Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I've been blogging for ONE YEAR!

Today is my ONE YEAR Blogoversary!


One year ago today, I wrote my very first blog post. Then I secretly released it to the world.
I can't believe all of the friends I've made, events I've attended, posts I've written and books I've read since then. 

I NEVER expected blogging to be as AMAZING as it is. 

I still can't believe I found a community of people who love books as much as I do.

Who read more than I do! 

Who are willing to analyze books with me over endless emails and at all hours of the day and night. 

Who have welcomed me with open arms.

I have YOU all to thank for that.

 Thank you

To anyone who has ever read, or heard of my blog. 

For your comments, discussions, tweets and encouragement.

For talking me off the ledge when a book I'm reading causes emotional turmoil.

And overall for understanding me like no other. 

A few of the people out there who have made my year spectacular: 
Asheley, Heather, Jen, Heidi, Carrie, Keertana, Jess, Jenny, Sara, Mandee, Jen, Wendy, Amanda, Siri, Aman, April, Sunny, Maja, Mary, Jamie

I feel very blessed indeed to be a part you all.
(I also apologize if I forgot anyone!)

If you're interested in learning a bit about how/why I started blogging, check my interview with Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf, HERE.

To celebrate, I'm giving away some books! 
The first giveaway is for US only, the second is for everyone.


1) Choose ONE book from this stack of books (US only)
I will pick 2 winners. 
P.S. The ARC of Unravel Me is signed!

2) ONE BOOK of your choice from The Book Depository worth $15 or less. (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eternally Yours by Cate Tiernan

Eternally Yours
by Cate Tiernan
Read: June 5 – 6, 2013
Published: November 6, 2012 by Poppy (Hachette)
Source: Library
Series: Immortal Beloved, book 3

NOTE: Eternally Yours is the third book in a series. See my spoiler free reviews of Immortal Beloved and Darkness Falls. I tried to make this review as spoiler free as possible, but if you're new to the series, I recommend you look at my review for the first book. 

After 450 years of living, Nastasya Crowe should have more of a handle on this whole immortal thing....

After a deadly confrontation at the end of Darkness Falls, the second Immortal Beloved novel, Nastasya Crowe is, as she would put it, so over the drama. She fights back against the dark immortals with her own brand of kick-butt magick...but can she fight against true love? In the satisfying finale to the Immortal Beloved trilogy, ex-party-girl immortal Nastasya ends a 450-year-old feud and learns what "eternally yours" really means.

Laced with historical flashbacks and laugh-out-loud dialogue, the Immortal Beloved trilogy is a fascinating and unique take on what it would mean to live forever. (From Goodreads)


In Eternally Yours we come to the end of Nastasya's journey. Or rather, we come to the end of the small glimpse of Nastasya's long life that we've had the privilege to see. After being inside of Nastasya's head for three books I am a huge fangirl of hers. She is witty and hilarious and seems human and real, despite her advanced immortal age. Her strong voice is one of my favorite parts of this series. If I were an immortal and wanted to read some contemporary fiction, this would be the book I'd pick up. Reading the Immortal Beloved series in a week, I could visually see Nastasya’s growth over time. Her struggles and fears were tangible, and watching her work through them was hard but extremely rewarding - and fun. I laughed out loud a lot in this particular book, mostly because of Nastasya's amusing inner monologue. 

One of my favorite elements about Eternally Yours is that we get backgrounds on many of the other characters at River’s Edge who we’d only previously seen in the present. As much as I’d loved to have known more about them all before, what makes sense about not getting them until now is that Nastasya is finally at a place where she’s able to look outside herself and make friendships with others. I think this information would have been too much for her to take in before. The ability to care for others and make friends is a big part of Nastasya’s growing up process.

Nastasya's romance with Reyn has slowly developed throughout the series and in this book it finally becomes more prominent in the the story. Although tentative throughout most of these three books, I've actually thought the gentle pace of their relationship fits perfectly with Nastasya's personal growth. In the first installment of this series River told Nastasya that she had to learn to love herself before she could open herself up to love from others. I think Nastasya's journey to forgiving and finding value in herself is the major crux of her growth process. Fans of romance, Eternally Yours includes some deliciously swoony moments too. 

The overarching supernatural plot-line also culminates in this installment, and as much as I thought everything would be predictable, I was surprised about who the villain was revealed to be. I've seen some reviews where people talk about the ending being rushed and not explosive as it should be, but I actually think it’s done perfectly, including the last chapter, because this book has always been about Nastasya. I absolutely love how the story continues in this installment and yes, how it all ends.

Cate Tiernan excels at making her stories feel like living breathing worlds with complex, real people. Every single character in this series seemed like they had a bigger story behind them, though we were only able to see a small glimpse of many of them. The ending of this series complimented this feeling well, because though extremely satisfying, not everything is perfectly wrapped up. But still, my only complaint is that we couldn’t we couldn’t have more time with Nastasya, her friends and this world.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

The Beginning of Everything
by Robyn Schneider
Read: May 20, 2013
Published: August 27, 2013 by Katherine Tegen
Source: Around the World Arc Tours
Category: Contemporary YA, male POV

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes? 

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything
 is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings. (From Goodreads)

Last year Ezra Faulkner had everything he thought he wanted. He was captain of the tennis team, president of his junior class and dating a popular cheerleader. Then in one night, Ezra caught his girlfriend cheating and got hit by a car that shattered both his knee and his athletic career. Now he's feeling lost and struggling just to make it up the stairs to his second floor classes. He's also realizing that his friends weren't who they thought they were, and maybe neither is he. 

This is the moment when Cassidy Thorpe enters Ezra's life. She is a new student who seems to be everything that Ezra's not. She wears vintage clothes, prefers bicycles to status cars and doesn't appear to care what anyone else thinks about her. But she is also intelligent and vibrant, and challenges Ezra to think outside the narrow world that he's created for himself. Cassidy is a master debater (this book loves that joke), and friends with the debate team crowd made up of gamers, hipsters and other intellects. 

Toby Ellicott is also part of that group. He was Ezra's best friend in elementary school and the source of the 'severed heads' part of the original title. Toby went in a different direction when Ezra became the popular jock, but he re-enters Ezra's life at this time too. Toby is one of my favorite characters in this book. He is the best kind of friend, and his relationship with Ezra is one of my favorite parts of this story. 

The Beginning of Everything is a book about self-discovery and realizing that life is so much bigger than your high school. It's figuring out who you want to be and how you define yourself. One of the most compelling parts of this novel for me, was how my perception of some of the characters shifted by the end, and how the author was able to successfully demonstrate the point of her book through my understanding of them. 

Although I've seen some of these themes and plot developments before, The Beginning of Everything shifts its focus in a way that made the book feel fresh and engaging. It is not just a romance, but friendships, knowing who you are and realizing that that your'e the only person who can change how others see you - and you see yourself. While I had some issues with a few of the things that happen near the end, I absolutely love the conclusion of this story and was surprised how well I personally connected to it. 

Where this story struggled for me, was in the stereotyping of jocks. All of Ezra's old friends are athletes, and they are portrayed as selfish and shallow, while his ex-girlfriend is a mean girl in cheerleading clothes. While I appreciate the way that this makes Ezra's transformation after the accident more dramatic, the story would have been more complex if they had been portrayed with a little less typically. I also had trouble with some of Cassidy's decisions, although I do think she was well written as a contrast to Ezra.

However, I really liked being inside of Ezra's head. He was honest and amusing. And even when he was being an idiot, I didn't think he was annoying, in fact it just made him more endearing. I loved having a front seat to his very personal journey through this book. 

A note on the cover: The arc that I read was called Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, and had this cover. While I think both are compelling, I actually prefer the new cover better. I think the first "look" puts the focus solely on the romance, where it is better placed on Ezra's personal growth. 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hannah @ So Obsessed With discusses her Series Addiction

The Summer Series Challenge has begun! 
Hosted by Heather @ The Flyleaf Review
Lauren @ Love is not a triangle
Follow #serieschallenge

Today I have a very special treat for all of you. 

Hannah from So Obsessed With has stopped by to talk about being a series addict. 

Hannah is an enthusiastic, thoughtful, incredible blogger who always has insightful things to say that are also FUN. Go check out her blog, if you haven't already. 

She also wrote the most thorough, inspiring Summer Series Challenge Goal Post that I've seen. Go look at it while you're on her site. 

Without further ado, I give you Hannah: 

I'm Hannah, And I'm A Series Addict
When Lauren approached me about guest posting for the Summer Series Challenge, I was ecstatic. There are few things I love more than a good series, which is a fact that's clearly evident with one glance at my bookshelves or my Kindle collections. I am absolutely, 100% a series addict.

I did an informal count for this post, and I was shocked to find out that I own at least one book from more than 60 series. And in most cases, I've purchased every available book in that series. There's just something so comforting to me about sitting down with a bunch of books that belong together. I love knowing that I can get attached to the characters and immerse myself into their world!

How I Became Addicted
I've actually loved series from the very beginning of my reading journey. Some of my favorite books when I was younger attest to that - Anne of Green GablesLittle HouseDear America, American Girls and the Saddle Club books. Even at that age, I understood the power of a well-written and engrossing series.

So many of my childhood memories involve these books. From reading the American Girl books in bed with my mom to going to the bookstore to pick out a new Dear America book, I was addicted to the experience of reading a series. Each new book meant another adventure!

10 Signs You're Addicted to Series
If you think you recognize yourself in my words, here are some indicators that can help you determine if you're a series addict, too:
  1. Series outnumber stand alones on your shelves.
  2. You’ll buy an entire series before you've even finished the first book.
  3. You search Goodreads for books with the (#1) next to their names.
  4. You like to imagine what would happen if a stand alone you've read was turned into a series.
  5. You must have the next book in a series on standby so that you can binge read them all.
  6. You find yourself in a reading funk after finishing a series you've loved.
  7. When you think of your favorite books, many of them belong in a series.
  8. You can't give up on a series, even if you no longer love it. You have to know how it ends!
  9. Your calendar lists the publication dates for future books in series you've started.
  10. You get incredibly excited when you find out that a book that was originally a stand alone is being turned into a series.
Side Effects May Vary
The only downside to a series addiction is the side effects that may result. These may include, but are not limited to:
  1. Sadness: Caused by reading the final book in a beloved series.
  2. Anxiety: Result of being unable to immediately read the next book.
  3. Tunnel vision: Seen in the tendency to forget that other books exist.
  4. Amnesia: Manifested when too much time has elapsed since reading the previous book.
  5. Disappointment: Displayed when series doesn't live up to expectations.
  6. Obsession: Fueled by long periods of time spent with a particular series.
  7. Heart palpitations: Occurs when series is particularly swoony.
  8. Boredom: Develops when a series lasts a little too long.
  9. Irritability: Exhibited when series is insulted or criticized by others. 
  10. Euphoria: Frequently the result of introducing others to a beloved series.
No Intervention Necessary
The best thing about the Summer Series Challenge is that it isn't about staging an intervention for your series addiction. Nope! It's meant to fuel that fire and inspire you to finish reading some of those series just sitting on your shelves. And that's the main reason I wanted to participate in this challenge.

Whether you're a series addict like me or joined because you needed extra motivation to finish the series you've started, I hope you're having as much fun as I am this summer. Series are, in my professional reading opinion, one of the very best parts about being a bookworm! 

I clearly need some intervention, because this post describes me perfectly. 
Or maybe as Hannah suggested, I just need another series to read. 

A HUGE thank you to Hannah for this post. 

Don't forget to link-up your July posts and enter the rafflecopter! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 
by April Genevieve Tucholke 
Read: July 19 - 21, 2013
Published: August 15, 2013 by Dial (Penguin)
Source: Arc from publisher*
Category: Paranormal Romance, Gothic Horror, Suspense, YA
Series: Between 1

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.
(From Goodreads)

I had a lot of trouble deciding what to tell you about Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Not because I don't have anything to say about it. But because one of the best elements about this story is its dreamy, timeless quality (perhaps I should also say nightmarish), and I don't want to break the enchantment by analyzing it too closely. 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a creeping dread. 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea begins with a deceptively sleepy sort of rhythm. Violet is enjoying a slow summer reading in the sun on the porch of the huge rambling mansion where she lives with her twin brother Luke. To make some money, because her family's wealth is running dry, she's decided to rent out the guest house on the property. This is the moment that River West arrives in town looking for somewhere to live. Everything begins with him.  

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea sucks you in with its pretty words. 

In my mind, this book clearly breaks itself down into three parts: 1) Lies 2) Secrets 3) Horror. Underlying these plot directions is gorgeous, atmospheric prose and the decaying decadence of old money that binds it all together into an irresistible and often terrifying package.  

The setting and descriptive prose had me falling hard for this story from the beginning, especially the charming town by the wild sea and the house called Citizen Kane where Violet and Luke live. But the creepiness, old money and hidden secrets. The suspense and psychological questions this book asks - What the HECK is going on? Who can I trust? Why do I still like people I know I shouldn't? - sucked me in completely. Spine tingling, gory horror is not my favorite, but if you're a fan, this book gets into it. 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a moral conundrum.  

I'm always fascinated when an author can make me sympathize and even like characters who do bad things. And then sometimes characters do bad things and I don't sympathize with them. What makes the difference? Should there even be one? I really enjoyed thinking about this and other questions this book asks.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kiss the devil?

I know I should have been more bothered by the romance in this book than I was. Not only does it start quickly, but I shouldn't have wanted this girl to even contemplate someone she couldn't trust, and felt less certain about as the story continued. But just as much as I feared him, I wanted more of him too. The startlingly quick beginning to the romance is another element that adds to the building uneasiness within this story, and for that I think it worked well. However there comes a point where the mist clears and as a reader I wanted a little bit more reality. I'm still not sure if I got it, though I think that might be the point.  

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is not all that it appears. 

I ended up loving so many of the characters in this book, even with their flaws, or maybe because of them. I could understand why Violet cared for her brother despite his mistreatment of her, hung out with Sunshine and kissed River. Although the characters were described in vivid detail, they all seemed a bit enigmatic and inaccessible at first. I actually loved this aspect of the book, but what is also wonderful is that slowly they unravel and we are able to see glimpses of greater depth behind them. 

I'm excited to see what happens next now that I know what lies Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. The sequel is titled Between the Spark and the Burn and if you've read this one, you know what that means!! I'm eager to delve deeper into this world and characters and find out more answers. Of course I also can't wait for lots of creepiness, secrets and to-die-for prose. 

Love Triangle Factor: None, though I wouldn't be shocked if one was introduced.
Cliffhanger Scale: Mild. Ends solidly, but with some set up for book 2. 

I know book comparisons are dangerous, because they can be very misleading. But for some reason, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea brought to mind a several other books I've read and enjoyed in the past. Interestingly enough, only one of these is a paranormal and none is horror, since I don't really read that genre. Sometimes it was just a small moment, theme or feeling I had that made me think of the books below (aka, no over analyzing):
  • Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMarier for gothic, romantic suspense, old houses and not knowing who to trust.    
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt for murder, mayhem, secrets, lies and bored, privileged youth. Plus twins. 

*THANK YOU, Penguin! This Advance, Uncorrected Proof was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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