Friday, January 7, 2011

Review: Heavenly, by Jennifer Laurens

Jennifer Laurens
Paperback, 296 pages
Grove Creek Publishing
August 15, 2009

I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoe's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe's autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.

It took me a few pages to actually get into Heavenly, but once I was snagged - I was there for the rest of the book. Heavenly was a great read with real-life issues packed into the story to make it relatable to anyone that may pick up this book.

I think the best part for me was the characters. They were flawed and sometimes made the worst decisions ever, but their actions and solutions were all very realistic. I loved Zoe and could definitely relate to her. I don’t know if I agreed with every decision she made, but I know why she made the decisions that she did. I wasn’t too fond of her overall obsessive thoughts of Matthias that constantly flooded the pages. HOWEVER, she is a teenager and teens typically are very dramatic over their first loves. I’ve been through it, so I know. Plus, her keeping Matthias on her mind at all times helped her make better life choices, and that’s something to be grateful for. Matthias … oh, how I love thee! It’s nice to see an angel that can love, yet not completely abandon his duties and responsibilities for that love. As far as Britt and the guys, I think we’ve all known people like that in our lives before. I think I was the most empathetic toward Luke and his addiction. Actually, I feel for their whole family - dealing with a disability is never really an easy thing, but I think at the end there was a good compromise and hopefully the family has completely pulled together.

Speaking of the end: It’s so bittersweet! I don’t want to give anything away, but the entire last couple of chapters was nothing but an endless roller coaster ride of emotions for me. It’s not a bad thing, and there’s always the sweet happily ever after ending that’s not completely happy - but it’s the best ending for this book, I think.

I think the beginning was a little slow, but once it picked up the pace it stayed constant. Heavenly was a pretty easy read and had a wonderful premise. It’s definitely on my list of great reads.

Source: Won, Author

Avg Rating: 4.0

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Layout!

So, being home sick is not good for me. I'm too dizzy-headed to read and I don't feel like just sitting around watching TV all the time. I started messing around with my blog layout, and I didn't stop until I had a completely new layout. I don't know how long it will last ... but, this is what I came up with. There are still some bugs I need to work out. However, the DayQuil is really working on me now so this is about all that I'm going to get out of me today. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Also, I made a button that I'll post below with the code so you can exchange it for my old one if you'd like.

Missy's Reads & Reviews

Bloody Bookaholic's Goodbye 2010 Contest


Normally, I don't make a blog post for just a contest ... but, this isn't a normal contest. Taschima over at Bloody Bookaholic is having an epic Goodbye 2010 Contest that you should enter. Why? She's giving away 30 books - with 3 winners getting 10 books each. Yes, you read that correctly ... I didn't add a zero at the end in error. The titles up for grabs are:

1. The Lost Saint by Bree Despain
2. Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
3. Firelight by Sophie Jordan
4. My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent
5. The Ivy by Lauren Kunze & Rina Onur
6. Changeless by Gail Carriger
7. Hero by Mike Lupica
8. Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
9. Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
10. Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
11. Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink
12. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
13. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
14. The Season of Risks by Susan Hubbard
15. Splendor by Anna Godbersen
16. The Gift, Witch & Wizard by James Patterson
17. You by Charles Benoit
18. The Enemy by Charlie Higson
19. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
20. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
21. Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World
22. The Steps Across the Water by Adam Copnik
23. Vampires: The Occult Truth
24. Ask Amy Green Boy Trouble by Sarah Webb
25. I'll Get There. It Better Be worth the Trip. by John Donovan
26. Virgin Territory by James Lecesne
27. Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
28. Plain Kate by Erin Bow
29. Murder Afloat by Jane Leslie Conly
30. Scumble by Ingrid Law

Review: The Radleys, by Matt Haig

The Radleys
Matt Haig
Hardcover, 384
Free Press
(Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
December 28, 2010

Just about everyone knows a family like the Radleys. Many of us grew up next door to one. They are a modern family, averagely content, averagely dysfunctional, living in a staid and quiet suburban English town. Peter is an overworked doctor whose wife, Helen, has become increasingly remote and uncommunicative. Rowan, their teenage son, is being bullied at school, and their anemic daughter, Clara, has recently become a vegan. They are typical, that is, save for one devastating exception: Peter and Helen are vampires and have—for seventeen years—been abstaining by choice from a life of chasing blood in the hope that their children could live normal lives.

One night, Clara finds herself driven to commit a shocking—and disturbingly satisfying—act of violence, and her parents are forced to explain their history of shadows and lies. A police investigation is launched that uncovers a richness of vampire history heretofore unknown to the general public. And when the malevolent and alluring Uncle Will, a practicing vampire, arrives to throw the police off Clara’s trail, he winds up throwing the whole house into temptation and turmoil and unleashing a host of dark secrets that threaten the Radleys’ marriage.

The Radleys is a moving, thrilling, and radiant domestic novel that explores with daring the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, what it costs you to deny your identity, the undeniable appeal of sin, and the everlasting, iridescent bonds of family love. Read it and ask what we grow into when we grow up, and what we gain—and lose—when we deny our appetites.

Vampire novels and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship here lately. I mean, I love vampire novels, but not a lot of them are living up to what I would consider a good vampire novel. Thankfully, that's not the case with The Radleys.

I think the thing that caught me off-guard was that the Radleys did seem like a typical British family at first. Clara and Rowan definitely are under assumption that they are, until Clara tries to take a bite of her classmate. I loved both of the children, though I think my heart ached for Rowan more, who is constantly bullied and has an undeniable crush on his sister's best friend. For me though, I think my absolute favorite characters have to be the parents, Peter and Helen. They go through some turmoil in the book but try to cover it up for the children - as any parents would do - but it soon takes its own toll. And Will? He comes in to help, but things just seem to go from bad to worse.

This novel is described as a 'domestic drama' and has been compared to American Beauty. While I agree to both accounts, I think that this novel stands out entirely on its own in a unique way (the vampire tidbit being a big part) and even though it is a dark tale, it has it's own tongue-in-cheek moments that will relieve some of the tension of the novel. There is also talk that it's being re-marketed as a Young Adult book which it can pass for, but it's a more mature YA book.

The Radleys is a well-written, wonderfully original story that almost everyone in the family can enjoy for one aspect or another. This novel had me from the start and didn't let go until the very end. Although it wraps up nicely at the end, I would love to see a sequel now that the secret is out for all of the Radleys.

Source: Publisher & Free Press Blog Tours

Avg. Rating: 3.5

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Red Riding Hood
by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright &
(introduction by) Catherine Hardwicke

Waiting Until...
January 25, 2011

The body of a young girl is discovered in a field of wheat. Her flesh mutilated by telltale claw marks. The Wolf has broken the peace.

When Valerie learns that her sister has been killed by the legendary creature, she finds herself at the center of a dark mystery, one that has plagued her village for generations. It is revealed that the werewolf lives among them, and everyone in the village immediately becomes a suspect. Could her secret love Peter be behind the attacks on her town? Is it her betrothed, Henry? Or someone even closer to her?

As the men in the village hunt for the beast, Valerie turns to her grandmother for help. She gives Valerie a handmade red riding cloak, and guides her through the web of lies and deception that has held her town together for so long. Will Valerie discover the werewolf's identity before the town is ripped apart?

This is a dangerous new vision of a classic fairy tale, the happy ending could be hard to find.

So, this is the tie-in for the movie that's coming out. The movie has me intrigued, and I'm hoping it lives up to the hype. Curiosity has me wanting to read the book as well. Hopefully, it too will live up to the hype. ;)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Choker, by Elizabeth Woods

Elizabeth Woods
Hardcover, 240 pages
Simon & Schuster
January 4, 2011
isbn: 144241233X
isbn13: 9781442412330

Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria.

Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in.

But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

I have been on the fence about posting this review for the past few days because it's not going to be one of the best reviews that I have posted for a book. However, I feel that it's necessary to be completely honest about a review, so I'm posting it.

I'll get the bad out of the way first. In retrospect, I think that I would have enjoyed this novel a little more if I wouldn't have guessed the plot within the first 75 pages of reading. Sometimes, when I do that, everything that leads up to the "big reveal" seems oh so very obvious. I also felt as though Cara was channeling her inner Bella Swan with her constantly convenient clumsiness. By that I mean she was too clumsy, but only when it seemed convenient in the story for her to be clumsy.

With that being said, let's move onto the things that I did like. The cover is absolutely stunning and I am in love with it. And looking past the obviousness for me, there were some very good plot twists and more darkness to the novel than I thought there would be. Zoe was a crazy character and I found myself spooked by her on more than one occasion. Clumsiness aside, I was also very sympathetic of Cara - even up to the bitter end. However, my absolute favorite character by far was Ethan ... and that boy went through entirely too much in this novel!

Elizabeth Woods is an amazing writer and I cannot give enough praise for how well-written and detailed this book is. She does an incredible job at fleshing out all of her characters, down to Cara's mom's cat - who I found to be a lot like my own spoiled fat cat. Like I said, I enjoyed this read ... I just guessed the plot too soon and it kind of spoiled it for me. This, however, is no cut toward the author - who's work I will follow because she's such a talented writer.

Source: Publisher

Avg Rating: 3.5

Monday, January 3, 2011

Halo: Cryptum Book Excerpt

I don't know how many of you actually get into this, but my husband would probably kill me if I didn't actually mention this. For those of you who are fans of the popular Halo video games, there are many books that are out that delve more into the stories of the Halo universe. There have been several different authors as well as several different perspectives to go along with these books. Now, there's a new one based on the Forerunners with book one coming out tomorrow.

One hundred thousand years ago, the galaxy was populated by a great variety of beings.

But one species eons beyond all others in both technology and knowledge achieved dominance.

They ruled in peace but met opposition with quick and brutal effectiveness.

They were the Forerunners the keepers of the Mantle, the next stage of life in the Universe s Living Time.

And then they vanished.

This is their story.

Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting is a young rebellious Forerunner. He is a Manipular, untried yet to become part of the adult Forerunner society, where vast knowledge and duty waits. He comes from a family of Builders, the Forerunners highest and most politically powerful rate. It is the Builders who create the grand technology that facilitates Forerunner dominance over the known universe. It is the Builders who believe they must shoulder the greatest burden of the Mantle as shepherds and guardians of all life.

Bornstellar is marked to become a great Builder just like his father.

But this Manipular has other plans.

He is obsessed with lost treasures of the past. His reckless passion to seek out the marvelous artifacts left behind by the Precursors long-vanished superbeings of unknowable power and intent forces his father s hand.

Bornstellar is sent to live among the Miners, where he must come to terms with where his duty truly lies.

But powerful forces are at play. Forerunner society is at a major crux. Past threats are once again proving relentless.

Dire solutions machines and strategies never before contemplated are being called up, and fissures in Forerunner power are leading to chaos.

On a Lifeworker s experimental planet, Bornstellar s rebellious course crosses the paths of two humans, and the long-life line of a great military leader, forever changing Bornstellar s destiny . . . and the fate of the entire galaxy.

This is a tale of life, death, intergalactic horror, exile, and maturity. It is a story of overwhelming change and of human origins. For the Mantle may not lie upon the shoulders of Forerunners forever.

If this may be something that you are interested in, there is a book excerpt posted online - where you can get an exclusive look of the new novel coming out tomorrow. To read that excerpt, all you have to do is click here.

Monday Update!

Hosted By: Book Journey

My "read more books" pledge seems to be getting off to a good start, as I read 4 books (and am half way through another) between Saturday and Sunday afternoon - which I consider impressive since I just read during late afternoon hours. This will probably never happy again in my life, which is why I'm bragging. ;)

Last Week...
Banished, by Sophie Littlefield
Choker, by Elizabeth Woods
Confessions of a Vampire's Girlfriend, by Katie MacAlister
Trickster's Girl, by Hilari Bell
Vesper, by Jeff Sampson*

*Okay, so Vesper was read randomly last week during holiday chaos ... but since I didn't do a Monday Update then, I'm adding it here.

This Week...
Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John*
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro, by Jen Bryant
Origins (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #1), by LJ Smith
The Radleys, by Matt Haig
The Water Wars, by Cameron Stracher

*Five Flavors of Dumb was my book that I was half-way through this weekend, but since I'm finishing it today - it's going as this week's book.

I'm hoping to read more than this (I have a stack of these plus six more to review, PLUS about nine more coming in that I absolutely have to review before the end of this month), but this is what is scheduled to read.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New This Week (Jan. 1 - Jan. 8)

January 1

The Big Crunch, by Pete Hautman
The Latte Rebellion, by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
The Nascenza Conspiracy, by V. Briceland
Prom & Prejudice, by Elizabeth Eulberg

Trapped, by Michael Worthrop
The Water Wars, by Cameron Stracher
Wishful Thinking, by Alexandra Bullen

January 3

Trickster's Girl, by Hilari Bell

January 4

Awakened (House of Night #8), by PC & Kristin Cast
Bloodlust (Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #2), by LJ Smith
The Education of Hailey Kendrick, by Eileen Cook
Hexbound (Dark Elite #2), by Chloe Neill

The Lost Gate, by Orson Scott Card
Shadowspell (Faeriewalker #2), by Jenna Black
Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand

In My Mailbox (7)

Hosted By: The Story Siren
Inspired By: Pop Culture Junkie

The Girl Who Became A Beatle, by Greg Taylor
The Liar Society, by Lisa & Laura Roecker*
Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure (Zan-Gah #1), by Allan Richard Shickman
Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country (Zan-Gah #2), by Allan Richard Shickman

* I don't know if anyone has noticed or not, but The Liar Society does not have official cover art yet. Lisa and Laura have a contest running on the Liar society's website where you can vote between the two preliminary covers. If you vote, you're entered in a drawing to win the Roecker's Favorite Books/2011 ARCs prize pack that includes:
  • THE BODY FINDER and an ARC of DESIRES OF THE DEAD by Kimberly Derting;
  • PRADA AND PREJUDICE and YOU WISH by Mandy Hubbard;
  • DECEPTION and an ARC of BETRAYAL by Lee Nichols; and
  • A signed ARC of THE LIAR SOCIETY
To enter to win, click here.
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