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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Challenge Progress: February

At the end of each month, I'll make a post showing what books I read for what challenge, along with a link to the review.

I didn't have as much reading time this month, but I still did well, I think. I did get a little behind on the Standalone Reading Challenge though.

So here is my progress for February...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pinkindle Reads but no Reviews: February, 2012

I read a lot, but review less. Sometimes I just don't feel like writing something, or I just don't have much to say. Either way, it doesn't seem fair to leave these books out. So once a month I'll present the books that I read, rated, but didn't review, and give a quick few sentences about what I thought of them.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pinkindle Plays Catch-Up + Soul Screamers Reading Challenge

Phase 1 of me getting caught up a.k.a the first 5 books (actually 6) I shall read for Pinkindle Plays Catch-Up, are:

I decided to start with Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent because My Soul to Take is the Group Read for Rated YA-MA this month, and since I signed up for the Soul Screamers Reading Challenge. My library doesn't have the 5th book in the series yet, hence why it's not being included. I will read it when it arrives though.

Others on the Agenda:
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, #1) by Rachel Caine
Bloodfever (Fever, #2) by Karen Marie Moning

Soul Screamers Reading Challenge

So, for those of you who have read this series: What do you think of it? Which book is your favorite? No spoilers, please!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox [14]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

[Review] The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols

Title: The One That I Want
Author: Jennifer Echols
Pages: 259 (Paperback)
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 7, 2011

Gemma can’t believe her luck when the star football player starts flirting with her. Max is totally swoon-worthy, and even gets her quirky sense of humor. So when he asks out her so-called best friend Addison, Gemma’s heartbroken.

Then Addison pressures Gemma to join the date with one of Max’s friends. But the more time they all spend together, the harder Gemma falls for Max. She can’t help thinking that Max likes her back—it’s just too bad he’s already dating Addison. How can Gemma get the guy she wants without going after her best friend’s boyfriend?

Gemma van Cleve is a true high school underdog. She's the unpopular, pudgy girl who wears whatever she wants and only fits in with the drama and music crowd. In fact, she sounds a lot like me in high school (and even now), so I could definitely relate to her. Her best friend, Addison, is self-absorbed, unsupportive, and down right mean! I can't imagine being friends with her, but Gemma has known her for so long, it's easier to just stay friends than call her out on her crap and move on. "Have I mentioned that I did not like my best friend very much?" At least Gemma's willing to admit it! She also has a crush on a male friend, who thinks he's too cool for school and is a bit of a jerk. He only starts noticing Gemma in "that way" once she's lost 50 pounds and starts dating another guy. She certainly does not surround herself with nice people.

I really enjoyed Gemma's narrative. It's very conversational, and she doesn't hold anything back. She's honest, funny, and snarky. I remained engaged from the beginning to the end, even if the situation wasn't particularly interesting, which was the case from time to time. It was interesting seeing her escape Addison's shadow and become more confident in herself as she sheds weight and insecurities. There were times when I didn't agree with how Gemma handled things, but I'm glad she was able to stand up for herself and get what she wanted.

This was my first book by Jennifer Echols and I'm looking forward to checking out more of her work. The One That I Want is a fun, cute love story with memorable characters, but it also touches on other important topics such as body imagine, friendship and honesty. I'd definitely recommend this one.

Friday, February 24, 2012

[Review] Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Suddenly You
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Pages: 375 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: January 1, 2001

She was unmarried, untouched and almost thirty, but novelist Amanda Briars wasn't about to greet her next birthday without making love to a man. When he appeared at her door, she believed he was her gift to herself, hired for one night of passion. Unforgettably handsome, irresistibly virile, he tempted her in ways she never thought possible, but something stopped him from completely fulfilling her dream.

Jack Devlin's determination to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a nobleman and London's most notorious businessman, refused to live by society's rules. Yet when fate conspired for them to marry, their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected. . . but both soon craved.

Amanda Briars is a successful novelist, proper lady, and a virgin. So for her 30th birthday, she gets herself the ultimate gift: a sexy Irishman to take her virginity! However, before the deed can take place, she changes her mind, but Jack assures her that that won't be the last she sees of him. True his word, they meet at a dinner for people in the writing industry and Amanda discovers that he's not who she thought he was. From this point on we get to watch Amanda try not to fall under Jack's charms, while it's completely obvious that he's crazy about her. He enjoys her work, appreciates her independent mind, and loves her curves!

The story jumps right in in Chapter 1, but then slows down quite a bit. But the slowness felt natural. We got to know Amanda and Jack better while they got to know each other. Once their affair begins it's definitely worth the slow pacing. That is one steamy romance! Jack is hot and encourages Amanda to try everything! We don't get to read about them doing everything, but the implication is sexy enough. There are a couple of scenes that are a bit kinkier than I was expecting!

There is a very predictable twist that is obvious from the beginning, but it fit the story and didn't feel forced. Their romance needed a conflict and this one didn't come out of nowhere. It was realistic, but I still found myself irritated with Amanda for some of her decisions. Although her decision was rightfully based on what we know about Jack, I just wanted them to be together! Of course, they get their happy ending eventually, but it wasn't easy to come by.

Jack and Amanda are a great couple, and I love how they challenged the rules of London society. Their journey from business associates to lovers was sweet and extremely sexy, and I couldn't get enough of them (especially Jack)! The ending felt a bit rushed after the slowness of the middle, but I think it was very fitting to the story.

"Fortunately I have found that it is far more entertaining to be married to a scoundrel than a gentleman."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

[Review] The Demon Lover (Fairwick Chronicles, #1) by Juliet Dark

Title: The Demon Lover
Series: Fairwick Chronicles, #1
Author: Juliet Dark
Pages: 432 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: December 27, 2011
I received an ARC from NetGalley.

Since accepting a teaching position at remote Fairwick College in upstate New York, Callie McFay has experienced the same disturbingly erotic dream every night: A mist enters her bedroom, then takes the shape of a virile, seductive stranger who proceeds to ravish her in the most toe-curling, wholly satisfying ways possible. Perhaps these dreams are the result of her having written the bestselling book The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. Callie’s lifelong passion is the intersection of lurid fairy tales and Gothic literature—which is why she’s found herself at Fairwick’s renowned folklore department, living in a once-stately Victorian house that, at first sight, seemed to call her name.

But Callie soon realizes that her dreams are alarmingly real. She has a demon lover—an incubus—and he will seduce her, pleasure her, and eventually suck the very life from her. Then Callie makes another startling discovery: Her incubus is not the only mythical creature in Fairwick. As the tenured witches of the college and the resident fairies in the surrounding woods prepare to cast out the demon, Callie must accomplish something infinitely more difficult—banishing this supernatural lover from her heart.

This book has a great premise, and I was expecting a sort of dark, mystery that was also sexy, since it involves an incubus. Instead I was pretty bored, but somewhat intrigued...but still bored. I'm actually kind of conflicted on my feelings towards this one. I really like some parts, but they were interspersed with a lot of boring parts.

Callie has studied demon lovers in folklore her whole life, and she's also had dreams of her very own demon lover. When she moves into a small college town, the dreams become more frequent, more real, and even more erotic. She believes it's because of the old house she's purchased, where one of her favorite authors once lived and wrote Gothic Romances. Perhaps reading those unedited drafts have gone to her head? I was very intrigued about the connection between Callie's dreams and the house/manuscripts, but everything that happens outside of that was extremely dull. And it took far too long for something exciting to happen!

There are several subplots woven along side with Callie's demon lover, but at some point they almost took over. Despite the title, the demon lover doesn't have that many scenes, but he seems to always be in the background. I would have liked him to be in the forefront more often, since the other plots simply didn't interest me that much. They also seemed to have nothing to do with the demon lover, and sometimes felt like filler until it started to all come together at the end. However, these extra plots certainly showed that Fairwick holds a ton of secrets.

The Demon Lover had a lot of potential, but in the end it fell flat. It had its suspenseful moments, as well as some sexy moments, but those glimpses couldn't overcome the rest of the drab story. In fact, the most interesting parts were the snippets from the Dahlia LaMotte manuscripts; plenty of quivering thighs and pulsing manhoods!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday [6]

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox [13]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

[Review] Nerds Like It Hot (Nerds, #6) by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Title: Nerds Like It Hot
Series: Nerds, #6
Author: Vicki Lewis Thompson
Pages: 370 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Release Date: August 1, 2006

She's unleashed her inner vixen…
Hollywood makeup artist Gillian McCormick wouldn't normally be caught dead on a cruise aimed at single geeks. But as the sole witness to a murder, hiding out may be her only chance at staying alive. With P.I. Lex Manchester guarding her, and a voluptuous disguise in place of her plain-Jane wardrobe, Gillian should be safe… if she can resist a titanic attraction to Lex that's making her fantasize about some extra-naughty cruise activities…

He's rediscovered his inner nerd…
Lex thought he had left behind his nerdy ways, but his suave demeanor has no chance against Gillian's bombshell image and the smart, sexy woman within. And when the scent of seduction wafts through the sea air, what's a red-blooded male to do?

And the passion they've found is about to get out of control…
With a passenger list that includes a mobster on a mission, a cross-dressing sociopath, and hundreds of lusty nerds, Lex must find a way to keep Gillian safe--and prove that he's truly her nerd for all seasons…

Mobsters, cross dressers, and nerds! Oh my! This is the last of the Nerds books that I've gotten my hands on, and I'm sad the series is over. This is another fun, majorly over-the-top, addition to the series. Much like in Nerds #3, Lex is actually a PI undercover as a nerd, but he does have some nerd tendencies left over from high school. He's accompanying Gillian on a nerd themed cruise as she hides out from the Mafia after witnessing a murder. I was a bit skeptical about the cruise, but it sounds like so much fun! I seriously would love to go on one!

If the plot sounds cheesy, that's because it is. I'm a sucker for cheese though, and this book does not disappoint. There's a hilarious cast of characters who I couldn't help but love. The side-plot with Gillian's pursuer was great and completely unexpected! The story is light, fun, exciting, and sometimes sexy. It also doesn't take itself too seriously, just like the rest of the series. I do have a couple of complaints though. The first being how Lex used sex to get his way, and that Gillian fell for it every time! The other is that Dante made a few rude comments about cross dressers. I know things like that get said in the real world, but that doesn't make it okay. Other than that, if you're looking for a quirky, easy read with a little bit of steam, you should check this one out.

Friday, February 17, 2012

[Review] Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1) by Amanda Hocking

Title: Switched
Series: Trylle Trilogy, #1
Author: Amanda Hocking
Pages: 293 (Paperback)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: January 3, 2012

When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - a world both beautiful and frightening, and Wendy's not sure she wants to be a part of it.

"A couple things made that day stand out more than any other: it was my sixth birthday, and my mother was wielding a knife. Not a tiny steak knife, but some kind of massive butcher knife glinting in the light like in a bad horror movie. She definitely wanted to kill me."

I absolutely love opening lines like that, which make you go "what?!" And this book contains an original creature: trolls! I've heard amazing things about Amanda Hocking, and I'm happy to learn that it's all true. Switched was such a fun and unique story full of great characters! Wendy is strong-willed, quirky and feisty, and I loved her! She doesn't truly fit into the human, and her family has to move a lot, so she's basically stopped trying. Then when she finds out her true heritage, she doesn't really fit in with the Trylle either. I found her easy to relate to and believable. I'm definitely cheering for her to find her place in the world.

Finn! I love forbidden romances that aren't suppose to work out. Wendy and Finn are great together, and I hate Elora for keeping them apart! Elora is Wendy's birth mother, but is just as cold as the woman Wendy always thought was her mother. It's such a strong contrast between the life she left behind with her brother and aunt. They would do anything for Wendy, and she loves them just as much.

My one complaint about this book was that almost every chapter ended with an unnecessary mini-cliffhanger. There was no real point to them, since they were immediately resolved in the first few lines of the following chapter. It did keep me engaged though, and I probably would have read this in one sitting if school and life didn't get in the way. I'd definitely recommend this one if you're looking for a fun paranormal read without vampires, shifters, or witches.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pinkindle Plays Catch-Up

Since my reading obsession was dormant for a few years until this past summer, I'm very behind on "what's popular" in the literary world. I've made some progress since my return, but there's still so many books I see readers/bloggers discussing that I just haven't gotten to! So I'm going to make 2012 the year where I get caught up! Maybe not entirely, since there's only so much time to read, but I want to get through as many as possible. My goal will be to finish at least 5 books I've missed out on per month, starting March 1st, for a total of 50+ books!

I want to read those fantastic series that are already over, or are ending soon. I need to get to those awesome standalones that everyone is raving about. I also want to get caught up on the series that have several books out already! I just need to get caught up, but I'll need help. That's where YOU all come in. I already have a list of some things I definitely want to get to, but I'll also need suggestions from YOU!

Having said that, here's how you can help me:
  • Tell me your favorite series that you're sad are over.
  • Suggest to me other series that have 3+ books already out.
  • List those standalones I've missed from 2011 and before.
  • Send me your favorite books Just kidding, unless you really want to. :P
  • Tell your friends so they can help me too!

Here's what I've decided to read so far...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

[Review; 18+] Giving Chase (Chase Brothers, #1) by Lauren Dane

Title: Giving Chase
Series: Chase Brothers, #1
Author: Lauren Dane
Pages: 189 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, LTD
Release Date: September 1, 2006

Some small towns grow really good looking men! This is the case with the four Chase brothers. The home grown hotties are on the wishlist of every single woman in town and Maggie Wright is no exception.

Maggie has finally had it with the men she’s been dating but a spilled plate of chili cheese fries drops Shane Chase right into her lap. The sheriff is hot stuff but was burned by a former fiancĂ©e and is quite happy to play the field.

After Shane’s skittishness sends him out the door, Maggie realizes that Kyle Chase has had his eye on her from the start. Now that Shane has messed up, Kyle has no intention of letting anything stop him from wooing her right into his bed.

Despite Maggie’s happiness and growing love with Kyle, a dark shadow threatens everything—she’s got a stalker and he’s not happy at all. In the end, Maggie will need her wits, strength and the love of her man to get her out alive.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, everything is way over the top, so much so that almost everything fell flat. The characters almost seemed like caricatures. I love a overly possessive, stalker story as much as the next person, but that plot-line was the sex.

Maggie is a sweet lady, but she's the stereotypical high school history teacher with the high necked collars, skirts to the floor, and tortoiseshell glasses. That is, until her best friend makes her over, and all of a sudden she gets the attention of the Chase brothers. Now, Maggie's character wouldn't be complete without being ridiculed by her evil mother and sister giving her an inferiority complex that she just can't shake. Both of them are beauty queens and blonde, and they look down on poor Maggie for being a nerd with red hair. Those two are so over the top with the meanness that I couldn't find them believable at all. They both say horrendous things to public! They're suppose to be Southern ladies, so I could understand some backhanded compliments, but not those flat-out insults.

Maggie herself is a bundle of contradictions, but that didn't give her depth, it just made her impossible to understand and connect with. She feels completely inferior thanks to her horrible family, and yet she's super outspoken and stands up to everyone, including her mother and sister. She's never been able to do that before, but now she all of a sudden does at every turn? She also claims to not have any sexual experience, even though she takes the lead and turns out to be a complete sex bomb! AND she's convinced she's a slut/whore/hoochie (yes, she actually says hoochie) just because she's gone on dates with two brothers, who she hadn't had sex with, and who she thinks just dated her out of pity. Yeah, I don't get it.

I was hoping for a light, sexy read, and I partially got that. There's really no action until about halfway through the book, and then it's pretty tame, standard sex. There were a few "oh, they're gonna do it now" moments sprinkled through, that always got conveniently interrupted. But it's not like the build up was so hott that I felt cheated when it didn't happen. But underneath all of my complaints, there is a very sweet love story, and it wasn't a bad way to pass the time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

[Review] Everneath (Everneath, #1) by Brodi Ashton

Title: Everneath
Series: Everneath, #1
Author: Brodi Ashton
Pages: 370 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Harper Collins / Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 24, 2012

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Everneath is an interesting mix of Greek and Egyptian mythology, paranormal, and contemporary fiction. The story follows Nikki after she has spent a century in the Everneath, but only 6 months has passed on the Surface. She's void of emotions, since she served as a life-force for an Everling during that time. However, her memories are safe, well one memory at least, which gave her the strength to make it through. Of course no one knows where Nikki has been this whole time, and they all think she went on a drug binge then checked into rehab. Nikki has 6 months to live her life before she must return to the Everneath and decide her fate: immortal life or the Tunnels.

Nikki wanted to return in order to say goodbye to her loved ones, but after receiving her punishment for "running away", there are no more mentions of her father and her interacting with him on any important level. There's only one page dedicated to her brother. I would have liked to get more of them, especially since they had recently lost their wife/mother also. It was like a double blow, but we barely get any of them and how Nikki's disappearance affected them. We do get plenty of Nikki and Jack, the boy from her memory. Jack is so sweet, kind, and patient with Nikki when she returns. He doesn't push her for information, and doesn't seem to automatically accept the rumors about her. However, she can't let herself get too close, since she knows she won't be staying.

Even though Jack seemed like the perfect guy, I found myself drawn to Cole. He's a rockstar, but not of this world, and he wants Nikki for himself. He was incredibly alluring even though I knew he was bad. There's just something about him that I couldn't get enough of. Every scene with him was chilling. In fact, the whole book has this dark tone, which I quite liked. Nikki's life isn't sunshine and rainbows; it's dreary and full of shadows.

I really enjoyed this book. It held my attention from the prologue to the very last page. It was heartbreaking, suspenseful and compelling, and I seriously cannot wait for the next book! I must say that this is not exactly a re-telling as much as it is just based around ancient myths. It uses the myths to explain the world, and not so much as a basis for the story. There are a few confusing bits, but overall I think it was very well done.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In My Mailbox [12]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

[Review] Hallowed (Unearthly, #2) by Cynthia Hand

Title: Hallowed
Series: Unearthly, #2
Author: Cynthia Hand
Pages: 403 (Hardcover)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 17, 2012

For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Unearthly left me wanting more, and only a few chapters into Hallowed I got more than I was expecting! Clara is worrying about what it means for her to have failed her purpose, and she's plagued by a new vision. Is it a new purpose? Or is it just a peek into events to come? Either way it's going to be heartbreaking! When the time came, I had such a hard time holding back tears, but I had to since I was sitting in the middle of a student lounge. It was just so sad, even though we're told exactly what's coming. Poor Clara has a lot to deal with in this book.

Aside from the tragic event mentioned above, she also has normal teen problems to deal, which I liked reading about in addition to her angelic issues. She's struggling making a decision about her future, mainly what college to attend in the fall. Thankfully, she has her best friend, Angela, to help with that. She also has to deal with the aftermath of getting caught in her boyfriend's bed at 6:30 in the morning! And prom, and homework, and dealing with a moody younger sibling. Typical teen stuff.

Her angel problems are no picnic either, but we get to learn a ton of new information about them. Clara's mom is finally breaking the silence regarding her secrets, and some of them are pretty major! Clara's whole sense of identity is being reconstructed on top of everything else she's being faced with.

This sequel does not disappoint in any way. We get answers to many of the pressing questions left over from Unearthly, plus we're bombarded with so much new information that bring up their own questions. There's also plenty of scenes with Tucker and Christian, and now I'm torn about who I think Clara should be with! Hallowed reveals new sides to both of them, and it truly made the love triangle that much more intense. We also get more of Jeffrey and now his moodiness makes so much more sense. I really do not want to wait for the next book!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Goodbye GFC; Hello Linky Followers!

As most of you may know by now, GFC is being discontinued for non-Blogger blogs. This means we'll need to find alternate ways of following our favorite blogs. Of course there's RSS and e-mail. I personally started adding everyone to my Google Reader and it works just fine. However, the amazing Parajunkee has introduced me to a new way to follow blogs: Linky Followers! All you've gotta do is sign up, add your blog to your account, and start following others!

You can find my follower gadget over to the right under my social media buttons.You can also follow me through Networked Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

[Review] Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Title: Flat-Out Love
Author: Jessica Park
Pages: 400 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Jessica Park
Release Date: April 11, 2011

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.

When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Flat-Out Love opens up with Julie heading off to college and arriving at what she thinks is her new apartment. Actually, it's a burrito restaurant; now she's broke and homeless. What a great way to begin life in a new city! Of course she gets rescued, by the super adorable Matt! He is a geek extraordinaire and I loved him! (We both have this habit of correcting everything anyone says to us and going off on irrelevant tangents to explain our reasoning.) I can't say the same for Julie at the beginning. I just didn't get her. While thinking about her friends back home, she only had negative things to say about them. She basically called them airheads and said she had to dumb herself down for them. Why would you be friends with people who you know don't "get" you and would make fun of you for being smart? And she thought her ex-boyfriend was an asshole and a homosexual, so why date him?! She also teased Matt a lot for his geeky shirts and his random knowledge, but she came across as mean most of the time. Thankfully, their banter seemed to become more playful and less antagonistic as the book moved on.

However, I had to admire her for accepting Matt's 13 year old sister, Celeste's, quirks and for trying to help her. Celeste speaks like an Drama professor, dresses like a second-grader, carries around a cardboard cut-out of their older brother, Finn, and has no friends. Julie tries taking Celeste out to places and have girlie fun with her which was really nice, but some of her approaches were a bit shallow. Her relationship with Celeste was actually the main thing I cared about in the plot. I had a feeling that there was something else off about this family. I formed my own theory, and I was way off. The twist was a shock to me.

This book is chock full of hilarious quotes, but that didn't make up for my lack of interest in the story. I could probably recite a line from this for everyday for the rest of the year, but in a few weeks I may not be able to tell you anything about the story except for Celeste and the many Facebook conversations. There was a romance, which started out quite unconventionally and I liked that, but something seemed to be missing. I suppose I just didn't connect with this book as well as others. It's by no means a bad book. It's actually very well written, smart, witty, and emotional. It just wasn't for me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [5]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It's so we can show what pre-published books we're anticipating!

So what title am I featuring this week...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesday [5]

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

In My Mailbox [11]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Friday, February 3, 2012

[Review] Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1) by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Series: Lunar Chronicles, #1
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 390 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: January 3, 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I absolutely loved that this was set in futuristic China rather than the US like so many other novels are. The author's descriptions of New Bejing are wonderful. We get plenty of little details that made it easy to imagine. There's androids, hover vehicles, littered streets, netscreens, and holographic fires. The Emperor's palace is an amazing mash-up of sleek futuristic technology and ancient Chinese design. Everything is just super imaginative, but not too out there.

The characters also had a lot more depth than the fairytale. Cinder is not only mistreated by her stepmother, but she's also looked down upon by those in society who know she is a cyborg. Cinder tries to blend in as much as possible and earns her keep as a mechanic. Her stepsister, Pearl, is cruel towards Cinder, but her younger sister, Peony isn't. Even though that strays from the original, I loved that Cinder had at least one person who cared for her. Cinder loves her little sister very much, and I felt so awful when her one ally is taken away by med-droids after contracting the plague. At that point Cinder's life as she knows it changes forever.

Cinder now has to deal with her stepmother's backlash, since she blames Cinder for her youngest daughter's illness as well as her husband's death. It's no secret that Adri is disgusted by Cinder and wants her gone. Cinder also gets sold off to become a lab rat in order to find a cure for the plague, but her test results reveal a lot of unknown things about her heritage. There's a bit of a mystery surrounding that, but it was very predictable. However, that didn't keep me from enjoying it.

In addition to the new technology and the swiftly spreading disease, Cinder also covers some of the politics of the time. The moon is now inhabited by Lunars and a peace treaty is needed between them and Earth. However, the Lunar queen, Levada, is a horrible woman! She wants what she wants, and she wants it now! She'll stop at nothing to gain power and take control of Earth, but Prince Kai does his best to not allow it. Kai has a huge burden to carry, but he still manages to be incredibly charming. Unfortunately, Cinder makes sure to keep him at a steel arm's length.

Cinder is a highly imaginative retelling of Cinderella! It keeps just enough of the original premise in tact to make it recognizable, but it also has plenty of unique features to set it apart. It's also full of characters that you'll both love and hate, and maybe love to hate! This book is full of twists and turns for our heroine, but she handles them to the best of her ability. The ending has left me wanting more! Damn that cliffhanger!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Challenge Progress: January

At the end of each month, I'll make a post showing what books I read for what challenge, along with a link to the review.

I think I did pretty well this month. I read at least one book for each challenge except for one, but there's plenty of time to catch up.

So here is my progress for January...

Waiting on Wednesday [4]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It's so we can show what pre-published books we're anticipating!

So what title am I featuring this week...