Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little House in the Big Woods - Books That Made Me Love Reading

Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
First published 1932
Read for the Books That Made Me Love Reading Challenge

Laura Ingalls's story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Four-year-old Laura lives in the little house with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their trusty dog, Jack.

Pioneer life is sometimes hard, since the family must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But it is also exciting as Laura and her folks celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do the spring planting, bring in the harvest, and make their first trip into town. And every night they are safe and warm in their little house, with the happy sound of Pa's fiddle sending Laura and her sisters off to sleep.

And so begins Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved story of a pioneer girl and her family. The nine Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America's frontier past and a heartwarming, unforgettable story.

My Review:
I knew when I signed up for the Books That Made Me Love Reading Challenge that I would be reading some of the Little House books, and I might as well start with the first one. I owned this entire series when I was a child and loved reading them over and over. I was devastated when my books were destroyed even though I was already grown at the time.

This book, as well as the others in the series, gives you a glimpse into a time that was more simple but a lot more difficult. Family was always more of a priority than it sometimes seems to be to most people today. Laura's favorite times were spent listening to her father tell stories or play his violin. Life was very hard and much different from the way we live today. The majority of their time was spent hunting, doing the wash, baking, making clothes, and other things that were needed just to survive, and the children had to improvise for toys by using the pig's bladder as a balloon, a corncob as a doll, and making paper dolls.

Upon reading this again, my thoughts centered around how this is such a different kind of book than what I read today and the kinds of books that are most popular now. However, I still think this is such a classic, iconic book that all little girls should read.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leap into Books Giveaway Hop: Win a Amazon Gift Card

This giveaway is part of the Leap into Books Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Jinky Is Reading. There are a lot of great blogs participating in this hop. After you enter here, hop over and enter their giveaways too.

My giveaway:
1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Will be delivered through email.

How to enter:
Each option below will give 1 entry. Choose 1 or all.
+1 Follow Krazy Book Lady on Twitter.
+1 Like Krazy Book Lady on Facebook.
+1 Add Krazy Book Lady on Google+ or Goodreads.
+1 Follow Krazy Book Lady via GFC, Linky Followers, RSS, or email.
+1 Leave a new blog post comment on any review.
+1 Tweet about the giveaway. Here's the tweet to use:
I want to #win a $10 Amazon Gift Card from @KrazyBookLady in the Leap into Books Giveaway Hop!

Giveaway details:
Giveaway is open internationally.(As long as you are able to use an gift card.) This giveaway will run until midnight EST on March 5. Must be 13 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen using Winner will be emailed and this blog post will be updated to include the name of the winner. Winner has 3 days to contact me or a new winner will be selected.

Thank you for entering and good luck!

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed.

Winner: Jodi C.

Top Ten Books to Which I'd Give a Theme Song

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books to Which I'd Give a Theme Song
Top Ten Tuesday post by Kayla

Call me crazy, but I do not listen to a lot of music anymore. If I’m in the car, I’m listening to an audiobook. If I’m hanging out around the house, I like to have peace and quiet when I’m reading. Also, I am one of those people that needs to be in a windowless, soundproof room to write. I do not do background noise. All of that being said, I do have an iPod and my phone filled with awesome songs that I love. In order to do this list, I’m going to put my Droid music collection on random and pick a book for each song. Brace yourselves.

1. “Set Fire to the Third Bar” Snow Patrol – Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind

Don’t ask me, I honestly do not know. When the song started playing, I immediately thought of this book. I haven’t read it since I was pregnant with the aforementioned five year old, and I have forgotten most of it. I guess it is because of Richard and Kahlen’s love for each other and their fight to be together.

2. “Rape Me” Nirvana – The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

Just trust me – it fits.

3. “Enter Sandman” Metallica – Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

This is the scariest dystopian that I have ever read. Here are some lyrics that will explain a little why these two fit together:
Dreams of war, dreams of liars
Dreams of dragon's fire
And of things that will bite

Dreams of war: Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia
Dreams of liars: It is Winston Smith’s job consists of “historical revisionism”, which means that he changes various historical works, photographs, and other important documents to reflect that the government is always right and always has been.
Dreams of dragon’s fire: This can totally be Julia and Winston’s bowchickabowwow. (It was first published in 1949 – there’s hardly anything shocking or distasteful.)
And of things that will bite: Oh man, the rats…

4. “Here’s A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)” Travis Tritt – New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

I’m not a fan of the series, but if Bella wasn’t so twitterpated, she would have gone with Jacob. Edward, you should have just stayed gone.

5. “Apologize” Timbaland ft. One Republic – Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

Oh Bill, I never liked you from the start. “It's too late to apologize, it's too late. I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late. Woahooo woah!” Hopefully Sookie never looks back to you.

6. “Hey Jude” The Beatles – The Gunslinger by Stephen King

First, let me ask you not to judge me. I’m not a music person. It interrupts my reading. So when I say that I had never heard of this song before reading The Gunslinger, please don’t start gathering your pitchforks and torches. I mean, I recognized the song but never paid any attention to it before. And it’s a major player in my playlist now! The best thing about this situation is I can get all swoony over Roland Deschain every time I hear it.

What? He’s the ultimate unattainable bad boy.

7. “Vienna” The Fray – The Diary of Anne Frank

There has been a lot of discussion as to what this song is really about. I liked the explanation given about it relating to the Holocaust (that many do not agree with), so right now I’m thinking about Anne Frank. This portion has been explained as the individuals being shipped the concentration camps:

The day's last one-way ticket train pulls in.
We smile for the casual closure capturing.
There goes the downpour.
There goes my fare thee well.

And this explaining that those people couldn’t be reached and then it was too late:

There's really no way to reach me.
There's really no way to reach me.
There's really no way to reach me,
'Cause I'm already gone.

It works for this exercise, no?


That’s all I could come up with this week, folks. I’ll be back on my game next week.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Character Guest Post by Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah's Wake

Because I have had Terri on the blog before, I asked for something a little different this time. I hope you enjoy this guest post written from the perspective of one of the characters from the novel.
Guest post by Terri Giuliano Long

What do you like about people?
By Justine Tyler

Because I’m young and sort of reserved, people often assume I like everyone. Maybe it’s because I try to give everybody a chance. It’s unfair to judge people you hardly know. My sister bends a lot of rules, but it doesn’t make her a bad person. She just wants to be independent. I don’t always agree with how she behaves, but I respect her. When I overhear people talking, judging her, I just want to punch them.  KIA-AH. Left, right, uppercut. Pow, pow! Ha! Knock some sense into their peanut-size brain.

Not everyone’s like that, of course, so I have to be careful. Some people – my friend Holly, for instance – live in their own little world, isolated from the rest of us. They hardly notice anyone else, which is a little annoying. At least they don’t hurt anyone. Sometimes I wish I were more like Holly, but if I were, I suppose, I wouldn’t be me.

What do I like about people? Let’s see: Given a shot, most people are kind. If a small animal or a child is in trouble, they do what they can to help. Maybe they sense the vulnerability and shut down their defenses. Really, I’m not sure it matters. It’s the act, what you do, right? How you behave? Not whether you think about it or not.

People are generous, especially with their time. Take Officer Johnson. He’s got a tough job and two babies at home, yet he finds time for our family. Leah thinks he’s got the hots for our mom. I don’t believe her. Even if it’s true, as long as he doesn’t act on it – I really can’t imagine him doing anything – he’s still a good person. He doesn’t have to check in on us, but he does. Whenever I see his cruiser, I smile.

I like that people try. Life can be rough, you know? Hard to get out of bed every day, put one foot in front of the other, go to school, study, do your chores, make an effort to be a good friend. Look at Hope Lansdown. She’s fat—not chubby, fat. If that’s not bad enough for a girl, her dad left when she was a baby. She and her mom live in this  falling down house – Mom and I drove by one day and she showed me – with dirty windows and a ratty front yard. She was kicked off the soccer team in ninth grade, has no extracurricular activities. Her boyfriend, this big scary kid named Lupo, sells drugs. With her life, why get out of bed in the morning? What’s the point? Yet she does. People, all kinds of people – young, old, middle age – do the same every day.

Once, in Boston, my mom and I saw this guy with a transplanted face. A nurse held his arm and they were out walking. I cried. I didn’t feel sorry for him. No, not at all. Last year, watching the Kentucky Derby with my dad I bawled my eyes out. The horses are so beautiful, so powerful. And they have so much heart. It’s not always about winning, you know? Mostly, it’s just about being there, playing the game.

Big things, winning, heroics—this isn’t what counts. On any given day, under the right circumstances, anybody could be a champion. It’s the everyday things - being kind and generous, giving of yourself, going out on a limb, getting out of bed every day, pushing yourself—the connections that make people special. That’s what I love.

Who is Justine Tyler? She is Leah’s sister in the novel, In Leah’s Wake. Protecting their children comes naturally for Zoe and Will Tyler - until their daughter Leah decides to actively destroy her own future. What happens when love just isn’t enough? Who will pay the consequences of Leah’s vagrant lifestyle? Can this broken family survive the destruction left in Leah’s wake? 

About the author:
Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a lecturer at Boston College. Terri loves meeting and connecting with people who share her passions.

Visit Terri on her site, Twitter, and Facebook.  

In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long
Published: October 2010

The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine — more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until everything goes wrong. Can this family survive in Leah’s wake?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Collecting Innocents by CK Webb and DJ Weaver - Review

Collecting Innocents 
(The 911 Abduction series)
by CK Webb and DJ Weaver
Published: October 2011 by Suspense Publishing

Highway travel can be lonely and treacherous. Broken down vehicles litter the Emergency Lane like corpses on a battlefield. What if you were alone with no one to call when you found yourself stranded? Your only companion; your small child sleeping in the back seat. What would you do?

On I-10 in Louisiana the answer is simple… you use the Emergency Call Box. But while you sigh a breath of relief in the knowledge that help is on its way, a much more sinister listener has heard your 911 call.

Calls for help are coming in from Emergency Call Boxes along I-10 in Louisiana. But, when the State Trooper or wrecker service arrives to assist, there is no sign of the vehicle. Days later, the driver is found savagely murdered with no trace of their tiny passenger in sight.

When a police officer, formerly of the Aberdeen Police Department sees a twisted pattern of murder and child abduction arising from 911 calls, he contacts Sloanne Kelly, now known for her work with child abduction cases. Together, Sloanne, Shawn Tyler and Mac Mackenzie, with the help of reporter Birney Sullivan, go on the hunt for a killer and the innocent children he is collecting.

Darian's Review:
Along I-10 people and children are disappearing. The parents are turning up savagely murdered, but there’s no sign of the children. Someone is keeping them, but why? No one sees the connection between the disappearances, except Detective Mac Mackenzie, and he enlists the help of Saving Angels, the countries leading agency for finding missing children. Sloanne and her crew immediately see the connections, connections all too familiar to them. But with the resistance of other Police Departments, will they be able to find and bring these children home? Or will the killer keep collecting innocents?

Collecting Innocents is the second book in this series. Nothing can kill the flow in a story quicker than too much back-story, and that’s a common issue when reading books in a series. A majority of the first few chapters is riddled with information from the previous book, and a reader can’t help wondering when the heck they’re going to get to THIS story. But the authors did a wonderful job weaving the background of the first book into this story. Not having read the first book, I was able to jump right into this one, getting enough knowledge along the way of the characters history without the flow being bogged down by too much back-story.

The authors waste no time pulling you into this story, and being a mother myself, right from the start I felt the fear; being stranded with my child in the car, then the momentary relief that help has arrived is quickly smothered by terror. And from there I was hooked.

The plot moves and a wonderful pace, fast enough to keep my heart rate soaring, yet with enough breaks that I could stop and catch my breath before they were on the hunt again. It’s in the flawless pace you feel the author’s experience in the genre, particularly as the story really heats up. The cliffhangers and the end of each chapter feed into the desire to keep reading, regardless of how late it is, how tired you are, or what you’re supposed to be doing other than reading.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book as well. All of them you’ll find have their own distinct voice, mannerisms, and personalities. The crew from Saving Angels have their own strengths and weaknesses, and together they form the perfect team, making them the ideal group to help find the children.

The ending for me was slightly predictable. However, I have spent many, many years reading this genre, so most books in this genre have a somewhat predictable ending to me. That would be my main issue with this genre (which by the way is still one of my favorite genres), you’re really only left with two options for an ending; catch the bad guy, or they don’t catch the bad guy. I won’t spoil it with which way this ending went. I will say though that the authors did a wonderful job wrapping up all the loose ends. It wasn’t the dry, run-of-the-mill, blurting out the facts manner that many other authors tend to use.

Overall this was a good read for me, one of the better ones I’ve read in a while. I felt a connection with the characters, the urgency of needing to find the children, the fear that they wouldn’t find them, they pulled me into the rush of the chase. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the genre. And I would gladly read the first book in this series and the upcoming book as well. The authors have spent a lot of time learning their craft, and their efforts show in their work.

About the authors:

CK WEBB was born and raised in Mississippi, and dreamed of writing like the greats; Emily Bronte, Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King, to name a few. CK joined the US Navy and traveled the world, but eventually returned to settle down in the tiny town of Millport, Alabama. A self-proclaimed ‘reformed bad girl’, this thirty-something writer now shares her life with her husband and two beautiful children. CK also enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and book club. Although CK delights in preying on the fears of others and enjoys killing people…thankfully she does it the legal way; in her novels. She has just completed the first two novels in the 'Innocents' series which she co-wrote with her best-friend and mother, DJ Weaver. CK writes in a variety of other genres and also writes articles and book reviews for Suspense Magazine.

DJ WEAVER originally hails from Pascagoula Mississippi, but relocated to north Mississippi in 1980. She took courses at Mississippi University for Woman and Mississippi State University, studying paralegalism and Human Resources Management and has worked in the clerical field for twenty-five years. DJ, along with her daughter and best friend, CK Webb, recently completed the first two in the three-novel Innocents series. She also writes in a variety of other genres. When she isn‘t writing, DJ develops and maintains WebbWeaver Review blog, where she reviews books and interviews published authors regularly. She serves as co-chairwoman of WebbWeaver Book Club and also writes book reviews for Suspense Magazine.DJ is a 50-something year old mother and grandmother who now works part-time and makes her home in Millport Alabama. 

You can find them on The Innocents series website. Also find CK Webb and DJ Weaver on Twitter.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giveaway: Smoke and Magic by Patti Larsen

This giveaway is part of the Follower Love Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and vvb32reads. There are a lot of great blogs participating in this hop. After you enter here, hop over and enter their giveaways too.  

Please also check out the other giveaways that I currently have. New giveaways start all the time. They can be located in the right sidebar.

My Giveaway:
One winner will receive Smoke and Magic by Patti Larsen. Winner can choose either a print copy or a digital copy. Please note, the print copy will not be available until around the end of March.

Smoke and Magic (Blood and Gold series, Book 1)
by Patti Larsen
Published: February 9, 2012

Banished to Victorian London

“Auburdeen Perneila Hayle,” Sassafras hissed, the amber glow from his cat eyes growing until the front of the wicker cage shone with it, “you will do whatever you can to behave yourself, to not embarrass me or your mother and to absolutely under every circumstance maintain a firm hand on your horrid temper.”

My anger simmered. Yes, I had a temper. And yes, it had taken me into situations in the past that perhaps I shouldn't have been part of, situations that usually devolved into fistfights and incoherent yelling at the offender. He should be grateful I always kept control of myself enough my magic never came into play. Except that one time. But it wasn't my fault. Not really. And the offender recovered. Eventually.

Auburdeen Hayle is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the next leader of her coven. When the transition of power becomes tense, Burdie is sent from her home in America to stay with old friends in London to keep her safe. But a handsome young man chooses to hide from the police in her hansom, drawing Burdie into an underground world of magic that challenges even her sense of adventure and puts her at odds with the very people who are meant to protect her.

How to enter:
Just be a follower of this blog in whatever way you choose. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, GFC, Linky Followers, email, etc. 

Additional optional entries:
+1 Follow Patti Larsen on Twitter or like on Facebook.
+1 Leave a blog post comment about why you would like to win this book. ("Thanks for the giveaway" comments will not count as an entry.)

Giveaway details:
Giveaway is open internationally. This giveaway will run until midnight EST on February 28. Must be 13 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen using Winner will be emailed and this blog post will be updated to include the name of the winner. Winner has 3 days to contact me or a new winner will be selected.

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed.

Winner: Kimberly C.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Back to You by Natalie-Nicole Bates - Feature & Guest Post

Back to You by Natalie-Nicole Bates
Published: January 2012
Publisher: Bradley Publishing

On the surface, Lynsey Reznor seems to have it all. She is beautiful, brilliant, and a successful true-crime writer who has been living the past decade in Miami. But what Lynsey lacks is what she needs the most—a family.
After the death of her mother, and yet another failed relationship, Lynsey makes an impulsive decision to return to her hometown of Unity. But Unity will present its own bittersweet memories, most notably, her first love, Nick Lincoln.
Twenty years ago, Nick broke teenager Lynsey’s heart when he decided to marry another. He had his own private reasons—reasons he never explained to Lynsey. Now she is back, along with a chance to reclaim her love. But Lynsey wants answers from him that he may never be able to give out of duty and guilt.

Guest post by Natalie-Nicole Bates:

From Reader to Writer in Three Not-So-Easy Steps!

For several years before I even formulated an idea for my first book, I was reviewing books. Being a voracious reader since I was a child, reviewing seemed like the natural choice for me.

When I was still in school, my teacher assigned us students to choose three books each semester and write a few paragraphs about them. This was my first taste of book reviewing! While I was reading and reviewing Harold Robbins and Sidney Sheldon, my teacher came to me and said, You really should be reading the classics.

To me, Sheldon and Robbins were the Masters.

Book reviewing is an art that requires a special skill set. Book reviewing sites are professionally run, and most require interested applicants to audition. Book reviewers know how a book is put together, they understand the elements of plot, setting, scene, and point of view. They look for flow, for consistency, and most of all, they know how to remain neutral.

So if a book reviewer understands the mechanics of how a good book is put together, can they become writers themselves? Maybe.

About a year ago, I decided to make the leap into writing. First and foremost, I stopped reviewing contemporary and paranormal romance (the genres I was interested in). I did this by my own choice. I now review mostly mystery and inspirational romance.

I already had my idea for a contemporary romance, and I signed up for an intensive six month course in the art of novel writing. This past summer, I sold my first novel, Change of Address, which is now available at Secret Cravings Publishing. Within a few weeks of my sale, I was offered a contract for my short paranormal, Antique Charming, which is now available at Books To Go Now. Back To You followed, which is now available from Bradley Publishing.

I have made successful leaps from avid reader, to reviewer, to finally, writer. But everyone’s journey is individual. Not all reviewers will become writers, not all writers review. When people ask me, how did you know you wanted to review? How did you know you wanted to write? I tell them my truth. For me, it was a burn inside of me that would not let up until I started reviewing, until I started writing. Each reader, reviewer, and writer must follow her own path to personal satisfaction.

About the author:
Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author. Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia. She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.

You can find Natalie on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Click image above to see the rest of the tour stops.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Smoke and Magic by Patti Larsen

Teaser Tuesdays was created by MizB of Should Be Reading.

My teaser:
"As much as Mum would like for me to be different," I said, "she can either have a lady or a future coven leader, but she can't have both."
Smoke and Magic (Blood and Gold Series, Book 1) 
by Patti Larsen
I'm not sure how to tell what page this is on since it is a Kindle copy, but it is at approximately location 208 of my copy.

 Anyone can participate in Teaser Tuesdays. Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful to NOT include spoilers! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author.
What do you think about this teaser? Please also share your own.

Top Ten Books I'd Quickly Save if My House Was Going to Burn Down

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books I'd Quickly Save if My House Was Going To Burn Down
Top Ten Tuesday post by Kayla

I was quasi-excited when I saw this topic because I found myself in this situation last September. I’m not excited about my house facing the potential of burning down, but I’m excited about knowing what I would grab.My area had been suffering from a massive drought, and wild fires began popping up all over the parish (not a church district, I live in Louisiana). One day, a fire ignited less than a mile from my house. The wind was blowing, but it did not require immediate evacuation despite not being under control. Since I had a few hours to pack the bare necessities, I was about to grab books after packing photos, clothes, heirlooms, and other essentials. Here are the books I grabbed:

1. Hammered by Kevin Hearne

I adore Kevin almost as much as I enjoy pestering him on Twitter from time to time. I found him initially on Nicole Peelers blog, and we struck up a Twitter-friendship. He often talks about how great Tabasco sauce is (gag!), so I had to send him some of Louisiana’s other local pepper sauces, which I prefer. He did a sauce-off ( and preferred Tabasco, but I forgave him. Mostly. The Fraggles didn’t, but that’s another story (one is enough).

The point I’m making is that this dude is pure awesome. He was kind enough to send me a personalized copy of Hammered, and it’s one of my most treasured possessions. Having signed books is amazing, but there is nothing like having one personalized by an author you respect. And don’t worry, Hounded and Hexed got to tag along with their little brother-book.

2. Jane True series by Nicole Peeler

I am an eternal college student, but only in spells. During my last enrollment binge, I was fortunate enough to have met Nicole. I was the president of a campus group that promoted sexual health and responsibility for college students, and she became our advisor when the other professor (and also my very good friend) stepped down. Since not everyone wants to hang out in front of the various buildings, passing out condoms and STD brochures during events, there were not many people in the group. I was president (mainly by default) and was lucky enough to get to know Nicole a bit during the group’s social functions and while raiding her office for more condoms and lube.

The point I’m getting to is Nicole is the first person that I ever knew that was published other than educationally or by an independent press. I must confess that I never truly believed that “real people” wrote books. (Nicole seems real enough, but I’m also a terrible judge of people.) Since the first book in the series – Tempest Rising – was released, I have bought every book in the series and gone to every signing Nicole had in this area. We have both moved on to other things since that university, but we will always have the comedic-hormance label. And memories of the lube.

3. Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells

There isn’t a long story here, I promise. I have all of these books because she does signings with Nicole Peeler. She has always signed my books with dire warnings, and I look forward to getting Silver Tongued Devil’s. This series is definitely one of my favorites.

4. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

I checked this book out and read it when it was first released. I had read a fantastic review of it in some publication or another, and had to have it. When I finished it, I could do nothing else but write this gushing letter to Mr. Donohue telling him how fantastic it was that he wrote this wonderful, dark fairy tale for adults. He blew my mind away by sending me an autographed first edition. The message he wrote in it made me cry.

5. Ariel by Steven R. Boyett

This book is not signed. It is dirty and worn. I’ve only corresponded briefly with the author over email before this book was rereleased and the sequel published. The reason that this book is so important to me is that it is a first edition, I love the unicorn on the cover, and it was my frequent rereading of the book that wore it out.

6. My Daughter’s Bible

It was one of the only things her father has ever deigned to give her, so I’m sure it will be important to her one day.

7. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

For my twenty-first birthday, my mom gave me a beautiful leather-bound edition of this book. I am the only person who has ever cracked it open. I know this because I have it hidden away. Is it my precious? Maybe.

8. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford

This is another book that is not signed, but I adore Leah. (I promise not to gush here.) I waited over a year for this book to come out, and it was her first novel. Maybe I stalked her a little when I found out her main character’s name was Eden. I also have an Eden, and I thought it would be so cool to have a young adult urban fantasy with her name in it. I treasure this book not only because it’s an awesome read, but also due to it being written by one of the most fantastic people that I know.

Note: If this would have been the TTT at the end of this month, A Touch Morbid would be number one on the list. (No, they’re not in any particular order right now.)

9 & 10. Lady of the Lake (I don’t remember which author) and Tempest by William Shakespeare

These are my beloved first editions from the late 1800s. I found these in an aunt’s junk pile when I was eleven. I knew exactly what I had my hands on, and she gladly let me have them. They are also ferreted away in my hidey hole.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - Review

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Published: January 3, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins

Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Kayla's Review:
In Under the Never Sky, Veronica Rossi builds a thrilling and terrifying dystopian world in which she sets a story of two teenagers who are thrown together after each loses what is held most dear. It is action-packed and will leave you breathless from the start.

The two unlikely teens are Aria, a Dweller who is framed and exiled to the Death Shop for a terrible crime while trying to reach her mother, and Perry, an Outsider with special talents who is searching for his kidnapped nephew while feeling the call of leadership. Circumstances force them to work together to accomplish their goals, which fate has woven together. The metamorphosis of their disgust and mistrust to love is a beautiful thing to watch unfold. The amazing and dangerous future that Rossi sets this in is so vivid and skillfully written that it makes the story that much more believable, despite being science fiction.

I usually avoid books that I know to be a romance unless it comes to me highly recommended, but I read Under the Never Sky without seeing what other reviewers were saying. I delved into the story with an open mind and found one of the most beautiful young adult romances that I have ever read. This book is sure to be a classic, and I cannot wait to read and experience it again.

A copy was provided by the publisher through Net Galley for review.

About the author:
VERONICA ROSSI was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Growing up, she lived in several countries and cities around the world, finally settling in Northern California with her husband and two sons. She completed undergraduate studies at UCLA and then went on to study fine art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. When not writing or painting, she chases after her boys, who make her laugh every day, and who teach her about love that's a million gazillion times bigger than the ocean. UNDER THE NEVER SKY is her first novel.

You can find Veronica Rossi on her site, blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Crater Lake by Steve Westover - Review

Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island by Steve Westover
Expected publication: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort

While visiting his crazy Uncle Bart at Crater Lake National Park, thirteen-year-old Ethan's world collapses when all the adults at Crater Lake disappear, including his parents. Now Ethan must rally his new friends and decipher the legends of Crater Lake to find the key to rescuing his parents from their earthen prison before he's captured too and their captivity becomes permanent.

My review:
Five kids are left on their own in Crater National Park when everyone over the age of 16 is swallowed up by the ground. Ethan, Jordan (Ethan's little sister), Brady, Allie, and Jacob must go to some extraordinary measures led by an unlikely source to save everyone by a certain time or they will be trapped forever.

Crater Lake started off a little confusing for me. I had trouble following what was going on and all of the different characters. After the initial part, the story progresses smoothly and has a lot of twists and turns to grab your attention. Some of the children don't like each other, and other ones don't even know each other, but they have to learn how to get along and work together to save the adults and themselves. Along the way, they have to test their physical and mental limitations and figure out what they can believe and who they can trust. Steve Westover has created a world that is very imaginative and full of adventure and mystery. Overall, I think it is a good book for older middle-grade and the younger YA readers.

A copy was provided by the publisher for review.
About the author:
Steve Westover has always enjoyed writing, but he had never even considered writing a novel until one morning he woke up with the idea for some characters in his mind. He was curious if he could write a book so he thought he would give it a shot as an experiment.

After a long process of writing, nearly giving up mid-way through, editing, shopping for a publisher, changing the title and editing some more, his first book, Defensive Tactics, is being published through Cedar Fort on the Bonneville Books imprint, and will be in stores in August 2010.

Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island is his second book and was written with his oldest daughter and son in mind. They are avid readers who turned him on to books like Fablehaven and Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which he really enjoys. So, as a father trying to please his children, he wrote Crater Lake for them. 

You can find out more about Steve Westover and Crater Lake on his site, blog, and the Book Poster page.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic - Review

Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic
Published: January 17, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Austin Parker is on a journey to bring truth, beauty, and meaning to his life.

Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. The doctors say his chances of surviving are slim to none even with treatment, so he’s decided it’s time to let go.

But before he goes, Austin wants to mend the broken fences in his life. So with the help of his best friend, Kaylee, Austin visits every person in his life who touched him in a special way. He journeys to places he’s loved and those he’s never seen. And what starts as a way to say goodbye turns into a personal journey that brings love, acceptance, and meaning to Austin’s life.

My Review:
What do you do when you know that you are not going to live much longer? Austin visits people who he thinks needs help. He hopes that the things he has to say (that he wouldn't normally say if he wasn't dying) will somehow help them. During this weekend journey, he also does a few things he has always wanted to do but never has.

I have mixed feelings about this book, but I am reviewing it anyway because I signed up to be part of the traveling tour. On the back of the book I read (which was an ARC even though it has now been published), it says what is wrong with Austin, even though it is not on the blurb above. However, when you read the book, you don't know that he is dying until you are probably about 75% through with the book. It makes references to the fact that he is sick, but you don't know what is really going on until almost the end. Overall, Never Eighteen is very sad and makes you think about life and death.  Megan Bostic powerfully portrayed the emotions of many of the characters throughout the book. I found myself wanting to keep reading so I could find out what happened to Austin as well as the people he went to visit. You may not enjoy this book if you do not like emotional reads.

It says this book is recommended for 12 and up; however, I would recommend it only for older YA or adults due to language, references to sex, alcohol and drugs, etc.

Reviewed as part of a traveling tour.

About the author:
Megan (that’s with a long “e”) Bostic is a mere human trying to find her place in the universe and an all-around great girl. Despite the rain and gray (she’s truly solar powered) making her extremely angsty, she’s lived in the Pacific Northwest her whole life, and still does, with her two crazy beautiful girls.

She thrives on the challenges faced in her journey to publication and has documented it vlog style. You can find her Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer on Youtube.

Her writing process she lovingly calls “organized chaos”. She writes on her laptop at the kitchen table next to the sliding glass door so she can absorb as much sun as she can. The “organized” part of the process mostly takes place in her head and involves the beginning and the end of her work in progress. The “chaos” part is pretty much how she sits down and writes with reckless abandon, not stopping to fix, revise, edit, or even breathe until she’s done.

When not writing, Megan is usually chauffeuring her teenage daughters and their friends, watching her girls play soccer, watching movies and TV shows on Netflix, hanging out with friends, spending time at the ocean, or walking the Narrows Bridge.

Megan loves the color black, monkeys, and is a notorious Facebook addict. She’s a proud member of The Class of 2K12 and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can also find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and anywhere else cool authors hang out. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway Hop

This giveaway is part of the Follower Love Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Read for Your Future. There are a lot of great blogs participating in this hop. After you enter here, hop over and enter their giveaways too.  

Please also check out the other giveaways that I currently have. New giveaways start all the time. They can be located in the right sidebar.

My Giveaway:
$10 Amazon Gift Card. Will be delivered through email as a gift card code.

How to enter:
Just be a follower of this blog in whatever way you choose. GFC, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, GoodReads, etc. Maximum of 2 entries for this hop.

Giveaway details:
Giveaway is open internationally.(As long as you are able to use an gift card.) This giveaway will run until midnight EST on February 21. Must be 13 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen using Winner will be emailed and this blog post will be updated to include the name of the winner. Winner has 3 days to contact me or a new winner will be selected.

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed.

Winner: Abigail M.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pure by Julianna Baggott - Review

Pure by Julianna Baggott
Published: February 8, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters. . .

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run. 

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . 

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. 

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again. 

Review by Kayla:
In Pure, Baggott creates a post-apocalyptic world where the various survivors of the Detonations are pushed together in this dystopian thriller. There are two factions of survivors – the Pures, who are in a radiation-resistant Dome when the Detonations struck; and the Wretches, the poor souls who were unfortunate enough to be in the unprotected outside.

The story itself focuses on two very different individuals – Pressia Belze and Partridge Willux. Pressia lives in the remains of a city outside of the Dome and is nearing her sixteenth birthday. She and her grandfather are plotting a way to hide her from the OSR, the outside militia government that takes away surviving children once they turn sixteen, never to be seen or heard from again. Inside the Dome, Partridge lives a privileged life as the son of one of the most important men in the protected environment. Despite his advantaged status, he finds himself asking questions about why he made it into the Dome and what really happened to his mother who died in the Detonations.

I am not going to comment too much on the plot. There are so many twists and turns, that I could easily give something away without meaning to do it. All of that aside, this is an exquisitely written story about survival and relationships in a very ugly, filthy, and violent world. Unlike more popular post-apocalyptic young adult novels, this one is far more believable for me. I do not believe something could change the entire structure of humanity without changing the people and their environment. It is probable and, to be honest, terrifying. The former English major in me immediately wanted to dissect this story into all of its glorious pieces.

The secondary characters were one of my favorite aspects of the story, and it would not have been as successful without them. The Mothers are one example. Their mere existence in the story is important because of what they represent in that horrible world. One of my favorite lines in the story concerns them. “And some have no children, and, next to all of the others, they seem stripped, pared down, as if whittled to some smaller version of themselves.” (Chapter 32 – Uncorrected ARC) Pure is a novel of so much loss, and that line speaks volumes in itself. It made me ask myself if that description could also be applied to the Pures. Near the end of the story, there is a Special Forces soldier who tells one of the main characters, “I was. And now I am not.” That is something that each character in the entire book can say.

It was a slow start for me, but I ended up loving this book. It is gritty, graphic, and horrifying throughout, but one of the most beautiful reads that I have had the pleasure of experiencing. 

A copy was provided by the publisher for review through Net Galley.

About the author:
Julianna Baggott is the best-selling author of eighteen books in fifty foreign editions. She had her first book published in her twenties and soon reached her best-seller status. Julianna also writes under the pen names of N.E. Bode and Bridget Asher. Along with her impressive career as an author, she is an associate professor at Florida State University and co-founder of the non-profit organization Kids in Need-Books in Deed.

You can find Julianna Baggott on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top Ten Books That Broke My Heart a Little

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books That Broke My Heart a Little
Top Ten Tuesday post by Kayla

I am an emotional person. I avoid movies that have any sort of dramatic theme or animals in them because I will come out of it looking like Zorro. There have been instances that I would have people come up to me afterward and ask me if I was okay. I am telling you this because books are ten times worse when it comes to the emotion overload. If I think a book will be even slightly sad, I avoid it like the black plague because I know I will suffer from the Ugly Cry. You know – eyes blurring from the onslaught of geyser-like tears; snot dripping onto your pages, making them stick; and the loud, hiccuping sobs that makes everyone in the room confused as to whether they should stare or look very hard at the nearest wall or inanimate object in order to pretend that you are not behaving like that. Man, I hope it’s not just me that does that.

1. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This was the last book that I ever blindly picked up based on a friend’s recommendation. I was about six months pregnant with my daughter, and I needed something to read. Working in a bookstore gave me a case of indecisiveness (which is a direct result of having too many options). My dear friend, Jackie, suggested that I read this book because it was one of her favorites.

Let’s stop right here for a minute. In case you did not know what this book is about, this family has a daughter who is suffering from leukemia. In order to help her in the battle, they have another child who is conceived to be a perfect bone marrow match for her sister. I do not believe that I have to explain the book any further for you to see how it would have such a profound effect on someone who is pregnant. I bawled like silly, asking myself what I would do while experiencing this horrible situation through the multiple characters’ points of view – and not just at the end.

2. The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

Saying goodbye is always an extremely difficult thing to do. I grew up reading Narnia, but it took me quite a few years to get around to that last novel. I kept rereading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and A Horse and His Boy because I loved the characters so very much. I almost wish that I would have never read The Last Battle. Any of you who have read it understands. It nearly broke me. It was bad enough to say goodbye to the characters, but the way Lewis so definitively ended the series was devastating.

3. Harry Potter and the _______ by J. K. Rowling

No, I am not saying that all seven of the HP books broke my heart a little. You can, however, pick any of the last three books. Rowling decides to become a literary serial killer and systematically slays character after character. The death at the end of The Half-Blood Prince hurt me more than any death in literature until I read The Deathly Hallows. There were two deaths in that one that affected me in particular. I won’t say which two, but I will say that I can never look at Alan Rickman without tearing up since reading it. I have not been able to watch the last movie all the way through, and I did not ever go see it in the theater.*

4. Specials by Scott Westerfeld

I hated almost every character in The Uglies series. I detested Tally, David got on my nerves, and Shay was a bitch (excuse my language, but that is the nicest I can be). I still managed to zip through these books because the story was so fascinating, and I really liked the character Zane. In this book, I full-out hated Tally for her behavior, her choices in the end, and how she treated Zane. When someone died in the middle of the book, it blew me away.

And yes, I cried.

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The two people that should have ended up together did not. The main character’s best friend kicked the bucket. They both broke my heart, and I cried. A lot.

6. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials was a beautifully written, thought-invoking trilogy that I adored reading. This was the second book and probably my favorite of the three. Although each book had a bit of death in them, this one had one so overwhelming to me that I had to wait a few months before reading The Amber Spyglass.

7. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I have already talked to you guys about how much I love this book. I think it is safe to say that any book that teaches you about love and relationships is going to make you cry a little bit. This one made me cry a lot. Why did it break my heart? Saying goodbye always does.

8. The World According to Garp by John Irving

This is a messed up book chock-full of flawed and immoral characters. I could not help but love every single one of them. I have not read this book in at least seven years, so I do not want to say too much about it out of fear of spoiling something. I will say that there are a few characters that die quite horribly. It hurt so much to read it. I would cry and swear that I would  not finish it, but I did. It was like a black hole from which there was no escape.

9. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

Page two – that says it all.

10. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

When I read this book for the first time, I had never really much interaction with people who had special needs. (I believe I was in my very early teens.) It still broke my heart to see Charlie begin to achieve his dream, only to have it slowly ripped away from him while he was fully cognizant of it happening. In the years since I have read this book, I have come to know people who are mentally disabled. I was blessed to have taught some special education students during my one year of teaching high school. They were all so motivated to do well and be “normal” that when I reread the book as an adult, Charlie’s plight was much more real to me. In a way, this is the most heart-breaking book of all.

*See? There was a point to the introductory paragraph.

Note from Tami/KrazyBookLady - I agree with most of Kayla's Top Ten picks, but one that immediately came to my mind that I just had to add (and I hope Kayla doesn't mind) is Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. It broke my heart when I read it as a teenager, and it still breaks my heart.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Haunted by J.A. Templeton - Review

The Haunted by J.A. Templeton
A MacKinnon Curse novel, book 2
Published January 2012

After battling a malevolent ghost that held the spirit of her friend Ian MacKinnon bound to the land for two hundred years, sixteen-year-old reluctant psychic, Riley Williams, felt as if she was finally easing into her new life in Scotland.

Or so she thought.

Laria, the spirit of the witch who had cursed Ian wants revenge for Riley's interference and she's bringing along friends--dark entities who thrive on evil.

The one bright spot in Riley's world is Ian's descendent, Kade MacKinnon, who could easily be Ian's modern day twin. The parallels between the two guys are undeniable. As Riley's relationship with Kade blossoms, she begins to realize Laria has grown in her power since their last confrontation--a power that could very well manipulate the living just as effectively as the dead.

My Review:
The Haunted picks up where The Deepest Cut ends. I'm not going to say much about The Haunted because I don't want to give any spoilers for anyone who hasn't yet read The Deepest Cut. Riley has just met Kade MacKinnon, who was away for vacation over the summer when Riley first moved to Scotland. Kade is Ian's descendent, and the resemblance to Ian is striking. Riley feels as if she already knows Kade, and she easily falls for him. However, she doesn't understand why Laria is still tormenting her since Ian has moved on.

I thought The Deepest Cut was amazing, and J.A. Templeton did not disappoint with The Haunted. The romance, mystery, and suspense are continued in this second book of the series. This one does go more into the hot scenes than the previous one and is recommend for older YA due to that and other content such as language and drugs. I, for one, have mixed feelings about how far these scenes should go with it being a YA novel; however, I still really enjoyed it. I was easily caught up in the story, and the suspense kept me turning the pages for more. I feel as if I am invested in Riley and her life, and I cannot wait for the next book of this series to find out what happens next. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys YA paranormal romance.

A copy was provided by the author for review.

About the author:
J.A. Templeton is the YA pen name for romance author Julia Templeton. THE DEEPEST CUT was her debut YA novel, and the first of The MacKinnon Curse series. THE HAUNTED is the second of The MacKinnon Curse series. Aside from writing and reading, J.A. enjoys research, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

You can find J.A. on her website, Twitter and Facebook.


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