Month: October 2013

Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (Mini Book Review)

Posted October 9, 2013 by Jana in Book Review / 3 Comments

Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (Mini Book Review)Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 2, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has death on the brain. Her summer internship at the local newspaper has her writing obituaries instead of soaking up the sun at the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s boy-crazy best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum” (aka the cute drummer for a band called Love Gas), Sam has her hands full. But once she figures out what—or who—is the best part of her summer, will she mess it all up?

As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and most important—herself.

Famous Last Words is a cute, light, contemporary read that made me smile. I loved the idea of a newsroom setting, which reminded me of the Mary Tyler Moore show on TV, and I was very excited to read about a quirky teenager who writes obituaries. What a unique idea, huh? While I did enjoy it, there was nothing extremely special or memorable about it.

Sam is a pretty funny girl. She’s an aspiring journalist who lands a job at the town newspaper writing obituaries. I had fun learning right along with her, how life in a newsroom is and what it’s like to be a journalist. It was also fun hearing about the stories of the people she got to write obituaries for. Probably my favorite thing about Sam is that she would write obituaries for people who annoyed the crap out of her, and for herself when she did something stupid or embarrassing. Of course, she would delete them, but her venting was endearing and it made her unique. She’s also clueless when it comes to guys, which I could not help but adore about her. As she wrote about dead people, she figured out how she wanted to live. I liked watching her transition from a silly little girl to a somewhat less silly girl. Haha.

I really liked the guy Sam works with, A.J. He’s nerdy and quirky just like she is, and they’re pretty great friends. He looks out for her, gives her rides, and helps her with her feature obit stories when she needs it. His snarkiness and desire to protect her from the jerk of the office, Tony, was really cute and I ended up liking him a lot. I would have liked to learn more about A.J., as he was my favorite character in the book. Sam’s boss, Harry, reminded me so much of Lou Grant (from Mary Tyler Moore) that I had to laugh about it. And the fact that the copy editor called Sam Moronica was perfect.

All in all, Famous Last Words was a fun little read. I enjoyed it while I read it, but am already forgetting some of the details. Definitely read it if you’re an aspiring journalist and want to see what the newsroom is all about.

3 Stars

Top Ten (Nine) Best and Worst Series Enders

Posted October 7, 2013 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 14 Comments

 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

I’m really bad at finishing series, and I’m not sure why. It might be that I either hated the first one, so reading the rest are pointless (Halo, Glimmerglass) … or it could be that I love the series so much that I’m scared to finish it (Requiem)… or the ending is not out yet (Of Neptune, Ruin and Rising, Infinite)… or I’m really invested in series that are still so new that book #2 hasn’t even been released. Regardless, most of the series enders I’ve read have been major disappointments for me. I think that why I have a hard time sticking with a book series. I was able to come up with a few, but I could not make it to ten this time!

Endings

 

The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum
Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

actualendings

Hidden by Sophie Jordan
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Tempest Revealed by Tracy Deebs
Otherwise Engaged by Suzanne Brockman

Clearly, I have bad luck with series. My favorite ending is actually Into the Sill Blue, which I just finished last week. It’s amazing! I’d love to know what other series out there end wonderfully, so I can read those series! Please link me to your posts, and leave me some recommendations!


Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Book Review)

Posted October 7, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Book Review)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on May 10, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 322
Format: Hardcover
Source: Won
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4 Stars

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

You know a book is bound to be awesome if it was translated from German to be published in the USA! I was really excited about Ruby Red when I found out, and even more excited when I discovered it’s all about time travel. As alway, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I was really impressed by the translation. We all know how easily wittiness and the beauty of descriptions can be lost in translation. Not so with Ruby Red! The writing is beautiful, the characters witty, the current way of speaking taken into account without seeming out of place. I can only imagine how amazing the writing is in German, if it is this good after translation. I applaud the translator, and I applaud the author for writing a story that is amazing even in another language!

2. I’ve got this thing with real people in history being woven into fictional stories. It brings a completely different kind of awesomeness to the table, and makes a story so much more believable if people like Sir Isaac Newton are brought into the story. He plays a significant role in Ruby Red, even though he is not a character in the book. It made things really interesting.

3. I loved the clever, witty dialogue between the characters. Lesley, Gwyneth’s best friend, is particularly fun to read. She knows all about Gwyneth’s ability to travel through time, and watching her drink it all in is pretty great. Gwyneth’s ghost friend, James, is also highly amusing. He died years ago, but does not know it. So he hangs out around the school and teaches Gwyneth about how things are in his time, mostly regarding manners and how to be a proper lady. I love that Gwyneth can see and talk with ghosts. It allows for a lot of side stories to come into play, like with Robert, the little boy who hangs around his dad all the time.

4. The entire cast of characters is great, but I really like Gideon. He’s a snarky, experienced time traveler who is a complete nuisance to Gwyneth. At the same time, though, she blushes when he’s around. She hates that. Hopefully we get to learn more about him in the next few books.

5. The approach to time travel is pretty cool. Across history, there are 12 time travelers (all born with a time traveling gene), all of whom are called a different precious stone. Gwyneth, the ruby, is the 12th and final stone in the circle of twelve. The main goal of the characters in this book is to go back in time to get a blood sample from each time traveler so they can read it into the chronograph (their time machine, essentially) and unlock a secret. Some people want to unlock it, and some feel it would be very dangerous to do so. Gwyneth and Gideon get to travel back together, meet old ancestors, try to figure out what’s true and what’s not, and deal with some obstacles. It’s really exciting, mysterious, and full of history that is totally believable.

Basically, Ruby Red blew me away in a subtle way. The more I think about it and let it marinate in my mind, the more I discover I really liked it! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. :) Definitely read this if you’re looking for a unique spin on time travel. I see romance in this series’s future as well, so that’s another plus for it!

4 Stars

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (Book Review)

Posted October 4, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (Book Review)All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 3, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

I almost passed on All Our Yesterdays, just because I had not heard very much about it, but then I learned it’s a time travel book and that changed my mind completely. I love time travel books. Love them. And… Oh. My. Gosh. You guys! It’s amazing!! AMAZING! My mind was blown, and when I closed it I immediately thought, “How in the world am I supposed to review this?” I’ll do my best, but I can’t guarantee it won’t be just a bunch of fangirl. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The story itself is so amazingly unique, and I can’t tell you why because that will spoil everything. There are so many twists and turns, each giving you bits and pieces of information until you figure out what’s going on. And once the picture is completely painted, and the blanks are all filled in… your mind will be blown.

 

There’s really no better way to describe my thoughts on the book, actually. Your mind will be blown, and your eyes will get huge, and your brain will try to comprehend it but it’s really wacky. And amazing.

2. I loved the explanation of how time travel works, and the paradoxes and all that great stuff. I kind of felt like Sheldon Cooper was teaching me a science lesson at times, and it was really fun to read all the ins and outs.

3. All Our Yesterdays goes back and forth between the past and present/future. We read all about Marina and her life with James and Finn before the world took a turn for the worst. I loved the sweet relationships between Marina and James. To me, it kind of felt like Corey and Topanga from Boy Meets World. They grew up as great friends, leaning on each other during hard times, and then things start to change into something on the more romantic side. James is so unbelievably caring, and Marina is devoted to a fault and secretly insecure. And then we have Finn, who is just like Sean–the goofy friend who tags along with James and drives Marina crazy.

We also get to read about Em and Finn, who are from the future. I liked Em a lot. She’s strong and realistic. And Finn is daring and romantic. They have been through a lot, and are out to save the world no matter what.

4. James is a very complex character. He’s a prodigy, comes from a wealthy and famous family, and seems to have everything going for him. But there’s just something in there that’s not quite right, and he ends up being a ticking time bomb. He fights with his emotions, is scared about his future, and wants everything in the world to be perfect. His intentions are good and true, but he teeters on the edge of insanity because he does not know what to do with himself. He captivated me, and I was very interested in his story.

5. The romance was so special and unique, even though it was a very small part of the story. I can’t give much away, but I loved seeing different relationships changing in different ways throughout the book. Romance blooms, romance fades, new feelings grow, old feelings are explored. People flip flop. Lots happens. In the midst of all of it, the characters learn a lot about themselves.

6. I loved the constant feeling of hope that was presented. The future is dark and dreary, the present is a little crazy, and through it all everyone is optimistic that things will turn out for the best. I loved that. So often, books like this tend to be downers. All Our Yesterdays is a book that makes you wish good things on everyone, even the villain.

7. So. Much. Action. I could hardly handle it, but I loved every second!

8. Cristin Terrill tackled a majorly hard subject for her debut, and did an amazing job! I’m not sure I could wrap my head around writing a book like this one. With shifts in time, shifts in characters, and shifts in emotion, I never got lost. I always knew who I was reading about and what was happening. That’s true talent, right there. Her writing is amazing, too.

All our Yesterdays is an amazingly wonderful and unique addition to the time travel genre. Things felt fresh and exciting, and the writing was perfect. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would, and I cannot wait for the next book! Luckily the cliffhanger is not too heart stopping, since I have a while to wait!

 

5 Stars

Sir Princess Petra’s Talent by Diane Mae Robinson | Children’s Book Review

Posted October 3, 2013 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 9 Comments

9781625106827_p0_v1_s260x420Sir Princess Petra’s Talent by Diane Mae Robinson
The Pen Pieyu Adventures #2 (although the book works as a standalone)
Published by Tate Publishing on September 24, 2013
Genres: Children’s chapter book, fantasy
Pages: 88
Format: Paperback
Source: From the author
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Sir Princess Petra has already proven she is a kind and noble knight. This, however, does not please the king and queen—they want her to behave like a princess and forget this silly knight nonsense of hers!

But when the king writes a new rule in the royal rule book that requires her to attend Talent School and acquire a princess talent certificate or suffer the spell of the royal magician, Petra, reluctantly, agrees to go. But who could have guessed what Sir Princess Petra’s Talent would be?

This cute little story is all about a princess named Petra, who decided she wanted to be a knight. She proved her abilities in the first book, which is also cute, and her parents are still not delighted by this. They want her to be a girlie little princess with a girlie little talent, so they send her to talent school in The Land of the Lost Donkeys with her trusty steed (dragon), Snarls. Petra, being the spunky tomboy that she is, really hates this idea. It’s required, though, so off she went.

On her way she meets a pink man named Prince Duce Crablips, who feels it would be nice to acquire a talent of his own. He chooses crocheting, Snarls chooses BBQing (why not put his dragony fire to good use?), and Petra tries to choose a number of talents she knows her father will not approve of. She finally decides on writing, and creates a lovely little poem before heading home (after taking a short detour to the Vast Wilderness for some adventure time) with her certificate in tow. Of course, any enemies of Petra’s become friends. She ends up back in her kingdom with a bunch of new friends, and a story to share. Celebration ensues, and she even looks out for her friend Bograt. Everyone loves Petra, and she loves everyone.

My favorite part of the Pen Pieyu Adventure series is the emphasis placed on going against the norm. Petra certainly does not fit into the normal princess category. She’s an adventuresome tomboy, and she’s proud of it. I think I know a few young girls who could definitely identify with her thoughts on this. The illustrations are all in black and white pencil or charcoal, and are pretty cute. I wish they had been in color like the cover! The storytelling is witty and exciting, and perfect for a youngster who enjoys fantasy. Snarls is a very fun character, and his antics made the book for me.

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Tied by Laney McMann (Book Playlist + Giveaway)

Posted October 1, 2013 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post / 1 Comment

TIED_Slideshow

 

Hello, and welcome to my stop along the Tied blog tour! Laney has written up a scene-by-scene playlist for Tied, her new YA urban fantasy romance novel. Before I present it to you, here’s a little information on the book:

 

TIED_Cover_blogTied by Laney McMann
Series: Fireborn #1
Published by J. Taylor Publishing on September 9, 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 286
Buy the Book • Goodreads

Normal people don’t believe their nightmares stalk them. They don’t fall in love with boys who don’t exist, either.

Seventeen-year-old Layla Labelle, though, is far from normal. Her delusions walk the earth. Her hallucinations hunt her, and her skin heats to a burn every time her anger flares.

Or is that all in her head?

Layla doesn’t know what to believe any more because if none of that’s true, Max MacLarnon must be an illusion, and her heart must still be broken.

No matter how much she wants to believe Max is real, doing so would mean everything else is, too. How, then, is that possible?

The answers lie in an age-old legend the supernatural aren’t prepared to reveal, and with a curse that could tear Layla and Max apart forever—if it doesn’t kill them both first.

In TIED, book one in the Fire Born trilogy, learning the truth will mean fighting an arsenal of demons, and being with Max will put Layla on a path toward her own destruction.

Just how far will Layla go to protect the one she loves?

The answer may never be far enough … away.

 

Tied Book Playlist

Blue Foundation ~ Dream (3:11 P.M.)
M83 ~ Midnight City
Animal Kingdom ~ Strange Attractor
M83 ~ Wait
Ford & Lopatin ~ I Surrender
The Neighbourhood ~ Female Robbery
Imagine Dragons ~ Demons
Coldplay ~ Fix You
M83 ~ Reunion
The Fray ~ Look After You
BoysLikeGirls ~ Two Is Better Than One
M83 ~ Outro
Mumford & Sons ~ Reminder
Coldplay ~ Trouble
Gorillaz ~ Dare
Paul Banks ~ The Base
Chromatics ~ These Streets Will Never Look The Same
Rihanna ~ Stay
Imagine Dragons ~ Radioactive
Awolnation ~ Sail
Mumford & Sons ~ Ghosts That We Knew
Moodswings ~ Hairy Piano
M83 ~ By the kiss
Pretty Lights ~ My Only Hope
Gang Gang Dance ~ Adult Goth
Enya ~ Lothlorien
Night Terrors of 1927 ~ Dust and Bones
The Chevin ~ Champion
Moodswings ~ Thailand
M83 ~ Where the Boats Go
Polica ~ Amongster (Exitmusic Remix)
M83 ~ This Bright Flash
M83 ~ Wait (starting at 4:23)

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