Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Silver Heart


Title: Silver Heart
Author: Victoria Green
Published: July 25, 2013
Source: Bought
Goodreads/Amazon

"There comes a moment in everyone’s life when they must decide which road leads to personal happiness. For Dylan Silver, this is that moment…

For the past twenty-two-years, Dylan has been living in her parents' carefully crafted world, always putting her own dreams on hold to play the role of a dutiful daughter. When her best friend coaxes her into a winter getaway to a mountain resort, she sees it as a chance to forget about the responsibilities waiting for her at home. At least for a little while.

But then her past catches up to her—in the form of sexy snowboarder, Sawyer Carter. Six long years had passed since Dylan bid goodbye to the only boy she ever truly loved. Now he's standing right in front of her, bringing up bittersweet memories and igniting suppressed desires as he dares her to be the person she has always wanted to be.

Dylan and Sawyer’s unexpected meeting is a second chance, but will a girl who doesn't believe in fate and taking risks be able to overcome her fears of losing control and finally embrace the life she desperately wants?

Only one thing is certain: after a week in Whistler, Dylan's world will never be the same."


First line: "'This is going to be the best vacation ever!'"


Thoughts: Technically, thanks to my good friend Vi from Vi3t Babe, I read this last year. It's finally getting cold again, so I decided to curl up on the couch, have a bit of a reread, and remind myself of how much I adore SILVER HEART. Verdict: Yep, still love it. Chemistry? Check! Drama? Check! Sexy Snowboarder? CHECK!

First off, can we please talk about what a great name Sawyer is? I love it, which ended up with me crushing on him before I even met him. The novel starts in the present (before the Winter Olympics) where Dylan, her best friend Maddie (whom I adore), and her brother Adam decide to take a bit of a skiing vacation. With med school in the horizon and the pressure from her parents, Dylan needs this break from her life. Maybe it'll give her a chance to photograph a few things. After all, that seems to be her passion.

It's here where Dylan "Silver" runs into her old friend and crush Sawyer. This is when the the good stuff happens. The chapters occasionally jump back to the past, so you get to see how Silver and Sawyer met and what happened to their friendship. This is also when things start getting a tad complicated and ridiculously steamy. Phew, let me fan my face for a few seconds before I continue.

What I love about this book is how relatable Silver is. Anyone who comes from a strict and demanding family knows how hard it is to follow your dreams. You're too busy following in your parent's footsteps or following their dreams that you ultimately forget who you are. I love how Silver deals with her issues and grows in this novel, basically evolving into the woman she's meant to be.

Of course, it also helps that she has this hunk of a man to help make this journey a bit more...interesting to say the least. Swoon worthy? You know it! The fact that he's also this down to earth guy and genuinely kind essentially makes him the perfect man. The sexy scenes were intense and though one of the scenes was surely unrealistic (you'll know the one), it doesn't change the fact that they were hot, hot, hot! After all, aren't vacations all about adventure and exploring cabins that belong to rangers?

Overall, I'm rather smitten with this novel and think you will be as well. Winter is coming, therefore, you should curl up next to a fireplace (or by a candle in my case) with this novel. It really is a fantastic winter read, and it'll make you kind of wish the Winter Olympics was happening now.



Rating:

4 Stars









Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas + Minted

Can you guys believe it's already November? Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and Christmas is in 41 days. Where did the time go?!

At any rate, every year the (now) husband and I take photos (usually with our cats), order Christmas cards online, and send them out to our friends and family. This year, I happened to stumble across Minted and cannot help but be floored by some of their card designs. They even have a blog where they discuss designing and DIY projects. Where have you guys been all of my life?

Since the holidays are just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to post some of my favorite card designs and ask you guys to help me pick one!


Winter brush foil-pressed
Okay, I'm a total sucker for calligraphy, foil, and all things gold. I like to think of it as classic with a modern twist.



Happy! Holiday Photo Card
Maybe it's just me, but does this card resemble the cover of THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE? Maybe that's why I love it so. I've always wanted to be on the cover of a book. *wink, wink*


Holiday Map
Shout out to all the Texas folks out there. Love, y'all! But seriously, this is the Midwest card? Aren't we...you know, southern?


Golden Bright Holiday
This one reminds me of The Great Gatsby, and I love it! Though it looks great in gold, I think I'm more attracted to the silver. Thoughts?


Patterned Tree
CUUUTE! Photo of the hubs and me here, Dexter there, Skittles in the last spot. Oh, the possibilities!


Gilded Type Holiday Photo Card
Cause, you know...I did get married this year.


Etched Holiday
Another book shout out! This one reminds me of WICKED GAMES.




What do you guys think? Which one is your favorite? Did you see another one on Minted that you like more? Let me know!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Top Ten Characters I Wish Would Get Their Own Book


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. I haven't done one of these in a while, so here we go!


1. Brennan from MAYBE SOMEDAY. Brennan is Ridge's brother, and even though he's not really in the book that often, I can't help but be curious about him and his life. Maybe it's because he's in a band? At any rate, I enjoyed what little humor he offered to the novel. Maybe, just maybe someday, he'll have a book of his own.

2. Cookie from BOOMERANG. Okay, I know she wasn't exactly nice, but I'm wondering what makes her so mean. Her story would be an interesting one!

3. Chaol from THRONE OF GLASS. Let's be honest- We all want this!

4. Julia from EVEN IN PARADISE. While he's one of the main characters from the novel, I can't help but wonder what she's up to now. I'd love to see how she views the world through her eyes, and not just read about it through Charlotte's.

5. Zuzana from the DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy. It's the best friend thing. She is Karou's best friend, and I just want to know more about her. See how she sees the crazy alternate world, especially sense she's one of the few humans in the book.

6. Kim from IF I STAY. Again, it's the best friend thing. Would love to catch back up with Kim.

7. Kenji from SHATTER ME. Because why the eff not?

8. Drew from THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY. I've practically bribed, begged, and pleaded with Katja for this book. WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME?!

9. Puck from THE TREACHERY OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS. I'd prefer Puck, but I'll settle for anyone from the novel.

10. Jesse from WINTER LONGING. I haven't read this book in ages, but I still remember Jesse, and I would love it if I was able to revisit that world (maybe sans the heartache), and see how he dealt with everything.



There you have it! I'm sure I left plenty of characters and worlds I'd like to revisit, which leaves me to ask you what characters you'd like to have their own book?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Loop Blog Tour- Review + Giveaway


Title: The Loop (Loop #1)
Author: Karen Akins
Published: October 21st 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: eARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review
Goodreads

"At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future. "

Thoughts: Don't you love that feeling you get when a book completely consumes you from the beginning until the very end? This, my friends, is how I felt about LOOP. Hilarious, witty and captivating are just a few words that best describe this novel in a nutshell.

First off, I have to mention that the main reason why I was so anxious to read this book is because it came highly recommended to me by my friend Andi from Andi's ABCs. I was a bit skeptical, being that time-traveling books are typically a hit or miss with me, and the only two I really loved were THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE and the HOURGLASS trilogy. It took about 10 pages for me to forget my hesitation and fall in love with this novel. I completely adored Bree. She's comical and an overall fun character. I loved that she "accidentally" holds a younger Finn captive. I also love that, in order to prevent any future consequences, she goes back and tries to fix her mistakes. Sadly, she doesn't quite go back far enough. Then, as if these blunders weren't enough, she ends up taking an older, hotter Finn back with her to her present day.

Now, can we please talk about how amazing Finn is? He's just that charming, sweet, next door neighbor type of guy you wish you knew. There were so many moments when I just wanted to reach into the book and hug him. Give him puppy kisses and whatnot. I love how Bree is initially annoyed with him but grows to love him. To me, it made him more realistic and the romance more believable. Once you start reading THE LOOP, I know you'll fall in love with him the way I did.

Overall, I recommend LOOP to anyone out there looking for a unique, fun, and all-consuming read. I seriously cannot wait for the sequel and believe everyone should read it, just so I can have someone to talk to about it (with spoilers, as oppose to spoiler-free). If you read it (or win the giveaway!), tweet me (Lena1xoxo), so we can discuss all of the fabulous things that make up THE LOOP.

Alas, for now, I must just settle with waiting for the sequel (TWIST) coming out in March.



Rating:

5 Stars





Giveaway time! Thanks to the fabulous people at St. Martin's Griffin, I am giving away a finished copy of THE LOOP. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends November 16th. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Atlantia Blog Tour: Ally Condie's Top Ten Books


The Top Ten Books of My Life
by Ally Condie

Over the years I’ve read a lot of good books. And now that I’m an author, people ask me all the time what my favorite books are. I always have lots of favorites—favorites that I’m reading right now, favorites for my kids, etc. But these ones are books that I have loved for years, that I can honestly say have shaped me as a reader and as a person.

1. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery. I read this one over forty times, starting in third grade when we bought it on a trip. How do I know how many times I read it? I marked the inside of the cover each time I finished. I loved everything about this book, and I passionately wanted to BE Anne. For several years, in my own mind at least, I was Anne about half of the time. I also think this book changed my vocabulary—it gave me access to lots of words and their meanings that I might not have encountered otherwise.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. My mom gave it to me in sixth grade and said, "This is a really important book." Later, I got to teach it for a couple of years, and it was absolutely my favorite book to teach. My hands would shake the day we started it in class because I was so excited and nervous--I wanted the kids to all love it the way I did.

3. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie. On our way to England when I was twelve, my dad bought me a book of Agatha Christie mysteries. I think this is why Agatha and my first wide-eyed exposure to England are inextricably linked; I can't get enough of either Agatha or her country.

4. Saint Maybe, by Anne Tyler. Another one given to me by my parents, this time my mom. I was in ninth grade. Something about Anne Tyler has always spoken to me; I think it's her normal, everyday, flawed characters trying to do the best they can. This one remains my favorite of her books, although I also adore Digging to America. I think it's because I read it first.

5. Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. Also read in ninth grade, but not for school. My dad gave it to me. At first, I thought it was going to be boring, but it only took a few pages and I was hooked. I sobbed harder at the ending of this book than any book before or since.

6. Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury. I read this book in ninth grade. (Again with ninth grade! That was a good year!) I also loved teaching this one. It's about a summer in the life of a boy who realizes that he is alive. I could and can relate to it many different levels.

7. Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. My grandmother gave it to me in tenth grade and said, "If you want to read some gorgeous writing, read this." She was right. This book is different every time I read it because I find something new every time I read it.

8. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. I was twenty-two, and teaching at Timpview High School. Another English teacher gave me this and said, "This is going to knock your socks off." He was right. I think about this book all the time. It was a game-changer for people personally, and for young adult fiction in general.

9. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin. I love this book because it feels timeless, and because the story is about a girl who did something everyone said was impossible. The illustrations are also exquisite.

10. Book of A Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale. Everything about this book is achingly perfect. The heroine, the prose, the individual beauty of each scene and of the story as a whole.



Ally, thank you so much for joining us today! A special thanks to Jen at Penguin Random House for putting this fabulous tour together.

Now, it's your chance to join and show your support for TEAM ATLANTIA ABOVE! Simple leave a comment and give a shout out to the fabulous Ally Condie. Keep checking back, too. There may be a giveaway on this post later on today...

Just saying. AND DON'T FORGET TO TWEET #AtlantiaAbove




"Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Epic Forbidden Giveaway

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.





Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter.

TO ENTER:
  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to forbiddengiveaway@gmail.com.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.

PRIZES:


(1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER:

1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt)
2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White
4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt
5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf
6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)



(1) SECOND PLACE WINNER:

1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)









(13) RUNNERS-UP WINNERS:

1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)










Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



About Forbidden: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.



Follow Kimberley:

About Kimberley: Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com.



Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Make It Count


Title: Make It Count (Bowler University #1)
Author: Megan Erickson
Published: June 3rd 2014 by William Morrow Impulse
Source: Bought
Goodreads


"Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it."

First line: "Kat chewed on her pen and studied her tutor's bent head."

Thoughts: Is there anything better than a fun and cute read? I had high expectations prior to reading MAKE IT COUNT, which came recommended to me by my twinnie Alexa at Alexa Loves Books. Anyone who reads her blog knows that this girl has GREAT taste in books, fashion, and food. You guys, I cannot tell you how many times MAKE IT COUNT made me smile and giddy. I had the hardest time putting this book down and continuing with my every day life. It's truly that good.

I was a little worried going into this book, being that Alec is Kat's boyfriend's best friend. In my eyes, there is nothing worse than a book that condones cheating. It's basically the kiss of death for me. Not to worry, folks, because MAKE IT COUNT shows both the frustration and complexity that comes with forbidden love without the moral turpitude.

Like most New Adult novels out there, MAKE IT COUNT alternates POVs between the two main characters. Of the two, I think I enjoyed Alec's point of view more than Kat. Reading about his struggle containing his attraction to Kat, as well as his thoughts on all of the drama that unfolded, kept me intrigued. I constantly wondered what he would do next, especially since he's a genuinely good guy and loyal friend. His inner turmoil regarding his father touched me in a way I didn't think would happen. The feels definitely caught me off-guard. No wonder he always seems so angry at the bar!

I also enjoyed reading about Kat's learning issues, but I was also surprised that none of the other characters caught onto why she has such a difficult time. I figured it out right away, but it's strange that her friends, her brother, even Alec didn't catch on sooner. At any rate, her wandering, usually rambling, thoughts definitely made me "LOL" on occasion. Just don't tell Lea I said that. I hear she hates acronyms.

Oh, and for anyone curious, there's a Brazilian dish mentioned in this book that sounded so tasty, I immediately searched for a recipe and plan on making it soon...or should I say making it count? Food and books, what can I say? I love them both!

Overall, MAKE IT COUNT surprised me in a way I wasn't expecting it to (but in a good way). I really loved it and would recommend it to fans of BOOMERANG by Noelle August and anyone out there looking for a genuinely funny, sexy, and light-hearted book. I loved it so much, I immediately bought MAKE IT RIGHT (the sequel), and am now I'm impatiently waiting for MAKE IT LAST. Is it January yet? Sheesh!


Rating:

5 Stars

Favorite Quotes:

"She imagined this would be an amazing scene in a movie, where he whispered in a tortured voice, Kat, I want you. I've always wanted you. Let's retreat to my boudoir and consummate our mutual attraction...

His lips were moving, and she snapped back to attention.

'...It was acting up, so flush twice'"


He didn't want to tell her he remembered the smoothie was green because it matched her green sweater she was wearing that day. Because that definitely be weird. She he shrugged. 'Yeah.'"

“You know, nerd is the new black. I read that in Cosmo.”