Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

I know I have been quiet this week, but that was because I was on vacation. We just got back yesterday from a one week vacation in western Iowa. I have family out there that I haven't seen for years and many of whom hadn't met my husband or my son. We attended a wedding for one of my cousins, and just spent time catching up. It was wonderful.

I didn't get much reading done, but that doesn't upset me much. I had too much fun and wish our time out there could have been longer. My aunt and I stayed up until 2:00am Central time talking one night--despite the fact my internal clock was working on Eastern time.

I hope to have a review up tomorrow, but I am not pushing myself. I go back to work on Monday, which is the first day of our library's Summer Reading Club, so I am trying to relax and enjoy these last few days before I have to go back.

Blog copyright Melissa @ Mel's Books and Info http://bookgirl-mel.blogspot.com



Friday, May 25, 2012

Giveaway! Goddess Interrupted

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2)


I loved this book and absolutely can't wait for book 3, but here is your chance to win your own copy of Book 2 Goddess Interrupted

You don't want to miss this installment in this wonderful series.  Don't believe me? Simply scroll down to check out my review!

About Goddess Interrupted: Book 2 in The Goddess Test series (HarlequinTeen, April 2012, $9.99):
Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.  

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future. Henry's first wife, Persephone.

About Aimée Carter:
Aimée Carter was born in 1986 and attended the University of Michigan.  She started writing at age eleven, focusing first on fan fiction and later on original work, and hasn't stopped since.  The Goddess Test trilogy is her first series  Check out her website at www.aimeecarter.com.


Giveaway:

To win enter using Rafflecopter below!

Terms and Conditions:

*Contest will run from 12:01 am May 25th through 12:01 am May 31st.
*US and Canada Only
*Must be 13 years of age or older.
*Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
*Winner will be announced on this blog on 6/4/12.
*Book will be mailed to you from the publisher.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thank you to Harlequin Teen and Media Master's Publicity for this giveaway.

Goddess Interrupted is currently available at a bookstore near you.  Order your copy of Goddess Interrupted from any of these retailers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter


Title: Goddess Interrupted
Author: Aimee Carter
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Mythology
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ISBN-13 Book: 9780373210459
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher.  This is my honest review!

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2)Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary:
Kate eagerly anticipates returning to Eden Manner and seeing Henry again, but when she arrives in the Underworld, all she finds is chaos as the other immortals are struggling with the titan Cronos who has been woken by Calliope. Henry is distant, and Kate worries that she may not be ready to be his Queen, but time is running out as Cronos grows stronger, and Calliope’s desire to seek revenge on Kate grows.

Review:
I loved The Goddess Test and so I eagerly anticipated diving into this novel. Greek Mythology has always fascinated me, I love the stories and the adventures. It was also a source for stories about remarkable women, long before strong and remarkable women were fashionable in literature. I love that wisdom is governed by a woman in Athena, and that Diana was a huntress. I have also always loved the myth about Hades and Persephone, so this series was right up my alley.

Carter has successfully made the myths into a modern story which she continues here in this second novel. Kate is now a goddess too, and she only now just learning how to use her powers and find her place with the other immortals. Unfortunately, this proves to be a bad time to be a newcomer as Cronos has been awakened by Calliope who seeks revenge against Kate.

This novel in some ways was a novel of transition, but it was so necessary to the story. Kate must confront her feelings for Henry, and her feelings about her sister Persephone. She knows a lot is at stake, but she wants to help the family that she has come to love. Henry and Kate need to learn to communicate with each other.

While the pacing may seem to slow down a bit in this second installment, it really gives us insight into the characters and the relationships. The family knows if they lose to Cronos, everyone will be destroyed, and Calliope’s madness really shines through in this novel. Great story development here, and a real buildup to a cliffhanger ending.

Overall:
I just looked it up and it seems that I will have to wait until April 2013 for the next installment. I’m not sure I can make it that long! I love this series, and this second book was an excellent addition. I recommend this to anyone looking for stories with myths.


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Review: Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter


Title: Goddess Hunt
Author: Aimee Carter
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Mythology
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ISBN-13 Book: 9781426834158
Disclosure: I purchased an ebook copy for my nook from BN.com.  This is my honest review!

The Goddess Hunt (Goddess Test, #1.5)The Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:
It is summer, and after spending the winter being tested as a potential wife for Henry/Hades, Kate is looking forward to kicking back and enjoying some fun in Greece. When James leads Kate across the paths of the two people most wanted by the council, the twins Casey/Castor and Lux/Pollux, soon the entire council is pursuing them across Greece hoping to separate the twins forever. Even though it might me standing up to Henry, Kate is determined to see that the twins stay together, even if the cost is her new marriage.

Review
This is a wonderful novella that bridges the gap during book 1 Goddess Test and book 2 Goddess Inheritance. In this novel you get to find out a little more about the council, Walter, and James. It was interesting to see the characters outside of Eden Manor, and even more interesting to see that they are not as perfect as they might sometimes seem.

This knowledge of the council’s flaws, was an important revelation for Kate. She was still wearing the “rose colored glasses” when it came to the council, so seeing them in a new light was welcoming. This made this story interesting and a valuable addition to the series.

It is a short novella, but it really does pack a punch. The pacing is perfect and the action keeps the reader hooked until the end.

Overall:
This is a great addition to the series, and gives you a little more time with Kate, James, and Henry. I loved it.


View all my reviews

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Goddess Test by Aimee Carter


Title: Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Mythology
Publication Date: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ISBN-13 Book: 978-0373210268
Disclosure: I purchased an ebook copy for my nook from BN.com.  This is my honest review!

The Goddess Test (Goddess Test, #1)The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:
For the last four years Kate Winters has done everything for her mother, even giving up all her high school experiences to stay by her mother’s side. Now her mother is dying and wishes for nothing more than to return to her childhood home in Eden, Michigan, a small town where Kate knows nobody. When Kate sees Henry, a young man claiming to be Hades, bring a girl back from the dead, she knows there is more to Eden than meets the eye. Kate agrees to stay with Henry and take the tests to be Henry’s future wife and a goddess of the underworld, if he agrees to keep her mother alive for a little while longer. She has seven tests to pass, but all the other girls who have tried to pass the tests have ended up dead. Will Kate survive to become Henry’s bride?

Review:
I had a friend who read this tell me she didn’t enjoy this book, but I can honestly say I had trouble putting it down. I have always loved mythology, and some of the novels coming out use the mythology so creatively, bring the myths to life and adding a whole new dimension. This novel is one of those.

I loved Kate’s character. She is practical, down to earth, and easy to relate to. Her mother is dying and she wants to spend every moment she can at her mother’s side. She moves to Eden to fulfill her mother’s wish, fully expecting to return to New York after her mother dies. Eden turns out to be more than it appears, and when she meet Henry, she hopes that she has found a way to spend more time with her dying mother.

I love how the novel progresses. Some might consider the pacing slow, but I loved finding out new things about Eden Manor and Henry as the story progressed. It was always interesting wondering what would happen next and how she was going to be tested.

Overall:
Overall this was a fun novel that gives new life to the myth of Hades and the Underworld. I loved Kate, and all the characters, and this was just a fun summer read. Looking forward to the next installment, Goddess Interrupted.


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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Life has been busy lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't had time to read.  In fact I am actually doing better on the reading front even if my goodreads.com challenge seems to disagree with me--it says I am currently 8 books behind, but I really feel like I am catching up and that's all that really matters.  So boo to you Goodreads challenge!

All joking aside, I finally feel like I am in the mood to read lately, which is progress in this battle I have been fighting with myself lately.  I think this has a lot to do with some really great books I have been reading lately, so if this streak keeps up I'll be back on track in no time.  So what really great books have I been reading lately?  Well you can see their reviews here, but here is a little taste of what I have been reading:

The Goddess Test (Goddess Test, #1)Dead Is Not An Option (Dead Is, #5)

The HelpTexas Gothic

With the exception of The Help (and even that had it's moments, I love Minny) they have been pretty light reads--intriguing, sometimes humorous, but in the end enjoyable and relaxing.

So the big question.  What am I reading now? Here is what you will find on my reading shelf right now.

Currently Reading:

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2)Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2)


Now Playing on Audio:

Shine

What do you think?  What are you reading right now that is holding your interest?  Any good recommendations?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Audio Book Review: Dead is Not an Option Marlene Perez

Title: Dead is Not an Option
Author: Marlene Perez
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Mystery
Publication Date: May 2, 2011
Publisher: Graphia
ISBN-13 Book: 9780547345932
Publisher Audio CD: Brilliance Audio
ISBN CD: 9781455823963 (Unabridged)
Length: 5 CDs (Approximately 5 hours 10 minutes)
Narrator(s): Suzy Jackson
Disclosure: I checked out the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!

Dead Is Not An Option (Dead Is, #5)Dead Is Not An Option by Marlene Perez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:
We are back in Nightshade for the fifth installment of this fun lighthearted series. Tensions between the weres and the vampires are mounting as people are being attacked and left for dead. Daisy is attempting to figure out who is behind these attacks while at the same time trying to undo the spell that traps Lily and Balthazar in their forms as a Jukebox and a pig. She has a lot on her hands as the school year wraps up, and graduation approaches. Will she unravel the mystery in time or will her high school career end with a bang?

Review:
I have said it before and will say it again. I simply adore this series. Every now and then I need a lighthearted mystery that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This series is perfect for that.

The main characters are likable and well developed after four novels, and you are so happy to sit down once more with some familiar friends. Admittedly this is a short novel, so some characters are stereotypes, but that doesn’t prevent the reader from enjoying the story.

The mystery is fun and fast paced keeping the reader interested in finding the big baddies. Over the course of the series you really begin to love this quirky town and all the characters.

Audibook:
The audiobook is produced by Brilliance Audio and read by Suzy Jackson. Jackson has read all the other books in this series too, so it was nice to hear a familiar voice. The production quality is excellent and this really is a gem of a series whether you are reading them or listening to them on audio.

I love the length of these books because the number of discs doesn’t overwhelm the potential listener. The audio recording is 5 hours and 10 minutes long and consists of 5 discs. This is the perfect length for those of us with a short commute who don’t have a lot of listening time, but still enjoy a good audiobook.

Overall:
Overall, I was sad to see this portion of the series end. Daisy is one of my favorite girl detectives, and I am sad that the series will move on from her. It is phenomenal, and definitely one of my favorite series.

On the brightside, the series will continue with a new protagonist in Dead is a Battlefield. I hope the light tone and fun mysteries will continue in the next installment. I also hope that we get a sneak peek at what some of favorite characters are doing now.


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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Title: Texas Gothic
Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN-13 Book: 9780385736930
Disclosure: I purchased a copy from Books a Million. This is my honest review!


Texas GothicTexas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:
Amy (Amaryllis) Goodnight has always been the one in the family that tries to make everyone think the Goodnight family is normal and harmless. In reality, the Goodnights are a family with extraordinary abilities of the witchy variety. While housesitting for her aunt, Amy finds out that hiding her family’s abilities is impossible when the ranch next door is being haunted by the Mad Monk. Hauntings, accidents, and a dead body located at the site of a proposed bridge, stir up more than enough trouble for the little town and leave Amy well over her head.

Review:
I had a difficult time starting this novel. I loved Amy from the beginning, but for some reason, I just couldn’t read more than a few pages before putting this book down. It wasn’t a pacing problem—personally I believe that it was a reader problem—namely me. I made it past that though, and am so glad I didn't give up on this fun novel.

From the get go, I liked Amy and her quirky family. She is real and tries to keep the extraordinary abilities of her family a secret despite the fact that her family doesn’t seem to mind being different. In some ways, Amy comes off as being a little too uptight, and that is why the scene with the car, the cow, and the cowboy, was a delightful way to start off the novel.

I loved the mystery and the slow build of tension in this novel. The pacing is spot on, hooking you at the beginning and then gently propelling you through the novel to the big reveal.

Nothing really original here, but it is entertaining and fun with a quirky cast of characters I hope to see again. I loved cousin Daisy, and would like to see her have a story of her own. I hope the author writes more about this charmed and charming family.

Overall:
This was a light entertaining read, which was fun to read. We read this book for my book discussion group, and the phrase I used to describe this book was one we all agreed on. It was like a cross between Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. I loved this light fun mystery with a good old fashioned ghost story.


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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adult Audio Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Genre: Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: February 10, 2009
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
ISBN-13 Book: 9780399155345
Publisher Audio CD: Penguin Audio
ISBN CD: 9780143144182 (Unabridged)
Length: 15 CDs (Approximately 18 hours)
Narrator(s):Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and Cassandra Campbell
Disclosure: I checked out the audiobook from my public library and purchased a copy of the book from Target.  This is my honest review!


The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary:
The year is 1962 and college graduate Skeeter Phelan wants nothing more than to be an author. She gets a job writing a cleaning column for the local paper and it is there where she first begins to get the idea of telling the story of the black maids in Jackson who wait on white families. With the help of two courageous maids, Aibileen and Minny, the stories of the maids begin to come together in a book that will change all of their lives.

Review:
I know it has been a while since this book came out, and so many of my friends have recommended this one to me. Everyone I know who has read this novel has loved it, and I can now say I truly understand.

These characters are so finely developed they feel like real people. You can believe that you can reach out and touch them, but more than anything you want to hug them. Aibileen is so brave and honest. She shares her hopes, dreams, and heartbreak with the reader, and there is an eloquence to her you just love. In many ways Aibileen comes across as the noble maid. Minny was probably one of my favorite characters. She says what she means, and while her mouth sometimes gets her in trouble, I found her honesty refreshing and sometimes hilarious. Skeeter was interesting too. There was so much I wanted for Skeeter, I cheered for her successes and I really wished the best for her.

At its heart this is a novel about courage. What these women did would have consequences and they all knew it. They had the courage to continue on with the project despite what the consequences may be. I loved the characters, I loved how brave they were, and I love that they hoped for real change in their lives.

Audiobook:
This has to be one of the best audiobooks I have listened to in a long while. The narration is spot on, and you can believe that the narrators are the characters. The audiobook was produced by Penguin Audio and is read by Jenna Lamia (Skeeter), Bahni Turpin (Aibileen), Octavia Spencer (Minnie), and Cassandra Campbell. Audio is the perfect way to experience this novel. With the three narrators, and the three distinct voices, you can clearly hear these characters speaking, and the readers performances make these characters leap off the page. This audio is beautifully done, and one of the best listening experiences I have had this year. If you have never listened to an audiobook before, this would be a wonderful place to start.

Overall:
This is a wonderful book with well-drawn characters and a lot of charm. My only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner.

Just a note, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but everyone tells me I need to see it. I didn’t realize that Octavia Spencer did both the audiobook and the movie—it will be a blast to see her on film. Now…I just need to check out a copy from my library. I hope it is in!


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Friday, May 4, 2012

Kimberly Pauley's Top Ten Most Exciting Things




Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Kimberly Pauley to my blog! She is going to share with us the 10 most exciting things that have ever happened to her. Pauley's newest book, Cat Girl's Day Off came out on April 1st and is a charming and funny read. Check it out.

Welcome Kimberly!

Top Ten Most Exciting Things that Have Happened to You 
(in no particular order)

1. Having a book published. That’s gotta be on the list, right? Especially the first book and the third one (since the second one was a sequel).

2. Having The Max (aka cutest little boy ever). Though I mean all the bits after the actual birth part…I wouldn’t call that part exciting.

3. Meeting and having dinner with Harry Harrison, one of the Grandmasters of Science Fiction, at a convention (this was before I was published, so it was doubly awe-inspiring).

4. Getting fan mail, especially the snail mail kind where someone actually took the time to find my address and write me (or draw me something!)

5. Moving to London. I always thought I’d love to live in Europe and now I’m doing it!

6. Getting married. I mean, you know, that’s huge. And my husband would probably be mad if I didn’t include it.

7. Going to some of the best restaurants in the world (like The French Laundry and Alinea and Radius and The Herb Farm). We used to have a goal to hit the top 50, but that’s kinda slowed down since we had The Max.

8. Attending the American Library Association (ALA) conventions and meeting all the awesome (and dedicated!) librarians, not to mention my fellow authors (like Patricia C. Wrede! And Richard Peck! And…wow, too many to mention).

9. Visiting China. I’ve traveled lots of places, but China was by far the most foreign place. And, hey, I’m half-Chinese.

10. Quit my day job to write full-time. Also one of the most terrifying.

Thank you Kimberly!

I highly recommend checking out Cat Girl's Day Off it is a wonderful book and extremely funny. Need more convincing? Check out my review.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: It's Okay to Not Read and What Blogging About Books Means to Me

I know it has been a while since I posted a Thursday Thoughts.  I've been thinking about a lot of things lately, but couldn't quite put them in words. 

No matter how much you enjoy reading and blogging, sometimes life interferes.  I experienced that earlier this year when I went into a reading slump because of events in my personal life.  While reading usually offers me solace, and a chance to escape the realities of events going on around me, this particular time it didn't help.  I didn't want to read, blog, or really do anything.  It was one of you that told me that it was alright to take a break from reading.  So for a short time I put the books down, and thanks to that comment I learned that the world doesn't end if I don't read every day.  Thank you.

The blogging world means so much to me because it is with you that I get to share the books I read.  In my real life it is hard to find someone to talk books with me, but you all are there whenever I want to chat about books--that means a lot. 

Lately there has been a lot of talk of scandal in the book blogging world, and questions about our integrity as bloggers.  I have always disliked when the actions of a few ruined things for the group.  While these events have saddened me, and left me disappointed, I believe that book bloggers are bigger than this.  We  should not allow a few individuals to tarnish our reputations as bloggers.  These individuals do not represent the majority of book bloggers who are honest and dedicated.

As a whole, we book bloggers are a great resource for librarians, booksellers, and publishers.  Most of us do this because we love to read and share books.  Granted a few bloggers are in it for the ARCs, but you know what, while I enjoy getting ARCs, they aren't the reason I blog.  If I don't have an ARC of a book, I find a book at my library or bookstore to write about.  If I never received an ARC again, I would still be here writing about books and sharing what I read.  I blog because I love books, I love sharing those books, and I blog because I love blogging.  The day I don't enjoy blogging anymore will be the day I stop writing my blog. 

Blogging shouldn't be about profit, it should be about the love we share of literature and the service we do for our readers.  We need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and remind ourselves why we sit here in front of our computers pouring our hearts, souls, and opinions into these blogs.  We need to remember how much we love literature and the conversations we are starting.  Most of all, we need to show the world that we are here because we love what we do. 

I appreciate all the readers who stop by my blog.  Thank you for being here and for sharing your love of books with me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: Cat Girl's Day Off by Kimberly Pauley



Title: Cat Girl's Day Off
Author: Kimberly Pauley
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Tu Books
ISBN-13 Book: 9781600608834
Disclosure: I received a copy for review from {Teen} Book Scene Tours.  This is my honest review!

Cat Girl's Day OffCat Girl's Day Off by Kimberly Pauley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary:
Nat Ng, middle daughter in a family where superpowers are extraordinary, has the unenviable talent of being able to speak to cats.  When a celebrity's cat goes crazy and attacks his owner, Nat is the only one who understands what the cat is saying--that someone was impersonating his owner.  Can Nat and her friends find out what really happened to the celebrity, or will the imposter make them disappear too.

Review:
As a person who grew up with cat's I can tell you that their were many times that I wondered what my cat was thinking.  Cats are bizarre creatures, who live by their own rules.  Cat's have their own distinct personalities, and sometimes I think I should be grateful that my cat's couldn't talk--I shudder to think what criticism they might have for me.

Pauley clearly understands cats and the relationship they have with their owners. It was pure pleasure to be able to understand what the cat's were saying and they were some of the most colorful characters in this novel.  The dialogue between the cats, and the dialogue between the human characters was sharp and funny.

While the pacing of the novel slows down in parts, this really is a fun novel.  The characters are fun, the cats speak exactly how would expect a cat to talk.  The mystery is interesting and the Talents are fun.

Overall:
This novel has all the characteristics of a Disney film; talking animals, smart sassy though constantly underachieving heroines, and a villain in disguise.  It was a charming mystery and fun romp with animals through the corridors of a high school and the streets of Chicago.


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