Manic Monday Recaps (Week 3/26/12)

Happy Monday friends!  I hope you all the weekend.  Mine was a very productive one.  I got a lot of spring cleaning done and the husband who's been out of town for 10 days gets back today.  I'm so excited!

Here's what I plan on reading this week:

Here's what I read last week:
- The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
- Firelight by Kristen Callihan
- Ember by Kristen Callihan
- The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

I reviewed the following:
- The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove [review]
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett [review]

Have a great week friends. Happy Reading!


The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Title:  The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Pages:  522
Genre: Fiction
Source:  Purchased
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.  [via GoodReads]
I will not sit here and write another summary of this story since I'm sure that those of you who have not read the book have seen the movie... although I do recommend you still read the book. 

As fascinated as I found the stories of Aibileen, Minny, Skeeter, Hilly, Celia, and Elizabeth to be, I still, somehow found The Help to be rather long.  Don't take me wrong, I was engrossed, fascinated, disgusted, moved and, on more than one occasion, found myself with tears in my eyes, but I still found it to be so long.  What would normally take me a day or two to read took me almost three weeks.  This doesn't necessarily mean that I wasn't (remember all of the wonderful praises I mentioned above) into it, I just think that the serious subject matter was one that I had to read in short increments at a time. 

I found The Help to be both funny and serious.  I did laugh and cry.  Ms. Stockett did a wonderful job of making me go through a slew of emotions while reading her story... and isn't that what immersing yourself in a book is all about?  All in all, although I felt it to be long, I still do not regret spending my time reading it.  It's a lovely story... one that should be told.  It's uplifting, hopeful and effective.

My Rating:


The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

Title: The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove
Author: Lauren Kate
Pages: 235
Genre: YA/ Teen
Source:  Purchased
Natalie Hargrove would kill to be her high school's Palmetto Princess. But her boyfriend Mike King doesn't share her dream and risks losing the honor of Palmetto Prince to Natalie's nemesis, Justin Balmer. So she convinces Mike to play a prank on Justin--one that goes terribly wrong. [via GoodReads]
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is a retelling of MacBeth.  Natalie is obsessed with becoming the next Palmetto Princess.  She is part of the popular/mean girl clique in her school.  She has the perfect style, friends and dreamy boyfriend and becoming Palmetto Princess is just the next thing for her to conquer - and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants..

Quite frankly, I read ithis book in a couple of hours flat.  I'm not sure what it was since this book is dark, none of the characters were likeable.  And by unlikeable I mean they were just "mean" people.  They all did bad things to their friends, to each other... Yet somehow I was compelled by Natalie's story.  Maybe it was that I had an inkling of hope that she would somehow make it out a better person in the end.  Ladies and gentlemen, I reference you back to the first line in this review...  obviously it never ends well in Shakespeare's tragedies, as we all know.

This is Ms. Kate's debut novel which was recently re-released with a new cover - which by the way is much nicer than its predecessor.  Her writing style is simple, yet succint.  I liked that.   I also really liked that, although at first glance, the surface seemed to just be another "mean girls" tale, instead it ended up being a dark and rich story that will prove that actions, even the most insignificant ones, do have consequences.

In conclusion, I found The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove to be a very engaging read. 

My Rating:


Manic Monday Recaps [Week 3/19/12]

 [via WeHeartIt]

Well hello there!  It's was almost 2 weeks since my last post and so much has happened since then.  But I must confess,  I have several things to blame for my non-existent blog posts:  Work (it just got real busy there for a while); Pinterest (because I'm OCD about it and can't stop pinning everything, as some of you may already know); and Christian Grey (ahem).  That's right for the past couple of days all I've done on my spare time - is read, dream and think of Christian Grey.  Yes, I know he's a fictional character... but a girl can dream, right?!  Luckily, my husband is not the jealous type.  For those of you who don't know who Christian Grey is, please let me introduce you to him.

About a week ago, I had the opportunity to meet several authors that were down in Miami for the Dark Days tour.  My friends, and I (and the hubby, who's my official photographer) all went down and had a ball learning more about Lauren Oliver, Claudia Gray and Dan Wells.  Here are some pics from that night:

Here's what I plan on reading this week:

Here's what I read over the past two weeks:
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
- Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
- Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

Have a great week friends. Happy Reading!


So Many Books, So Little Time [22]


Here are some of the books that I discovered throughout the week scheduled for release that I cannot wait to get my hands on. I will pay, beg and possibly steal (mwahahaha), just to get a chance at reading one of them.

The List 
by Siobhan Vivian
Releases on 4/01/12

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction—and the price that’s paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.” And it’s also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

Take a Bow
by Elizabeth Eulberg
Releases on 4/01/12

From the fantastic author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice comes a story of all the drama and comedy of four friends who grow into themselves at a performing arts high school.

Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it's been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn't sure how to admit that he'd rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.

The Wicked and the Just
by J. Anderson Coats
Releases on 4/17/12

Cecily’s father has ruined her life. He’s moving them to occupied Wales, where the king needs good strong Englishmen to keep down the vicious Welshmen. At least Cecily will finally be the lady of the house.

Gwenhwyfar knows all about that house. Once she dreamed of being the lady there herself, until the English destroyed the lives of everyone she knows. Now she must wait hand and foot on this bratty English girl.

While Cecily struggles to find her place amongst the snobby English landowners, Gwenhwyfar struggles just to survive. And outside the city walls, tensions are rising ever higher—until finally they must reach the breaking point.

by Alyson Noel
Releases on 5/22/12

The first book in a magnificent new series about a girl who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead by #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël.

Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she’s never met.

There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she’s encountered before...but only in her dreams. And she’ll get to know her grandmother—a woman who recognizes Daire’s bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers—but it’s an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter who’s out to steal her powers. Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she’s meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

by Mira Grant
Releases on 6/01/12

Rise up while you can. -Georgia Mason

The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.

The year was 2039. The world didn't end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.

Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there's one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it's this:

Things can always get worse.

Blackout is the conclusion to the epic trilogy that began in the Hugo-nominated Feed and the sequel, Deadline.

by Tara Hudson
Releases on 6/05/12

Amelia—still caught between life and death—must fight for every moment of her relationship with the human boy Joshua. They can hardly even kiss without Amelia accidentally dematerializing. Looking for answers, they go to visit some of Joshua’s Seer relatives in New Orleans. But even in a city so famously steeped in the supernatural, Amelia ends up with more questions than answers…and becomes increasingly convinced that she and Joshua can never have a future together.Wandering through the French Quarter, Amelia meets other in-between ghosts, and begins to seriously consider joining them. And then she meets Gabrielle. Somehow, against impossible odds, Gaby has found a way to live a sort of half-life...a half-life for which Amelia would pay any price. Torn between two worlds, Amelia must choose carefully, before the evil spirits of the netherworld choose for her.

Wicked Nights
by Gena Showalter
Releases on 6/26/12

From the New York Times bestselling author who brought you the Lords of the Underworld comes a dark, seductive new series featuring angels poised on the brink of destruction....   Leader of the most powerful army in the heavens, Zacharel has been deemed nearly too dangerous, too ruthless-and if he isn't careful, he'll lose his wings. But this warrior with a heart of ice will not be deterred from his missions, at any cost...until a vulnerable human tempts him with a carnal pleasure he's never known before. Accused of a crime she did not commit, Annabelle Miller has spent four years in an institution for the criminally insane. Demons track her every move, and their king will stop at nothing to have her. Zacharel is her only hope for survival, but is the brutal angel with a touch as hot as hell her salvation-or her ultimate damnation?
These are just some of the one's that I'm looking forward to. Which books are you dying to get your hands on?


GIVEAWAY: Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules

In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die…or become one of the monsters.Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for. [via GoodReads]

GIVEAWAY: I have 1 hardcover copy up for grabs.

As always, leave a comment for one entry.  Make sure to leave an e-mail address, especially if you are leaving a comment under Anonymous.

Rules: This contest is open to U.S. & Canada residents only. International followers feel free to enter giveaway as long as you have someone in the U.S. or Canada willing to accept the book for you.  Winners will be drawn Friday, April 6.


A Q&A with
New York Times Best Selling Author Julie Kagawa

After writing the Iron Fey series for so many years, how difficult was it to immerse yourself in a futuristic world filled with vampires, rabids and an enslaved human race?

It was...very different. I think the hardest thing for me was the fact that this story does take place in the real world -- a futuristic, vampire-infested world, but the real world nonetheless. Things had to make sense, for example: how far can a large group walk in a single day if there were no roads, they were going through thick woods, and there were children in the group? I had to have logical reasons for everything; I couldn't just make something work "because of faery magic," lol.

Just like Meghan Chase in the Iron Fey series, the main character in The Immortal Rules, Allison Sekemoto, is a “take charge and kick butt” kind of girl.  Is this intentional? What woman – real or fictional, alive or deceased – do you look up to or admire?

Yes, Allison comes from a very different world than Meghan Chase. Meghan's upbringing was pretty normal; Allison grew up among vampires and monsters, where every day was a fight to live, so she couldn't afford to be weak. While Meghan had to learn to "take charge and kick butt," Allison's first impulse is stab first, talk

As for female role models, the first that comes to mind--when it comes to kicking vampire butt, anyway -- is Buffy Summers. Thank you, Joss Whedon, for making me love feisty, snarky, heroines who can dust all sorts of nasties but who also look good in a cheerleading outfit. ;)

You mention in your acknowledgements in The Immortal Rules that at the  beginning of your writing career you promised yourself you wouldn’t write a vampire book. What changed your mind?

Well, there were already so many really good books about our favorite bloodsuckers, so many stories and ideas, I thought I didn't have anything new to add to the masses. I was actually toying with a post-apocalyptic YA novel when my agent mentioned I might want to try writing a vampire series. I wasn't intrigued
with the idea at first, but then I thought about combining vampires with the post-apocalyptic novel and then rest sort of fell into place. Allison claims she hates vampires and believes they are monsters yet when
faced with a choice of die or become one, she becomes a vampire. Would you have made that same decision?

Me personally? No. I'm like Zeke in the belief that there is something better waiting for me beyond this life, and I just have to do my best until it’s time for me to go. Besides, I love pizza and Mountain Dew too much to give it up.  

Who do you think the most complex character is in The Immortal Rules?

Probably Kanin, Allie's sire. He's a vampire who has made his peace about being a monster, yet chooses to live by his own set of moral rules. He warns Allison about getting too close to humans, yet he does not kill unless he absolutely has to. He is tormented about something in his past that he refuses to share with anyone.
He is certainly the most mysterious of all the characters, if not the most complex.

How many books will be in the Blood of Eden series? When will the next book be coming out?

At the moment, there are three books planned, with the second coming out sometime next spring, after the release of the new Iron Fey series this fall.

Before you starting writing full time you were a professional dog trainer. Do the professions share any similarities?

Lol, well you have to think on your feet a lot. And some of the small dogs could be compared to tiny snapping goblins, but writing requires less dodging skills, though perhaps the same amount of creativity and problem solving.

When starting a new series, like Blood of Eden, do you have the entire series mapped out in detail or do you let the story develop book by book?

I have a high point that I write toward in each story; I know this and this has
to happen, but getting from point A to point B usually develops as I go along.

And for the speed round:
What book have you read and re-read, and read yet again?

Any of the Harry Potter books.

Favorite song to play when writing a fight scene?

My "favorites" change daily. Right now its "Awake and Alive" by Skillet.

Working a kiosk in the mall during Christmas. It sold glass figurines, and the maneuvering space around the hundreds of very breakable merchandise was quite small. I was like a bull in a china shop.

One thing most people don’t know about you – and would never guess!

I used to play the flute when I was a kid. I was really good at it too, but my instructor stopped teaching to have a family, and I never went back to it.

A big kiss from me to you because today, everyone's Irish


Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Title: Dearly, Departed
Author: Lia Habel
Pages: 470
Genre: YA/ Teen
Source: NetGalley
Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie? 

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. 

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love. [via GoodReads]
A Steampunk - Zombie - YA novel?!  Be still my heart.  I was thrilled to see three genres that I enjoy all rolled up into one.   Even more interesting than the genre mix, I also found it surprising that although the year is 2195, society is living in a Victorian society while using technology that we can only dream of having.

There were many things I liked about Dearly, Departed.... the earlier paragraph for instance.  I enjoyed the world building, the zombies, the characters, etc.   I liked Nora and Bram - and their unique romance.  You know, it is a first for me to find a girl in love with a zombie.  I even enjoyed reading of the war with the Punks.  But it took me almost 200 pages to actually get into the story.  The first chapter was awesome but I had a hard time fully getting immersed in the story... I'm not really sure why, I just felt that I had to try to hard.  I think the main problem might have been the oh-so-many points-of-view.  Even more disconcerting was the fact that they are told in the first person.  And although the characters differ in age and sex, I still found myself wondering several times whose chapter it was that I was reading.  While I do enjoy a book told using various perspectives, I found that five different narrators (Bram, Nora, Pam, Wolfe, and Victor) may have been a bit much.  The Wolfe and Victor chapters quite frankly felt unnecessary.  I found that those story lines could have been told using other methods and cutting down on the constant character changes and possibly in my confusion.    

All in all, I found Dearly, Departed to be a good start to the series.  While I didn't love it and most likely will not run out to immediately buy the next installment in the series, I will undoubtedly get around to reading it.

My Rating:
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