It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #21

Last Week’s Reads:

The Assassin’s Curse♦♦
by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Sister Wife
by Shelley Hrdlitschka
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century♦♦
by Rachel Harris
   
Unspoken♦♦
by Sarah Rees Brennan
   

This Week’s Reads:

 
The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
Between You & Me♦♦
by Marisa Calin
 

Again, I’m having trouble deciding what to read this week. I need to slow down a little until I get some reviews written. Otherwise I’ll have to reread, or do some heavy skimming. I may not write reviews for Sister Wife and The Chosen One, because with that type of book, it’s hard to say something different. The story is basically the same. I have some thoughts, though, so we’ll see.

I’m kicking myself in the behind for waiting so long to start The Assassin’s Curse! I hope to get my review for it written and posted this week.

Review books received from:
The Assassin’s Curse: Strange Chemistry & NetGalley
Unspoken: Amazon Vine
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century: the publisher for blog tour
Between You & Me: Bloomsbury & NetGalley

Thank you! ♥

♦♦ indicates books received for review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.

The YA linky list for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

– leeanna

Blog Tour Review: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris (and giveaway!)

Today I am one of the stops for Rachel Harris’s new book, My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, hosted by Shane @ Itching for Books. As I participated in both cover reveals (!) and am a history buff, I was eager to read this book. As part of the tour, I am doing a dream cast, so check after the review for that, as well as a giveaway.

my super sweet sixteenth centuryInfo:
Title: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
Author: Rachel Harris
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Source: From publisher for blog tour
Series? Yes, #1
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
Page Count: 304

Summary:

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore.

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever? (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
Wow! I read My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century in one sitting. I bonded with Cat the minute we met, and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to her over the course of the book.

Going in, I expected the book to be fluffy and mindless fun. On one level, it is. But on another level, there’s an important message behind it, a message that hit home for me. Cat reminded me a bit of myself — a loner, afraid to let people get close — so it was great to see her grow and learn some lessons about herself and life.

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century would make an awesome beach read, if we were going into summer. So instead I’ll call it a cozy read, to be enjoyed under the blankets, curled up with a backpack full of snacks.

I got swept away by Cat’s enthusiasm for her time travel trip. Instead of being freaked out by being sent hundreds of years into the past, Cat decided to just go with it, a decision I approved of. I also liked that she was into history and had a passion for art, so being sent back to Renaissance Florence was almost like a dream come true for her. Mostly. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I think it would be a great introduction for readers who may not like full on historical fiction. The author doesn’t overload you with detail and history lessons, but there is enough there to keep you interested if you are already a fan of historical fiction.

The only thing that really bugged me was the relationship between Cat and Lorenzo. I’m not a big fan of instant or almost instant love, but in this book, it did make sense. Lorenzo himself is a good character — a nice guy who likes Cat just as much as she likes him. At first I thought he would be the typical bad boy, a player, but he proved me wrong.

Alessandra is also a real sweetie, and she was my favorite character after Cat. Niccolo is delightfully creepy, and a great illustration of the differences between the sixteenth century and modern day.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve read a historical fiction that has made me laugh! There’s a lot of humor in My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, largely because Cat makes some funny blunders, including mixing modern day slang with sixteenth century formal speech.

I wasn’t sure how Cat would get out of her predicament — and let me tell you, she gets in some real trouble. I liked how the author handled and told the story, and while the ending is open for a sequel, most things are resolved, so you aren’t left on a cliffhanger.

I definitely recommend My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century if you’re in the mood for a fun read.

Rating: 4 owls

Socialize with the author:
Rachel Harris:
Website
Facebook
Twitter @RachelHarrisYA

Dream Cast!


Cat played by Alexandra Daddario. I know Cat has dark eyes, but there’s something about this actress that reminds me of her. Maybe that’s the sort of look Cat gives the paparazzi — I don’t care that you’re taking five hundred pictures of me!


Lorenzo played by Alex Pettyfer. His hair may not be curly, but he’s definitely got that brooding artist look in this picture.


Alessandra played by Ariana Grande. As soon as I found out this actress was Italian, I knew I had to pick her. I like to think Alessandra would look like this, after Cat gets her to loosen up!


Niccolo played by Pierce Brosnan. I don’t know why, but Pierce kept popping into my head every time there was a scene with Niccolo.

Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Waiting on Wednesday: Origin by Jessica Khoury (@jkbibliophile) AND Fathomless by Jackson Pearce (@jacksonpearce)

originOrigin by Jessica Khoury
Release Date: September 4, 2012

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home—and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin—a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost. This is a supremely compelling debut novel that blends the awakening romance of Matched with the mystery and jungle conspiracy of Lost. (summary from goodreads)

The summary pretty much sums this one up. A new immortal race? A secret laboratory? Plus, I think the cover is super original, and definitely eye-catching.

Socialize with the author:
Website
Facebook
Twitter @jkbibliophile

And … I’m also waiting on:

fathomlessFathomless by Jackson Pearce
Release Date: September 4, 2012

Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant — until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn’t know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea — a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid — all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she’s tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude’s affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul. (summary from goodreads)

I haven’t read anything of Jackson Pearce’s yet, but I’ve heard a lot about her books. I love fairytale retellings. I also haven’t read many retellings of “The Little Mermaid,” so I’m excited about this one.

Socialize with the author:
Website
Facebook
Twitter @jacksonpearce

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books I’ve Read During the Lifespan of My Blog

This week’s Top Ten is Top Ten Favorite Books You’ve Read During the Lifespan of Your Blog.

This was a tricky topic, because though I’ve only had leeanna.me going since April or so, I book blogged before, and I keep track of everything I read. Compiling this post gave me an idea for new sidebar content — I’m going to figure out just how many books I’ve read since 2009, and how many reviews I’ve written. Cue yet another project for the weekend.

Not all of these have reviews posted on the blog. Sometimes I started a review, and it was too full of squeeing, so I didn’t finish it. And some of these I just never got around to writing reviews for, despite counting them as favorites.

I see some trends in this list — one, a fair amount of recently published novels, and two, I like to reread. A lot.

My Favorite Books I’ve Read During the Lifespan of My Blog

01: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
I can’t wait until this comes out in paperback. I need to reread this so badly! Perry is one of the few guy characters that I really, really like.
02: The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
I reread this book so much it isn’t even funny. It’s definitely what I term a “comfort read.” I keep meaning to read the other Elemental Masters books, but alas, I can’t get beyond my love for this one.
03: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinder is one of my favorite reads for 2012. It’s another one I need to reread, because the story’s starting to get foggy in my brain, so I want to enjoy Cinder’s journey all over again.
04: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Incarnate is a book I came across when I first started book blogging again. In fact, the scavenger hunt Jodi did for the release probably influenced my decision to go ahead and start back up.
05: Ash by Malinda Lo
I recommend the heck out of Ash, and so far, I’ve gotten two real-life friends to read it. It’s another book I need to reread so I can review without flailing around.
06: Huntress by Malinda Lo
After enjoying Ash so much, I couldn’t wait to read the companion novel, Huntress. Except I made myself wait, because I wanted to read it so much, that I didn’t want to read it just yet. Meh. Maybe that makes sense. Sometimes I like anticipation!
07: Alpha and Omega #1: Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
I’ve read Cry Wolf at least twice over the course of this blog, probably more. Briggs knows how to tell a paranormal romance like no one else.
08: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Japanese influence + steampunk + kick butt heroine + flying tiger? Yeah. YEAH!
09: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Yet another book I need to reread! I loved Riordan’s twists on Greek mythology, and I keep meaning to get to his other series.
10: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Somehow this isn’t on any of my books read lists, but I know I’ve read it within the past year. The first trilogy of Kushiel books is one I reread every year or so.

I was going to do a list of honorable mentions, because I kept taking books off the list, but decided not to. Here are some of them, though, if you’re curious:
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
Legend by Marie Lu

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Review: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

lies, knives, and girls in red dressesInfo:
Title: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
Author: by Ron Koertge
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Library
Series? No
Genre: Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy
Page Count: 87

Summary:

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it’s like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine’s cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer
— he wants to whisper in your ear. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I’m big on fairytale retellings, and as soon as I saw the cover for Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses, I knew I had to read it.

The retellings are, as you can tell from the title and cover art, quite dark. But my favorite parts were actually the illustrations, not the stories themselves. Almost all of the tales are written in verse, and the book is short. Really short. There are 23 stories in 87 pages. I would have liked for the retellings to be longer, because I think they would have been more memorable and had more of a punch if they weren’t so short.

I’m not sure who the audience is. I don’t think the book will hold the interest of teens or adults, and though I enjoyed it while reading, now I’ve pretty much forgotten most of it. I tried to pick out at least one memorable one to mention, but I can’t remember any. However, the papercut silhouette illustrations are gorgeous, and worth a look. They definitely capture the mood of what the author was going for, more than the verses.

Rating: 2 owls

Socialize with the author:
Ron Koertge:
Website

– leeanna

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #20

Last Week’s Reads:

Before the Rain♦♦
by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa
Hollowed♦♦
by Kelley York
Keep Sweet
by Michele Dominguez Greene

This Week’s Reads:

 
The Assassin’s Curse♦♦
by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child♦♦
by Bob Spitz
 

Wow, I can’t believe I’m already up to week 20 of doing this meme! It’s one meme I make sure to do every week, because it’s a great way to keep track of what I hoped to read and what I’ve actually read, and it’s also fun to visit as many other blogs as I can and find even more books I want to read. Now if I could just get more reading in….

That said, I’m keeping my list short for this week. I didn’t manage to do as well as I’d hoped with #BoutofBooks. But I did write a couple thousand words, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Review books received from:
The Assassin’s Curse: Strange Chemistry & NetGalley
Dearie: Amazon Vine
Hollowed: the author for blog tour
Before the Rain: Amazon Vine

Thank you! ♥

♦♦ indicates books received for review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.

The YA linky list for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

– leeanna

Blog Tour Review: Hollowed by Kelley York (and giveaway!)

Today I am one of the stops for Kelley York’s new book, Hollowed. I am happy to be participating, as Hollowed is a great book, and Kelley is a great author to work with. I wish her tons of success with this release, and I can’t wait for her to finish the next book in the series.

Read on for my review and a giveaway!

hollowedInfo:
Title: Hollowed
Author: Kelley York
Release Date: August 15, 2012
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: From author for blog tour
Series? Half Light Saga #1
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Page Count: 237 (estimated)

Summary:

All 18-year-old Briar Greyson wanted was to figure out this whole living-away-from-your-parents thing. Apartment, steady job, cool roommate? Check. Noah, her adorable (albeit elusive) boyfriend? Check. Everything in the life of Briar was pretty good.

Then she and her roommate are attacked on their way home one night. Briar wasn’t supposed to survive.

Instead, according to the two guys who saved her, she’s turning into the things that attacked her: a vampire. Totally crazy and Not Okay. Now Noah’s secrets are coming to light, and he wants Briar dead. Then there are the vampires who attacked Briar to lure out her sister.

Her sister…who died years ago.

(Didn’t she?)

The city’s body count is rising, and Briar wants to help put a stop to it. But first, she has to figure out who the real enemy is: the vampires, the boy she loves, or the sister she thought she’d lost. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
You guys!

I cannot quit flailing over how much I loved Hollowed! I really wish it was in paperback, because it’s a book I’m going to want to reread.

what I looked like while reading

what I looked like while reading

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, I’ll try to be serious.

Briar is a great character. Actually, every character in Hollowed is richly developed, even the supporting characters, and I’d like to read more about every single one of them. You’ll see what I mean when you meet Cole, Oliver, Algonquin (I almost asked Kelley how I could get my own Algonquin!), and Fred.

I felt like I’d known Briar forever. Sarcastic and courageous, she has a voice that readers of paranormal/urban fantasy will recognize, although she’s entirely her own character. And Hollowed is much more than just a paranormal book — there are elements of mystery, thriller, and romance.

If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know I love a kick ass female character. Briar is one of those, even though she may not be the most physically adept. She’s loyal and brave, always wanting to help others, even if it may land her in danger. I empathized with her struggle to remain true to herself after being changed into a vampire, even when her sort-of-boyfriend thinks she’s now a monster.

The vampires and other creatures in Hollowed aren’t the invincible, nothing-can-kill-me type. They can go out in the sunlight, but it gives them headaches. They can heal from most deadly injuries, but it hurts a whole lot and makes them reallllly hungry for blood. And the change into a vampire? It’s a miserable process.

I haven’t really touched on the plot, but rest assured, the story is fantastic. Kelley really knows how to weave a story that builds and builds, until you can’t wait to find out what happens next. I couldn’t read fast enough to find out all the twists and turns, but at the same time, I didn’t want Hollowed to end. I was immersed in Briar’s world, and I can’t wait to read more stories from the Half Light universe.

Rating: 5 owls

Socialize with the author:
Kelley York:
Website
Twitter @elixing

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the other stops for more reviews, guest posts, interviews, and other fun things.

Camp NaNo August Session: Update 2

Ahh, you all thought you escaped last week, huh? I didn’t do a NaNo update post because … wait for it … I had nothing to update.

I was going to sign up for WriteOnCon, but the forum kept throwing me out as a spammer. Apparently, using just your first name is a red flag. Whoops. I missed the entire thing, but I plan to go back later and read all the posts. It looks like there’s some great stuff there. I wanted to try and find a critique partner, or a few more writing buddies. Hopefully I can still do that.

This week I’m doing slightly better. I’ve written about 1k worth of random plotting, trying to get all the ideas in my head out before I forget them. I also have to type some notes that I scribbled in my Moleskine during a car ride. I hope I can read them! I have two or three different scenarios that are combining together, which is sort of neat but also frustrating, because what I envisioned for the world of Idea 1 doesn’t fully work with the world of Idea 2. I’m trying to keep from getting too bogged down by world building, but I feel like I have to have a really solid grasp on my world before I begin, otherwise I could end up rewriting a lot. But I may be at the point of over thinking my world. Grrr.

I’m also freaking a little because I don’t have a name for my either of my main characters! I keep referring to them as “girl” and “DD.” It’s freaking me out because I usually “see” characters first — I get their name, personality, quirks, etc., and then the plot comes after. Right now I’m sort of working the opposite way, and it is taking some getting used to. I know names can change down the road, but when I’m writing, I like to know their names, because things feel like they fit together more neatly than when I’m calling my character “girl” or “MC.”

I have tomorrow off, and I’m hoping to spend all of it writing and reading. At the very least I want to get an outline together, now that I have a beginning and end in mind for … oh, we’ll call it Vamp U.

– leeanna

Review: Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

darth vader and sonInfo:
Title: Darth Vader and Son
Author: Jeffrey Brown
Release Date: April 18, 2012
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Library
Series? No
Genre: Graphic Novel, Humor
Page Count:

Summary:

What if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? What if Luke, I am your father was just a stern admonishment from an annoyed dad? In this hilarious and sweet comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith. Celebrated artist Jeffrey Brown’s delightful illustrations give classic Star Wars moments a fresh twist, presenting the trials and joys of parenting through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. Life lessons include lightsaber batting practice, using the Force to raid the cookie jar, Take Your Child to Work Day on the Death Star (Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!), and the special bond shared between any father and son. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I have to start off by saying I am a huge Star Wars fan, particularly of the original movies and the Extended Universe. I once impressed a roomful of guys because I knew more about the Imperial Navy than they did.

So it’s probably no surprise that I loved this book. Darth Vader and Son is, dare I say it, cute! I can see it being a go-to book when I’ve had a bad day or need cheered up. Each comic is extremely detailed, and I think young Star Wars fans would have fun recognizing the little things, like Leia dressing a Darth Maul doll in a dress, or a baby Admiral Ackbar going trick or treating.

Obviously, the stars are Darth Vader and Luke. The two share many classic father son moments in true Star Wars fashion. There’s nothing like Take Your Son To Work Day when Dad works on the Death Star. I especially liked when movie dialogue was woven into the comics. Darth Vader pulled out “Luke, I am your father,” to try to get Luke to clean his room.

Non Star Wars fans might not get a lot out of this, but if you like Star Wars, or you know a youngster who does, this would be a great book for them. I’ll be buying my own copy soon.

Rating: 4 owls

Socialize with the author:
Jeffrey Brown:
Website

Waiting on Wednesday: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke (@mitochondrial)

The Assassin's CurseThe Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Release Date: October 2, 2012

Ananna of the Tanarau is the eldest daughter of a highly-ranked family in the loose assortment of cutthroats and thieves in the Pirate’s Confederation. When she runs away from the marriage her parents have arranged for her, they hire Naji the assassin to murder her.

When a mysterious woman in a dress shop offers her magical assistance for dealing with the assassin, Ananna accepts. She never went in much for magic herself — she lacks the talent for it — but she’s not quite ready to die yet, either. Unfortunately, the woman’s magic fails.

Fortunately, Ananna inadvertently saves the assassin’s life in the skirmish, thus activating a curse that had been placed on him a few years earlier. Now, whenever her life is in danger, he must protect her — or else he experiences tremendous physical pain. Neither Ananna nor the assassin, Naji, are pleased about this development.

Follow Ananna and Naji as they sail across the globe, visiting such mysterious places as the Court of Salt and Waves, in their desperate effort to lift the curse. Soon they will discover that only by completing three impossible tasks will they be able to set themselves free. (summary from goodreads)

This book just sounds awesome. I can’t believe Ananna’s parents send an assassin after her because she runs away from an arranged marriage! This is my kind of book, and lucky me, I get to read it early, thanks to Strange Chemistry and NetGalley!

Socialize with the author:
Website
Twitter @mitochondrial

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.