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Friday, January 23, 2015

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

All Fall Down by Ally Carter
"Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down."- summary from Amazon

Oh, I have missed Ally Carter's writing; I didn't know how much though until I started reading All Fall Down. I've read several of Carter's books, and kind of lost track of her two series and I may need to go back and read more while I wait for the second book of this new series Embassy Row.

It's everything you expect from an Ally Carter book- high stakes situations, lots of humor, and quite a few hot guys. The difference with this book though is that it's definitely darker than her previous books and deals with the main character's mental instability extremely well. Grace vacillates between being so convinced of what happened and being so doubtful of her memories, and what really happened is a huge twist, which Carter handles deftly. The reader really goes along on this roller coaster of a ride, and I really felt for Grace and what she went through.

Of course, there's also a great cast of characters, which Carter is also very good at developing. These are characters you immediately want to spend time with and get to know. The interactions just flow so well and make the novel go by way too fast. I particularly loved the main group of friends Grace makes on Embassy Row- Noah (LOVE!), Rosie, and Megan; they're all incredibly smart, funny, and all-around amazing.

Overall, a fantastic start to a new series and I am extremely eager to get my hands on Book 2. Go out and buy this book now!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
"Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy's one-liners?

If your answer to these questions is "Yes Please!" then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like "Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend," "Plain Girl Versus the Demon" and "The Robots Will Kill Us All" Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by."- summary from Amazon

Just like Tina Fey's Bossypants, I absolutely adored this book. Poehler's writing is compelling, hilarious, and honest, and gives readers a wonderful balance of memoir and inspiration/advice. It's not just about Poehler's life, though of course there is a lot about it- from growing up in Boston to living in Chicago and doing Second City to her time with Upright Citizens Brigade and SNL to her years on Parks and Recreation. But there's also life lessons told in the book, how to deal with a multitude of different issues, how to be yourself to the fullest extent, and so much more.

Poehler's writing made me feel like I was listening to a close personal friend talking about their life. There's a lot of personality and emotions in her prose, which helps to give that familiarity to the reader. One of the things I loved about this book is how much she talked about how hard it was to write this book. As an avid reader who knows many authors and as a writer myself, I know this sentiment all too well and it was nice to see a celebrity write about how hard, difficult and tough it is to write. She compares writing to "hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver." How very true.

Overall, this was a fantastic memoir and I urge everyone to go out and read it!! You will not be disappointed.

FTC: Borrowed book from local library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
"Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Now in hiding on the dark caravan—the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters' every command—she'd give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle. Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna's revolution and Nalia's sworn enemy. He promises to release Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother. There's just one catch: for Raif's unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle . . . and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him."- summary from Amazon

It's been a while since I read a book featuring a jinni so I was excited to read this story and what I've enjoyed all the genie/jinni novels I've read so far is that they're all different. Each author has a completely different take on how they write their genies/jinnis. This is the darkest of all the ones I've read and there's a lot of world-building and backstory going on with Nalia and her world of Arjinna. Demetrios takes a complete 180 and is just as good writing fantasy as she is writing contemporary; it's such an engrossing, compelling read.

Overall, a fantastic start to a new trilogy and I'm eager to see where Demetrios takes Nalia and Raif next!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
"Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.

Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed Telgemeier's previous book Drama and was excited about reading more from her. This is a companion book to her debut Smile, though you don't need to have read that to read and understand this. It's such a quick, fun read that really shows the dynamics of family and sibling relationships extremely well. There's some great humor and poignancy in this graphic novel and it's really easy to relate to Raina and Amara as they deal with each other, their new baby brother and parental issues.

Overall, another fantastic book from Telgemeier. I plan on going back and reading Smile, and continuing to keep an eye out for future books from her.

FTC: Borrowed book from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 Goals

I've done some goal lists before and usually they've not worked out, but I am doing one again this year and I am going to be doing my best to keep up with it. I'll be doing monthly updates around the beginning of each month to keep you all posted.

1) I would like to read at least 100 books by the end of the year. I only read 74 books this past year because it's just been taking me longer and longer to read books, which leads into my next goal.

2) I need to read and write at least 2 hours every day. I usually read at least 2 books at a time- one physical and one e-galley. So my plan is to read at least half an hour of each book, a half hour of writing, and then perhaps an extra half-hour of any of those (physical book, e-galley, or writing) each day. I published a short story "Falling" last year in the Best Gay Romance 2014 anthology, which was fantastic, and I'm definitely looking to publish more stories and novels. I think this will definitely help as I need some structure in my reading, writing and blogging life.

3) I came across this TBR Challenge on Twitter the other night and thought it was great. I had been thinking of doing something like this at some point so this is a good motivator. I went around my room and selected a few books.

The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman- I won this book in a Scholastic giveaway way back a couple months before the publishing date of March 2008. It's signed by Aimee and I was so excited to get it and then never read it. This happens WAY too often with a lot of my books.

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith- I received an ARC of this because I had loved Smith's debut and wanted to read her second book. Obviously, because it's on this list, that never happened. I read her third book (Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight) and loved it and have been wanting to read her more recent books too. She's a wonderful writer- I just need to make the time to actually fit her books in.

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate- I had completely forgotten that Fallen was not Lauren Kate's debut but in fact, this book was. It came out one month before Fallen and I remembered being like "WOAH. How cool!" But perhaps with a runaway success like Fallen, the other book then gets left behind. This was also back when Penguin actually sent me ARCs. So I'm excited to read this book because it sounds so interesting and different from the Fallen and Teardrop series. I've also never read any other Lauren Kate book.

Crowned by Julie Linker- I've had this book a while, which I can't remember how I got. I do however have it signed by Julie, who I really need to get back in touch with because I love her so much. I really enjoyed her debut and was excited to read her followup but it just never happened.

Is He or Isn't He by John Hall- I bought this book randomly several years ago because I really liked the concept and then I never read it, lol. This happens a lot with books I buy since I started blogging. I just have so many review books that it's hard for me to fit in library and bought books.

Candy Everybody Wants by Josh Kilmer-Purcell- I actually requested this book shortly after it was released and then never read it, which I feel terrible about. I've noticed this happens with quite a few books, which is why I've curbed my requesting over the past year or so. And so I make more of an effort to really read the books that I specifically request. This is an adult fiction book.

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay- I actually had a different book here, but earlier this week, there was a kerfuffle about Stacey Jay and the Kickstarter she started, and so I wanted to include one of her books here to help support her. Stacey is one of those authors that I've been on and off in touch with since her debut yet I've only actually read one of her books (The Locket) and she's just somebody I support as she's a sweetie. So I'll be reading this and hopefully also her newest Princess of Thorns (though that won't count for this challenge as it just came out last month).

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin- I got an ARC of this the year it came out at BEA from my wonderful friend Emily because she had an extra copy somehow (and signed even!), which was very sweet of her. And then I never read it. But I have heard such amazing things about the trilogy and it's the perfect time to read it now as all three books are finally out.

Drama Queers by Frank Anthony Polito- I loved Polito's debut and was lucky enough to get an ARC of his second book from Kensington Publishing. But I just never got around to reading it, so I'm excited to fit this into my reading schedule.

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink- Michelle Zink is another one of those authors that I'm supportive of and am in touch with yet have only read one of her books (A Temptation of Angels). I do also plan on reading her upcoming book Lies I Told, which I received an ARC of from HarperTeen last month. Excited to finally start this trilogy.

Hottie by Jonathon Bernstein- This is a bit of a random title as I just came across it while looking through various book drawers. I do remember being excited about this book, so I'm including it (and I also have the sequel too).

Home to Woefield by Susan Juby- I won this from a Goodreads contest because I love Susan's books but I never actually read it, lol. And she has a new YA book coming out this year too from Penguin, as well as a sequel to this book from Harper!

Alternates (of which I have 2, if I decide to not finish 2 of these books) will be decided on a later date. I'll keep you all posted through monthly updates.

So those are my goals. What is everyone else doing? And if you're doing this TBR challenge too, link your list in the comments below!