Friday, September 30, 2011

REVIEW: "Flat-Out Love" by Jessica Park



Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.  When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in.


The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer. 



PUBLICATION DATE: April 11, 2011
READ: September 2011
SOURCE: Bought-Ebook
PUBLISHER: Createaspace
GENRE: Young Adult-Contemporary

TEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD READ JESSICA PARK'S "FLAT-OUT LOVE"


1. The Narrator
Julie Seagle is the heroine and narrator of this book.  I won't go into Julie's situation much here because you can look up and read the book summary for that.  But, what I will say is that Julie is a great narrator.  She is observant (though slightly oblivious), funny, and determined.  She has a very self-deprecating sense of humor, but doesn't go over the top with it.  She just seems like a realistic character with flaws and strengths.  I also found her determination to help the Watkins family to be endearing. 

2. The Geek
Matt Watkins is a member of the Watkins family that allows Julie to move in with them.  He is a certified geek who specializes in geek-speak t-shirts and making sarcastic comments.  But, like many of the characters in this book, there is more to Matt than meets the eye.  I love geeky heroes and Matt is one of the best.  He is far from being a caricature and is a very realistic portrayal.  In order to avoid spoilers, I won't go much further into Matt and his secrets.  But, I will say he is a refreshing character in young adult literature and what he goes through made me tear up on many occasions.

3. The Quirky Little Sister
Celeste Watkins is Matt's younger sister.  She is a quirky character who takes over much of the book.  Her personality is unique, detailed, and completely attention grabbing.  Julie spends much of the book trying to figure out how Celeste ticks and the audience is in on this quest. 

4. The Flat Guy
Flat Finn is an interesting character.  He is, specifically, a lifesize cardboard cutout of Matt and Celeste's oldest brother Finn who is apparently out traveling the world.  Celeste brings Flat Finn everywhere, but school.  She and the rest of her family talk to Flat Finn and even act like he is responding.  Julie is, obviously, confused by this, but does go along with it.  Alot of the book deals with the mystery of why Celeste's obsession with Flat Finn and why her real brother is away.

5. The Watkins Family
Another fun quirk about Flat-Out Love is how Julie relates to all the members of the Watkins family.  She befriends both Matt and Celeste.  She engages in e-flirting with Finn.  She also has small friendships with Erin and Roger.  The entire Watkins family has its eccentricities and it is cool how readers see Julie react to each one.

6. Realistic Approach to College Life
As a soon-to-be former college student, I really liked reading about that tumultous first year.  Julie experiences all the basic changes that can occur during that first years from housing difficulties, dating, parties, grueling schoolwork, and changing viewpoints.  It is fun to see all those milestones with Julie's twisted sense of humor and outlook on life.

7. Character Growth
One thing that can make or break a book for me is if characters experience a type of growth.  It doesn't necessarily have to involve the main character, but that is preferable.  Flat-Out Love is amazing in this regard.  Jessica Park has all of her characters grow in one way or another.  They all have a journey to take in this story and the readers are just along for the ride.

8. Facebook Status Updates
The funniest aspect of this book is the use of Facebook to further the plot and character development.  Julie, Matt, Finn, and a few secondary characters are prolific at updating their Facebook statuses.  These observations are often hilarious and give the readers a unique look into the characters' lives.

9. The Ending (No Spoilers Here!)
I will not spoil the book.  But, it must be said that the ending to Flat-Out Love is everything I could want.  All the questions are answered and in efficient fashion.  No info dump here!  The mystery of Flat Finn is resolved with some surprising aspects that I never saw coming and I was left feeling satisfied with the direction the characters were headed.

10. Support Self-Published Authors
This point is a general book one.  I realized, after hearing all about this fabulous book at other blogs, that Jessica Park self-published this!  I am even more impressed with the way she told the story, balanced the characters, and provided pertinent details.  So, this is just a call to readers to check out some of these self-published writers.  You may have to delve through some crap, but this book is a reminder of the treasure that can be found if you look hard enough.

    

5 OUT OF 5 STARS

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Why do you have to correct everything I say?” Julie glanced at his FTW! shirt. “Out of the two of us, I don’t think I’m the one that deviates from the norm.” The train slammed to a stop. “You’re the one who seems to get off arguing.”
“You sound exactly like Finn. We’re exchanging ideas. Debating.” Matt looked down at his shorts. “And so far I haven’t gotten off.”


    INTERESTING LINKS:

Jessica Park's Blog
Flat-Out Love Book Depository Page
Flat-Out Love Goodreads Page
Fun Interview with Jessica Park

FOLLOW FRIDAY (1)



Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Q. What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character?



Number the Stars

by Lois Lowry
Laurel Leaf-1989
137 pages
1990 Newbery Medal Winner

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are "relocated". Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen's life.

One of my favorite books of all-time!  It is classic children's literature that is desperate need of a movie adaptation!  I had some trouble coming up with someone to play Annemarie, but I finally settled on Elle Fanning from Super 8.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (1): Audition


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting.  Here's what I'm waiting for this week:
Audition

by Stasia Ward Kehoe
Young Adult Romance
Viking Juvenile
October 13, 2011

Seventeen-year-old Sara's dream of becoming a star ballerina is challenged when she falls for Remington, an older choreographer. Instead of success onstage, she becomes Rem's muse, which is a future she never considered--and one that threatens to break her heart.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (6): Owen Armstrong


My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  This week, I'm swooning over Owen Armstrong from Sarah Dessen's Just Listen.

First Impressions: 

"All the information I possessed about Owen Armstrong I'd gotten from a distance.  Like that he was tall and muscular, with broad shoulders and thick biceps.  And he always wore boots with thick rubber soles that made him seem even bigger, his steps heavier.  His hair was dark and cut short, spiking up a bit at the top, and I'd never once seen him without his iPod and earphones, which he wore inside, outside, in class, out of class."

About Owen:
  • Full Name: Owen Armstrong
  • Appearance: dark hair, green eyes, freckles, tall, muscular 
  • Occupation(s): radio DJ
Why I Love Owen:
  • He is obsessed with music of all kinds.
  • He's a great big brother.
  • He's honest.
  • He uses quotes from his Anger Management classes.
  • He's the first person to see Annabel for who she really is.
  • He stands up for what he believes in.
Quotes:


"Some people think they like music, but they have no idea what it's really all about.  They're kidding themselves.  Then there are people who feel strongly about music, but just aren't listening to the right stuff.  They're misguided.  And then there are people like me."

"I mean, at first, it was kind of disappointing.  But people recover from disappointment.  Otherwise we'd all be hanging from nooses.  Right?"

"My point is, I don't know you as someone who gets their picture taken in a cheerleading outfit.  Or even as a model, period.  That's not you to me."

"Then he shifted, moving closer to me, and I felt his arm press against mine, his skin warm.  And then, finally, Owen kissed me--really kissed me--and I couldn't hear anything: not the water, the music, or even my own heart, which had to be pounding.  Instead, it was just silence, the very best kind, stretching out forever, or only a moment, and then it was over."

My Owen: Actor Tom Welling of Smallville fame.





Monday, September 26, 2011

REVIEW: "To Wed a Wicked Earl" by Olivia Parker



He's on the hunt for a bride . . .
Adam Faramond, Earl of Rothbury, needs to find a wife—immediately!—or his beloved grandmother will leave him penniless. But Adam, an unrepentant rake, would reform for only one woman, the woman he's lusted after—and loved—for years. It's rather unfortunate, then, that Miss Charlotte Greene would never consent to be the blushing bride of a rogue . . . or so he thinks.
Charlotte believes that the earl, the only man whose touch leaves her trembling, would never want a woman like her. Weary of her wallflower ways, Charlotte decides that a friendship with the earl just might give her the excitement she desires. Keeping their true feelings hidden, she and Adam plan a sham ceremony to placate the dowager. But when the "marriage of convenience" takes an unexpected turn, will Charlotte and her wicked earl finally reveal their irresistible, unforgettable love—and delight in a lifetime of passion?





PUBLICATION DATE: September 1, 2009
READ: September 2011
SOURCE: Library
PUBLISHER: Avon
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: Regency England
SERIES: Devine and Friends #2
HERO: Adam Faramond, Earl of Rothbury
HEROINE: Charlotte Greene
SENSUALITY RATING: Warm

To Wed a Wicked Earl is the second book in Olivia Parker's series that started with At the Bride-Hunt Ball.  I was recommended At the Bride-Hunt Ball from esteemed historical author Julia Quinn and thoroughly enjoyed it.  To Wed a Wicked Earl blows Parker's debut completely out of the water.  I laughed, I cried, I did everything that proved to me that this was a great read.

We first meet Charlotte Greene when she is at a ball for the conclusion of the bride-hunt.  The bride-hunt (from the previous book in the series) is a scheme by the Duke of Wolverest to find a bride for his younger brother.  Charlotte is one of the front runners for Tristan Devine's hand in marriage despite the fact that she is considered to be a spinster and a wallflower.  After Tristan makes his decision, Charlotte is left standing on the dance floor while all the other "rejected" ladies are consoled by new dance partners.  She is saved by one of London's most famous rakehells, the Earl of Rothbury.

Adam Faramond, Earl of Rothbury, has earned a reputation for drinking, gambling, and seduction.  But, what makes Adam so unique from other rakes in historical romance is the fact that he has been in love with Charlotte for almost six years.  He has spent much of his time dealing with a reputation he hates in order to hide his true feelings from the rest of London society.  But, he cannot help himself when he discovers that Charlotte is almost embarrassed at his best friend's ball.

After the short dance, Adam and Charlotte have a friendly conversation that leads to a variety of other meetings.  These encounters allow Charlotte to decide to become friends with Adam rather than attempt to court him.  She strongly believes he is too fashionable for someone like her, but finds that she enjoys his company.  Adam, on the other hand, uses this as an opportunity to be near Charlotte without revealing his love for her.  This begins a slow, but sweet romance that grows from friendship to lovers.

Charlotte and Adam are both great characters that go beyond their early stereotypical roles of spinster and rake.  Charlotte has become a wallflower mostly due to her shy nature.  But, she does not let her shyness overtake her life.  She is pretty though she is described as having the kind of beauty that grows over time.  Plus she has a sense of humor even regarding herself.

Adam definitely goes beyond his rake persona.  While he does drink, gamble, and seduce women, it is obvious how much he is going through the motions.  His mother abandoned him when he was young and left him to the machinations of his father and uncles who were notoriously sinful.  He was forced to go along with their schemes and developed a sense of unworthiness.  He has been in love with Charlotte for many years, but feels like he is not worthy of her.  His only desire is for her to be happy and he is determined to do that even if it means losing her to someone else.

Most of the book deals with Charlotte's slow discovery of Adam's feelings for her.  The scene where she finally gets it is very sweet and original.  Also, Adam must realize that the only person who has the right to say whether he is worthy is Charlotte.

There are a few interesting secondary characters such as Charlotte's supernatural-loving mother and Adam's best friend, Tristan, who is determined to help Adam court Charlotte.  But, my absolute favorite was Adam's French grandmother who has a reputation of crazy behavior and disillusioned conversations.  Her schemes are some of the most hilarious moments in this book.  Similarly to her grandson, don't let the grandmother's reputation precede her.  There is definitely more to her than meets the eye.

The only thing that is keeping me from giving To Wed a Wicked Earl a perfect rating is the ending.  Everything was going smoothly for the couple.  There were some obstacles to overcome, but they were done in a realistic fashion.  Then, there was a strange melodramatic scene involving one of Adam's ex-mistresses.  There was little foreshadowing of this piece of action so it felt abrupt.  It also ended rather quickly and without much hassle.  I strongly believe the book would have been great without it.

All in all, I loved this book.  The unrequited love from the hero is probably my favorite romantic trope so I was super excited to read this one.  And it did not disappoint.  There were funny moments, sweet moments, sad moments, and definitely romantic ones.  Adam and Charlotte are a great couple whose story I recommend for fans of light historical romance.



4.5 out of 5 Stars

FAVORITE QUOTES:


"He did not blame them.  Because in truth, that's what he did, what he was.  Seduce and dominate.  Charm and manipulate.  A user of women.  How they would scoff, Rothbury mused bitterly, if they knew that he was secretly in love with the silly little chit, spectacles and all."

"By some miracle, Charlotte's polite smile never wavered.  It was a proud moment for her.  After all, it wasn't every day that a little old lady told you right to your face that your bosom was as flat as a flounder."

SERIES INFORMATION:
1. At the Bride Hunt Ball
2. To Wed a Wicked Earl
3. Guarding a Notorious Lady
4. Tristan's Story (Upcoming)

INTERESTING LINKS:
To Wed a Wicked Earl's Goodreads Page
To Wed a Wicked Earl's Book Depository Page
Olivia Parker's Website

Sunday, September 25, 2011

SERIES SPOTLIGHT (2): Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter


This is a new feature where I "spotlight" a certain series that I love and recommend to other readers, inspired by Anna's Book BlogHopefully, this will become a regular event here on Feminist Fairytale Reviews.

For this Series Spotlight, I am going to showcase a paranormal romance series that has rapidly become one of my favorites: Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld.

About the Series: (LINK TO SERIES' GOODREADS PAGE)
Long ago, twelve immortals warriors – each more dangerously seductive than the last -- stole and opened Pandora’s box, unleashing the evil from within. Now they carry that evil within themselves: Violence, Pain, Death, Disease, Disaster, Misery, Doubt, Promiscuity, Defeat, Lies, Secrets, and Wrath. When a powerful enemy returns, they will travel the world in search of a sacred relic of the gods – one that threatens to destroy them all. (Showalter's Website)

Books in the Series (In Order):

The Darkest Fire by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Fire (novella)
He is the guardian of hell, more monster than man.
She is the goddess of oppression, more angel than woman.
Together they will enter the flames to battle a horde of demon lords -- and discover a passion unlike any other...
Discover the origin of the dimOuniak and the demon spirits trapped within.





The Darkest Night

All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she'll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member -- a man trapped in a hell of his own.
Neither can resist the instant hunger than calms their torments . . . and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction -- and a soul-shattering test of love . . .





The Darkest Kiss
She has tempted many men… but never found her equal. Until now.
Though she has lived for centuries, Anya, goddess of anarchy, has never known pleasure. Until Lucien, the incarnation of Death—a warrior eternally doomed to take souls to the hereafter. He draws her like no other. And Anya will risk anything to have him.

But when the merciless Lord of the Underworld is ordered by the gods to claim Anya herself, their uncontrollable attraction becomes an anguished pursuit. Now they must defeat the unconquerable forces that control them, before their thirst for one another demands a sacrifice of love beyond imagining.…


The Darkest Pleasure
Reyes is a man possessed. Bound by the demon of Pain, he is forbidden to know pleasure. Yet he craves a mortal woman, Danika Ford, more than breath and will do anything to claim her—even defy the gods.

Danika is on the run. For months she's eluded the Lords of the Underworld, immortal warriors who won't rest until she and her fami ly have been destroyed. But her dreams are haunted by Reyes, the warrior whose searing touch she can't forget. Yet a future together could mean death to all they both hold dear.…




The Darkest Prison (novella)
Once, Atlas, the Titan god of Strength, was the Greek goddess Nike's slave. Now, he is her master. And soon these sworn enemies destined to destroy one another will be forced to risk everything for a chance at love...







The Darkest Whisper

Bound by the demon of Doubt, Sabin unintentionally destroys even the most confident of lovers.
So the immortal warrior spends his time on the battlefield instead of the bedroom, victory his only concern, until he meets Gwendolyn the Timid. One taste of the beautiful redhead, and he craves more.

Gwen, an immortal herself, always thought she'd fall for a kind human who wouldn't rouse her darker side. But when Sabin frees her from prison, battling their enemies for the claim to Pandora's box turns out to be nothing compared to the battle Sabin and Gwen will wage against love.




The Darkest Angel (novella)
An iron-willed demon assassin, the angel Lysander has never known lust—until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of Lucifer, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the pure-hearted Lysander into temptation….







The Darkest Passion
For weeks, the immortal warrior Aeron, possessed by the demon of Wrath, has sensed an invisible female presence.  An angel--a demon-assassin--has been sent to kill him.  Or has she?  Olivia claims she fell from the heavens, giving up immortality because she couldn't bear to harm him. But trusting - and falling for - Olivia will endanger them all. So how has this 'mortal' with the huge blue eyes already unleashed Aeron's darkest passion?

Now, with an enemy hot on his trail and his faithful demon companion determined to remove Olivia from his life, Aeron is trapped between duty and consuming desire. Worse still, a new executioner has been sent to do the job Olivia wouldn't... 



The Darkest Lie
Forced to his knees in agony whenever he speaks the truth, Gideon can recognize any lie—until he captures Scarlet, a demon-possessed immortal who claims to be his long-lost wife.  He doesn’t remember the beautiful female, much less wedding — or bedding — her.  But he wants to . . . almost as much as he wants her.

But Scarlet is keeper of Nightmares, too dangerous to roam free, and a future with her means risking everything.  Especially as Gideon’s enemies draw closer . . . and the truth threatens to destroy all he’s come to love . . .   


  
The Darkest Secret
Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when new demons possess him, the immortal warrior must be chained and isolated to protect those he loves. Death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty….

Haidee is an infamous demon assassin, raised to despise Amun’s kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul…and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.




 The Darkest Surrender
Possessed by the demon of Defeat, Strider cannot lose a challenge without suffering unimaginable pain.  For him, nothing stands in the way of victory.  Until Kaia, an enchanting Harpy, tempts him to the razor’s edge of surrender.

Known among her people as The Disappointment, Kaia must bring home the gold in the Harpy Games or die.  Strider is a distraction she can’t afford because he as an agenda of his own – steal first prize, an ancient godly artifact, before the winner can be named.  But as the competition heats up, only one prize will matter – the love neither had thought possible...



The Darkest Seduction 
Possessed by the demon of Promiscuity, immortal warrior Paris is irresistibly seductive—but his potent allure comes at a terrible price.  Every night he must bed someone new, or weaken and die.  And the woman he craves above all others is the one woman he’d thought was forever beyond his reach…until now.

Newly possessed by the demon of Wrath, Sienna Blackstone is racked by a ruthless need to punish those around her. Yet, in Paris’s arms the vulnerable beauty finds soul-searing passion and incredible peace. Until a blood feud between ancient enemies heats up.  Will the battle against gods, angels and creatures of the night bind them eternally– or tear them apart?


Personal Notes About the Series:
  • My personal favorite of the series (so far) is The Darkest Pleasure followed closely by The Darkest Lie.
  • My favorite characters are Reyes, Scarlet, Paris, and William.
  • These books are great for people who love Greek mythology.
  • Great eye-candy on the covers!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books

In honor of Banned Books Week (September 24-October 1), I am posting the ALA's list of the top 100 books that were banned or challenged in the first decade of the 21st century.  The bold titles are ones I've read which totals 28.  How many of these have you read?


Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000-2009


1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar 

23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney 

30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison 

36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause 
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson 
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney 
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham 

68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park 
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold 
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving 
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds 
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle 
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

ON MY WISHLIST (4)



On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where we list all the books we desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too. 

Here's what is on my wishlist this week:

Unclaimed (Turner, #2)Title: Unclaimed (Turner Family #2)
Author: Courtney Milan
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: September 20, 2011
Description (from Goodreads):

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London—and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.
But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse: seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs…and the love she knows is impossible.



Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry, #3)Title: Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Description (from Goodreads):
Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.
Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.
Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?


Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)Title: Storm Front (Dresden Files #1)
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: April 1, 2000
Description (from Goodreads):
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things--and most of them don't play too well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a--well, whatever.
There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get... interesting. Magic. It can get a guy killed.


WHAT'S ON YOUR WISHLIST THIS WEEK?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

REVIEW: "A Night to Surrender" by Tessa Dare

A Night to Surrender 

Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are . . . nowhere to be found.  Or are they?
Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.
Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters . . . and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.
Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle…but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

PUBLICATION DATE: August 30, 2011
READ: September 2011
SOURCE: Bought-New
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: Regency England
SERIES: Spindle Cove #1
HERO: Victor Bramwell, Earl of Rycliff
HEROINE: Susanna Finch
SENSUALITY RATING: Hot

A Night to Surrender is Ms. Dare's seventh historical romance and the beginning of her third series.  I have liked every single one of her books so I was excited to read her newest and let me say that this is my favorite Tessa Dare book so far!  I loved everything about it: the characters, the setting, the plot.  It completely drew me in and left me scrambling for more.  Okay...enough rambling...on to the actual review! 

This book begins with an introduction to our hero, Victor Bramwell "Bram" who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the British army during the Napoleonic Wars.  He has recently been injured on the Continent and is trying to find someone to help him re-establish his previous position.  In this effort, he has been assigned to start a militia in the village of Spindle Cove which resides on the coast of the English Channel.  Imagine his surprise when he arrives in Spindle Cove and finds it limited in terms of "trainable" men.

Susanna Finch (awesome heroine name!) has lived with her father Sir Lewis Finch near Spindle Cove for many years.  She has helped make the village a destination for a variety of young ladies who need a break away from society and society's doctors.  The village has become a ideal paradise for these ladies until Bram and his military aspirations arrive.

Much of this book contains both Bram's effort to find and train volunteers for his militia and Susanna's efforts to keep her seaside paradise as a safe haven for young ladies.  This brings forward a variety of humorous moments.  Some of my particular favorites include Bram's search for men in Spindle Cove and Susanna's demonstration of her ladies' weapon training. 

Spindle Cove is a setting that almost seems like a character.  Readers get many details of the layout of the village, its location on the sea, and how it has transformed with the arrival of Susanna's charges.  There also seems to be a type of spell that Spindle Cove puts upon people when they arrive.  Bram and his companions are not immune to this atmosphere though it does seem to take a little bit of time for the full effects to be realized.

But, what sets apart A Night to Surrender from other historical romances, for me, is the main characters.  Bram and Susanna are fabulously thought out and unique in their own way.  They have some stereotypical attributes, but Dare does a nice job of making sure that both of them were realistic.   

Bram has spent much of his life involved with the British army whether through following his father to India or presiding over his own men.  Therefore, his pride and self-worth is tied to his military career which has been seriously threatened by his injury.  Bram secretly desires a family and a place to call home, but doesn't know how to ask or pursue those dreams. 

Susanna, on the other hand, has a very personal reason to help the ladies that are brought to Spindle Cove.  Shortly after her mother's death, she was sent to live with relatives who did not know how to deal with her unique viewpoints and attitude.  Therefore, like many people in this time period, her relatives took her to many doctors who prescribed a vareity of methods to "cure" her.  These methods included leeches, head shaving, and ice baths.  Susanna took ill from these practices and was taken to Spindle Cove when her father realized the truth of what was occurring.  The atmosphere helped her gain strength and begin to enjoy life again.  But, she has become overprotective of her lifestyle and reacts negatively to anything that could decrease the control she has over her life. 

Together Bram and Susanna realize their weaknesses and figure out how to deal with them.  They are immediately attracted to each other and face quite a few obstacles to finding their happily-ever-after.  But, it was obvious that they made each other better people and were destined to be together. 
There are many secondary characters that keep the plot moving forward as well as providing some funny scenes like the Bright twins and the Highwood family.  But, my personal favorites are Bram's companions to  Spindle Cove, Corporal Thorne and Bram's cousin Colin, Lord Payne.  Colin's story is next in this series and I can't wait to see more of him and his heroine's (whom we meet in this book) interactions.  I also have a soft spot for Thorne and I think I have an idea of his future lady...

In conclusion, A Night to Surrender is a book full of humor, drama, and, of course, romance.  The characters are well-drawn and fully fleshed out while the plot keeps going at a rapid pace until the unconventional ending.  It is a great beginning to what I hope will be a great series! 


5 out of 5 Stars

FAVORITE QUOTES:

"She would allow him to comfort her. And perhaps, someday, she would listen patiently if a dark, dreary night found him well in his cups and he drunkenly confessed to still feeling scores of wounds that weren’t his own, but those of men under his command."


"No, Susanna, " he said.  "I cannot love you just a little.  If that's what you want, you must find a different man."  His green eyes were breathtaking in their intensity.  His thumb brushed her bottom lip.  "Because I can only love you entirely.  With everything I am, and everything I ever will be.  Body, mind, heart, soul."

SERIES INFORMATION:
1. A Night To Surrender
2. A Week To Be Wicked (To Be Released in 2012)

INTERESTING LINKS:
A Night to Surrender Book Depository Page
A Night to Surrender Goodreads Page
Tessa Dare's Author Website
All About Romance Review
The Romance Reader Review

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (5): Victor Bramwell, Earl of Rycliff


My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  This week, I'm swooning over Victor Bramwell from Tessa Dare's newest historical romance, A Night to Surrender.

First Impressions: 

"After the dust cleared, she brushed the hair from his brow, searching his gaze for signs of confusion or pain.  His eyes were alert and intelligent, and still that startling shade of green--as hard and richly hued as jade."

About Bram:
  • Full Name: Victor St. George Bramwell
  • Appearance: dark brown hair, green eyes 
  • Occupation(s): Lieutenant Colonel, Earl of Rycliff
Why I Love Bram:
  • He's a soldier and has little desire to be a lord.
  • He takes care of his cousin.
  • He loves intelligent women.
  • He cares about the men under his command.
  • He is desperately in need of a home and love.
Quotes and Pics:


"We're going to have this out, you and me.  Right here.  Right now.  I'm going to tell you every wild, erotic, depraved thought you've inspired, and then you're going to run home scared.  Lock your bedchamber door and stay there for the next month so I can concentrate and do my damned duty."


"No, no.  Don't make that face.  Every time I propose to you, you make that twisty, unhappy face.  It wears on a man's confidence."


"I promise to stay at your side, " he said, "until this is all over.  And for the lifetime after that.  Now, make your promise to me."  His eyes glistened, and his voice was rough with emotion.  "Promise me, Susanna.  Tell me you won't die.  I can't go on without you, love."


"If you think that rifled cannon will be your greatest invention, you're a fool.  Your greatest invention is right here, sleeping in this bed.  Susanna is your legacy.  And in your pride, you almost lost her."


"No, Susanna, " he said.  "I cannot love you just a little.  If that's what you want, you must find a different man."  His green eyes were breathtaking in their intensity.  His thumb brushed her bottom lip.  "Because I can only love you entirely.  With everything I am, and everything I ever will be.  Body, mind, heart, soul."


My Bram: Actor Ioan Gruffudd

Saturday, September 17, 2011

ON MY WISHLIST (3)



On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where we list all the books we desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too. 

Here's what is on my wishlist this week:


Really liked the first two books in this series.  This one seems to be an either you love or you hate it, so I'm interested to see my take on it. 

Title: Breathless (House of Rohan #3)
Author: Anne Stuart
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: October 2010 
Description (from Goodreads): Ruined beyond repair and shunned by London society, lovely Miranda Rohan rebelliously embraces the freedom that comes from having nothing left to lose. However, this dangerous course throws her under the power of the darkly enigmatic Lucien de Malheur—known to many as the Scorpion.
Seeking to destroy the Rohans, Lucien traps Miranda in a marriage she thinks is based on friendship but instead is rooted in vengeance. Yet even when she realizes the truth, their enmity fuels a shocking passion—and perhaps even more.

Interesting Review/Recommendation: Danielle's Book Thoughts



I love this concept and the reviews I've read are extremely flattering.

Title: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon #1)
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: December 2008
Description (from Goodreads): Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragon-eye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. After a dazzling sword ceremony, Eon's affinity with the twelve dragons catapults him into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where he makes a powerful enemy, Lord Ido. As tension builds and Eon's desperate lie comes to light, readers won't be able to stop turning the pages...
Interesting Review/Recommendation: About Happy Books



 I love strong female characters and Rogan sounds intriguing.  Plus I like the twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. 

Title: Slumber (Chronicles of the Fade #1)
Author: Samantha Young
Publisher: Create Space
Publication Date: May 2011
Description (from Goodreads): A sleeping beauty may be the damsel in distress, but her White Knight? Why her rather un-knightish best friend of course. And the White Knight’s White Knight? Well… none other than her reluctant mortal enemy…
When Haydyn falls victim to the mysterious Sleeping Disease, the world of Phaedra is thrown into Chaos. Rogan, Haydyn’s best friend and handmaiden, is the only one who can save her. Together, with the Royal Guard and their young Captain, Wolfe Stovia, Rogan must set off across the provinces to find the Somna Plant that will wake Haydyn from her dying sleep.
Beset on all sides by the chaos, Rogan tumbles into a dark world of kidnapping, prejudice, betrayal and love… a journey that will change her forever, and a journey that will change their world forever, if she does not retrieve the cure.