Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (February 25)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules: 

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  

"A dull hum. Bonfires on rafts float beyond the docks." 
-The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, Page 93 (I think, my cat conveniently walked across the book and lost my page), by Joanna Wiebe

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.


Best Bits:  I love when a new Sarah Addison Allen book is released. The only way I can describe it is comforting. It's like visiting an old friend and being able to chat for hours. Sigh. She has an ability to weave magic into her stories that's almost dream-like in quality. People have small gifts (from the youngest characters to the oldest), and it never overtakes the story. Some gifts are subtler than others, but each person has a big impact on the movement of the plot. 

The themes in this book are love and loss, and this read came at a perfect time for me. The reader sees how the loss of a spouse impacts Kate, the love and acceptance Kate gives her daughter as she allows her to explore and enjoy childhood. We explore different facets of the themes through each character, and while the book is fairly short, each character is given adequate time to grow. The real beauty in every one of her books is how it makes you examine your own life, and she really pushes the reader to question if they're living life to the fullest. 

Nit Picks:  I have no nit picks. It was a perfect read filled with laughter and tears. I can't wait to re-read this in the middle of summer when I'll be able to connect with the setting. 

Lost Lake
By Sarah Addison Allen
Published by St. Martin's Press
296 Pages

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (February 22)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews! It's a way to highlight the books that everyone got throughout the week.


The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

Published by Balzer + Bray

Find Me by Romily Bernard

“Find Me.”

These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.

Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.

Published by HarperTeen 

February Comment Contest: Don't forget, we're coming to the end of the February comment contest! You get one entry for every non-meme post that you comment on. 

This week I reviewed Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Next week I'll be reviewing Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (and maybe more!).


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (February 19)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

Acclaimed author Lindsey Leavitt brings her trademark heart, humor, and romance to her hometown--Vegas

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money--fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

Published by Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: May 6, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

ARC Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.


Best Bits: Am I allowed to say that I really didn't like Alice? You might be thinking something along the lines of "wait, why is this in the best bits?" That's a valid question. I think it's pretty brave of an author to make a character that is relatively difficult to like for over half the book. She makes questionable choices, and while she takes down the people who have hurt her in some way, it isn't all that satisfying for the reader. The thing is, I didn't need to like her to understand her. She's basically grieved the life that she had lived, and had accepted that she was going to die. To suddenly be faced with a future that you never believed you would have has got to be jarring and frightening. That's why, every time she pushed Harvey away, or let anger take over, I got it. I wasn't cheering, but it was realistic. 

This also played well when contrasted to Harvey. I felt for him, I really did. He cares for Alice so deeply that he's just along for the ride. He participates in activities that make him feel uncomfortable for the sake of helping Alice with her bucket list (this occasionally includes revenge), and it takes a lot for him to say enough is enough. We get to see the opposite side of things, he hasn't accepted that Alice is dying in the past, and when he finds out that she is going to live he expects her to be happy and relieved (like he is). Murphy managed to juggle both characters pov's in the past and present without it feeling too overwhelming, and that's saying a lot since I don't really like switching back and forth. 

Nit Picks: My nitpick for this one has to do with the romance. I won't spoil it for anyone, so this will be a rather vague and confusing nit pick (this is why we shouldn't write reviews late in the evening). The book ended in a way that leaves it clear to the reader if they're going to be together or not. I think after all that had happened between them it would have been okay with an open-ending, since both characters had a lot of growing to do, and a lot to work out. 

Side Effects May Vary
By Julie Murphy
336 Pages
Published by Balzer + Bray

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (February 15)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews! It's a way to highlight the books that everyone got throughout the week.


Secret Letters by Lea Cheier

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin's ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits-and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective-to save her cousin's reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.

Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature.

 The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

 It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past - and hers?

For Review:

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.

One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.

As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.


From the fabulous Jenn (and Mr. Doxies) at Tale of Two Doxies  to celebrate my new job!

Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham

Ever wanted a peek at someone else's emails?

Meet Holly Denham. It's her first day as a receptionist at a City investment bank and, with no cooperate front-of-house experience, Holly is struggling to keep up. Add to this her mad friends, dysfunctional family and gossipy colleagues, and Holly's inbox is a daily source of drama, laughter, scandal and even romance. But Holly's keeping a secret from everyone - and the past is about to catch up with her...



When in Doubt Add Butter by Beth Harbison

As far as Gemma is concerned, her days of dating are over. In fact, it’s her job to cater other peoples’ dates, and that’s just fine by her. At thirty-seven, she has her own business, working as a private chef, and her life feels full and secure. She’s got six steady clients that keep her hands full.

There’s Lex, the fussy but fabulous department store owner who loves Oysters Rockefeller and 1950s comfort food; Willa, who needs to lose weight under doctor’s orders but still believes butter makes everything better; a colorful family who may or may not be part of the Russian mob; an ├╝berwealthy Georgetown family; the picture-perfect Van Houghtens, whose matriarch is “allergic to everything”; and finally, a man she calls “Mr. Tuesday,” whom she has never met but who she is strangely drawn to.

For Gemma, cooking is predictable. Recipes are certain. Use good ingredients, follow the directions, and you are assured success. Life, on the other hand, is full of variables. So when Gemma’s takes an unexpected turn on a road she always thought was straight and narrow, she must face her past and move on in ways she never would have imagined. Because sometimes in life, all you need is a little hope, a lot of courage, and---oh yes---butter.

So these two books showed up on my doorstep this week, after I had casually mentioned wanting to read them over the weekend. I am a sucker for any books with cupcakes on the cover...yum! So, thanks to my fabulous bestie!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cover Reveal - feral by Holly Schindler

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.

Release Date: August 26, 2014
Published by HarperCollins

Find the book on: 

If you want to learn more about Holly or her books check out her website!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Movies on Monday

Somehow I lost my weekend to movies...but I didn't mind. Instead of doing my typical mini-reviews of books, I just wanted to spotlight a couple of them.

The Lego Movie -

Yes, I did go see a kid's movie with my sister this weekend, and it was awesome! We're nerds, so we actually get the references and in-jokes, and the song was stuck in my head for the next two days. Sure, it was silly and had jokes only kids will find funny, but it also had heart. Plus, it has a ton of celebrity voices, so we had some fun picking those out.

Lord of the Rings: Extended Trilogy -

I make no secret of wishing that I was a hobbit, and I love this series. I'm just now getting around to listening to the cast commentaries, and watching all the special features. This is a feat, because each disc contains a couple of hours of interviews and information...and I only have so much time! I also appreciate that they describe reasons why they have changed things from the book. Much of it has to do with pacing, but I like hearing that they really agonized over choosing what to keep, cut, and re-administer. It reminds me of how passionate the cast and crew were about this series!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (February 5)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.

Published by HarperTeen
Release Date: July 1, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (February 4)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules: 

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"His twin sister, Deborah, was this political mastermind. When we were kids, she used to make us play Congress." 
-Side Effects May Vary, 4% on Kindle, by Julie Murphy

Monday, February 3, 2014

January Comment Contest Winner

Congrats to Lynn K
You've won a copy of any of the books that I've reviewed this month!

Don't forget, you are automatically entered every time you comment on a non-meme post, and you have your choice of any books that I've reviewed in 2014.

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