book that older teens could read.

Finally, I have to comment on that cover. I just love it, and it definitely made me even more excited to accept this novel for review. If you make it larger, you can really see the detail and how the water's reflections show a young Snow White.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Unique Find: Celebs Go Disney


There is a series of photos called Disney Dream Portraits and it's an ongoing project by photographer Annie Leibovitz. The above photo is actress Jessica Chastain as Merida from the film Brave, of course! Isn't it beautiful?! If you visit this link, you can see the rest.

Included are Queen Latifah as Ursula and J-Lo and Marc Antony as Princess Jasmine and Aladdin. Seriously, these are beautiful. I only posted the Merida one, but I'd love to hear what photos are your favorites! I'm not sure I could pick just one!

These would make an awesome tabletop book. I would totally buy it!

Monday, February 17, 2014

No Such Thing by A.M. Arthur



No Such Thing by A.M. Arthur

Review by Lauren

copy from netgalley, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Twenty-two-year-old Alessandro Silva knows that returning to tiny Perch Creek to help his foster mother was the right thing to do. With no degree and a delinquent's reputation, he's lucky to have landed a job waiting tables. But not everyone is happy he's back, and the only thing keeping his move home from being a total bust is his boss's hot brother.

Jaime Winters spent most of his life watching the world go by, first from a series of hospitals and then from behind big stacks of textbooks. Studying is easier than facing the fact that years of heart failure means he's still a virgin at twenty-three. Until the new waiter in his sister's diner awakens desires he'd long ago given up on.

The last thing Alessandro wants is to fall for someone as fragile as Jaime. And Jaime may have a new heart, but he's scared of what giving it to another person would mean. Their no-strings-attached, instructional approach to sex keeps emotion safely at bay, until a secret from Alessandro's past forces them to confront their feelings in the present…

Review: No Such Thing is a wonderful romance novel, but it's definitely not for the younger crowd. While there are descriptive sexual scenes, I never found it to be overdone or pointless. Most of what occurs is in terms of Jaime's desire to finally live life and experience various sides of himself. At the same time, readers can see that Alessandro is trying to help and yet still falling for Jaime.

One of the things that made this an enjoyable novel is that it's more than just the relationship and sex. Alessandro has been away for a few years, but being back in Perch Creek means he has to remember his high school years and the many mistakes he made. He has grown as a person and become a much better man, but someone from his past is desperate to keep Alessandro silent on a secret they share and that puts Jaime in danger too.

There are incidents that occur throughout the book that fall under the phrase "more than meets the eye" and I liked that not everything was clear cut and easy to read. No Such Thing isn't a mystery novel, but there are aspects of one throughout the book. You suspect people, you question motives, and you want to know answers. Eventually, all is revealed and things start to wrap up a little.

As I said, I wouldn't have enjoyed No Such Thing nearly as much if it was simply about a couple and their sexual escapades. I've read plenty of romance novels and I don't mind that aspect of a book, but if there isn't more substance, it just feels flat. With No Such Thing, I really felt connected to Jaime and Alessandro and I wished them and their families well. I loved how the people around them were given "book time" and you felt like you knew them. There's Alessandro's foster mother and the two kids she's currently looking after, as well as Jaime's sister, Shannon, who has had to take care of him for a long time. These secondary relationships made the book an emotional, heartwarming read.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan


The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Review by Lauren

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


bought my own; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent, that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan's "The Lover's Dictionary" constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

Review: Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I've had this book for awhile and I figured today would be the perfect day to finally read and review it since it deals with the various aspects of loving someone. This is the first novel that only David Levithan has written (I read a book he co-wrote) that I've read. It's an interesting look into his writing because of the set-up of the book, but it definitely shows that he is a remarkable writer.

The entire book is told in dictionary entries. Each new "section" is a letter of the alphabet, and within that "section" are a variety of words that start with the letter. For example, two words in the B section are "belittle" and "breathtaking." They seem like an odd combination about a book trying to describe this indescribable notion of love but it makes sense. Love isn't all poetry and roses and happiness. Sometimes it's angry, jealous, wanting more than the person can give you.

I liked that not every word had a long entry. Some had longer stories that relate to the word, while others are a simple sentence. It was a quick read, but it's a book that leaves you thinking. Since the book follows the alphabet, some of the entries felt off because you're jumping through their relationship. As I kept reading, things started to make more sense and follow a "pattern" if you will. This isn't a reason not to read the book, but rather something I thought I'd point out before you do.

***

I found this image online that shows you one of the dictionary entries:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sweetheart Swap Reveal!


I was really excited to take part in the Valentine's Hop hosted by Meg and Kristin because I'm single and 23...how else am I going to get a fun valentine?!

My partner was Ann from Annster's Domain. You can see what I got her here. As for what she got me, look below!



I got a lovely card from Ann, which is currently sitting out in my kitchen. She also sent me some awesome goodies like chocolate and sweetheart gummies and sweetheart candy SOAP, etc. I also got some gummie bears they have totally been eaten already. The penguins are gummies too, and I'd never seen them before. I'm really liking them. Too adorable, and I love penguins! I haven't opened up all the food yet, so I'm curious about the ones I haven't tried before like the chocolate bar and the pineapple chips.


I also got some cute window clings. The above is still in its package, but below, is the cute owl and little hearts from the same package that is on my kitchen window.


Isn't it adorable?! I just love owls!!

Overall, I'm so happy I did this swap. It was very exciting to get some Valentine's goodies in the mail and I'm super happy with what I received. Ann tried to mix between things she liked and items she knew I already loved, and it was perfect.

Cover Reveal for Feral by Holly Schindler

Today, I'm happy to share with you the cover for Feral by Holly Schindler. First, though, here is the official summary:
 
It’s too late for you. You’re dead.

Those words float through Claire Cain’s head as she lies broken and barely alive after a brutal beating. And the words continue to haunt her months later, in the relentless, terrifying nightmares that plague her sleep. So when her father is offered a teaching sabbatical in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out of Chicago, away from the things that remind her of what she went through, will offer a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.

Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .

With an eerie setting and heart-stopping twists and turns, Holly Schindler weaves a gripping story that will make you question everything you think you know.

Sounds good, doesn't it? And now, time for the cover!!
 
 
 
 
 
 


You can pre-order the book now via amazon (it's released on August 26)

Add the book now to Goodreads

And keep track of Holly on her website

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday with Say What You Will

You can find other WOW posts at Breaking the Spine
 


 
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
 
Release Date: June 3, 2014
 
Summary: Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
 
Why I Want to Read: This book is being compared to The Fault in Our Stars (which I loved) and Eleanor and Park (which I am dying to read). That alone makes me curious about this one. Plus, I love a good contemporary novel with unique characters and this summary promises loads of that! I'm jealous of all you bloggers that already have a copy. I can't wait to see some reviews; I hope they are positive.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Smut by Alan Bennett


Smut: stories by Alan Bennett

Review by Lauren

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


copy from library, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: One of England's finest and most loved writers explores the uncomfortable and tragicomic gap between people's public appearance and their private desires in two tender and surprising stories. In "The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, " a recently bereaved widow finds interesting ways to supplement her income by performing as a patient for medical students, and renting out her spare room. Quiet, middle-class, and middle-aged, Mrs. Donaldson will soon discover that she rather enjoys role-play at the hospital, and the irregular and startling entertainment provided by her tenants. In" The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, " a disappointed middle-aged mother dotes on her only son, Graham, who believes he must shield her from the truth. As Graham's double life becomes increasingly complicated, we realize how little he understands, not only of his own desires but also those of his mother.

Review: When I picked this book up at the library, I didn't realize it wasn't one full novella. Instead, it's two different short stories that have similar themes about secrets and the inability to be completely open about one's inner desires. I wouldn't say I had one favorite story between the two, but both of them were certainly interesting.

"The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson" took a strange turn as I started reading. At first, it was mostly about Mrs. Donaldson helping student doctors "practice" in an office. Mrs. Donaldson pretends to be various people, with different illnesses, so that the students can learn how to practice dealing with patients. I really loved this idea and I have no clue if this type of job is real, but it's fascinating nonetheless. As the story continues though, Mrs. Donaldson begins a certain type of role-play in her own house, as she takes in students as tenants. While aspects of this new storyline made sense, when thinking of Mrs. Donaldson's life, it was certainly strange to imagine. The end also felt a little open-ended, which makes sense in short stories, but I would have still appreciated a little more.

The second story, "The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes" was much more of a full story. I felt like I was given all the information I could have wanted in the end about this family who tries their best to keep their public life in the forefront. Even amongst each other, the Forbes family (mother, father, son, and son's wife) keep secrets and avoid talking about their private desires and actions. They aren't much of a family, for as much as they want to protect each other, none of them are entirely real or connected to one another.

Overall, this was an interesting read. I liked that it only included two stories, and while separate, still seemed connected.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

DIY: Quick and Easy Valentines

Valentine's Day is this Friday and if you're looking for some fun valentine's to give your loved ones, your friends, your kids, or whomever, then here are some that I found via pinterest that I thought would be fun and fairly easy to make!

 
Valentine Coupons, with free printables. These would be cute for your significant other, but also if you have a young child - have a coupon for a movie night, or a day without doing chores, etc.


You are a "Catch" Candy Fishbowl with free printables. You can use either options above with these cute printables- use an actual bowl, or put the fish in a bag! This would be cute for a playgroup or class.

 
I *Chews* You Valentine with free printables. This is a cute, and really simple idea!



Love Note-  free printables- something personal and fun to do for your kids or your partner.


Mint to Be Valentines with a few different printables. The above photo shows tic-tacs, but there are a few ideas and printables on the website so be sure to click over!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tex, the Witch Boy by Stuart R. West



Tex, the Witch Boy by Stuart R. West

Visit the author's website

Review by Lauren

copy from author, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Being in high school sucks. Just ask Richard “Tex” McKenna, a Kansas sophomore. Dealing with bullying, burgeoning love, the loss of parents, and dodge ball is bad enough. To top it off, he's just found out he's a witch! Oh, and fellow students are being murdered. The suspicious eyes of local law enforcement are looking right at Tex and his loyal group of friends. And so is the killer. Will Tex's new-found skills prove helpful? Or cause even more problems?

Review: I haven't read that many witch novels, but they are one "creature" in the supernatural world that I find very interesting. There are so many things you can do with them, so it's nice to see an author tackle the topic. Tex McKenna is your fairly average teenager, but definitely not one that can slink around the halls invisible. Him and his group of friends (Josh, Ian, and Olivia) are often targeted by the bullies of the school who get away with a lot since they are popular and stars of the football team. While this aspect of the story might sound cliché, it shouldn't be viewed as such because these things do happen in schools, and while more bullying awareness occurs now, it's not always enough. One of the things that I learned after reading the book is that a lot of what occurs concerning the book is based on the author and those he knew in high school.

As for the witch aspect, Tex learns from his dad that his mom was a witch, though she has already passed. The powers pass through family though, and Tex soon realizes that he does have the same abilities as his mother. He goes to his mom's old mentor, Mickey, an older lady that readers are sure to fall in love with. She's a bit rough, but definitely amusing and ultimately caring. Mickey tries to build Tex's knowledge and skills slowly but when students start to be murdered, Tex is desperate to learn enough to keep his friends safe.

Like I said, I think witches are interesting and it was cool to see Tex learn his way around the "witch world" without it being cliché and Halloween-esque. Tex can use his powers to do good, but it's not a good way to do anything that would be seen as too self-interested. Tex can do a spell to protect his friends, but he couldn't use them to make a girl like him or to cause harm to someone.

I liked that this book felt real, despite the powers and the murders going on. Tex has a realistic life besides that. He has friends that are eclectic but always there for each other, and a dad who is present in his life and concerned about his well-being. Tex does things that he shouldn't, but it's all in the interest of keeping those he loves safe. Despite this, those around him let him know that he's being an idiot (such as his friend Olivia) and that he needs to stay safe and be careful with his powers.

Tex, the Witch Boy was a fun read with a great mystery (I was completely surprised by who the culprit turned out to be). I will definitely try and read the sequel soon!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tune in Tuesday with Charlene Kaye


Tune in Tuesday with Kate from Tales of Books and Bands

Since this is the month of all things love, Tune in Tuesday is asking for people to post some of their favorite love songs. I don't know if I'll do it all month, but I figured I'd at least do it this week since I really love this song.

"Dress and Tie" by Charlene Kaye ft. Darren Criss

This is one of those songs that would make a nice first dance for a wedding. A friend of mine actually said that, but I always think of it now. Too bad she will probably get married before me and use it! haha At any rate, I've seen Charlene do this song live and it's wonderful. You can hear it below, and the video includes the lyrics!



"but i'll wear that dress if you wear the tie
and baby we'll dance through the night
cuz no one's got what we've got going
happiness never held on to me
until you had me see
that together we're just better off"

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hannah Jayne's Playlist for See Jane Run


Today I have author Hannah Jayne's playlist for her latest thriller, See Jane Run.



Riley Spencer’s adventure is spurned on by secrets, and so is the See Jane Run playlist!

Riley and Shelby sneak into the Spencer’s bedroom.
Dirty Little Secret – All-American Rejects

Riley slips into JD’s bus seat and hatches her plan…
Real Wild Child – Everlife

Jumping the train…
Live While We’re Young – One Direction

The man trailing Riley (or is he?)
Timber – Pitbull

Leaving town…
Let Her Go – Passenger

Second guessing…
Demons – Imagine Dragons

Riley and JD…
Burn – Ellie Goulding

Meeting Jane O’Leary…
Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus

The final stand off…
Quicksand – Bridgit Mendler

Coming clean…
Wait for Me – Shane Harper

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Who Says You Can Only Have One Favorite? (Movie Edition)

free printables (including the one above) can be found here

Who Says You Can Only Have One Favorite ?- Movie Edition

People are always asking "what's your favorite movie?" or "what's your favorite book?" and we all know questions such as these are really difficult to answer. Why can't we have a variety of favorites?

I thought I'd make a discussion post, this time about movies, where we can share the many things we love!! I'll even break things down a bit so you have something to go off of for the comment section! You can use these categories, make up your own, or simply answer the ones you want!

Favorite Musical: RENT. I love that it includes so many of the original Broadway cast.

Favorite Animated Film: One of my all-time favorite animated films is and will always be Aladdin. So many great songs!

Favorite Foreign Film: I really love this French film called (in English) Just a Question of Love.

Favorite Scary Film: Cry Wolf. It's not terrifying; I just really like it.

Favorite Book to Movie Series: I have to say Harry Potter. Just love that series...book and movies!

Favorite Book to Movie Stand-Alone: One would have to be The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It was so well done, and it doesn't hurt that the author was the screenwriter and director.

Now, it's your turn! Share your favorite films below (or simply comment on mine if you wish)!!!