Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (12)

Saturday, June 29, 2013 7:38 AM with 19 comments

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tyngas Reviews. This meme allows us to share the books we've recently added to our shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! *Clicking the link of a book's title will take you to Goodreads.


E-book ARCs

Truly, Madly, DeadlySome Quiet PlaceShallow Pond
45 Pounds (More or Less)Life's a Witch (Life's a Witch, #2)Big Girl Panties: A NovelLie Still
Right of WayHollow EarthThe Light in the Ruins

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
I seriously requested this book, like, 3 or 4 months ago and had completely given up on it when they approved me. I was so excited that I read it immediately. My review will be up on Monday.
Some Quiet Place by Kelsie Sutton
I'll be honest, I seriously debated requesting this one. That cover is amazing, but feelings literally personified? Like, fear as a person has me skeptical. Some blogger friends have given this the thumbs up though, so hopefully I'll agree.
Shallow Pond by Alissa Grosso
I can't even begin to tell you how impressed I was with this author's Popular (seriously it's awesome) so I'm excited to read her newest.
45 Pounds by K.A. Barson
A girl who has always struggled with her weight wants to lose 45 pounds before her aunt's wedding.
Life's a Witch by Britanny Geragolelis
A descendant of an original Salem witch leads her coven in finding their missing parents.
Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich
It sounds like it will be about a 32 year-old widow who falls for her personal trainer.
Lie Still by Julia Heaberlin
A murder mystery. With a cover design a little too much like Gone Girl (the strands of blond hair, but with a forehead and elbow), but I've been hearing good things.
Right of Way  by Lauren Barnholdt
A companion novel to the author's Two Way Street. It is my understanding that they are related, but that it is not necessary to have read the other book.
Hollow Earth by John and Carole Barrowman
12 year-old twins can make artwork come to life and enter paintings. Seriously, how cool is that?
The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
Set in Tuscany during WWII.

What I bought

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I know this is the one y'all will comment on. I know because everyone loves this book. I bought it for my vacation next week and I cannot wait to dive in.

What I snagged from the library

Let the Sky Fall (Sky Fall, #1)The Testing (The Testing, #1)Two-Way StreetPretty Girl-13

Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
I've heard great things about this girl who is a slyph (an air elemental--whatever that is) and the boy she has to protect.
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
So I was "invited" to read this from NetGalley only to find out there wasn't a Kindle option. I hate reading books on my computer, so I decided to wait until I could snag it from the library. I've heard mixed reviews and am pretty over dystopians, but I'll give it a shot. 
Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
Even though it isn't necessary to read first, I thought maybe I'd try to get through this one. It may or may not happen.
Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley
A girl is kidnapped from a camping trip and develops multiple personalities making her have to dig deep to remember what happened in the three years she was gone. I've heard great things about this one.

So that's all for me. What did you add to your shelves this week? Link me up!

Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin as we all know Google Reader is about to go by the wayside. (I like to follow back, so please let me know if you're a new follower--and leave a link!) Thank you!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pivot Point (Book Review)

Friday, June 28, 2013 10:31 AM with 21 comments

Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)

Pivot Point

Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 343
Release Date: February 12, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.


*********************************************************************************
I  featured this book on my Top Ten Tuesday post of favorite books so far this year. I wrote this review before I started this blog, but decided to feature it today. (1. Because even though I have a review to write, I'm too lazy to do it and 2. because Kasie West's new book, The Distance Between Us, comes out Tuesday and I can't wait to get my hands on it. In fact, I already plan to snag it on my way out of town for my mini-vacation.

MY THOUGHTS:

It felt like the author of Pivot Point, Kasie West, got herself a giant mixing bowl and stirred in those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, the movie Sliding Doors, the X-Men, the TV show Heroes, and just about any YA romance ever and stirred. Honestly, though, it totally works. I found Pivot Point engrossing and fast-paced and while it had some issues, I had a pretty good time reading it.

The novel follows Addison (Addie), a teenage Searcher living in the top-secret compound of mentally advanced people (I can't remember if they have a special name). All of the people who live in the compound have mental abilities. Some examples include Addie's mom who is a Persuader (she can, you know, persuade people to do stuff), her dad who is a Human Lie Detector, and her best friend who can erase memories. Others can control moods and manipulate mass. Addie falls under the category of a Clairvoyant, but her ability only works for her. What she can do is "search" two possible futures, if a question is proposed, allowing her to pick the best one. This ability is also sometimes referred to as Divergent, which was, I don't know, kind of weird. The novel opens with her finding out that her parents are getting divorced and they are giving her a choice, stay in the compound with her mom or move away from the compound into Normville with her father. The bulk of the novel is split into the two possible futures.

Staying at the compound would mean she wouldn't have to leave her best friend, Leila, behind. This possible future also contains the cute, popular quarterback who is suddenly showing interest in her. Addie is somewhat confused when Duke starts paying attention to her. He's the star of the school and has never paid any attention to her until now. While he seems genuine, I couldn't help but be skeptical about his intentions, as well, and wondered if he could really be trustworthy.

Moving away would allow her freedom from the compound she doesn't think is always doing the right thing (but this isn't the Hunger Games or any of those other rage against the machine books). This future also brings the cute, funny, former quarterback at the "normal" high school. Trevor is totally swoon-worthy and I couldn't help but root for this outcome, even if it meant life away from the compound, Leila, and Duke. 

Definitely one of my favorite aspects of the book was learning about the different powers of the compound's inhabitants. I've always been a huge fan of anything dealing with superpowers and have wasted many an hour contemplating which one I'd like best (and have still never really decided. Definitely not mind reading, but maybe being able to be invisible, maybe the ability to fly, or maybe something x-men style like being able to control metal). Regardless, I loved that aspect of the book and definitely felt bad for Addie that her mother can persuade and her father can tell when she's lying! How bad would that have sucked as a teen? I'm really excited for the next book and hope that it explores what everyone can do more thoroughly. 

Overall, I did enjoy Pivot Point. I really liked how the two possible futures were separate, but how both had common elements that tied them together--showing how some things are destined to happen no matter what choices are made. Both had the same character in danger, both had the scary bad guy, and both have a football controversy. While the story line isn't completely unique (with the obvious influences already stated), it was unique enough to be enjoyable. I liked Addie, her friends and love interest(s) (although it wasn't a true triangle--which is awesome). The story was fast-paced, the ending wasn't completely predictable, and I was invested to see which future she chose.

*I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Maine (A Summer Series Book Review)

Thursday, June 27, 2013 9:43 AM with 14 comments

I love summer books. I love the romance of summer. I love books about different vacation spots. I love books about road trips. I love seeing the beach on the cover of a book. To celebrate this lovely season, every Thursday I'm going to post a book and review of a summer book I'd recommend reading by the pool, at the beach, while driving across America (or whatever country you call home), in a hammock, in a cabin, on a boat, or at home as you dream of vacation. Happy Summer, everyone! 
 
This week's summer book is: 
 
Maine
Maine

Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Number of Pages: 388

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In her best-selling debut, Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan explored the complicated and contradictory landscape of female friendship. Now, in her highly anticipated second novel, Sullivan takes us into even richer territory, introducing four unforgettable women who have nothing in common but the fact that, like it or not, they’re family.

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.


***********************************************************************************
MY THOUGHTS:

If you didn't know better, it would be easy to write off Maine as a light-hearted, summer read; with its idyllic beach cover and flourished title writing, but it is not the easy, fun read you might expect. Which isn't to say that it was hard to get through, it just doesn't have the levity one might expect at first glance. Like a blurb on her book Commencement stated: it's the smart woman's beach read. It's funny this rash of East coast summer house books that have come out lately. Just a couple weeks before I read Maine I read Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews. Side by side descriptions of these two titles would make them seem like almost the same book, but they are really very different. The main reason for the difference is this: J. Courtney Sullivan allows for her characters to have deep, disturbing human flaws that the female characters in fluffy books just don't have. There were times when I down-right despised some of the women in this book, but I cared about them none-the-less because they were real, fleshed-out characters who were not all good or all bad.

The book follows four women of a family. The matriach, Alice; her daughter, Kathleen; Kathleen's daughter, Maggie; and Alice's daughter-in-law Anne Marie. The bulk of the action takes place at the isolated family summer home in Maine, although not all of the characters are there for the whole time. While the novel flits between all four women and all of the characters have fully-realized lives, the book belongs to Alice. Alice is a vile woman and an even worse mother. What keeps the reader invested is the glimpses of the past that show how her life has shaped her-although even young Alice can be a spiteful bitch-her alcoholic dad, the jealousy she feels for her sister, the desire to live an independent life at a time when almost all women had to get married and have children, and a guilt that consumes her that unfolds throughout the novel. This knowledge ALMOST makes up for her malice, although not quite.

She is the worst to her daughter Kathleen, who fled the east coast for California in middle age, leaving all of her family behind, including her two grown children. Her story revolves around her new life with her boyfriend on their worm farm (yes, you read that right). As much as she hates Alice, there are pieces of the two that are the same. This aspect of the book is done seamlessly, the reader understands how Ms. Sullivan is weaving this mother-daughter dance into the narrative, but it doesn't seem forced or fake.

Anne Marie is the outsider, although she married into the family decades earlier. She is obsessed with dollhouses and has her eye on a neighbor. She is treated like the daughter Alice never had, because neither of Alice's own daughters can stand her.

Finally, Maggie is the only character south of 40. She is in love with a man she knows isn't right for her and starts the novel pregnant with his child, but unable to tell him. Her story revolves around figuring out how she is going to live her life now that she will be a mother. Her relationship with Kathleen (her mom) is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Where Alice and Kathleen are distant, Kathleen and Maggie are uncomfortably close.

Overall, I liked Maine. Again, the characters are so fully-rounded it made me jealous, I know how hard it is to write characters the reader might not like without turning them into caricatures. This is the second book by Ms. Sullivan that I have enjoyed and I am excited to see what she comes out with next. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (12) No One Else Can Have You

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 9:19 AM with 57 comments
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. Click the link to see the original post plus a whole slew of links to other blogs. After you read this one, of course.


No One Else Can Have You No One Else Can Have You

Author: Kathleen Hale 
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: January 7, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.


Why I'm Excited:

I'm such a sucker for YA mysteries. This one sounds dark and funny at the same time. I love the Midwestern setting (billed as the teenage Fargo) and, for real, I just love this cover. The ugly sweater just screams the Midwest and the moose in the noose is just perfect. Love.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Link me up!

Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin as we all know Google Reader is about to go by the wayside. Thank you!!!

*Comments and followers are welcome and much appreciated. If you leave a comment, please leave me your link so I can come visit you. I will always try to follow those who are following me, but if I somehow miss you, please just let me know. Happy reading!*  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013






Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme/original feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click the link to go to their site to see the original list for today plus links to a whole slew of other blogs. After you read mine, of course.



Today's Topic is: Favorite 2013 books I've read
GoldenParallelPerfect Scoundrels (Heist Society, #3)Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)
WingerLife After TheftThe Mystery of Mercy Close: A Walsh Sister Novel 
Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)The Moon and MoreThe Reece Malcolm List
 Golden by Jessi Kirby
I absolutely adored this lovely novel of a high school senior trying to find her path. See my review Here.
Parallel by Lauren Miller
This was a fun book about a girl living parallel lives. Find my review Here.
Perfect Scondrels  by Ally Carter
I love the Heist Society books. I read this before I started this blog, but will probably post my review sometime (like when I don't have anything else planned because I got sucked into watching ID for hours instead of reading a book).
Mind Games by Kiersten White
This is a polarizing book, but I loved it and can't wait to find out what happens next. I read this before I started this blog, but will definitely post my review sometime this summer.
Winger by Andrew Smith
I loved this funny and heartbreaking story that follows a 14 year-old junior at a boarding school. Find my review Here. 
Life After Theft by Aprilynn Pike
This is a fun book that follows a teenaged boy trying to help a snobby ghost find her way to the afterlife. Find my review Here. 
The final Walsh sister finally gets her own story. Find my review Here. 
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Another fun parallel worlds book. I read this one earlier in the year, but will post a review this summer sometime.
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Not my favorite Sarah Dessen, but still a great summer book. Find my review Here.
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
I have much love for this book about a teenager meeting and living with her mother for the first time after her father's death. Featuring show choirs. Again, I read this one earlier in the year, but will post my review sometime this summer.

So that's it for me. What have you loved so far this year? Link me up!

Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin as we all know Google Reader is about to go by the wayside. Thank you!!!

*Comments and followers are welcome and much appreciated. If you leave a comment, please leave me your link so I can come visit you. I will always try to follow those who are following me, but if I somehow miss you, please just let me know. Happy reading!*  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dirty Little Secret (Early Book Review)

Monday, June 24, 2013 10:22 AM with 28 comments
Dirty Little SecretDirty Little Secret

Author: Jeenifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Number of Pages: 288
Release Date: July 16, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

**********************************************************************************
MY THOUGHTS:
I've never been a fan of country music. This may not seem like a big deal, but I grew up in Wyoming. My high school mascot was the Plainsmen (and Plainswomen) and my university mascot was the Cowboys. Wyoming is the true West and country music is prevalent. This isn't to say that other music didn't exist. Luckily, I grew up in Wyoming's university town (yes, there is only one) so there was plenty of variety and I was exposed to lots of different types of music, but country was definitely king. I have plenty of love and respect for old school country greats like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Johnny Cash and I'm not ashamed to admit to liking Taylor Swift, but for the most part, country music makes my ears bleed and I'd rather go to the dentist for an all-day procedure than listen to the country station for more than 15 minutes. That said, I was really excited to read Dirty Little Secret, the newest book from author Jennifer Echols that tackles the lives of country musicians living in Nashville.

It's going to sound contradictory, but I've always been a fan of the city of Nashville. It's a beautiful town and there is just a joy that comes from a city built on live music (despite everything I just said, I will listen to pretty much anything if it's live). I remember a family trip to Nashville where we stayed at the beautiful Grand Ole Opry Hotel and actually caught a show at the Grand Ole Opry House, which was amazing. So it was fun to be able to picture the scenes that were described in the book.

Dirty Little Secret follows a teenager named Bailey. Bailey has just graduated high school and is spending the summer at her grandfather's house while she waits to start Vanderbilt in the fall. Bailey has been "dumped" into her grandfather's lap after she was in a car crash with her now ex-boyfriend before the novel starts. Her parents can no longer watch after her because they are too busy helping her younger sister, Julie, fulfill her country superstar dreams. Bailey and Julie spent their entire lives as a duet. Touring the state fairs and bluegrass circuits throughout their entire childhoods, Bailey is shocked and hurt when record executives swoop in and sign Julie to a solo deal. Bailey, the fiddler, always sang harmony to Julie's guitar and melody, but it was Bailey's songs they sang and Bailey's pitch that was perfect. The worst betrayal though, is the fact that her parents want her to quit music altogether. They make her quit any form of social media and forbid her to play music. The record company is afraid that Julie's image will suffer if people find out that she used to be a duet with her now discarded sister. Bailey's parents agree that they will pay for her schooling at Vanderbilt under the condition that she not draw any attention to herself over the summer.

Regardless of their wishes, Bailey does find a summer job playing back-up to the various musician impersonators that walk around the mall playing old favorites. She plays with "Elvis" and "Dolly" and eventually works with "Johnny Cash" and his son, Sam. Immediately, Bailey knows Sam will be trouble. Gorgeous and talented Sam zooms in on Bailey and her fiddle, believing she is exactly what his band needs to make it to the next level. Even though she knows she shouldn't, Bailey agrees to play with Sam's band "for one night only" and the group rocks it.

Playing with the band brings a whole set of complications. Not only is her college career on the line if she disobeys her parents, but the other members of the band don't seem particularly over-joyed at the prospect of a new member. The drummer, Courtney, especially has a problem with Bailey. Courtney is in love with Sam and she is not at all happy when she sees the chemistry brewing between Sam and Bailey.

Overall, I did enjoy Dirty Little Secret. It's a relatively quick read, clocking in at under 300 pages. I love books that revolve around music in some way (yes, even country) especially books that follow musicians. I enjoyed Bailey's character, but did wish that she would grow a backbone and stand up to her parents. Speaking of, I found the characterization of her parents to be unrealistic. To spend so much time on your daughters only to sweep one of them completely aside just didn't ring true to me. I've only read one other book by Jennifer Echols, Such a Rush, and the mother in that book was just awful, too. I'm not going to go on my "bad parent in YA" rant today, but it still grates me. Along the same lines, you are supposed to believe that her sister, whose life she has always been a huge part of, would also cast her aside. Maybe I'm underestimating the power of the almighty dollar, but I also have a sister that I love very much, and there's just no way I would ever ask for her to give up something that she loves, while also casting her aside. Seriously.

I did enjoy the growing relationship between Sam and Bailey. Jennifer Echols certainly knows how to create chemistry between two characters. Things get pretty steamy quickly between the two and I was definitely rooting for them to get together. But Sam isn't without his faults, as well. The only thing he seems to care about is making it big any way he can. This drive is admirable to a point, but it soon becomes apparent that relationships are secondary, which made rooting for him a little harder. Bailey finds out that he has had a long string of girlfriends in the past year before landing on her, and she wonders if he will ever be able to truly care for another person.

In sum, I would recommend Dirty Little Secret if you enjoy books that follow musicians, or are just looking for a summer romance. Again, it's a quick and easy read and though far from perfect, a good summer book. 

*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (11)

Saturday, June 22, 2013 9:41 AM with 28 comments
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tyngas Reviews. This meme allows us to share the books we've recently added to our shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! *Clicking the link of a book's title will take you to Goodreads.


E-Book ARCs 
Dirty Little SecretSince You AskedThe Bat: The First Inspector Harry Hole Novel 
Brooklyn GirlsThis is W.A.R.The Book of Secrets
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols
A fiddler player gets roped into a band with a sexy guitar player even though she's supposed to be staying out of the spotlight. I've actually already started this. My review will be up Monday.
Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
A Korean-American teenager lands her own column in the school newspaper after one of her rants gets accidentally published.
The Bat by Jo Nesbo
I've always been curious about this series and could never understand why the first book available in America was the third one. The first book is finally being released here.
Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess
The first book in a series about 5 20-somethings sharing a Brooklyn brownstone.
This is W.A.R. by Lisa and Laura Roecker
A group of girls band together to take down a boy and his family after he murders one of their friends.
The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold
I'm not exactly sure what this one is about, but it's billed as a combination of Eleanor Brown and Gillian Flynn, which, seriously--sold!
What I Bought
The Weird Sisters 
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
I've already read this delightful novel of three adult sisters, all named after Shakespeare heroines, who all find themselves living at home. I loved it and found it for $2 in great condition. I love my used bookstore.
What I snagged from the library 

 The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the DogTruth or Dare (Truth or Dare, #1)Mothership (Ever-Expanding Universe, #1)
 The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the WorldLadies' Night 
The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster
I love her books.
Truth or Dare  by Jacqueline Green
I've been dying to read this book about a game of truth or dare that spins out of control. I honestly don't know why.
I've heard this book about a spaceship full of pregnant teens is hilarious.
The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales
The author of the newspaper article has expanded her research into a book now that it is a movie. I've read the first few pages and can already tell it probably won't hold my interest for an entire book, but that is what the library is for.
Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews
This book is huge! I was surprised at how big it was when I picked it up (I'd pre-ordered). To be honest, this one probably won't happen in the 3 week time limit due to review books, but hopefully I'll get to it eventually.
Well that's all for me. What did you add to your shelves this week? Link me up!


Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin as we all know Google Reader is about to go by the wayside. Thank you!!!

*Comments and followers are welcome and much appreciated. If you leave a comment, please leave me your link so I can come visit you. I will always try to follow those who are following me, but if I somehow miss you, please just let me know. Happy reading!*


Friday, June 21, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful (Movie Review)

Friday, June 21, 2013 12:23 PM with 5 comments
Oz The Great and Powerful: With 8 Pages of Photos From The Movie!
















Oz the Great and Powerful

Director:
Writer(s): (screenplay),  (screenplay), based on books by L. Frank Baum
Starring:, , , Michelle Williams, and Zach Braff
Rating: PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language

Sypnopsis:

Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. At first he thinks he's hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking. That all changes, however, when he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well. Written byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
*********************************************************************
MY THOUGHTS:
For months before Oz the Great and Powerful was released I was so excited. From the early pictures of Michelle Williams conjuring fog in the forest in Entertainment Weekly, to the preview shown on the IMAX screen I saw The Hobbit on, I just couldn't wait. And then I found out it was rated PG (I'm not sure what I was expecting) and seriously dismal reviews started pouring in and I just never made it to the theater to see it (although I rarely see movies in the theater--so it really wasn't that big of a deal). I finally sat down to watch it last night and I think my considerably lowered expectations actually helped me enjoy the movie quite a bit more than I would have had I watched it on opening weekend when my expectations were sky-high.

Oz the Great and Powerful follows Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a two-bit magician who travels with The Baum Brothers Circus (wink, wink) with his trusty side-kick Frank (Zack Braff). As one would expect, the movie does open in black and white. The scene opens with Oscar, who goes by the stage name of Oz, trying to seduce his new magician's assistant by giving her a music box that he claims belonged to his grandmother, the war hero. It quickly becomes apparent between his obvious lying to the naive woman and the way he cheats Frank out of rightful share of that day's take, that Oz is not a good man. After being booed from the stage after his performance, Oz is forced to run from the circus' strongman after he finds a similar music box that Oz gave his woman. Oz jumps into a hot-air balloon to get away and is promptly sucked into an approaching tornado which, of course, lands him in Oz.

A lovely witch named Theodora (Mila Kunis) comes to investigate Oz's crash landing and is over-joyed when she finds that a magical man named Oz has appeared. It can only mean that the prophecy of her father is coming true: a great wizard who bears the name of their land will defeat the wicked witch and take his place of ruler of the land. Oz, seeing the potential of great money and power, tells her that he is the wizard of the prophecy. Flying monkeys are immediately dispatched and the pair find themselves on the run. After the two spend the night together dancing to a spare music box Oz still has in his magician's coat, Theodora is Smitten (with a capital S) and begins to prattle on about how he will be a great king and she will be the queen by his side. Oz is startled (and obviously a bit scared), but he plays it off as best as he can. Theodora takes him to the castle to present him to the throne and to introduce him to her sister, Evanora (Rachel Weiss). Evanora is a bit more doubtful of Oz's so-called magic and doesn't believe he is the wizard of the prophecy. She shows him the room full of treasure that will belong to him if he should become king, before reminding him of the caveat: he must kill the wicked witch before he can become king. So off Oz goes down the yellow brick road in his quest to find the wicked witch and to break her wand (which will somehow destroy her), only to find that the so-called wicked witch may not be the bad one after all.

For the most part, I really did enjoy this movie, although it is far from perfect. I liked the winks at the original film, like the way he finds travelling partners in a small flying monkey (not related the evil ones) voiced by Zach Braff and a little China girl he helps put back together using glue. Visually the movie is stunning, with eye-popping colors and beautiful panoramas. I liked the way the people of Oz who he is supposed to save have jobs like tinkers (who I'm sure will eventually put together the Tin Man) and a villager who specializes in the making of scarecrows. I loved the trio of witches and the actresses who portray them.

I did find myself rolling my eyes more than once at the CGI. Sometimes it is just too much. There is a scene where Glinda is trying to keep Oz from falling off a cliff that looks so fake it's not even funny. I also sometimes felt like we were in Wonderland instead of Oz with the huge, unfurling flowers that I don't remember being a part of the story. The humor was a little flat and some of the dialogue was trite, but as a child-free adult, I often find PG humor and dialogue flat and boring.

Overall, my complaints didn't hinder my enjoyment of the film. I liked watching the character arcs of Oz as he becomes the man the land of Oz needs him to be. I also liked the origin story of the witch who eventually turns green and is scared of water (if you've seen even a single trailer you already know which one it is). It is a little anti-climatic to know how the story will inevitably end, but it's still a pretty fun journey.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Series
I love summer books. I love the romance of summer. I love books about different vacation spots. I love books about road trips. I love seeing the beach on the cover of a book. To celebrate this lovely season, every Thursday I'm going to post a book and review of a summer book I'd recommend reading by the pool, at the beach, while driving across America (or whatever country you call home), in a hammock, in a cabin, on a boat, or at home as you dream of vacation. Happy Summer, everyone! 
 
This week's summer book is: 
 
My Life Next Door
My Life Next Door

Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: June 14, 2012
Number of Pages: 362

Synopsis from Goodreads

A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another
 
One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.

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MY THOUGHTS:

Samantha lives in a hermetically sealed, obsessively clean house (her mother vacuums literally everyday) with her senator mother. Her older sister is away for the summer with her boyfriend, and then is leaving in the fall for college. Samantha, although rich and privileged, works two jobs and watches the loud, joyful, messy house full of kids next door in awe. Her mother has always been disgusted by this family, the Garretts, shaking her head at the noise and mess and at Mrs. Garrett who is constantly pregnant. Samantha, though, is intrigued, and she watches their lives from her special spot on the roof outside of her bedroom. Then one day, Jas Garrett climbs up the trellis to sit next to her and their story begins.

My Life Next Door is one of those swoon-worthy stories of first love. You can feel the sunshine radiating out of this sweet book and can't help but feel that warm first brush. This is one of those perfectly done books of two people falling in love for the first time that will transport you back to your own halcyon summer days. First love is so hard to get right, but under this author's capable hands I was positively a-swooning. The author also handled sex in an appropriate, healthy and realistic way that is also so rare in YA.


The story is not all rainbows and butterflies, however. Her mother is currently working on her campaign to get re-elected and has hired an asshat named Clay to oversee her campaign, and seems to be falling for him. Samantha watches on in despair as he pulls her mother along on puppet strings. Her mother, while distant, is also completely controlling and unnatural strict, and Sam, the consummate good girl, tries her best to tow her mother's line. Samantha's best friend's twin brother, Tim, has become addicted to drugs and alcohol and is headed for disaster. There is also a real divide between Sam and Jas financially, which shouldn't be an issue, but how can it not be.

These things make for a stronger story, of course. So as sweet as the story is, it stops short of being saccharine. The book stays fairly real. I really enjoyed this one. I loved Jas's large family, his younger brother, George, especially. I loved both Sam and Jas and was invested in their relationship. I love books like this. These warm, summer, love-fest reads that make life seem that much sweeter. Highly recommend.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday (11)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 9:15 AM with 50 comments
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. Click the link to see the original post plus a whole slew of links to other blogs. After you read this one, of course.


Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer Marie Antoinette Serial Killer

Author: Katie Alender
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: September 24, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.


Why I'm Excited:

I'm pretty sure that title says it all. I love books that uncover dark, secret histories. And I seriously love this cover. The candy colors. The blurb that "Heads Will Roll." This looks hilarious.

What about you? What are you waiting for on this Wednesday in Spring? Link me up!

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