Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Winner: $40 CSN Gift Certificate!

Factoids: 30 entries, 10 entrants.
The winner of the certificate is:


Your email address will be sent to CSN for your certificate. Thank you to all the participants!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Published: July 13th 2010 by Egmont USA
Hardcover, 400 pages
ISBN: 1606840835
ISBN13: 9781606840832

His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.


Persephone (Phe) Archer lost her sister when she fell overboard trying to sneak into a yacht party over a year ago. When she finds her sister's journal detailing the recent dreams she had leading up to her death, Phe knows that she must finish what her sister started. At first, Athena's death doesn't seem real to Phe, but when a package for Athena from Devenish Prep comes six months too late, reality starts to sink in. Now Phe has enrolled to a new boarding, with the mindset of finding out what Shadow Hills' secrets are.

With the premise of a captivating read, Shadow Hills was held up by high expectations. The potential this tale of a deadly relationship with secrets being on both ends was great. As the Shadow Hills began, I lapped up all the juicy details of the meeting between the two love birds. The friends that Phe encountered at her new school were supportive and had their one tales to tell. The characters that consisted of Zach's--the hunky, pale blue, gray and green eyed hunk's--family were believable when pertaining to their very own agendas. The townies abnormalities were something that seemed engaging and mysterious, something that will keep readers entertained. However, as Hopcus tried to develop the plot as the mystery and secrets Phe was trying frustratingly to uncover, there were times when, not only the scenes but the dialogue fell flat. The development of Zach and Phe's relationship was built out of thin air; you could see the physical attractions that drew the two characters towards each other, but there was no fundamental reason, it seemed, that this couple fell in love so quickly. Closer to the mystery's end, it seemed as if the plot was struggling to not be too predictable in it's ending. I was quite relieved when I was at the last few chapters to find out what conclusion the story would tell. While I found the background on the history of Shadow Hills' townies and Phe's connection to Heckate a bit sketchy, the ongoing suspension really kept me intrigued throughout the whole novel.
Hopcus has the potential to make a great author, and to turn Shadow Hills into a growing series, but her debut seemed more like a prequel supporting Phe's upcoming adventures in Devenish Prep.

Cover Note: I don't really think that this current cover really supports any part of the novel it encases. While it most likely will capture some readers attention, it won't be a basis as to anything that goes on in the actual book.

Grade: B

This ARC was sent by the publishers at Egmont USA for my uninfluenced review.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kiss It by Erin Downing

Published: June 15th 2010 by Simon Pulse
Paperback, 256 pages
ISBN: 1416997008
ISBN13: 9781416997009

Chastity Bryan has never been shy about going after what she wants. And when sexy, mysterious, so-not-from-this-town Sebastian walks into Chaz’s life, she knows in an instant that what she wants next is him. Chaz has no intention of playing for keeps—but she most definitely has intentions. Who needs true love when you’ve got true lust?
Sebastian has no idea what he’s in for—but maybe neither does Chaz...


With the ironic name of Chastity, this main character like no other gets her rocks off by big-mouth talk about her "experience" even though she is eighty percent pure. Chaz likes to say things straight-forward and gives off this attitude of "If you want it, beg." that I admired in a character. She tries to act tough with her "don't mess with me" but once faced the values and norms of reality, can be sympathetic. Living in a small Minnesota town, where her graduating class promptly consists of thirty-four, Chastity feels the desperate need to escape her home and get far, far away. Without a real goal towards her future, Sebastian seems like an easy enough escape from her small town for a while. He may be just passing through, but maybe that's exactly what Chaz needs right now. Some escape from her religious mother and release from dramatic issues happening all around her twenty-four seven. Teen pregnancy, cancer, self-analysis. So many things happening around Chaz that she needs some form of distraction. What better than from a mystery guy who's only staying for winter break? Will she get what she wants, or will she find that there's more to the guy with the "puffy black Patagonia jacket" than she suspected?

I have to say that Kiss It is one of the most daring novels in the YA genre I have read yet. This close-to-vulgarity novel was a delight to read and a damn good sexual refreshment to YA novels everywhere. The blunt murmurings of sex in the beginning of the novel wore a shock to my senses and couldn't keep myself from flipping those pages. Downing took a great risk with this one--a novel I'd compare easily to Judy Blume's Forever...--and it payed off in sparks. Kiss It is no ordinary contemporary read, it deals with real life issues and wasn't afraid to tackle them. Downing expertly intermingles the equality of sex and love in a blooming relationship; describing different aspects toward previous mistakes. 
Though, this book is not without it's faults too. I had a hard time relating with most of the characters, mostly because they seemed to be peckish-ly annoying. I believe the author might have made that intentional, but I would have liked to know more about the characters' past before I start judging them. There also rarely seemed to be any facial/body descriptions, that left the book a little bare and up to the readers imagination.

In the end, I believe that the book's favorable qualities more than leveled Kiss It's faults. That is why I recommend Kiss It as an enjoyable read that will stimulate you with its detailed lust-scenes.

Grade: B-

More about author Erin Downing:

This Advanced Reviewer Copy was sent to me by the publishers at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: The Chicken House; (May 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0545170931
ISBN-13: 978-0545170932

Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty--rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar--pays for Gemma's drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. STOLEN is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare--or die trying to fight it.


In the voice of a London-local named Gemma, Stolen is a letter that she writes directly addressing her kidnapper. She never expected that her vacation trip to Vietnam with her parents would take a detour to Aussie. Unknown territory. When she wakes up, she doesn't know where she is, what he's done to her, or how in the world could he have stolen her away at an airport. All of these questions she asks herself, he--name apparently Ty--knows the answers too. Only when they get to their destination does she realize that he is no ordinary kidnapper. You know the question all victims of kidnappers want to ask when their in the kidnappers presence, and even if they don't, you know they're thinking it at least: Why? Well, Ty's reason is tied to his back-story and most surprisingly, to hers as well.

Stolen was unbelievably different from what you'd ever expect it to be, that which makes this "victims" story compelling and addictive to know. Even the most dull of parts adds to the moments that Gemma's experiencing being in her captor's "desert." Christopher radiated something quite imaginary when she wrote in detail this "letter" from Gemma to her captor. Always referring to him as "You" throughout the entirety of this letter. It had me on edge constantly to the point where in the crucial final moments of the ending, I really didn't think I'd be able to read it. Some many emotions this book induced, I felt like a blubbering baby, and inevitably found myself liking the kidnapper more and more. Stolen opened my eyes to the meaning of becoming something when your not in your usual surroundings, and analyzing what you were when you had safety.

Recommended on so many levels of reading one person's seeming hopelessness turn into something far more complicated and unpredictable.

Grade: A


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Giveaway: $40 CSN Gift Certificate!

So, naturally when I read my books I need some form of lighting, right? When I stumbled upon these wall sconces I had to check them out! Basically I have grown to despise overhead lighting; you can't tilt it the way you want, it's too bright/dim....The reasons to me are endless. Wall sconces are not only fashionable, but you can choose which precise one radiates the type of light you want/need when you want to read. There's a bunch of different types to choose from, go take your pick!
CSN has provided me with the opportunity of hosting on my blog a giveaway for a $40 Gift Certificate that can be used in any of their 200+ websites. They have just about everything you'd need for your home, your pets, school, kids, fitness, etc. They even have bookshelves people, I mean, c'mon! This was my favorite: South Shore Gascony Bookcase in Ebony

To enter, all you have to do is fill out the form below. This giveaway is only open to US or Canadian residents only and will end on June 28th!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Penitence by Jennifer Laurens (ATWT)

Paperback: 322 pages
Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing (April 29, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1933963832
ISBN-13: 978-1933963839

Seeing good and evil spirits is a gift Zoe guards with her life. Despite her guardian angel's disappearance, Zoe forces herself to accept that she still has a purpose-but how does she carry the weight of her brother's drug abuse, the hardship of living with an autistic sister, and a best friend who's obsessed with a guy who only wants Zoe? She's never felt more alone. When a mysterious spirit appears, Zoe thinks she has a new guardian angel. Instead, her brother's addiction worsens, her parents are on the brink of separation, and her best friend tries to kill her. The spirit she thinks is her new guardian isn't there to protect her: he's out to destroy her family and seize Zoe's soul. . . for Hell. Will Matthias' return mean that he is Zoe's guardian angel again? Or is their love the reason the jaws of Hell now gape open?


After spending about two weeks recovering in the hospital after a terrible accident, Zoe Dodd decides to start life with a different approach. When her previous guardian angel disappears, she's left more confused than ever. The act of keeping up with the surroundings happening in her current life take a back seat to the thoughts and sights that Zoe now experiences with a new view. Getting a new guardian angel is the last thing she expects, and when she knows who and what he really is she's gets more questions than answers. As she contemplates what this new "angel" might bring upon her world, she slowly sees signs of her life becoming more dangerous by the minute.
In this sequel of Zoe's life touched by the spiritual, Penitence brings more background on it's cast of characters, and adds a new one that's yet to be dealt with. More somber than Heavenly, Penitence digs deeper into Matthias' past, and progresses in Zoe's friendships and blossoming relationships.

Having tasted an entrancing debut with Heavenly, Penitence was just made to add to the growing suspense of future actions in Zoe's life. Dealing with her family and friends intermingles with her daily dose of dealing with the spiritual. I loved the way Laurens really developed the cast of characters in this book. She was able to explain through voices and actions the reasons for some past occurrences and build up to the present challenging events. What was deeply unexpected was Zoe's internal chaos of sensations that was the result when she slowly realized there's more to the people around her than she originally thought. It was a refreshing wave of something new in an already deeply touching tale. Leaving off on a cliffhanger just added to the thrill of waiting for the third installment in the Heavenly series, Absolution.

Grade: A

"You're the first girl who's had the guts to touch my controls." --pg. 234

Other books in the series I reviewed:
Heavenly (Book 1)