Jun 28, 2010

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Shadow Hills
Author:  Anastasia Hopcus
Publisher:  Egmont USA
Release Date:  July 13th

From Goodreads: 

His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.


The one word that comes to my head when trying to describe Shadow Hills is different.  It was refreshing to read.

I loved how the town was incorporated and infact a huge part of the mystery. The town of Shadow Hills is creepy, and very interesting.  I was immediately taken in by how creepy and odd the town was.  I wanted to know more.  The history of Shadow Hills with the plague, and quarantine was to me the best part of Shadow Hills

Phe is a good character, but has that character trait most female protogonist have in young adults book, the lack of common sense.   Constantly going out of her way to put herself in unsafe situations sometimes left me sighing.  Zach is silent, but drop dead gorgeous.  Umm, I bet you didn't see that coming. ; ) I would really love to see a romance in a young adult that isn't quickly formed.  Usually there is some unexplainable connection and immediate feelings, and poof, it's love...Shadow Hills didn't sway from the norm.  

I really enjoy the secret mystery Shadow Hills was hiding, but I didn't feel that immediate danger that the author was trying to put out there.  The why, and how really felt like it was lacking.  Shadow Hills is a decent enjoyable read, though not a favorite. 

Jun 25, 2010

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody

The Karma Club
Author: Jessica Brody
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover, 272 pgs.

Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. It’s that mysterious, powerful force that brings harmony to the universe. You know—do good things and you will be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what’s coming to you. A sort of cosmic balancing act.

But when Mason Brooks, Maddy’s boyfriend of two years, gets caught tongue-wrestling with Miss Perfect Body Heather Campbell, and absolutely nothing happens to either of them—except that they wind up the hot new couple of Colonial High School, it seems like Karma has officially left Maddy in the lurch. That’s why Maddy and her best friends, Angie and Jade, decide to start the Karma Club—a secret, members-only organization whose sole purpose is to clean up the messes that the universe has been leaving behind. Whether they’re modifying Heather Campbell’s acne cream as part of “Operation Butterface,” or righting a few wrongs when it comes to Angie and Jade’s own slimy exes, they know they’re just doing what Karma should have done in the first place. They’re taking care of one another.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t wise to meddle with the universe. Because it turns out, when you mess with Karma, Karma messes back. Now Maddy must find a way to balance her life for good, even as everything around her seems to be toppling to the ground.


First, I have to say that I totally believe in karma.  I wonder if that is why I enjoyed this book, because honestly it was predictable.  I loved the whole giving karma a push in the right direction.  How many of us get wronged, and can't wait till karma kicks in.  Well, The Karma Club is about not drumming your nails waiting for the much deserve justice to come.

Maddy and her friends take matters in their hands and decide to give a little payback to some people that have done them wrong, but do things really turn out how they thought?  Is karma something you can push.  As I mentioned above The Karma Club was really predictable, but I still liked it.  The characters were clearly defined...the good, the bad, and the plain ugly (personality wise).  I liked how some characters particularly one cute boy surprised them all.  Never judge a book by it's cover. 

Their methods of paying back was okay, but slightly lacking in orginality.  I could have thought of way better ways, but I'm evil like that.  I enjoy reading Jessica Brody's books, and will continue to read them.  The Karma Club was no exception. 

Jun 24, 2010

Throwback Thursday (Like Water for Chocolate)

I haven't done a Throwback Thursday in quite awhile, but I think it's time to start again.

Throwback Thursday is hosted by Jenny from Take Me Away.

"It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic!"

This week's Throwback Thursday is

Like Water for Chocolate
Author:  Laura Esquivel
Publisher:  Black Swan

From Goodreads

Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit.

The number one bestseller in Mexico and America for almost two years, and subsequently a bestseller around the world, "Like Water For Chocolate" is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit - and recipes. A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.

I absolutely love this book.  Forbidden love, recipes, and magic realism makes this story unforgettable.  Every chapter begins a new month, and new recipes.  I felt for Tita, and Pedro.  Theirs was a love that was undying, and impossible.   There is also a movie adaption that is very good, but of course the book is better.  Great read!

Jun 19, 2010

The Clearing by Heather Davis

The Clearing
Author: Heather Davis
Publisher:  Graphia
Published Date:  April 12, 2010

From Goodreads:

 Amy, a sixteen-year-old recovering from an abusive relationship, moves to the country to start a new life with her aunt–all she wants is for everything to be different. In the clearing at the back of Aunt Mae’s property, she makes an amazing discovery—Henry, a boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944. Henry and his world become Amy’s refuge and she begins to learn that some moments are worth savoring. But when the past and present come crashing together, both of them must find the courage to face what is meant to be, even if it means losing each other forever.


The Clearing is the story of an impossible love.

After ending a abusive relationship Amy decides the best thing for her is to go live with her aunt, and leave the city behind. While trying to find her way there, she comes upon a foggy mist, and on the other side of this mist lives Henry, who is living in 1944.

I thought the Clearing was a quick read, but left quite a bit of unanswered questions. Amy was slightly less interesting than Henry. The love between Henry and Amy is bittersweet, and doomed from the beginning. Two people living in two separate times at the same time. Uh, yeah..doomed. I actually got teary eyed while reading the ending. I was much more interested in what was going on in Henry’s life, he was a much more interesting character than Amy, but that could be because Henry is so different than the today’s young males.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, but felt it something was missing, almost like it was a incomplete story. There was a beginning, and ending, but not to much meat in the middle. Pleasant, short and sweet.

Rating: 3

Jun 17, 2010

Throwback Thursday

I haven't done a Throwback Thursday in quite awhile, but I think it's time to start again. 

Throwback Thursday is hosted by Jenny from Take Me Away

"It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic!"

This week's Throwback Thursday is

Mommie Dearest
Author:  Christina Crawford
Publisher:  Berkely Books
Date Released: November 1st 1979

Mommie Dearest is a the memoir of Christina Crawford the adopted daughter of Joan Crawford.  She writes about the relationship between her, and her mother.

I can't tell you how totally absorbed in this book I was.  I remember reading it at a early age, I was probably about 11 yrs old, and boy was it awful to read about the abuse she says she suffered.  A couple of years later I was able to catch the movie on late night tv, and I was equally glued to the TV.  Even now I remember the whole "No More Wire Hangers" line.   

I know that some people say that Christina Crawford told many lies in her book, but whether or not it's completely true or not, I still can't watch an old Joan Crawford book without thinking of Mommie Dearest.

Jun 14, 2010

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

The Summer of Skinny Dipping
Author:  Amanda Howells
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Released Date:  June 1st 2010

From Goodreads:

 "Sometimes I still wake up shivering in the early hours of the morning, drowning in dreams of being out there in the ocean that summer, of looking up at the moon and feeling as invisible and free as a fish. But I'm jumping ahead, and to tell the story right I have to go back to the very beginning. To a place called Indigo Beach. To a boy with pale skin that glowed against the dark waves. To the start of something neither of us could have predicted, and which would mark us forever, making everything that came after and before seem like it belonged to another life.

My name is Mia Gordon: I was sixteen years old, and I remember everything...."


The Summer of Skinny Dipping is the recalling of the most memorable summer in Mia’s life. After getting dumped by her boyfriend, nothing sounds better than a summer in the Hamptons. Mia and her family travel to the Hamptons to spend the summer with her aunts, and cousins. She is looking forward to the fun her and her cousin will have, like they use to, but she quickly realizes times are changing, and nothings like it used to be.

Though predictable I enjoyed The Summer of Skinny Dipping. The setting of this YA novel is ideal for a beach read. Why not read a coming of age story set in the beach, at the beach. The tensions are high in the summer cottage between the adults, as well as the teenagers, and you know something is brewing. Mia is from a small town, and her ways are too, her cousins are New Yorkers, and though previously her and her cousin Corrine always had a strong bond, the bond is no longer there. Mia can’t recognize her cousin anymore, and though they don’t have much in common anymore, she does try to fit in the clique. In comes Simon, the boy next door. He is also not part of this elusive clique, that is where the first initial bond begins between them. As outsiders they find a friendship, and first love that is real in a place full of artificial people.

Summer of Skinny Dipping is about first loves, discovering who you are, and not conforming to fit in. A quick enjoyable read.

Rating: 3.5

Jun 12, 2010

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

The Swan Thieves
Author:  Elizabeth Kostova
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
Release Date:  January 12th 2010
Hardcover, 560 pages

From Goodreads:

Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Kostova's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love. THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope..


I had been looking forward to reading the Swan Thieves, and it didn't disappoint. I take immense pleasure in reading Author Elizabeth Kostova’s writing. It's beautiful, and flows just right.

I’ve mentioned before that I prefer books plot driven, but I digress when it comes to Ms. Kostova. The Swan Thieves is part mystery, part love story, brought together nicely. Pyschiatrist Andrew Marlowe comes in contact with Robert Oliver when he comes to the mental hospital Andrew works at after Robert Oliver is arrested for trying to slash a painting at a musuem. Robert’s not talking all he does is paint the same face over and over, and Andrew begins to wonder who is this women he paints, and how does it connect with the painting at the museum, if at all.  Ms. Kostova's words made me want to see the world with a painter’s eyes.

The story is more character driven, and the mystery is not all that hard to figure out. I knew how it was going to end probably about half way through. Though, I was intrigued with how the layers were being peeled away to reveal the why, and how.  The story switches back and forth between Dr. Marlowe, the two women in Robert’s life, and a young women in the late 19th century.

My only complaint with The Swan Thieves is the ending. It was as if with a snap of the finger the book ends. A bad mark in a otherwise great book.

Rating: 4

Jun 11, 2010

Blogger Hop Time

It's time for the Blog Hop.  Head out to Crazy For Books and join in, it's a great way to find great blogs.
  I can't even count how many new blogs I discovered. 


Last night I went to see Sex and the City 2.  I'm a huge fan of the show, not so much of the book though.  Anyways, I came home and picked up The Carrie Diaries, and I'm liking it so far. 
I loved the movie!  I think even if it was rotten I wouldn't notice it, that's how much I love Sex and the City. 
As I'm reading The Carrie Diaries I'm picturing Carrie as Sarah Jessica Parker in Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and it got me thinking do you ever put a celebrity to a character while reading.
I do..here are some of my characters

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
-Cannie is Kate Winslet

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
-Lara is Drew Barrymore

The Spellman Series by lisa Lutz
-Isabel is Leah Remini

I know I'm not the only one who does it. 

Have a great Friday and weekend!

Jun 8, 2010

I got an award!

I received this award from Kritters Ramblings. Thanks! I advice everyone to check out her blog, it's really great.

The  Rules:

When you receive this award, you must share seven things about yourself and then pass it on to 15 blogs you have recently discovered that you enjoy!

Seven things about myself:

1.  I love music.  I listen to almost everything, and have to blare it up loud while cleaning, and cooking.

2.  I drink coffee like I should drink water.

3.  I absolutely hate, and I mean hate doing laundry.  Sadly, my day consist of loads and loads of laundry.

4.  I kill plants, not intentionally.  What am I doing wrong?

5.  I have killer dance moves.  Seriously, you don't want to dance with me, because I'll put you to shame.

6.  My favorite form of excersing is going at it with the punching bag with my pink boxing gloves.

7.  I tend to wait on reading books I really want to read.  I don't know why I torture myself this way.  I do it with food, too.  I save the best for last.

Now to passing on the award..

These are all blogs I recently discovered that I love:

Mini Review- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire
Author:  Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date:  September 1, 2009

From Goodreads:

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.


Mini Review
(has a spoiler from The Hunger Games)

I’m in awe of Suzanne Collins. I didn’t know how she could manage to make Catching Fire as good as The Hunger Games, but she did. Katniss and Peeta both made it back from the Games, and are now aware of the repercussions that may come from making President Snow, and the Capitol look weak. Catching Fire is a well thought out, and great continuation of Katniss’s story.  Absolutely love it.

Is there anybody who hasn't read this? 

Jun 5, 2010

A Classic Summer

The kids are out of school, it's stifling hot,  the beaches are packed, and the tubing gear is out.  Ahh, the joys of summer!  Bring out the pitcher's of ice cold lemonade, and platters of fruit. 

I plan on reading tons of fluff this summer, but I wanted to get a classic in also.  I haven't read a classic in forever, and i'm itching for some sophisticated reading.  My problem is what to read.  I could always read some favorites like Pride and Prejudice or The Great Gatsby, but I want something that's fresh to me. 

I've narrowed it down to Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Madam Bovary, The Catcher in the Rye, Jane Eyre, and Les Misérables.  Do they seem a bit downerish (that isn't a word, is it?)? 

I need to narrow this down.  Can anyone give me a reason to eliminate one of these, or praise one to high heaven?  I'm also open to suggestions if anyone can give me a title not up here, that they swear by. 

I was leaning towards Wuthering Heights, but someone mentioned that is seriously depressing.  Now I don't mind a depressing read, if the story is solid, and darn good. 

I would be forever grateful for any input.

Jun 4, 2010

Blogger Hop


So last week was the first time I joined the blogger hop, and you know what?.... I only joined in spirit, because I learned that my link wasn't working. HAHA!  Just like me to screw up the link.

If I do the link right this time, then this will be my real first blogger hop.  I discovered some really cool blogs last Friday, and I of course followed.  

If you are interested in joining the hop, head on over to Crazy for Books and join.

I'm going to do a month of May wrap up..

May books read:

The Unwritten Rule- Elizabeth Scott
The Birthday Ball- Lois Lowry
Perfect Chemistry- Simone Elkeles
The Lies We Told- Diane Chamberlain
The Mark- Jen Nadol
Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights- Kyra Davis
Prada and Prejudice- Mandy Hubbard
The Oracle of Dating- Allison van Diepen
Seven Year Switch- Claire Cook
Obsession Deceit, and Really Dark Chocolate- Kyra Davis
Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins

Obviously you can tell that I read a lot of young adult, and women's fiction.  I also read chick lit, contemporary fiction, and alittle bit of mystery/thriller, and memoirs.

On my sidebar I have a link to all the books I've read this year with the link to the review.   Some haven't been reviewed yet, but I read faster than I can review them. 


Just for fun, here are pictures of my books.  Notice they are basically everywhere in my room and not so neatly on my shelves. 

This one is on my dresser.  I used all my dark colored HB for decoration. As I told my DH, much cheaper than if I would have gone to Pier 1 to get something to put there. ;)

This is my nightstand.  Not Hoarders worthy, but still "Do you think I might have a problem?"

These are my shelves in my extra walk in closet.  Ummm, is it me or do I see a bowing effect on the middle shelf.  There is also on more shelf that I couldn't get in the picture.

These two are what happens when you have no more shelves or no more room.  You start putting them in containers, and stacked up on the floor in a room nobody but me goes into (laundry room).

Now for giggles, here is how my husband contributes to this mess.

His one book!  He's been reading it for weeks now. 
Too cute.

Hope everyone has a great Friday, and weekend ahead.

Jun 3, 2010

The Oracle of Dating by Allison Van Diepen

The Oracle of Dating
Author: Alison Van Diepen
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Released Date: May 1st 2010

From Goodreads

No one at Kayla’s school knows she’s the famous Oracle of Dating—the anonymous queen of dating advice, given through her own Web site. Kayla doesn’t even have a boyfriend. Two relationship disasters were enough to make her focus on everyone else’s love life. But then her advice backfires on her own best friend. And Kayla starts to seriously obsess about Jared Stewart—the very cute, very mysterious new guy in school. Suddenly, the teen queen of advice needs her own oracle of dating--and she knows just where to find one...


I’ve read many good reviews of The Oracle of Dating, so naturally I was excited read this one. I liked The Oracle of Dating, but I wasn’t ga-ga over it. For some reason it came off childish to me. The advice, the Oracle, all seemed funny, and not in a great way. I cant see someone paying five bucks to get advice from someone who plays the xylophone and says the Oracle has spoken. I would have liked it much better if there was no oracle.

The back and forth flirting between Kayla and Jared was cute, and very believable. The Oracle wasn’t a bust, I just could have done without Kayla being the know all of dating. I’m in the fence with this one, I don’t know if I liked it or just didn’t. Another thing I enjoyed was Kayla sister’s dating woes. They were very entertaining.

Rating: 3

Jun 2, 2010

Author Guest Post: Bill Walker

Author Guest Post:  Bill Walker

I'll start off this post by asking a silly question: Is setting really that important? I mean couldn't most books work just about anywhere? Okay, that was two questions, but even though the answer seems obvious, many writers often consider setting in a lesser light than their human characters. Yet, one would never even think to set a book like Gone With The Wind in Brooklyn, would they? For that book the setting was as important as any of the human characters. I'd even go so far as to say the setting in GWTW is a character, a living breathing part of the book.

For my novel, A Note from an Old Acquaintance, Boston is an integral part of the story. I used it because I spent many years living there and am intimately familiar with it. It was a natural choice because it goes back to that hoary old piece of writing advice: "Write what you know." And while it's true many fine books are written by authors who conduct exhaustive research, there is no substitute for having "been there and done that."

So, how does one make one's settings more vivid without overdoing it? My best advice is to use just a few choice words to describe the room. This isn't the 19th century, where readers expected to be told every little agonizing measurement and detail. Instead, what contemporary writers do is weave those choice words into the narrative as they go along. Modern readers are far more visual and sophisticated and will fill in the spaces in their minds. In that sense, writing has become more cinematic. The other important part of setting is mood, the "feel" of the place. What is the atmosphere like in that room you're writing about? Here are a couple of examples:

Sherry wanted to cry when she first saw the inn's romantic attic room. It smelled of cinnamon and roses, mixed with the salty tang of the sea air billowing the homespun curtains. Late afternoon sun pooled on the scuffed slatted floor where dust motes swirled in the golden light; and the quilt-covered four-poster bed, nestled into the only corner of the room that was truly square, sagged in the middle, like an old swaybacked nag. She smiled, wondering how many honeymooners had spent their days and nights in it? Sherry squeezed her new husband's hand, knowing the island's rustic charms would have to wait a few days while they gave that saggy old bed a workout it would never soon forget.

Or this:

The single bare bulb cast a weak, jaundiced light around Mr. Hammond's basement, a light that did nothing to dispel the shadows or his fear. Jimmy tried the ropes again, but only succeeded in tightening the knot, something the old man had told him would happen. His tears had long-since dried, and his eyes felt puffy and gritty. But that wasn't the worst part. It was the crumbling moss-coated brick walls that seemed to close in on him and the hard dirt floor darkened by his urine. He could smell it now, the sting of ammonia tickling his nose. There was another smell, too. It came from the dark-red effluence congealing on the porcelain mortician's table with the drain in the center. All that was left of his buddy, Paul. Tears leaked from his eyes again and his nose began to run. He should have left the old man alone. He should have tried to earn money some other way. Now, he was going to end up like Paul...like the corpse of that dead rat rotting in the corner.

Both of these passages give very different impressions of the setting without going into too much detail. It's those kinds of images you want to convey to enhance whatever setting you choose. Done with care and finesse, proper setting can be a powerful force that together with plot and character will propel your story along in the readers mind and keep them turning those pages. And that's what all writers want.

Jun 1, 2010

Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook

Seven Year Switch
Author:  Claire Cook
Publisher:  Hyperion Books
Published Date:  June 1st 2010

From Goodreads:

Jill is a single mother who’s a master of cultural etiquette with a flair for exotic cuisine. She has a beautiful 10-year old daughter and steady career as an advisor at Great Girlfriend Getaways, a fabulous no-boys-allowed travel agency, perfect for a woman now leading a no-boys-allowed lifestyle. She thinks she finally has her life together, and there’s even a cute, free-spirited bicycle entrepreneur in the picture. For once, the dust in Jill’s life is starting to settle. But when Seth, the deadbeat husband who abandoned Jill and her then three-year old daughter Anastasia for the Peace Corps, comes back into her life, Jill finds herself utterly furious – and flabbergasted. He’s interested in getting to know his daughter, who’s dreamt of having a father, and Jill is powerless to say no. A spunky, worldly Jill of All Trades who has mastered the art of communication can’t seem to hold herself together in front of him. And on top of that, Great Girlfriend Getaways might be up for sale. Jill must make a choice – not necessarily between the two men in her life, but between the woman she is and the woman she wants to be.


I was so excited when I received Seven Year Switch in the mail that I immediately began reading it, and I was not disappointed. The story resonated with me, and I was rooting for Jill.

Seven Year Switch is about a women Jill who is raising her daughter by herself ever since her husband up and left them seven years ago. In the midst of two jobs, raising her now 10 yr old, and a flirting with a possible love interest her ex husband’s reemerges wanting his family back. Seven Year Switch is about forgiveness, and moving on. Author Claire Cook really created a great realistic women who is trying to accept what she has been dealt. I was willing Jill to make the right decisions, wanting her to be strong, yet, I understood the push and pull she was feeling. Here is her chance to give her daughter what she wants and at the same time having a chance for a life she always wanted, and thought she would have when she married.

Seven Year Switch is a story of hope, and Jill emerges as a independent women who’s grown from her experiences instead of letting them take her down. I really enjoyed this book, it is the perfect beach read.

Rating:  4

Received this copy from the publisher for honest review