Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spotlight Book: On the Bright Side, by S. R. Johannes

I had planned on reviewing this book around it's release date (today) but I just didn't make it. I will be posting a  review within a week or two, though, but in the mean time, let me tell you about it...


I read Untraceable, by S.R. Johannes and really enjoyed it. It was a very exciting book, and you can click on the title to see my review.


Now, it sounds like On the Bright Side is a different kind of story. But I know Johannes is a good story-teller, so I'm looking forward to it.


Summary: On the Bright Side is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. (awkward!)

Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (like tripping is a sin?) at the hopes of cooling off the new couple. At first, they seem harmless until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, her Celestial Sky Agent, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, puts Gabby on probation, threatening her eternal future.

Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.


Sounds good, doesn't it?


Here's a bit about the author:



S.R. Johannes is the author of Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller) and On The Bright Side ( a tween paranormal). She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing.


Author Blog and Contact Information here.


If you've read this one, please post a link to your review in the comments. I'd like to know what you think. Thanks!




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Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: Legend, by Marie Lu

Legend was so exciting, it was very difficult for me to put down.

I LOVED these characters. The book is told in alternating viewpoints - Day and June. They are from the "opposite sides of the track." This is a dystopian military society on the west coast of what used to be the USA. They are at war with "the Colonies," which is the rest of the US. There's also a plague going around infecting poor people.  Day is a rebel, stirring things up for the Republic, and their most wanted criminal. June is the Republic's golden child--perfect score on their tests, she is the youngest person to ever have been so high in the military.

Why would these two have anything to do with each other? Day kills June's brother, and she vows to get revenge. She goes undercover in the poor district and eventually runs into Day.

That's pretty much as far as I want to take it. Circumstances bring these two together, tear them apart, and then ???? I can't forget these characters. I loved them both equally. I keep thinking about them, and hoping that they are still OK, even after I've finished the book. These are FICTIONAL characters...duh...

That's one mark of a good book. If it sticks with you. I can't believe these two are kind of in limbo until the next book comes out. I hope they are OK.....(fictional characters, again!!!)

The weaponry, technology, plague, setting, and side characters are all interesting. But for me this was about Day and June, and their exciting adventurous plot.

I can't wait to expose my Hunger Games, Divergent, and other dystopian fans to this one!

Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, November 29, 2011
Copy won from Celine @ Nyx Book Reviews
305 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Sunday, January 29, 2012

IMM: A Small, but FREE Week!

I got several free ebooks this week, and that's it! But that's OK.

For Review:

Lies Beneath, by Anne Greenwood Brown, from NetGalley

On the Bright Side, by S.R. Johannes, ebook from the author

Free ebooks:
Highway to Vengeance: A Thomas Highway Thriller, by Brian Springer from Amazon

Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush, by Virginia Hamilton from NetGalley

M.C. Higgins the Great, by Virginia Hamilton, from NetGalley

Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater, from NetGalley

All for free, and all ebooks, so my Kindle is expanding! I hope you had a great book week, and I"m looking forward to finding some new things to add to my TBR. Thanks to Kristi, The Story Siren, and thanks for stopping by....




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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: The Girls of No Return, by Erin Saldin

The Girls of No Return is one of those books that sneaks up on you. It is very slow and deliberate, but very elegant.

Lida has had some problems. She is being contacted by someone from her past named Margaret, but she isn't ready to talk to her. She hasn't seen Margaret for two years, and it's apparent that something happened, involving Margaret, that Lida is seeing a therapist for. The therapist suggests that Lida write down what happened. And so she begins.

Lida is being dropped off at a school for troubled girls in the wilderness of Idaho. I thought the set up here was a bit slow, introducing the (beautiful) setting and the characters, but Saldin's writing is very lyrical.

The setting and characters are important. The hikes, the lake, and the camping trips are an important part of the Alice Marshall school and the story. Lida's nemisis is Boone. She's the bully who lives in Lida's cabin and has a "special" way of welcoming all the newcomers. Lida is a loner, never speaking much or trying to make friends until a new girl, Gia, arrives who Lida is attracted to. They begin a clandestine friendship, because Boone absolutely despises Gia. And, as Lida finds out, there's much more to Boone that what appears on the surface.

As we are getting to know these characters, who are diverse and wrought with problems and typical teen attitudes, we are wondering, "What is Lida's Thing?" Everyone else is wondering too, because she isn't sharing any of her past with her teachers or school mates during their "Circle Share" meetings. Margaret teaches the outdoor class, Lida's favorite, but she still isn't going to confide in her.

Saldin expertly reveals more of Lida's character bit by bit. And we also get to know a little about the other characters, but some still remain very mysterious. Since we only hear what Lida hears, just how much of what these girls share are lies?

The triangle here isn't a love triangle, but a friendship triangle between the three girls -- Lida, Gia, and Boone -- with Lida very much in the middle. There is a horrible occurrence at the culmination, but there's much to absorb along the way. And, the future is hopeful, at least for some of our characters. The strength of this book is in the telling -- the descriptive metaphors and the characters that burrow into your heart. The plot is a slow burn, but worth it.

Recommend this to teens (as well as adults) who like contemporaries, boarding school stories, problem kids, and beautiful prose.

Published by Arthur A. Levine, February 1, 2012
ARC obtained from the publisher for review
345 pages

Rating: 3.5/5





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Friday, January 27, 2012

TGIF -- Great time for Reading!

Oh, we are really in the winter doldrums now. Wet, cold...yuck....thanks goodness for BOOKS!!!

Ginger's question this week is:


Buy or Borrow: Where do your books that you read come from? The bookstore? The library? Do you prefer to own a book, or have it on loan?

I am a LIBRARIAN, so I get a lot of what I read from the library. Even if we don't have the book, we have an excellent inter-library loan system, so I can pretty much get anything. It's AWESOME. Please, if you don't already, check out your local library if you have one. You can save SO much money. There are few books that I feel compelled to own. As a matter of fact, most of the books I buy for myself, I end up donating to my library. All of the ARCs I receive get put in the library. I really want books to be read. If they are sitting on my shelves at home (or in a box, like many of my books are) then no one is reading them. I love to share books with people. That's what my job is all about! That's my passion!

What do I keep? I keep all of my autographed books. :) I have some of my children's favorite books. I have a very old falling apart Gone With the Wind first edition. I have some books that I've read, but I want my husband or daughter to read, so I haven't  given them away. I can't really remember any more, since they are all packed away in boxes!!

Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by. I'll be looking forward to your answers to this one!






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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith

What a charming story. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is not only a story of romantic love, but a story of the love within a family. If you haven't read a review of this one yet, then you must have been under a rock. I can't recall one negative review.

A chance meeting between Hadley and Oliver, after Hadley misses her flight by four minutes, leads to the beginnings of an enchanting romance. Even though the story takes place in twenty-four hours, this isn't "insta-love." There is a slow natural progression from conversation to flirting to connecting on a romantic level. We still don't know what's going to happen to these two at the end of the book, but we are hopeful, of course.

Hadley is going to London to attend her father's marriage -- to a woman she's never met. I loved how these two love stories tied together. Hadley has a great deal of understandable anger towards her father for leaving her mother and falling in love with another woman. The conversation that Hadley and her father have towards the end of the book is my favorite scene.

"I mean, I only knew him for a few hours. It's ridiculous. It makes no sense."

Dad smiles, then reaches up to straighten his crooked bow tie. "That's the  way these things work, kiddo," he says. "Love isn't supposed to make sense. It's completely illogical." (193-194)

And there, we have not only Hadley's story, but her dad's story too. How can she not come to a better understanding of what her father went through, when she has just experienced "love at first sight."

This book is magical. Anyone who is any kind of romantic at all will love this story. It's all good. The characters, the pace, the setting--I'm not going to go into details, but you won't be disappointed. Can't wait to start handing this out to my teens!

Published by Little, Brown & Co., Jan. 2, 2012
Copy obtained from the library
236 pages (qualifies for my "Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!")

Rating: 5/5





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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Drowning Instinct, by Ilsa J. Bick

I was really moved by Drowning Instinct. It's a really unpleasant story, but well-written, with characters who have problems for which there are no easy answers.

The first scene in the book is Jenna, our 16-year-old main character, in a hospital emergency room talking to a detective named Bob. He obviously wants information that Jenna has, so he leaves her a digital recording device, so she can feel free to talk.

The rest of the story is Jenna's description of her life. She's had a dysfunctional childhood with a mother who is a drunk and a domineering father. She was critically injured in the fire that burned down her grandfather's house.  She misses her brother, who used to be the only person she could talk to, but he is away.

Her father decides to take Jenna out of therapy and move her to a new, private high school. Jenna becomes friends with Mr. Anderson, her chemistry teacher and track coach.

I really don't want to say too much. Suffice it to say, Jenna has problems, and as she very slowly reveals the extent of these problems through her narrative, your heart breaks. She finds some comfort, and possibly some healing, by spending time with Mr. Anderson. These characters, especially our narrator, become our friends. There is a slow progression, but it's very steady, and at no time did I feel the exposition was dragging. Every piece added something to my understanding of the situation or characters. There are also a few surprises along the way.

By the time I got to the climactic ending of this book, I didn't know what to think. It's confusing -- and we wonder, just like Jenna, what to believe. Bick really sums up her (and my) feelings in the acknowledgments at the end of the book. I can't really quote it, because this is an ARC. But, basically it's that there's not always a clear line between the predator and the victim. Relationships are complicated and you can grow by being in a damaging relationship, as well as a healthy one. Good people can make bad decisions, and get too deep into improper situations before they realize it.

I love how the book's title ties into the story. I won't tell you how, but it's a totally appropriate title, and I appreciate it. I think this is one for more mature, high school age teens. The subject matter is somewhat disturbing, but those who are ready and enjoy realistic "problem" novels will be enthralled with this one.

Published by Carolrhoda Books, February 1, 2012
eBook ARC obtained from NetGalley
352 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Memories: The Butter Battle Book



Welcome to my meme, Monday Memories, where I feature favorite books we've loved from the past. You can link to an old review, or write something new about a beloved book from your past. Really, what's important is not the book, but why it is memorable to you. So, have fun reminiscing, and leave a comment below, so we can all enjoy your memories.

I also wanted to let you know about another wonderful blog that you should check out. Ashley @ Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing does a weekly post called Memory Monday. She has been posting about her childhood memories of books. What's great about Ashley's site is that she is asking for guest posts for her Memory Monday event!  So hop on over there and check it out.



I'm a big Dr. Seuss fan, as I'm sure most of us are. The Butter Battle Book was published in 1984, almost 30 years after The Cat in the Hat. I was already out of high school when this was published, so it didn't really hit my radar until I had kids. The book has the usually quirky rhymes and crazy words, as well as delightful illustrations, but it also has strong message of tolerance. The allusion is to the Cold War, where the Zooks and the Yooks could destroy the whole world over things like eating your bread with the "butter side down." On a smaller level, this one could be used as and anti-bullying story for young kids too.

And, if they don't get the message, it's still a fun, typical Dr. Seuss tale.

My son and I got into a deep discussion about why anyone would eat their bread with the butter on the bottom. He insisted that wasn't very practical.... That's what I love about these memory posts -- remembering my time as a child, as well as those special times with my children...

Share one of your cherished book memories!


You can do a Monday Memories post on your blog. Copy my button and link back here, so others can see all the other posts.  Leave a comment below with the link to your post.

Or, just leave one of your Monday Memories right here in the comments.

Be sure to visit some other blogs that have posted their links. Thanks!






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Sunday, January 22, 2012

IMM - Irresistible Books

I've really no business getting any more books right now -- I'm sure many of you can say that, but sometimes I just can't resist. After all, I DO work in a library, and I read over 200 book blogs' reviews! So all things considered, I guess I didn't go too crazy.... Here's the haul for the week:

For Review:
The Academie, by Susanne Dunlap, ebook from NetGalley
I really hate this cover (can't you stick out those boobs any farther?) but it sounds good.

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall, ebook from NetGalley

Partials, by Dan Wells, ebook from Netgalley

Purchased:

Unlovable, by Sherry Gammon, ebook purchased from Amazon
I read some rave reviews of this one.

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, free ebook from Amazon
It will be a while until I get to this one, but it is a goal of mine to read it!

The Glass Case, by Kristin Hannah, free ebook from Amazon

Won:

 Promissory Payback and Unrevealed, by Laurel Dewey

From the Library:
Sean Griswold's Head, by Lindsey Leavitt


I thought both of these library books had potential to qualify for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge.

Thanks again to Kristi, The Story Siren for hosting the fun. I can't wait to see what you all got this week (so I can add some more to my pile!) Thanks for visiting, and come back soon.





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