Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, but it took the DVD release to finally move it to the top of my TBR pile.  I've read nothing but great reviews, but the subject matter and length of the book were major deterrents for me.  I remember watching Schindler's List when I was in college.  The movie was very well done, but it was heart wrenching to say the least.  I was not ready for a 552 page book that could possible lead me down the same path.

The story is told from Death's point of view and takes place in the late 30's to mid 40's.  Death was extremely busy during this period due to the events in Nazi Germany and the onset of WW2.  He first crosses paths with Liesel Meminger when her six year old brother dies on a train due to illness.  It is at his funeral where she steals her first book.  The grave digger drops his handbook and Liesel picks it up.  At the time she does not know how to read, but she cherishes the book anyway.

Her foster father, Hans Hubermann, is not the strongest reader in his own right, but he takes it upon himself to teach her how to read.  Each night when Liesel wakes from her nightmares, Hans is always there ready to read with her.  Throughout the book Liesel begins to understand the importance of words.  She not only enjoys reading, but she begins to write as well.  She even help others cope by reading to them at their homes and in the bomb shelter during the raids.

Throughout the book we see what life was like for the German poor.  Children were starving and families were torn apart.  Any resistance to the Nazi party's wishes brought further pain to not only the resister, but their loved ones as well.  Liesel, Hans, and Rosa Hubermann walked an even more dangerous line.  They befriended a Jewish man named Max and hid him in their basement.

With Death as the narrator, I did not feel like the story was as heart wrenching as it could have been.  He gave the reader plenty of advance warning as to what was eventually coming.  There were no surprises like the one I received at the end of The Fault in Our Stars.  I had plenty of time to accept what was coming, but the last 50 pages still required tissues.  You will not want to read the ending out in public.

The epilogue leaves the reader on a happier note and provides a sense of closure to Liesel Meminger's story.  I just wish one additional detail had been provided.

Overall, this was an exceptional book.  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and would recommend it to any reader.  I've already requested the DVD from the library.

Monday, August 25, 2014

NEW RELEASE: The Write Stuff by Tiffany King


Twenty-two-year-old historical romance writer Nicole Blake, or N.S. Blake to her readers, hasn't taken an official poll, mind you, but she is convinced she may be the only romance author on the planet who is still a card-carrying member of the virgin club.

Not that she hasn't tried to end her membership. Life just keeps finding pesky ways to interfere. With no prospects on the horizon, Nicole begins to feel like the closest she will ever get to experiencing a man is within her own stories.

Opportunity presents itself in the form of hot-as-sin-on-a-lollipop-stick bartender/premed student Alec Petropoulos, who agrees to be the cover model for her upcoming book. Sparks fly instantly between them, and Nicole begins to entertain the possibility that she's finally found the right guy to hand over her tattered V-card. 

Alec has all the makings for a perfect one-night-stand candidate except, much to Nicole's surprise, he seems to be the only man in existence not interested in bagging a virgin.

Stuck between a rock and a stubborn male, what's a virgin to do? Seduce him, of course. How hard could it be? If it works for the characters in her stories, why wouldn't it work for her?

After all, what happens under the cover…stays under the cover.

Buy Links:

About Tiffany King

USA Today Bestselling author Tiffany King is a lifelong reading fanatic who is now living her dream as a writer, weaving Young Adult and New Adult romance tales for others to enjoy. She has a loving husband and two wonderful kids. (Five, if you count her three spoiled cats). Her addictions include: Her iPhone and iPad, chocolate, Diet Coke, chocolate, Harry Potter, chocolate, zombies and her favorite TV shows. Want to know what they are? Just ask.

For information on any of Author Tiffany's titles, visit her blog at www.authortiffanyjking.blogspot.com

Where to connect with Author Tiffany

Twitter- @AuthorTiffany

Facebook- AuthorTiffanyKing

Pinterest- Tiffany King

Goodreads- Tiffany King

Mary's Review:

For many years now I have had a serious Author Crush on Tiffany King (It's okay she knows) 

When I read the blurb, I wanted to read this RIGHT THEN! I love the whole concept of the story. I mean, come on you have a virgin and a hot guy, what could go wrong?

Then I stopped .... a virgin? .... a hot guy?  .... hasn't this been done a million times? I became worried that maybe this was going to be too 'cookie-cutter'.  

When I started reading I knew from 2% into the book this was going to be like nothing else! I WAS RIGHT!

Nicole has probably become one of my favorite characters that Tiffany has written. She has flaws and I love that. I also love that she's real and I can relate with her. I can remember feeling some of the same things that she did at that age. I loved that!!

Then there's Alec. Yep, my new book boyfriend! (Are you shocked by that?) Oh, how I drooled on my kindle for this guy, and then other times he sort-of mad me a little mad. But, hey, he's a guy (fictional or not they get under your skin every once and a while)

I laughed a lot in this book. I did yell a few times. BUT, I LOVED IT ALL!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell -- Listen to an audio sample and WIN a signed audiobook!

The Book Nerds were able to snag a signed audiobook of Rainbow Rowell's Landline that we are now giving away to one lucky winner! Can't decide if you want this? Here's our review. Still can't decide? Here's a sample:

Basically, you want this. Enter via the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: If you already entered the giveaway on the book review post, your entry will be counted.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Book Summary 
In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled. As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist. Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed. Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons. But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for? Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

Flo's Review
Storm Siren was one of those books that I'd never heard of until I reached BEA, but then I grabbed on a whim. This is a big thing because I flew to BEA this year and so I was trying as much as possible to minimize the number of books I took. But look at that cover, guys. It's gorgeous! And then it sounded like a fun fantasy read as well.

Fast forward to a few months later when I'm tweeting the author at 2 a.m. whining how she ripped my heart out and left us with a MASSIVE cliffhanger. (She totally did.) 

I enjoyed meeting these characters. Nym -- you wanted to feel sorry for her, but she didn't want you to. Adora was the definition of crazy. But unfortunately, in a scary way -- like she's nuts because you don't know what'll she'll do. And I fell in love with Colin the second I met him. Colin was funny and fun, but also was deeply supportive and caring. Team Colin! 

The story did seem a little slow around the middle...I think maybe some of the journeying and training and partying could have been condensed or something. Toward the end we get back to the reveals and the action, culminating in the aforementioned cliffhanger. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the situation at the end of the book plays out and how Nym will be in light of everything that happened. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Giver - Movie Review

Flo's Review
A note of caution: If you haven't read the book, then you may want to skip this review for now. What you need to do is go pick it up immediately and read it and then come back, k? I will spoil the book here, but not the movie. That being said, I will share some details of the movie, so if you're super sensitive to any advance hints before you see it, then proceed with caution.

So, one of my favorite books of all time is being released as a movie this Friday. It turns out that The Giver movie has been in the making for EIGHTEEN YEARS. 18 years. Odeya Rush, the female lead, is not even that old yet. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to an advance screening about an hour before it started. I was just expecting another regular advance screening, but it ended up being more. (Yes, I seem to do this a lot.) Fathom Events was screening live coverage from the red carpet premiere in New York City for about an hour before the movie was shown. This was pretty cool! I really enjoyed seeing the interviews with all the cast members. I loved Katie's and Odeya's dresses, and Brenton Thwaites is a little cutie. A sadly surprising part of the live cast was finding out about Robin Williams' death that day from a very emotional Jeff Bridges. I would also be remiss if I forgot to mention that we got these stylish sunglasses:

My future's so bright because I don't live in an dystopian society. Shades are a must!
I usually try to stay away from reading reviews of things that I want to review myself -- so while I haven't read any reviews of this movie, I have heard about the general tone. I will say this: I liked this movie. I enjoyed it. If someone wanted to go see it again, I would. But, I enjoyed it as a movie in its own right...not necessarily as an adaptation of my favorite book. Does that make sense?

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Book Summary
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip - and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

Flo's Review
I have literally wanted to read this book ever since I've known of its existence. A few weeks ago, I saw a copy at the library and grabbed it on a whim. So this past weekend, when I was wanting to get a summer read in before the start of school and fall, I picked it up. I'm definitely glad I did!

The cool thing about this book was the written out playlists, notes about each state, and pictures that were interspersed in the text. I felt that Amy and Roger falling for each other happened in a way that was very realistic, and I was thankful for that. It's tricky to have two people falling for each other in such a short amount of time and have it be convincing, but Morgan Matson sold me very well on Amy and Roger. It was also really fun hearing about the different state specialty food and drinks. Having lived on the East Coast all my life, I only get to enjoy In-N-Out burger on vacations. But having grown up in Tennessee, I am very familiar with Krystal and sweet tea.  After reading this book, I definitely want to enjoy a Brown in Kentucky and the fast food place where Roger's friend took them in Kansas. Eating the local favorite is definitely a must do when you travel. I loved seeing the different state mottoes and of course the Connecticut one was perfect for the story. 

I generally don't live my life with regrets, but one thing I do regret is not ever taking the coast to coast road trip, either after high school or after college. There are just so many places in my own country that I would love to explore, and this kind of trip is a rite of passage similar to the summer backpacking Europe or studying abroad. (I did neither.) That being said, I would NOT want to be stuck on the Loneliest Road! I think my eyes would start to cross after driving on the same road and seeing no one for about 2 to 3 hours. 

We never did find out exactly what Roger said to Hadley about Amy, and I wonder if that was in a version that got cut, or whether it really was just to be left to our imagination.  I also liked the Amy! versus Amy comments, because I think we all at some point feel like we aren't acting as we're expected to or as we think we should. "I should be more enthusiastic, I should be better at this," we think. But the "should be" self is not the real self, and that's better and more honest.

I am taking a mini road trip in about a month, from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh. This book definitely made me more excited to hit the road. Because as we know from numerous cliches and as is reaffirmed in this book, the journey -- and not necessarily the destination -- is where the fun is.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell with GIVEAWAY

Book Summary:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now. Maybe that was always besides the point. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . 

Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Flo's Review:

Jacque and I were lucky enough to score ARCs of this one at BEA this year. We reviewed Fangirl last year and both really enjoyed it, so we were definitely excited to make Rainbow's new book for adults one of our read alongs. I enjoyed a couple of things about this book: First, the concept is really cool. I have always been fascinated with the idea of time travel so the idea of making a phone call to someone at a time in your past is so cool and so intriguing. Second, I loved Seth and Scotty. Namely Seth. The scenes at the office with those two were by far my favorite in the book and often had me chuckling out loud.

Unfortunately, this book was a DNF (did not finish) for me. There were two reasons that I couldn't really get into it. First was all of Georgie's internal dialogue and the dismal state of her marriage. It was written really well. Too well. I read to escape, and I find it hard to enjoy a book when the main character is miserable the whole time. Frankly, it brings me down. And that's not what I want to be feeling as I read. Anxiety of a struggling marriage? Too real. I don't want to turn to fiction for that. I can call one of my girlfriends and listen to her over-analyze the state of her marriage instead. That's not fun for me to read, and I (mostly) read for fun.

Secondly, the book is largely made of flashbacks. I've ranted before on my feelings about flashbacks. I understand why they can be necessary. But if it gets to the point where the story doesn't seem to be moving forward at all because all the authors keeps doing is flashing back, then I cannot deal. I need a story to have forward motion to hold my interest, and quite simply, you can't keep moving forward if you keep looking back. 

I tried to keep reading, but in the end I decided that if I'm going to spend time reading a Rainbow Rowell book, it should be Eleanor and Park, which I've heard from so many people is made of amazingness, but which I haven't read. 

Jacque's Review:

This is one of the books that I was really excited to pick up at BEA this year.  I loved Fangirl and couldn't wait to read her latest release.  When Flo told me she had to pull the plug after about 16 chapters, I was a little nervous. 

Georgie is in her mid 30's and is the mother of two young girls.  She works long hours as a comedy writer for a television series while her husband, Neal, is a stay-at-home dad.  He does an amazing job of taking care of the girls, the house, cooking, and in general holding the family together.  Just before Christmas Georgie and her writing partner, Seth, pitch their dream show to an interested network.  Now they need to write a few episodes to present at a meeting just after Christmas.  The only problem is that Georgie and her family were planning on traveling to Omaha to visit Neal's Mom for the holiday.  Georgie decides to stay in L.A. to work while Neal takes the girls as planned.

Georgie and Neal's relationship has been strained for a while and this may be the last straw.  Georgie tries to call Neal's cell phone several times after he leaves, but she can't get through.  She finally resorts to using her Mom's landline to call Neal's Mom's landline and miraculously she is able to reach Neal.  There is one apparent catch.  Neal sounds a lot younger than he does now.  He sounds like he did when they first started dating and his Dad is apparently still alive. (He died several years ago.)  Rather than finding a time machine, Georgie has a phone that takes her back to Neal as he was in 1998.  Will she be able to repair their relationship now that she knows how things play out 15 years later?  That is exactly what Georgie attempts to do.

The flashbacks allow the reader to see how Georgie and Neal's relationship developed and where things went off track.  The concept of a landline taking one back into the past is an ingenious idea in this cellular world.  Much like a Walkman or a VCR, children today probably don't even know what a landline is.

The only complaint that I have about this book is the fact that we don't get to know Neal very well.  We witness Georgie's struggles, but we don't know how the separation is affecting Neal.  Is Georgie reading more into the situation than is necessary?  Is she overreacting?  We don't know because we have no idea what Neal is thinking.  

The separation is a reality check for Georgie.  She begins to realize what is most important in her life and I was happy to see her take action.  The ending was perfect, but I don't want to give away any spoilers.  If you enjoy Sarah Dessen's books, I would highly recommend Landline.

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

While at BEA, we were also lucky enough to pick up a signed audiobook of Landline. We'll give it away to one lucky commenter below who answers this question:

If you had an opportunity like Georgie to talk now to someone in your past, who would it be and what would you say to them?

Don't forget to include an email address with your comment so we have a way to contact you if you win. Good luck!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Book Summary
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

Flo's Review
I started this weekend in the mood for a fun summer read before the start of fall. Most of my teacher friends start back at school tomorrow, and I realized that I hadn't really read a summer book this summer. A few weeks ago, I'd checked out Open Road Summer from the library, so it was all ready for me to pick up. I'm so glad I did! This book was perfect for what I was looking for! I officially have a new Book Boyfriend by the name of Matt Finch. So sweet, so understanding, so flexible -- and he's hot! And he sings! AND he writes songs about his girlfriends!! Sign me up! I thought that Matt and Reagan were perfect for each other. The fact that they both came with baggage made it easy for each of them to relate to the other and bring out the best in each other. Dee was absolutely adorable, and I loved her friendship with Reagan. Infinity pinkie lock? Perfect! 

As some of you may know, I am a HUGE fan of my favorite bands, so another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the setting. I enjoyed reading about life on the road, and I really liked the different songs and how they fit into the story. I found myself making up melodies for them in the my head and then humming them at random times. True story. Can "Open Road Summer" be a real, recorded song? Because the version in my head is fantastic! I've had a recent conversation about the fact that paparazzi will take a picture of a celebrity after she's just had lunch and then claim she's pregnant, so I just had to LOL when that came up in the book. I'm glad Emery talked about that ridiculousness though. 

Admittedly, I didn't like Reagan at first. But that was because I was seeing the image of herself that she was trying hard to present, with her short shorts and high heels. But the more I got to know her and see that she was more than that, the more respect I had for her. As I mentioned before, I loved Dee and I loved Matt. Jimmy was also great. 

I believe this is Emery Lord's first book, and I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

If I Stay Tour Recap and GIVEAWAY!

Photo credit: https://twitter.com/ifistay
In case you haven't been avidly keeping up with everything about this upcoming movie like I have, let me tell you -- there is a tour going on right now and it is incredibly awesome! I was lucky enough to experience it this past weekend and want to share some of the wealth. But first let me tell you about it!

Thursday night was a pre-screening of the the movie and a party. Personally, I was just expecting it to be a regular pre-screening where you go, watch the movie and then head out. Boy was I (happily!) mistaken! After I had checked in and received my wristband, I made my way to the area where staff members were walking about offering delicious mini munchies: fish, veggies, pizza, you name it! We were also given a ticket for a free drink.

On one side of the room, they had a tattoo station set up:

You got to choose from a few different designs. This one was my favorite:

 But the coolest thing they had was this Machine of Amazing:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Flo's Review
Since I was late to start this series, Silver Shadows was the first book I actually had to wait for. I had to wait about a month, and it was torture! (Don't hurt me, guys! Lol). But I would say it was worth the wait. I was struck by a few things about this book. First of all, the horribleness. I don't want to give away spoilers and talk about what happened, but a lot of it was simply horrible. No other way to describe. And what got me the most was that Richelle Mead didn't make it all up I think -- there have probably been similar things done to people in our history. And THAT is what destroyed me.

I love the way that Richelle Mead took the common phrase "things fall apart" and turned it around. (I know, this started in Fiery Heart, but it continues in this one.) That phrase is very passive and submissive, suggesting that things will go badly and there is nothing you can do about it. But Sydney and Adrian disagree -- the center WILL hold, they tell themselves. Because they will make it hold. They have turned themselves from victims into fighters, and I love that.

Of course, Richelle left us with a BIG cliffhanger for the final book in the series, and now I have to wait it out for months and months like everyone else...*sighs*.

In the meantime, I will try to get the Frostbite movie going, so I can get a glimpse of Adrian on the big screen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Andromeda by Amy Bartelloni

Book Summary
Ten years after a pandemic swept the globe, survivors were forced into factions and camps in order to survive. Jade and Sera are two orphans who have found refuge in a government camp. It's there where Jade falls in love with a young soldier, Anyon. But Anyon has his own secrets, carefully guarding a past that involves Sera. Before Jade and Anyon admit their feelings to each other the camp is attacked and they're separated. Jade knows to lead Sera to Albany, the last free camp in the east, but the road is dangerous. Not only must they dodge pockets of infection, but they're threatened by drifters and gangs. When they arrive in Albany, they find it deserted. Anyon and his friend Malachi are close on their heels, but not close enough. The Provisional Government is on a mission, and no one is quite prepared for what lies ahead.

Flo's Review
I met Amy in a line at BEA and she was very sweet! I was quite intrigued with her book as she was telling me about it, so I made sure to follow up on it when I got back. Andromeda starts off with a very The Testing/I Am Legend feel. Jade and Sera are trying to make it to Albany, where they have agreed to meet up with friends from the government camp where they were living. We see the journey through their eyes and also through the eyes of Anyon and Malachi, who they are going to meet. The story alternates points of view between the two sets of travelers and is interspersed with flashbacks that help us learn more about these characters. 

It's a very intriguing concept, but unfortunately I felt that the first part was just a little too long. My little attention span just barely made it to Albany with the girls, and it didn't quite make it to the guys arriving later on. I skimmed the rest of the book from that point on and it seems like we get some big reveals after that point, and an intense looking showdown/final scenes with the government towards the end.  I could easily see this book as a movie or TV show. I liked how Andromeda tied into these kids' story, and really, how could you not love Sera?! She put a smile on my face every time with her intuition and optimism.