Sunday, July 31, 2011

In My Mailbox - July 31st

In My Mailbox was created by The Story Siren. I keep seeing these posts on blogs I frequent so I decided to join in on the fun. I'll be posting these on Sundays and maybe will even vlog every now and then. Craziness!

Anyways, it was a quiet week, mailbox wise, but I still had a few wonderful books come home with me from hitting local bookstores.

Purchased online:
- The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards (UK edition, not out in the states yet)
- Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
- A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Purchased locally:
- Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (not pictured, but this copy is SIGNED. I'm saving it to giveaway in Dec for my blogiversary.)
- Baby Animals (iKids)
- In The Garden (iKids)
- Press Here by Herve Tullet
- Peter Rabbit Sleepy Time by Beatrix Potter
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Yes, E is a very happy camper! I just love buying him books and seeing his face light up. What can I say? He's book crazy like his parents. I'm so grateful for that.

Well that's it for this week's "In My Mailbox". Stay tuned for my giveaway post! It will hit the blog tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

Gosh, I love a good historical romance. I have a confession to make... Ok, here goes. I used to be a historical romance novel junkie. It was a phase I went through in high school and well into a college. At the time, I felt like I was too grown up to read YA (silly me!) and I wanted something light and lovey-dovey. It’s still something I enjoy every now and then, but as you all know, I am happy now to admit that I will never grow up (points to her URL) and will forever love young adult fiction.

Anyways, back on topic. Pure historical romance is hard to find in the young adult genre, so when my Authors are ROCKSTARS! co-host, Allison, chose this book as her pick of the month for our July podcast. I *knew* it was something I had to read right away. I’ve been craving some juicy, mushy-gushiness and “The Other Countess” was just what the doctor ordered.

“The Other Countess” takes place during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. At the start of the book, William Lacey, Earl of Dorset, has just become earl after the death of his father. His father left his family in dire circumstances after wasting their fortune working with an alchemist trying to change common elements to gold. William sends the alchemist and his young daughter out on their bottoms in a rage, hoping to never see them again. The book then advances a few years to William attending court for the first time, hoping to obtain the favor of the Queen or a rich wife to save his family from poverty. It is at court that he meets Lady Eleanor and is instantly smitten with the sassy and educated young woman (a rarity for the time period). When he finds out that Lady Eleanor is actually the daughter of the alchemist who ruined his family in his quest for gold, he shuns her and turns back to his quest for a rich wife. Unfortunately for his family’s fortunes, Eleanor has touched his soul and when their paths cross once more, he finds he may not be able to ever let her go again.

“The Other Countess” is what it is. It’s not full of epic adventure, action, or saving the world like other historical/paranormal romances of late. It’s a classic historical romance, set in the Tudor time period. It’s full of lush descriptions though of lovely countryside, the court of Elizabeth, lavish dinners, parties, gowns, you name it. The romance moves quickly (after all, women & men didn’t exactly have the time we have nowadays for courtship, especially when in secret), but it’s sweet and deliciously satisfying. I loved it so much that I will definitely be re-reading it again soon. It made me feel all warm and gooey, the perfect pick-me-up book. Once you start, you won’t want to put it down.

“The Other Countess” is published in the USA by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House) and was released last week (July 12, 2011). The second book in the series, “The Queen’s Lady” will be released in the US in April 2012. Allison at Reading Everywhere shared her ARC with me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To be personal or not to be personal? That is my question!

I posed this question on Twitter, but I'd love to get a discussion going on here. How personal is TOO personal in a blog for book reviews? I tend to gravitate towards reviews that provide personal context for the blogger's opinions. If it is just regurgitation of the plot summary and an "OMG so good", it isn't as valuable to me as a reader. I want to know WHY. I want to relate to the blogger to figure out if we would like the same sort of books.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them. Please leave a comment here or send me a message on Twitter.

I leave you with a silly personal photo. It's my handsome husband and me, being a weirdo. :)

Pirate Potty by Samantha Berger, Illustrated by Amy Cartwright

E received "Pirate Potty" as a gift for his birthday. (side note: OMG, he is 2, folks. Where does the time go!?) We recently started potty training and have been having one heck of a time. The kid won't sit still! Well, "Pirate Potty" does the trick. As long as you read it in a silly pirate voice and sing the silly pirate songs, he'll sit still. It's a fun read for both kids and parents. It's also a decent length so even if he gets antsy when it is over, it kept him sitting for awhile. Ahh.. the joys of motherhood, am I right?

"Pirate Potty" is written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Amy Cartwright. It is published by Scholastic and is available as a paperback. It even comes with stickers and a pirate hat! How cool is that? If you have a girl or just do not like to support seafaring criminals, they also have a book titled "Princess Potty". I don't know about a Princess Potty though. Princesses can be real stinkers. Wah wah wah.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Paranormalcy and Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Normal isn’t something in the cards for Evie. When you can see under the glamours of all sorts of icky creatures, life isn’t ever going to be normal. For example, sexy vampires actually look like rotting corpses (sorry Twilight fans!). Yeah, gross. Evie works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, helping them gather and control paranormals that are dangerous to themselves and the human race. Her day-to-day life has been as ordinary as it could be under the circumstances - home school, hang out with her mermaid best friend, bag & tag a paranormal, and then back to some Easton Heights, her favorite teen TV drama. That is until a paranormal boy, unlike anything she has ever seen before, shows up at IPCA. Shortly after, paranormals start dropping dead for no reason in massive numbers, her dreams are being filled with creepy poems, and her faerie ex-boyfriend has gone from stubborn to crazed stalker. Something weird is definitely going on and it looks like Evie might just be at the center of it all.

I loved this book. Ms. White’s voice is incredibly refreshing. It’s sassy, but without crossing over into Juno-esque (aka trying too hard) sassyland. Her characters are all very real. I absolutely love that while Evie describes herself as cute, she’s not the “OMG most gorgeous thing ever”. Same goes with Lend, the mysterious shape shifter. She finds him attractive because of who he is, not the face he wears. So many teen books nowadays have character descriptors such as “perfect teeth” (can't stand teeth descriptors - totally not necessary. Maybe I'm just jealous!) or they meet a guy and instantly it’s “omg he is like the hottest guy on the planet”. It bugs me. Sure, I thought my husband was a hottie when I met him in high school, but I wasn’t like “OMG HOTTEST GUY EVER!! MUST HAVE!!”. It was more of a “Wow, that guy sure is a cutie. I should try to get to know him better. Yum!” Of course, now that I’ve been in love with him for years, I think he’s the hottest thing on two legs, but that’s because I know him and love him for who he is.

Anyways, I’m totally off topic here. Let’s get back to the amazing Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series. This is a fun series for anyone who wants something a little different from the usual paranormal fiction fare. It’s silly and cute, while still having the elements of a good paranormal story (action & romance). Plus you get a whole boatload of fun creatures in this one - vampires, faeries, werewolves, shape shifters, you name it! There is something here for everyone. I won’t go and spoil the second book for you (which comes out tomorrow, BTW), but it continues on and is just as awesome. I know I am desperately awaiting book 3 and I’m sure you will be too!

Paranormalcy” and “Supernaturally” are published by HarperTeen. You can get the first book in paperback or hardcover. “Supernaturally” is out in hardcover TOMORROW! Go go go and get your copy. Move it people! Also, be sure to listen to the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast with Kiersten later this week.

Authors are ROCKSTARS! Special Edition Podcast

Hi folks! So excited to let you know that Allison and I are doing a special edition podcast with Kiersten White, Andrea Cremer and Stephanie Perkins tomorrow. To make the event extra special, we're taking questions from our listeners. If you have a question that you'd like to ask these lovely ladies, head on over to and post a comment. Questions need to be submitted by 10pm Pacific tonight. We may also be giving away autographed copies of their books on the show later this month, so be sure to follow us so you're in the know!

Unfamiliar with these lovely ladies? Gasp! That is just unacceptable. :) Check out my reviews and go get a copy of their books today.
Be sure to also sign up to win a copy of "Wildefire" by Karsten Knight (review). We'll be choosing a winner for that tomorrow.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Warning: Very minor spoiler

“Sweet Venom” is the story of three young women who find out they are the descendants of Medusa. They’re charged with protecting the world from mythological monsters who like to sneak out from their cage and wreak havoc on the world. The three girls have very different upbringings, but after Grace, the sweetest of the three, moves to San Francisco, their lives will come together and never be the same again. They must put their differences aside if they are going to save themselves and the world from ruin.

Well, I miss my bullet points, so today I’m kickin’ it old school and going to bullet point this baby. Here goes.

Three gorgons and a bag of chips (aka I’m being silly so I can’t just say “the good”):
  • I really like the idea of this book. As those of you who read my blog regularly know, I’ve been digging this whole Greek vibe that’s been out there lately. Medusa is mega cool and I love seeing myths creatively reworked.
  • I like Grace and her family. She’s so sweet, but under that marshmallowy exterior is one kick-butt young woman. I am really looking forward to seeing more of that side of her in the next book. I also liked the relationship she had with her brother Thane. I hope we get to find out more behind his mysterious behavior next time.
  • I like rotating between the girls’ different perspectives. Sure, it was confusing at times (I get the name alliteration, but it does make it confusing for the readers), but it was fun.

Things that turned my heart to stone:
  • The plot feels shortchanged. I know I’m not a writer and that it is an art form, but I really don’t enjoy books that are just priming readers to buy into a whole series. I enjoy having a beginning, middle and end. We spent so much time getting to know two of the three girls, meet the third, and then quite literally BOOM, that’s it! All I got was a bunch of a lose ends and no real climax.
  • Action, what action? Romance, what romance? Sure there are a few monster fights and cute boys, but they didn’t get a lot of page time. This relates to point number one... due to this being mostly backstory and character development, we miss out on potential action. I’m sure we’ll get to see more romance & action in the next book, but you’re just going to have to wait, readers.
Overall, I’m feeling pretty “meh”. It read more like a contemporary about three very different girls than the Greek based monster fighting girl power I was hoping it would be. I will probably read book two, but if it is more of the same, I’ll be done with this series. I want to know what happens to the girls now that they’ve come together and find out some more information about the mysteries surrounding them. Ms. Childs did a great job at creating three very distinctly teenage heroines and I think it’ll be interesting to see how their personalities mesh over time. I have a feeling that Ms. Childs is going to kick it up a notch in book two and I’m looking forward to it.

I received an ARC from the publisher to review. "Sweet Venom" is scheduled to be released on September 6th. It is published by Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Torrent by Lisa T. Bergen

Let’s face it. I want to travel in time (preferably with the Doctor, but will take hand prints in an Etruscan tomb a la this series if needed). I have always imagined what it would be like to live in another time period, wear pretty (albeit hot and uncomfortable) dresses, meet a dashing nobleman, etc. So it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed Lisa T. Bergen’s River in Time series.

In case you missed my reviews of the first two installments (Waterfall and Cascade), the story follows Gabriella (Gabi for short) and her sister Evangelia (or Lia). They were poking around an archaeological site with their mother one day and found hand prints on the wall that looked oddly familiar. They put their hands on them and WHOOSH - they were back in medieval Italy and caught in the middle of a battle. As to not spoil the plot, let me just say that epic adventure ensues.

“Torrent” is a lovely finale to this series. Ms. Bergen sure knows how to write some awesome battle scenes. I couldn’t wait to get to the next one! The only things I didn’t care for was that the teen slang seemed a bit forced at times as did the religious aspect. I mean, I get that Gabi is confused and starting to feel connected to the big guy, but how many different ways can she question her beliefs? I’m grateful though that the religious aspect never got overwhelming. It’s another thing I think Ms. Bergen did really well. It’s relevant to the plot and time period. She reined it in once it started to get a little too strong. To be honest with you, I’m not a very religious person and I didn’t mind it at all. It never got to the point where it overpowered the plot.

I have mentioned this in previous reviews, but even if Christian fiction isn’t your thing, if you like books where people travel back in time, check these books out. This series is full of fun medieval adventure and shouldn’t be missed. Now, I’m off to eat an Italian cookie. Ciao!

The River of Time series is published by David. C Cook. "Torrent" is scheduled to be released on September 1st of this year. I was provided with a digital ARC by the author for honest review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Random Swag Giveaway

I have a LOT of swag.. from lip balm to temporary tattoos to bookmarks. I want to share it with you, my readers. I know I know. I had said I was going to save it all for my end of the year blow out, but I just can't wait. I love to mail presents. :)

All you have to do is fill out the form. If you haven't left a comment on one of my reviews yet, then please do & you'll be eligible. This contest IS open internationally so have at thee my non-US residing friends.

The contest will end on Friday, July 22nd at 11am Pacific. Spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, whatever. I'll be choosing a handful of winners. :)

The winners are...
  • Ashlynn Rae
  • Renu
  • Haley Keller
I'll email you shortly to get your addresses. :) Thanks for entering everyone!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Drowsy Dragon by Ethan Long

This book is too adorable! It's the story of, you guessed it, one drowsy dragon who wants to sleep. Unfortunately, his rambunctious family has other ideas. It's a great book to work on counting and calming enough to be added to a night time reading routine. The illustrations are adorable and it is fun for parents to read. E loves it and I know your little one will too.

"One Drowsy Dragon" by Ethan Long is published by Orchard Books and is available in hardcover. Go get a copy at your local bookstore today.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Possess by Gretchen McNeil

If you like books about demons and ghosts, then look no further. Gretchen McNeil’s debut novel “Possess” has all that and more - a sassy heroine, sweet love interest, and creepy bad guys. It isn’t nightmare inducing, but it’s definitely a thrilling ride.

Bridget is a 15 year old girl who just wants to be left alone after her father’s mysterious murder. Unfortunately, that just isn’t in the cards for Bridget Liu. She found out after her father’s death that she can hear the voices of demons and banish them! This makes her a hot commodity to a local priest who trains her to be an exorcist in her free time. On top of this new “career”, she’s dealing with her grieving family, her crazy friends (including her friend Peter who is obsessed with her), and the police sergeant’s son who just won’t take a hint. Her life may not be normal, but it gets even weirder after she receives a message from a bizarre demon warning her that not all is what it appears. Now she’s not sure who she can trust and if her father’s murderer is actually the guy they have locked up in a mental institution. He may be on the loose and Bridget may be his next target.

“Possess” was a QUICK read for me. It was just too exciting to put down! Ms. McNeil did a fabulous job at gradually increasing the pacing to the point where you just can’t stop even if you are tired and you have to be up in 3 hours. (True story!) I had to find out what happened to Bridget! I’m not usually a fan of ghost stories (I scare easily), but this was fabulous. I love Bridget. She’s the right amount of sassy/kick-butt without being a stereotype. She’s vulnerable and afraid to put her heart out there. Matt, the police sergeant’s son, is absolutely adorable and I loved their interactions. So fun! I really became attached to these characters which made the plot even more exhilarating. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys a good story about becoming comfortable with who you are and finding your inner strength. Bridget has a lot on her plate in “Possess” and she sorts through it all in order to protect the people she loves.

Gretchen McNeil’s debut novel “Possess” is the perfect summer read. It’s fun and exciting. It’s not overly gory/frightening, but will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what happens next. Gretchen McNeil is a writer to watch, folks. I know I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

"Possess" by Gretchen McNeil is published by Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) and will be released on August 23rd. I received an ARC from the publisher for honest review. Gretchen will actually be our featured guest next month on the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast so be sure to head on over and follow so you don't miss it!

Note: Sorry for the delay in reviews, guys! I’ve been in “post visiting family” recovery mode!

Friday, July 15, 2011

July Giveaway Winner

I said it over on Twitter, but I'll announce it here too. Congratulations to Brianna (@dark_romance22), the winner of the July giveaway! I've sent you an email with information about how to get your prize book. So excited! I love buying books.

Be sure to keep an eye on the blog for next month's giveaway! It'll go up on August 1st. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spot says Goodnight by Eric Hill

We’re back from vacation so there is a Pick of the Week for you today. (This is where you rejoice.) Today’s Pick is from the Spot's “Spot says Goodnight”. We just picked this book up in a small town in Northern Wisconsin while on vacation. E fell in love with the adorable puppy Spot on this vacation! We ended up reading this book to him 4x each night we were there and while on the plane. Unfortunately, we left it on the plane so I need to hit the local bookstore and get a copy!

This board book is fun for any infant or toddler. It has flaps which always are a big hit with E. It’s quick, simple to understand, and a great addition to the night time routine.

"Spot says Goodnight" is published by Putnam Juvenile and is available in hardcover and board book form.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Disclaimer: I’m going to try and keep this review short & sweet to avoid spoilers. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, here is the general gist of the first book “Shiver”. Grace was attacked by wolves when she was nine years old, but one of the wolves, the one with the yellow eyes, saved her. Every winter brings the return of her wolf and she relishes in the tranquility of the season and the connection they share. When a teen is found killed by the wolves, the town retaliates and Grace finds an injured, shivering young man on her porch. One look into his yellow eyes and she knows it’s her wolf, in human form. Dun dun dun...

I loved “Shiver”. It was gorgeous, elegant, and otherworldly. The prose was musical and while the plot wasn’t anything to write home about, Ms. Stiefvater’s writing drew me in and kept me there until I finally looked up and realized that I had read the entire book in one sitting. The romance between Sam and Grace was tender, yet intense. Then came the second book, “Linger”, and while I liked it, my love was waning. As the plot moved on from the romance to multiple conflicts, the magic seemed to fade away. Unfortunately, in “Forever”, the magic (for me) was completely gone.

I wanted to love this book. Normally, I devour whatever I’m reading, especially when it is a conclusion to a series I’ve been anxious to read. I love Ms. Stiefvater’s writing, but “Forever” felt like the title. It took me forever to read. There were some really great moments and I loved the additional character perspectives. In fact, I really feel like Isabel and Cole were the standouts this time around. I loved reading their stories and would have loved to have had more happen there. Sam and Grace just seemed so one note. Gah, I hate writing negative reviews, but I’ve stewed over this and it is what it is. I didn’t like “Forever”. I felt like the pacing was slow up until the ending and then it was completely rushed. Plot lines were left open in awkward ways and the plot line I really wanted to see tied up wasn’t at all. I think one of the major downfalls though is that between “Linger” and “Forever”, most of the characters have lost their likability. Sam and Grace became boring and a lot of the other characters did pretty iffy things. It makes it hard to read when the characters are one-note and unlikeable. I think I’ll just pretend this book didn’t happen and pretend “Shiver” is a stand alone.

I hope it’s just me and that you’ll enjoy “Forever” when it hits the shelves in July. Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to discuss this book.

Thanks to Scholastic for sending me an ARC for review. “Forever” is scheduled to be published on July 12th.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Audiobook Review - The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, Narrated by Jenna Lamia

Breathtaking. That’s the one word I keep using to describe this audiobook. It literally stole my breath while listening... from shock, from anger. I just couldn’t help but vocally react to what was happening to Kyra as I listened. This book is powerful and then when you combine it with Jenna Lamia’s amazing narration, beware. It will blow you away.

“The Chosen One” is the story of Kyra, who is a thirteen year old girl living in a religious polygamous colony. She doesn’t really know any other life since the leaders of her religion have isolated the colony from the outside world. She’s beginning to learn that something isn’t right when starts reading books from the county mobile library and also falls in love with a local boy. Then the Prophet, their leader, decrees that she is to become the seventh wife of her biological uncle who is sixty years old. Kyra faces the decision that will forever changer who she is - become the wife of a violent and domineering man and lose her identity or find some way to leave the colony. But can she leave her family behind. Will she be able to escape with her life?

I honestly am having a hard time putting into words how I feel after listening to this audiobook. The story is powerful and horrifying. I found myself yelling out loud for Kyra to leave and wanting to punch her uncle for being such a horrible human being. It really evoked an emotional response and I think anyone can connect to Kyra. She’s a very relatable teenage girl, despite her extraordinary circumstances. Ms. Lamia’s narration is so intense. She does a great job making distinct transitions between the large cast of Kyra’s family and really personalizes Kyra’s grief. The combination of the author’s words and Ms. Lamia’s narration was incredibly moving. You may want to avoid listening in the car. I was in tears quite a few times.

This audiobook runs 5 hours and 33 minutes. It’s no surprise that this one the Audie Award for “Solo Narration - Female” this year from the Audio Publishers Association. Congratulations to both Ms. Lamia and Ms. Williams. Audiobook fans, check this one out today.

I purchased this audiobook through “The Chosen One” is written by Carol Lynch Williams and published by St. Martin’s Griffin. The audiobook is narrated by Jenna Lamia and produced by Macmillan Audio.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer’s Crossing by Julie Kagawa (A novella between books 3 and 4 of the Iron Fey series)

This book is awesome for those of us who are Team Puck. What can I say? I love Ash, but hilarious and adorable best friend type? YES PLEASE! This little novella is a quick read and a lot of fun. Puck is just the best. He’s so charming and silly, but still has depth. His feelings for Meghan are so sweet. Why can’t she just end up with both of them? Or wait.. maybe I can just keep Puck and she can have Ash. I am likin’ this idea. Oh yes.

Summer’s Crossing is a fun little adventure that Puck and Ash have to go on before they can head off for their main task, which is to reunite with their beloved Meghan. Honestly, that’s all I’m going to say because I reallyreally don’t want to spoil the other books for you if you haven’t read them yet. If you haven’t read them yet, GO DO SO. NOW.

The Iron Fey series (“The Iron King”, “The Iron Daughter”, “The Iron Queen” and “The Iron Knight” as well as the novellas “Winter’s Crossing” and “Summer’s Crossing”) are published by Harlequin. I purchased “Summer’s Crossing” because I couldn’t wait for more Puck and Ash. It is available in digital format at online retailers. The last book in the series (“The Iron Knight”) is scheduled to be released in October of this year. Read my review of The Iron Queen (book 3).

Friday, July 1, 2011

July Giveaway

It's that time of the month again... GIVEAWAY TIME. I have to admit, this is my favorite thing to post. I just love buying people books. Here's the low down for those of you who are new to Never Gonna Grow Up! Reviews.
  • At the start of each month, I'll put up a Google entry form for you to fill out. You can earn 4 entry points - 1 for just signing up, 1 for tweeting or putting it up on Facebook and 2 points for being a follower of my blog. It's that easy!
  • For tweeting, the phrase to tweet is "I'm tweeting to win a book of my choice over at! I hope I win ___" and put whatever book you'd like to win. :)
  • The winner gets to choose what book they'd like me to send! The only restriction is that it has to have been released the previous month. Soo.. for this month, you can choose any of the books I reviewed that were released in June. Here's the list!
    EDIT: This contest is closed.
    Deadline to enter is July 14th. I'll announce the winner on the 15th! :)
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