Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caleb + Kate by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Caleb + Kate is a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet and a reminder that true love still exists. Kate and Caleb couldn't be more different. Being the heiress of the Monrovi Inn, Kate is both rich and popular. But she's bored. She wants more meaning in her life and she discovers that when she meets Caleb. Caleb makes her feel like she's never felt before. This could be a love that lasts a lifetime. The only problem is Caleb clearly doesn't fit into the life she's grown up with. In fact, he works at the Monrovi Inn with his father doing maintenance. And to top it all off, Caleb and Kate's family have a deep-rooted history that hasn't been resolved. With all the odds against them will Caleb and Kate be able to save their love for each other? What will it take?

This novel was very sweet. This was a great read that I think all teenagers who have ever been or dream about falling in love should read. It explores faith and love and God in a way that I've never read about in young adult literature. And although this is considered a Christian religious novel, it's not preachy or overbearing. It's a genuine novel about two teens who test their faith and the limits or lack thereof of God's love.

But this is also a novel about the human experience of love. Will we fight so hard for someone that we love? Caleb and Kate tell us that we will. They cherish each other and do things for each other that made me evaluate my own relationships. Selfishness and doubt will get in the way but in the end they overcome the forces working against them for each other. I wish Caleb had fallen in love with me!

Something I also really enjoyed was the writing. The characters were realistic and the pacing was great. At the beginning of each chapter there was a quote from Shakespeare which was fun to fit in with the current conflict going on in the novel. Caleb + Kate also spoke a great deal about family and friendship. When normalcy gets turned upside down as it did with Caleb and Kate, everyone is affected. I think that Kate and Caleb's family, being sometimes supportive and sometimes stubborn as most families are, was a great portrait of families struggling to make ends meet. And Kate's friends, at first calling Caleb simply a "cabana boy", come to understand their love for what it really is and try to accept their new relationship.

Overall, this novel was fun, quick, and sweet. It makes you think about your own relationships and gives you insight into how other people fit love into the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I think you will too!

Rating: 4.0

So I ask you all a question: do you think true love exists? Do you think people can stay in love even when everything is working against them? I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

From the jacket:

Enter a bizarre new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu who claims Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth and he's her long-lost fiance. He's arrogant, officious, embarrassingly overprotective, and, well, incredibly hot.
Armed with a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health and Emotions , Jessica tries to imagine the transition from an average American teenager to a glam European vampire princess. But just when things start to heat up with Lucius, a devious cheerleader sets her sights on him.
Soon Jessica finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war-and save Lucius's soul from eternal damnation. All of which leaves her to wonder: Wouldn't it just be easier to fall for a nice mortal boy?

My Thoughts:

I thought this novel was a lot of fun. There were many puns on American lifestyle and humor dispersed throughout the novel which I think made it very different from the usual "very serious" vampire novels. Instead of the girl wanting to be changed for the love of her life, the guy was chasing her-and he was mannerly, decent, AND hot.

This was just an enjoyable read that I think fans and despisers of vampire novels with eat up! I would definitely read this again. The romance was steamy, the vampire lore wasn't over the top, and in the end it was about a boy (well, a man actually) and a girl falling in love. And both of them being stubborn about it!

Great read. I highly recommend it!

Rating: 4.5

You may also like:
Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith

I'm feeling a little lazy today so here's a description from amazon:

The last place Ryan Walsh should be this afternoon is on a train heading to Wrigley Field. She should be in class, enduring yet another miserable day of her first year of high school. But for once, Ryan isn't thinking about what she should be doing. She's not worried about her lack of friends, or her suffering math grade, or how it's been five whole years since the last time she was really and truly happy. Because she's finally returning to the place that her father loved, where the two of them spent so many afternoons cheering on their team. And on this -- the fifth anniversary of his death -- it feels like there's nowhere else in the world she should be.

Ryan is once again filled with hope as she makes her way to the game. Good luck is often hard to come by at a place like Wrigley Field, but it's on this day that she meets Nick, the new kid from her school, who seems to love the Cubs nearly as much as she does. But Nick carries with him a secret that makes Ryan wonder if anyone can ever really escape their past, or believe in the promise of those reassuring words: "Wait till next year." Is it too much for Ryan to hope that this year, this season, might be her comeback season?

I truly admire that the author created a truly human experience. Whether or not it was what I was hoping for, it was real. It's heart-breaking but hopeful, and that is the novel's message that in spit of whatever may come we will always hope, want to believe in the magical and miracles.

I don't think I could read this book again, at least anytime soon, but I know it will resonate with me for a long time. How could you not root for Nick and Ryan? It's near impossible. For people who have been through as much as they have you almost think it would be cruel to deal them anything more horrendous. Yet Smith pushes her characters, and her readers, to the limit. She leaves us with a sliver of light in a door at the end of a novel-something we must chose what to do with. She begs the question-do you believe in hope?

Baseball is a strong metaphor in the novel. Nick and Ryan cling to it for their lives. I loved learning more about die-hard Cubs fans but more than anything how people will use something meaningful to them to bring them to the surface of a deep sea of hurt. Having this in common Nick and Ryan find strength in themselves to embrace friendship and mostly tenderly, first love.

Pick up this novel. It will change you. I loved it.

Rating: 5.0

Friday, April 23, 2010

Get Ready to Battle!!

So Alyssa over at The Shady Glade is hosting something truly spectacular- a battle to the death! Well, not really...but she is hosting a debut book battle! Bloggers nominated debut titles, a list was compiled and now it's time to see who will come out on top! Round 1 starts this Sunday! I'll be a judge for Round 2 of the battle and I'm so excited! I'll hope you will all check it out here. Stay tuned for a fierce competition coming your way...who do you think will win!?

Here is the trailer:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger is a novel about first love, frienship, family, and letting people in your heart and letting them love you back. T.C. and Augie have been brothers since they were six. When T.C. lost his mother the only person who seemed to handle and understand what T.C. was going through was Augie. They since declared themselves brothers. What's biology anyway? Now they're freshman in high school and everything begins to change. T.C. is falling in love with Alejandra, who is trying her best to push him away as far as possible. Augie likes boys? And a six-year old Hucky comes into their lives to forever change the way they think and love each other. And baseball. There is a LOT of baseball.

This heart-felt novel is flawless. It has drama (Augie knows everyone from Liza Minelli to Barbara Streisand-and can countlessly quote them): a hilarious talent show and show stopping production of Bye Bye Birdie. It has a whole lot of love. The parents of Augie and T.C. really know their kids and their relationships are pine-worthy. And it had rock-solid friendships. You will want to have Augie and T.C.'s relationship by the end of this novel.

My favorite part, however, was Hucky. The six-year deaf kid who doesn't have parents and has almost a magical ability to call pitches. He is the shining character in my opinion. He's the only one who really has any flaws (try not to melt at his mad face- I dare you) and he works through them and everyone falls in love with him. Really, he's the only character who grows exponentially through out the novel. He's adorable and funny. And he loves Mary Poppins-with taste like that how can you refuse to love him?

This book, however unrealistic, tries to achieve a LOT of things. From political to emotional it strives to be on a whole other level of reading. And it succeeds for the most part with optimism, hilarity, and tenderness. I recommend this book to anyone who has a best friend, or loves baseball, or loves theatre and humor, or especially who has any tiny soft spot for love.

Rating: 4.5

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dramarama by E. Lockhart

Dramarama by E. Lockhart is a story about two best friends, Demi and Sayde, who are trying to find a place in the world for their big personalities to fit into. Their first destination together? Wildewood. A summer theater program where Demi will finally find a place to be himself and really shine and Sayde will test the limits of how far is too far. On the way they'll meet a cast of characters who are funny and poignant and together they'll have the experience of a lifetime.

I really enjoyed Dramarama. I read mixed reviews and was a little hesitant to pick it up but the start of Glee pushed me over the edge and I finished it within a day! Seeing Demi and Sayde's relationship evolve was funny and heart-breaking. I think everyone has had that friend that they needed at one point in their lives. And then realized one day that you didn't need them anymore. It's an awful feeling and Lockhart portrays their relationship in a very real way but keeps true to her humorous voice.

I also loved Sayde. Although sometimes I didn't agree with the way she questioned everything and tried to direct the directors, I couldn't help but admire her drive for something better and to find meaning in what she was doing. Ultimately, the clash in this novel was between being yourself and having a voice and being part of a community even if it means keeping quiet for the betterment of the production. And honestly, at the end of the novel I was torn. The novel makes good arguments for both sides. And Demi and Sayde have to decide for themselves which side is right for them.

This novel was a lot of fun, too, because you could sing along with your favorite songs, rave about your favorite musicals, and laugh out loud to the hilarity that ensues over a summer of boys, "pouncing", belting, sneaking out, and becoming close to and understanding people you may never have otherwise.

Rating: 4.0

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In My Mailbox

Hey guys! I got some great books this week and I attended my first library sale! I got 7 books for $3 which is probably the most amazing thing to ever happen to me! So without further ado here's what I got!

For Review:
The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin
Caleb + Kate by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Library Booksale:
Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee
Donut Days by Lara Zielin
Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star (book two) by Brandon Mull
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Likely Story by David Van Etten
Footfree and Fancyloose by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain

Checked out from the library:
Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Invitation Only by Kate Brian
My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
Perfect by Sara Shepard
The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
Luna by Julie Anne Peters

And that's what I got in my mailbox...what did you get in yours? (this meme is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Private by Kate Brian

There is an emerging pattern...oh, yes, I have moved on to the next guilty pleasure series- Private by Kate Brian. And, of course, I loved every bit of this one too! Reed Brennan is from boring old Pennsylvania where she is an A student and longs to get away from her pill-popping mother with dreams of girlfriends and a normal social life. What she doesn't expect is that nothing about Easton Academy is normal-especially when she meets the uber elite and unattainable Billings Girls. What will Reed do to secure her favor with these girls? Or perhaps the better question is, what wouldn't she do?

Okay, honestly here, there is almost no substance to this novel. There is not an original plot line. So why did I enjoy it? Well, really it's because this book was entertaining. Superficial but well-written and extremely fast-paced. With virtually no reflection from Reed and chapters that are 3-4 pages long each. What grabs you is Kate's simple but flawless writing and the ever present cliffhangers that just tug at you until you give in and say "Okay! I need to know what happens next or I'll go crazy!" This was fun and enjoyable. I see nothing wrong with needing something light that will cheer you up every once in a while...or, in my case, a looming phase that is pushing me to go pick up the next two books in the series AND continue reading Pretty Little Liars AND now The Luxe series. Am I doomed? Perhaps. But my addiction aside, this novel was 227 pages of fun with just the right amount of surprise and a dash of comfortable predictability that leaves you wanting more. And if you want more, you're in luck because you'll have ten other novels in the series to satisfy your craving for juicy gossip, hot boys, and secrets and lies galore! (OH my!)

Rating: 4.5 (this one is hard to this 4.5 is based solely on it's entertainment value)

You may also like:
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Candor by Pam Bachorz

Oscar Banks is a business man, like his father. He finds new, rich, rebellious clients who move to the idyllic town of Candor (which he father built from the ground up) and helps them escape before the become brainwashed. Because Oscar Banks has figured out the secret to Candor-that their are thousands of subliminal messages in speakers surrounding and inside the city giving instruction on how to be model citizens. "Respectful space in every place". Oscar has figured out how to create these messages himself by watching (covertly) his father and puts counter messages into CDs which he distributes to clients and himself (like his one CD that he made so he wouldn't forget he had a brother).

So when Nia moves with her orange can of spray paint ("Keep Candor beautiful") and skateboard, she seems like the perfect client for Oscar. But there's something about her that makes Oscar want her to stay. Plus, she doesn't believe a thing he tells her about the Messages. So he gives her a CD with Messages urging her to stay and not tell their secret (what secret? you'll have to read the book!).

A story about what crosses a moral line, love, and fighting to be yourself in a world of conformity, this is a brilliant novel. I was up all night reading it. It's fast-paced and suspenseful. I was turning the pages so fast that I had to go back at times and fill myself in on what I rushed over to get to the next part. The characters are solid and Oscar's fight to save Nia is genuine and heart-breaking. This isn't a skip down the lane, happily ever kind of book. And even though I was sad and angry about things in this book, those things made the book more real and that much more devastating.

I definitely say, if you haven't, go pick this book up now! It's a short read that will make you think and leave you finding your breath at the end.

Rating: 5.0

You also may like:
Feed by M.T. Anderson
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
(I highly, highly recommend both of these books)

And if you want to learn more about the town of Candor, Florida go here:

Happy Reading!

Monday, April 12, 2010

And the winner is....

The winner of Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson is...

Melissa!! Congrats! I'll be sending you an email soon (and thanks for becoming a new follower!).

Thanks to all who entered and keep checking back for more fun contests (and of course, fun reviews, etc...!)

Things to stay tuned for this week:
*Review of Flawless by Sara Shepard
*Review of Candor by Pam Bachorz
*A recommendation contest with 6 awesome prizes, and a resulting list of books to go out there and read!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quick Update!

Hi everyone!

I just got back from championships! Whew, what a long weekend! I saw some absolutely amazing colorguards! I had such a great time!

And while I was away I got a chance to read Flawless by Sara Shepard and I'm eagerly anticipating the next novel from my library!

Here's a quick IMM (hosted by The Story Siren) for you:

From the library I got:
Stuck on Earth by David Klass
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
Private by Kate Brian

So that's what I got in mine, what did you get in yours? I hope you all had a great week! I'll be posting some reviews and another contest this week-so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard is about Hanna, Aria, Emily, and Spencer, four friends grown apart due to their friend Ali's mysterious disappearance three years ago. Each friend has dark secrets that only Ali knew about and now they're each getting cryptic text messages and emails from an alleged A who seems to know about all their current scandalous mishaps...and about things that happened in the who is A when Ali is supposed to be dead?

For being one of those name-dropping clothes brands, privileged kids, underage drinking in places where in reality there's no way they could get away with, who is she going to have sex with next books, it was well written and mildly unpredictable. I really enjoyed it, actually. Someone told me these books would be addicting and they sure are!

Each chapter is dedicated to a different character since the four characters really don't interact at all until the end. Each character was really different and I kept wanting to know what would happen to them. This book really kept me on my toes! I had sympathy for all of them at times and I have no idea who A could be or really anything about that mystery aspect of the book, so I already know I'm going to read them all!

Pretty Little Liars was exciting, fast-paced, sexy, and still pretty grounded in comparison to other privileged teens novels I read. I loved it! If you haven't picked up this series yet and you're in the mood for a light, fun read definitely check this out! There's cute boys, lies, mystery, and scandals-what more could you want?

Rating: 4.5

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's Monday, what are you reading?

It's Monday, what are you reading? Is hosted by One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

This past week I read:
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

I'm currently reading:
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

So I'm reading Before I Fall which I didn't really want to do because there are SO many reviews of it right now and I know you all don't want to see the same book being reviewed constantly...but the reviews I read were so good, I had to! I promise I will try to hold off on reading books that I see pop up at least 2 or 3 times per day on my google reader. I think the only two books I have out from the library that fall into this category are Before I Fall and Numbers by Rachel Ward (but I won't be getting to that for some time-hopefully not too long though).

Anyway, I just finished Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard and my review will go up tomorrow. Other than that I won't be posting for the rest of the week because I leave for color guard championships on Wednesday! (eek! Wish me luck!).

And I think I'm slowly developing an addiction. Aside from my Gossip Girl (TV) addiction, I put the second book in the Pretty Little Liars series and The Luxe on hold at my library. I think I'm getting caught up in all the scandalous novels- they're fun and sexy and I don't know if I can stop I think I'm just going to call all of my reviews that fit into that category part of a scandalous reviews series. Maybe I'll make it into something more...? Like a challenge or some type of interactive contest...we will see...what do you all think? Suggest?

Well now-I have to go check and see if the latest Gossip Girl is up on hulu. Oh boy.

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mini Review + Contest for Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

Toads and Diamonds is a story about two sisters, Diribani and Tana who are unconventionally blessed by a goddess. The story is about each sister finding out what their true gift means.

I enjoyed Toads and Diamonds, although it was a little slow at times. The descriptions were beautiful and I learned a lot about Indian culture. The world Tomlinson creates is magical with a hint of reality that gives the novel issues to work through. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes culture and fairy tales!

Now enter here to win Toads and Diamonds!

**Contest is open through April 11, 2010 and is **open to US only**sorry I will have an international contest soon**

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman is about a twelve year old girl whose life has been less than perfect. Her mother, stuck in her days of being the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen is mentally ill, her father is never around, and the only friend she has is her elderly neighbor Mrs. Odell. Until one day her mother suddenly dies and she's whisked away to Savannah by her extravagant Aunt Tootie. There, Cecelia (CeeCee) will learn about love, good cooking, friendship, and finally face her past she's tried her hardest to push away and ignore.

The women in this novel are fabulous. I couldn't believe that this was a debut novel for Hoffman. And this novel is entirely about women...but I loved it. Each woman is so intricate and quirky. They're funny and tragic. I could've listened to their stories all day. I think my favorite part of the novel is when Oletta takes CeeCee to see her Aunt Sapphire. Aunt Sapphire is racist and sassy and when we meet her she's wearing her dress backwards. And her friend, Miz Obee sneaks marbles down the front of her dress and grows gorgeous orchids inside an old, run down car.

Every part of this novel was full of detail. I loved how Hoffman described the old Georgia houses and the flowers in the gardens. And the cooking. This novel made my mouth water! There's so much Southern comfort in this novel I almost wanted to nestle in my arms and never let the story go. CeeCee was charming, perceptive, and strong. I couldn't have imagined the story being told in anyone else's perspective.

I recommend this novel to mothers, daughters, friends, and neighbors because this novel encompasses this and much more. It's sweet, tragic, and funny-all woven together beautifully to create a story about a girl learning what love is and where to find it, even if it's been waiting there all along.

Rating: 5.0

You May Also Like: The Secret Life of Bees

Winner of Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

And the winner of Tangled by Carolyn Mackler is....


I'll be emailing you (well, right now actually...) to get your adress! Congratuations!

And thanks everyone for entering! Stay tuned for more contests!

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