Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Monday, What's on the Cover?


Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances

"Taking stock of the last few months spent here at the border of Darfur, Sudan -- the cusp of hell -- I savored how God had knit these women into the fiber of my soul in ways that I'd never imagined possible back in the day of my corporate-ladder climbing. Love for them had changed my whole world. It had changed me. Now it was time for me to take what I'd been shown here back to my home in America with prayers that it, too, would be transformed. My soul felt as restless and insecure as my feat did shuffling at the edge of the cliff."


That's just a little taste of Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances by Kimberly L. Smith. I have this one courtesy of The B&B Media Group. This is Smith's story about her mission trip to Africa. There are deep religious ties at the heart of the book, but I got it to become more knowledgeable about the human rights violations going on in Africa. I have a feeling this won't be an easy story to read. Look at that cover. The skull leaves nothing to the imagination.


Note: A Review of Blue by Lou Aronica will be posted on Thursday. Stay tuned!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In my Mailbox: Vlog Edition

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Anyone can participate in IMM, and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library. The books I will be talking about is actually a two-week haul. This week I decided to challenge myself and do a vlog. This week you actually get to see my face instead of that cute kitten in the last video I did. So here goes (no laughing from the peanut gallery)...



For review from Bloomsbury:
Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

For review from Little Bird Publicity:
Nickel Plated by Aric Davis

For review from Algonquin books:
Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt
Paris Was Ours by Penelope Rowlands
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow -- I already have the hardcover edition of this book, so this one is available for a giveaway. I'm not making a Google Docs for this one. All I ask is that you be a follower of my blog and a resident of the U.S. or Canada. E-mail me at bookangel224@gmail.com to enter. Entries are open until Feb. 13. Good luck!!!

For review from author:
The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

Bought:
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova


After looking at that I apologize, the voice track is off. I don't know how to fix that yet. Hopefully, it will be better by the next one!! Happy reading!

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's Friday, time to hop!!

Book Blogger Hop
Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book? I have to say Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult. It comes out on March 1. I don't generally buy hardcovers, but I might make an exception with this one. Yes, Ms. Picoult tends to go for the more controversial or schmaltzy topics, but I love her books. My Sister's Keeper is one of my favorites. Here's the trailer from Simon & Schuster:




Here are some blogs I came across:
http://bookaholicaanonymous.blogspot.com/
http://bellmay30.blogspot.com/
http://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com/

Notes: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature, and my giveaway for a signed copy of Delirious by Daniel Palmer is still open. Click the tabs at the top of the page for details. Happy reading!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My take on: Delirious

DeliriousLike most reviews I post, I have to start this one with a little anecdote. I finished Delirious by Daniel Palmer on Monday while under the dryer at the hair salon. Normally the heat from the dryer knocks me out, and I don't get a lot of reading done. That is until this past Monday. As a whole, Delirious is an engaging mystery, but the last 120 pages is an adrenaline rush. I forgot all about the heat from the dryer because I wanted to know what happened. How was this all going to end?

Before we get there lets start at the beginning. The book opens with the suicide of Charlie Giles' former business partner Eddie. Charlie moves on, selling his electronics company to a large conglomerate, SoluCent. He focuses on business and doesn't dwell on a series of failed romances or his complicated family life. His runaway father, and brother Joe suffer from schizophrenia. His mother is left to pick up the pieces caring for Joe. As much as Charlie wants to remove himself from his family, the pull is always there. Family and business are about to collide with deadly consequences.

A mysterious woman named Anne Pedersen convinces Charlie that his role at SoluCent is one the brink. They hatch a plan to prevent this, but doing so sets off a series of events. Charlie's actions to save his career make him look crazy, especially when no one can find the mysterious Anne Pedersen. He starts finding mysterious notes in his handwriting. But Charlies doesn't remember writing them. Could Joe be responsible? Or is Charlie losing his mind? Is he more like his brother than he cares to admit? Then several of his colleagues are murdered.

As a character, Charlie is man who likes to be in control. When that power is taken away Charlie descends to the edge of sanity. It's a very emotional spiral down, one that results in being committed to a mental hospital. He pushes away the help available to him. If he confides in Joe or seeks his help, Charlie has to admit they are alike and mental illness isn't so attractive in the business world.

Is this the ultimate setup? I started to think that myself. No one could carry out something this elaborate. Why would someone go to these lengths? Charlie has to be going crazy. Everything he says and does sounds like someone who is losing their grip on reality. He starts thinking everyone is out to get him. Even when proof is presented to the contrary, Charlie won't give up the delusion. You can feel Charlie's desperation to prove his innocence. Every time he gets somewhere, something happens to drag him back down. But then in the last 120 pages, you start thinking maybe Charlie isn't delusional. Maybe someone is out to get him. But who?

Right up until the end, Palmer keeps you guessing. It was hard to put the book down in those final 100 pages. The final resolution, I think, does ask for some suspension of disbelief. But this is a well-written thriller, it was hard to believe this is a debut novel. If you like fast-paced, emotional thrill rides, pick this one up.

Rating: Superb

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. To learn more about author Daniel Palmer visit: http://www.danielpalmerbooks.com/. I also have a signed copy available for review, click the tab at the top of the page for details.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Monday, let's try something different!!


Blue

Happy Monday everyone! Today is the day when I talk about the covers of the books I'm reading. I've started Blue by Lou Aronica. It's a YA title with a mix of fantasy. The cover is very blue indeed, looked more like a sci-fi book than YA. A teenage girl named Becky and her father Chris are at a crossroads. They don't speak, at least not like when she was younger. When Becky was five, she and her father created a fantasy world. It was a way to distract Becky from her illness. It was a way for them to bound. Here is a little taste from Blue....




I'm still learning the wonders of YouTube videos. Now that I have started, I might not stop. Isn't that kitten cute? It's taken me nearly a year of owning this laptop to discover I had avatars on my program. I could have been posting personal videos much sooner. Perhaps if I get a little more comfortable, I will do a Vlog. Right now I'm like a kid with a new toy because I just discovered how to do something new. If I can I will post a picture of hair all done up!! Hope you like the new feature, if you do I will keep it. Happy reading everyone!!

Notes: I'm looking for takers for next month's edition of What's Up Tweeps?! Also the giveaway for Delirious by Daniel Palmer is still open. Just click the tabs at the top of the page for details. I'm 100 pages from the end of Delirious, and so far the book is awesome. I can't believe this is a debut. I know I said I would post a review a few days ago, but I got a little behind. It will be up very soon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

To disclose or not disclose?


The HelpLike Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (P.S.)by Betty Smith (Author)A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Paperback)   

Off the top of my head, my all-time favorite books are The Help, Like Water for Chocolate, The Poisonwood Bible and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I don't like one more than the other, but I wanted everyone to know that. Sometimes I buy more books than I should, I just wanted everyone to know that. I think the DVR is one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread. With all the books I read, I would miss out on a lot of my favorite shows (The Good Wife, CSI and the 10,000 versions of Law & Order) without it. I just wanted everyone to know that. It took me two weeks, including several hours of lost sleep, to decide on my blog design and name, I just wanted everyone to know that. Barring disaster, in April my blog will be getting a complete facelift, I just wanted everyone to know that.

My name is Jael. And this is what I look like:

I don't normally look that made up, in fact 97 percent of the time I don't look like that. Right now my hair is still pinned up! I could probably frighten small children right now. I'm in need of a relaxer and a haircut, but that will have to wait a few more days. At the time of this picture, the wedding called for all the makeup and fuss. But I wanted everyone to know that.

What's with the sudden need to talk? Just yesterday I took a Learning Annex class on blogging. In fact it was advertised as ways to make money fast blogging. I'm a blogger and I figured why not? There could be some useful tips in the class. After 20 minutes, I got the sense that wasn't what this class was about. It was more about using blogging to grow your business. I don't own a business, but there were a lot of good tips that did apply to me.

One of those tips was about disclosure.

"Disclosure:. 1.The act or process of revealing or uncovering.; 2.Something uncovered; a revelation." -- Answers.com

There was a lengthy discussion on the topic. How much you should. Why you should. The main reasons for disclosure? Honesty. Transparency. Integrity.

With every review I write, I do say at the end, "A received a copy of the book from author, publicist and/or publisher in exchange for an honest review." But I don't always give the specific publisher or publicist. Why I don't know. Didn't really seem necessary when I started, but I will from now on. I always do my best to blog with integrity, and there's no reason not to tell everything. If you're not going to blog with integrity, why bother at all?

I'm also an Amazon affiliate. Which means if you click the cover images I post with my reviews and buy a copy, I get a small percentage. My issues with Amazon.com and their policies began after I started blogging, which is partly why I ignore their e-mails. I've received messages from them asking what type of payment I want and where to send it. I just click delete for two reasons: 1. I set my account up so long ago, I don't even remember my password, 2. I'm not interested in profiting from a company that was willing to sell a book by a pedophile. The cover images I get from Amazon are purely to provide picture of the book.

Also in the interest of disclosure, I do hope to make a career in publishing/and or blogging. The books are a very, very, very, nice perk, but I do not make a dime off of this blog. My blog is merely a tool to help me reach my career goals and to express myself creatively. A tool to break the monotony everyday life can bring. A tool to improve my writing and a tool to help me get the word out about some of the great books and writers out there.

If you're a blogger, and it doesn't matter what you write about, think back to why you started doing it. I bet it wasn't to make money. If it happens, I'm sure that's a nice feeling. But a blog is basically an online diary. It isn't about perfection because it's going to take a while to get where you are going. It's going to take a while to find your voice and niche, something I'm still learning. A blog is place to vent your frustration, a place to be creative, a place to have fun, a place to be silly, a place to be funny, a place to tell people about your life, a place to tell about the things you love, a place to tell about the things you hate. Above all, it's your space to let people know about you and what makes you you.

After reading this I hope you know a little bit more about me, and why I have this blog. But in case you forgot, some of my all-time favorite books are The Help, Like Water for Chocolate, The Poisonwood Bible and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I just wanted everyone to know that!


Jael

My take on: Sukkwan Island

Ever dream of packing it all up and leaving the city? Go to someplace remote and start a new life. Living off the land, fending for yourself. Living the life you know you were supposed to live. Everyone has had that dream at some point in their life, including me. Except in my dream, I'm in a log cabin with a TV, internet, and near a grocery store. I'm not actually into some of the harder aspects like chopping wood, storing food for the winter, catching fish, or hunting animals. Would I actually do it? I don't know. Maybe after I've lived my life, you know after getting married, having kids, visit Africa, visit Australia, visited all 50 states, and so many other things.

Sukkwan Island: A Novella from Legend of Suicide by David Vann flips that idyllic vision that most people have. Instead we have a dark and sometimes difficult to read tale. Jim and his son Roy pack up everything and move to a remote Alaskan island. The move is Jim's dream, which is forced upon Roy. You can sense right away that this is a strained relationship. Jim is more into the lifestyle than Roy. A year away from civilization is supposed to be a fun bonding experience, but it just drives them further apart.

"Roy didn't feel any closer to his father than he had on their occasional vacations and he wondered if this would change at all."

At times Roy seems like the parent, and Jim is the immature, emotional child. Roy is doing the bulk of the work, gathering wood, catching fish, and cooking. While Jim moves from project to project, and ends each night crying. All Roy wants to do is escape. Was moving away the right decision? Is it right for a parent to force their dream on their child.?

"There was nothing Roy could think of to say, so he didn't say anything. But he wondered why they were here at all, when everything important to his father was somewhere else."

Told from Roy and Jim's point of view the story offers a complex dichotomy of how they see the world. Roy is more rational about life. He wonders why someone would choose to live this way. All they have is each other, but sometimes they don't even talk. Dinners are in silence. Roy is equally sullen, coming to resent his father. The ending of the first half of the story is a big shocker. I can't be specific, but it was definitely a direction I wasn't expecting.

In the second half, it's Jim's turn to narrate and we actually learn his name after having Roy call him "father" the whole time. My view of Jim didn't change didn't when it was his turn to narrate. His thoughts seem just as scatterbrained as Roy described. Only when he was forced to did Jim realize how much he needs Roy or that Roy's feelings mattered. When push comes to shove he faces reality.

As a whole, the story is depressing but well told. The reading experience was totally different for me since this was an e-book. Normally I find a comfy position on the couch and read my book. Since I don't have an e-reader I had to read this on my laptop. Not the best experience for my first e-book, but fortunately that didn't cloud my opinion of the story!

Rating: Superb

Notes: I was pointed to this free e-book by the publisher HarperCollins. The book is available for free until Jan. 25. Check out the following links of you would like to read this novella:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sukkwan-Island-Novella-Material-ebook/dp/B004H1U1UW/

Sony: http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/david-vann/sukkwan-island-free-novella-with-bonus-material/_/R-400000000000000323488

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Sukkwan-Island-Free-Novella-With/book-fB2kqTTDI0m-OwhHIu1OXA/page1.html

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's Up Tweeps?! No. 4


Welcome to What's up Tweeps?! No. 4. It's a monthly feature where we take a look at book related topics or whatever else tickles my fancy. January's question was:  How would you encourage a non-reader to read? I have this problem with my little brother. He thinks reading is for girls. I disagree. What are everyone's thoughts on the matter?

Here are a few words from my 10-year-old little brother on the subject: Hmmmmmmmmmmm!! I don't like reading because it makes me fall asleep in about five minutes. Instead of reading I would rather be doing math problems. Reading even gives me headaches sometimes. I would rather watch TV and play video games. Beside who invented reading? Why does there have to be a state reading test if you don't like to read? I think reading is stupid. People don't need it to help them with their writing and grammar when they can just use a dictionary.

What are my thoughts: Obviously at 28, I disagree with the thoughts of a certain 10-year-old. Some of things he said were in jest, but some I know he meant. Reading can help with so many other facets of your life. At 10, he just doesn't see it yet. To him reading is a big inconvenience. I have bought several books for him over the past several months. Some he likes, some he doesn't and anyway you slice it, he won't read it. We are total opposites. I have always loved to read from age 5, and that won't change. I haven't given up yet, but he doesn't make it easy.

Thoughts from Laura at The Shabby Rabbit (http://theshabbyrabbit.blogspot.com/): Leave books that may interest them....in the bathroom. :) It's worked before! ie: books of short stories...try King..or westerns or star trek books. Those are quick reads. Bet they read them whether they admit it or not. just check for the dog-eared pages.


Next month's question: James Frey is fleecing budding writers. Frey has created a publishing company, where students co-write novels with him for as little as $500, $250 or in some cases nothing. The bulk of the work is done by the students. Frey has "some" input. This is done on the premise that book will eventually become a bestseller, and then they reap the benefits. They've already achieved that with one book, "I am Number Four." Is Frey merely trying to help or is he robbing impressionable college students blind? Email responses to bookangel224@gmail.com Entries are open until Feb. 18. Happy reading everyone!

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's Monday, What's on the Cover?


Girl, Stolen (Christy Ottaviano Books)

"The girl in the backseat wouldn't stop yelling. She had black hair and huge brown eyes, wide with fright. Maybe she was pretty. Griffin didn't know. All he knew was that right now she was a big problem. Even though he was freaking out, he forced himself to think. Thank God no one was nearby."

Sounds interesting, and that's just the start of the second chapter. In keeping with my new rule (three review books, one personal), I'm starting a book from my personal reading pile. Months ago I won a copy of Girl Stolen by April Henry from Goodreads. A 16-year-old blind girl is sleeping the backseat of the car, unbeknownst to the man who steals the car. Where does this journey lead? I've been wanting to read this one for a while. Look at the cover. We don't know what she looks like, but the air of fright is there. One of her eyes is peeking through, but it's all black. An omen perhaps? Doesn't sound like a happy story. Stay tuned!


Notes: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature and I'm still hosting a giveaway for Delirious by Daniel Palmer. Click the tabs at the top of the page for details. And, I hope to have a review of Delirious up by the end of the week. Happy reading!

Friday, January 14, 2011

My take on: The Secret Life of Sandrina M

"She understood now that being in love wasn't the result of weak character or mal-intent but rather a small spark that was struck inadvertently and could eventually make a whole forest burn. Especially if the forest had been left too dry too long." Pg. 293

What if you had everything, but felt it just wasn't enough? Something is missing. The passion and drive that was there so readily when you were younger isn't as strong. You're just going through the motions. Would you risk everything, career and family, to find that spark again? Would it be worth it? And at what cost?

In the Secret Life of Sandrina M. by Jessica Dee Rohm, Sandrina Morgan has it all. A successful business in public relations and a husband who loves her. After 15 years of marriage, Sandrina and her husband Michael have developed a comfortable life. But after a miscarriage Sandrina is questioning her life and her marriage. The miscarriage while devastating to her, was a relief for Michael. Her feelings are tossed aside by Michael. The pregnancy gave her an even greater purpose in life, and when that's gone what's left? A husband too concerned with his failing business to acknowledge his wife's feelings.

"...it had been only her fleeting pregnancy that gave her a feeling of true purpose. And knowing that Michael held this power over her  full realization of herself, made her feel toward him something close to hate."

A business trip to Brazil changes everything. There's an instant connection between Sandrina and businessman Warren Waterhouse. The intimacy has been lacking in her marriage. But I wondered, would someone like Sandrina even be feeling this way if circumstances were normal? She resents her husband, but would Michael act the way he did if his business wasn't failing? Sandrina is not at her best. If you just lost someone or something you had longing for for years, would you be in your right mind. A grieving person acts much different than someone who isn't. But can she ignore the attraction or give in?  Warren can truly see her to the core or at least she thinks so.

"Despite her evasion, she knew he saw her demons, 100 percent proof and completely clear, just like a bottle of vodka. She was unhappy and unfulfilled, just like him."

The ensuing relationship is very sensual. The language is very sensual, if that's not your cup of tea don't read it. But Jessica Dee Rohm had me believing in this relationship. It seemed very real to me. I thought maybe they are meant to be together, but what about Michael? Living in the moment with Warren doesn't come without consequences. Her personal and professional life suffer. Things she would normally be on top of get ignored. Her mentor Joshua Baum becomes her moral compass. He tries to make her see the light. But will she? Sandrina worked hard for what she has, and it's crumbling. Which left me wondering, is it worth it? Is a hot new relationship worth breaking up a 15-year marriage? Once the passion of the new relationship dissipates, what is left?

The story is very believable. Regardless of your economic or racial background, problems in your work and love life are universal. There is also a lead character you can get behind, despite her faults.

Rating: Give it a try

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. For more information on author Jessica Dee Rohm visit: http://jessicadeerohm.com/

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hop, hop, hop!!

Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: Why do you read the genre you do? What draws you to it? Just one genre? I'm not sure I can pick. I have a couple of YA books coming up as part of blog tours. I also have adult books on my reading pile. I'm also reading Life by Keith Richards. I'm all over the map. I enjoy mysteries because reading them is like solving a big puzzle. I love puzzles. But if I had to pick, I would go with books that focus on family drama. Those seem more real to me. I can relate to a family in turmoil more than I can a paranormal romance or dystopian novel. How about everyone else?

Here are some blogs I came across:

Notes: I'm hosting a giveaway for Delirious by Daniel Palmer, details here http://asiturnthepages.blogspot.com/p/delirious-giveaway.html

Also, I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature, details here http://asiturnthepages.blogspot.com/p/whats-up-tweeps.html

Monday, January 10, 2011

What's that on my computer!


Sukkwan Island Free Novella with Bonus Material

I confess I'm reading an e-book, Sukkwan Island by David Vann, and it came from Amazon. I have issues with Amazon's policies. But since this e-book was free, I figured they can't benefit from it. The material seemed interesting as well. A teenager and his father uproot their lives to live on a secluded island in Alaska. So far I'm thinking why would someone want to do that? Fending for yourself amongst the elements, fishing, hunting, gathering wood and....having to use an outhouse! I'm a city girl, and just can't imagine doing those things long term. Maybe for a vacation, but that's it.

E-reading is a new experience for me. I don't really like e-reading. To me reading was already a simple enough task before it went high-tech. While reading this book, I want to flip the pages but I can't. The glare from the computer just isn't my cup of tea. I'm a person who likes a physical book. I enjoy flipping the pages. What about everyone else?

The book is available for a free download until Jan. 25 from the following sites:
http://www.amazon.com/Sukkwan-Island-Novella-Material-ebook/dp/B004H1U1UW/
http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/david-vann/sukkwan-island-free-novella-with-bonus-material/_/R-400000000000000323488
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Sukkwan-Island-Free-Novella-With/book-fB2kqTTDI0m-OwhHIu1OXA/page1.html

It is also available in the iBookstore for Apple products, and should be available for the Nook shortly.
 
 
Notes: I'm still looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. I'm extending the giveaway for Delirious by Daniel Palmer until Jan. 25. I was mistaken on the date of publication, it is Jan. 25 not Jan. 11. Take a look at the tabs at the top of the page for details on both. Plus I hope to have a review of The Secret Life of Sandrina M. up by the end of the week! Happy reading!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My take on: Before I Fall

I don't know if it's possible, but I loved and hated Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver all at the same time. Loved her writing and had some major hate for the main character Samantha "Sam" Kingston. Sam and her friends Lindsay, Elody and Ally were the type of girls I would have hated in high school. The mean girls. The popular girls who travel in packs with their equally cool boyfriends. The type of girls who ignore or make fun of people who aren't like them. Oliver adeptly taps into the teenage angst, which I'm sure many of us felt growing up. In the 10 and half years since I graduated from high school, I can truthfully say I never want to go back.

Sam is a high school senior with an air of invincibility. Nothing can bring her down, not even the freshmen, sophomores, juniors or her family. But something is about to bring her down. Something no carefree teenager ever thinks about. Death. Your own mortality is something you think about until you're old. Sam is about experience the day of her death, February 12 Cupid Day, over and over again. Is it a dream? Has time stopped? Is this a punishment? What can she do to stop it?

The first time around it is supposed to be a special day for Sam. How many roses can she get on Cupid Day? What will the rose from her boyfriend Rob say? Will it say something special? Because tonight is also supposed to be their special night. The night when they go all the way. But first she must get through the day. A day spent looking down on the underclassmen and tormenting the school outcast Juliet Sykes, who kills herself on one of those days. When I was that age, I always wondered why people acted that way. What was the motivation? Why single out certain people? Do they even know?

"The point is, we can do things like that. You know why? Because we're popular. And we're popular because we can get away with everything. So it's circular."

They do it just because they can.

The first night culminates in a night of partying and Sam's death in a car accident. But when she wakes up the next morning, it just seems like a nightmare. The subsequent days are marked by Sam trying to change the circumstances of the day. The changes don't always work, the consequences get worse. Changing the circumstances of the day doesn't have the desired effect. Or should she change herself and the people around her? Repeating the day gives her more clarity on her life. She can see the flaws in herself, her boyfriend and her friends. Calling Lindsay out on her behavior results in rejection. Do they really know each other? Did they ever know each other?

"As I head up from the gym it strikes me how strange people are. You can see them every day -- you can think you know them -- and then you find out you hardly know them at all."

In the beginning, I hated Sam. She doesn't think about others. She helps in tormenting Juliet Sykes. Her popularity and friends are paramount, and everything else is secondary. It takes a traumatic experience for her to reevaluate her life. Before she died, Sam couldn't be bothered to embrace her family. Later she takes the time out to spend time with them. By the end, I cared about Sam. I cared if she lived or died. I cared if she could make things right. To me, the ending is a little on the ambiguous side, but a fitting one. Definitely give this one a read.

Rating: O.M.G !!!

Notes: For more information on author Lauren Oliver visit http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/

Friday, January 7, 2011

First hop of the new year!!

Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: What book influenced or changed your life? How did it influence/change you? I can think of two books that fit into that category. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Both books make you appreciate what you have because someone always has it worse than you. I was disturbed by Walls' family life. I just couldn't fathom how parents could sacrifice the well-being of their children for their own happiness. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn also gave me a deep appreciation for reading. Francie Nolan didn't have a lot, but like me could always get lost in a book.
Here are some blogs I came across:
http://booksofamber.blogspot.com/
http://mimosastimulus.blogspot.com/
http://booksturnbrains.blogspot.com/
http://anabundanceofbooks.blogspot.com/
Notes: Take a look at the tabs at the top to take part in my What's Up Tweeps?! feature and to enter my giveaway for Delirious by Daniel Palmer. Upcoming reviews include Before I Fall, The Secret Life of Sandrina M, Delirious and Life. Happy reading!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's time to challenge myself!

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

When I started this blog, I simply wanted to get out of a rut. I wasn't reading nearly as much as a I should, and needed a creative outlet to express myself. I've done that. Now is the time to do more. A blog redesign is in the works for my one-year anniversary in April! My goal for 2010 was about 60 books. I fell short. In 2011 I want to challenge myself, so I'm going to take part in a challenge hosted by The Book Vixen (http://www.thebookvixen.com/).

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

hosted by The Book Vixen
Details:
•Runs January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011 (books read prior to 1/1/11 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. You can sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
•The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2011 than you did in 2010. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.
•Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
•Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are fine.
•You can list your books in advance or list them as you read them. It is not required that you review the books you read for this challenge but feel free to do so.
•Post this reading challenge on your blog so you can keep a list of the books you’ve read for this challenge. Please include a link back to this post so readers can join the challenge too.
•You do not have to be a book blogger to participate. You can keep tabs on books you’ve read for this challenge on Goodreads or LibraryThing if you’d like (maybe make a shelf for “Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge”). If you are not on either of those sites then you can list the books you read for this challenge in the comments on my wrap-up post, which will be up at the end of 2011.

Levels:

Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books
Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books
Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books
I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

Me personally I'm going for the I'm on fire level. I know myself, and I know I'm not the fastest reader. The holidays have put me a little behind. But the whole point of challenges is do better than you did before. I'm aiming for 75 books. I really think I can do it. Some of the books I want to get to are: Room, The Hunger Games series, The Wave, Unbearable Lightness and so many more. I really don't have to spend any money on more books, but I know I will. What are your reading goals for 2011?

Wait...I'm not done with my reading challenges for 2011. I'm participating in one more.



Yes, I'm aiming to get a little more YA books into my diet. I bought a bunch of YA books in 2010, but I've only gotten to about five of them. So it's finally time to put some of my money to good use and read the books. The 2011 YA challenge is being hosted by Jamie at http://jamielovesya.blogspot.com/.

Here are the rules:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Create a post about the challenge and link your challenge post.

2. There are four levels:
--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.
--The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.
--The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.
--The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels.

3. Audio, eBooks, paper, re-reads all count.
4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
5. The Challenge starts on January 1, 2011 and goes until December 31, 2011.

I'm going for the "Fun Size" level. I'm including the 20 YA books as part of my overall goal of 75 books for 2011. Some of the YA books I want to get to are: Girl Stolen, My Invented Life, The Book Thief, Wildthorn, Willow, Speak, Before I Fall (currently reading), Almost Perfect and many more...How about you guys?

Notes: Upcoming reviews include Before I Fall, The Secret Life of Sandrina M and Delirious. Check out next month's question for What's Up Tweeps?! and my giveaway at the top of the page.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What's on the cover?


Delirious

Happy New Year!! First a little business: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. January's question: We got really serious with December's question. Let us go back to the lighter side. How would you encourage a non-reader to read? I have this problem with my little brother. He thinks reading is for girls. I disagree. What are everyone's thoughts on the matter? Email entries to bookangel224@gmail.com Entries are open until Jan. 19.

Now, welcome to the first edition of What's on the Cover for 2011. I'm a sucker for mysteries/thrillers, so I was eager to read this one once I saw the pitch. The man on the cover of Delirious by Daniel Palmer looks like he's drowning, in life and in work. What got him to that point and why? Can't wait to find out! Hopefully I can finish and post a review in time for launch day, which is January 11. For more information on Daniel Palmer visit: http://www.danielpalmerbooks.com/.  I also have a copy available for giveaway!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

My take on: What My Best Friend Did

Happy New Year. The first review of 2011. I could have started off the new year reviewing a joyful tale, but I don't really have anything like that on my TBR pile. We're starting off the year with What My Best Friend Did by Lucy Dawson. The description on the back compares it to the movie Single White Female. While a path of death and destruction doesn't follow best friends Gretchen and Alice in this book, but it will make you take a closer look at your own friendships.

When the book opens, Alice is in an ambulance rushing Gretchen to the hospital. There is an air of mystery as to the reason why they are rushing to the hospital. My first thought was a suicide attempt, which is partially true. Dawson's writing alludes to something more. Alice is feeling guilty. She is also full of remorse for not doing something for Gretchen. But what was it? Why didn't she help her friend? Several hints are dropped along the way, until the big reveal at the end.

The book flashes back about a year, a time when Alice was feeling down about her life. Alice is a bored London-based travel photographer. She has a boyfriend, Tom, who has marriage and mortgages on the brain. Alice wants something more, and finds it while on assignment in Los Angeles. She's been tasked to photograph Gretchen, a London TV host, looking to make it big in America. Gretchen is full of energy and has to be the center of attention, everyone is drawn to her. When she walks in the room there's more excitement, more life. Alice is drawn to her, but feels the only way Gretchen will like her is if she's more interesting. She lies about her relationship with Tom and claims to be happier than she actually is. I'm thinking why lie? If a person wants to be your friend, they will like you for who you are. Lies on top of lies won't help.

Before you know it, Alice's livelihood is all about Gretchen. They go out socially at every chance. Soon Alice's thoughts and relationships are dominated by Gretchen. What will Gretchen think? Is Gretchen mad at me? Gretchen this! Gretchen that!

Alice's lies catch up to her when she gives into an attraction to Gretchen's brother Bailey. Gretchen claims to be OK with the potential relationship. But Alice and Bailey being together means that is one less person paying attention to Gretchen. Why does she crave so much attention? Why is her happiness more important than her best friend? Tom and Alice's relationship is also ruined because of Gretchen. Is it intentional? Is it by accident? The clues to her behavior are there, but I looked past them initially. Gretchen has manic depression. Suddenly her up and down behavior makes sense, but she uses it to manipulate people and situations to her advantage.

Because of her behavior it's hard to know what's real and what isn't. So, ultimately what did she do? I can't tell you, read the book. I do wish the transitions between the past and the present were a little more clear, however this is still a worthwhile read. You will ask yourself, how far are you willing to go for a friend? Would you do anything for them? At what cost? Alice and Gretchen are destructive in their own ways. They both do things to sabotage the friendship and their own lives. Other people become less important because of their friendship. In the beginning they both sound like people you would want to be friends with, but by the end I hated them both.

Rating: Give it a try


Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. For more information on author Lucy Dawson, visit http://www.lucydawsonbooks.co.uk/
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