Monday, October 28, 2013

Read This: Just Ella

Just Ella
by Annette Larsen

Just Ella is such a delightful story! For some reason I was expecting it to be a Cinderella retelling (from the title) but it's not. It's just a nice, quick read with a fun, clean romance. Ariella is royalty, but wants to be able to make her own choices. Gavin is a gardener who knows his place, but has trouble staying there. It's a familiar premise, but Larsen has a very cute take on it.

The characters are likeable, the bad guy is intriguingly bad, and the ending is very sweet. It felt a little repetitive in parts, and I started to get frustrated when it seemed like the characters were intentionally misunderstanding each other to draw out the conflict. So maybe some of the obstacles felt a little contrived. But overall I really enjoyed it. I was definitely routing for everything to work out for the characters, and the way the story wrapped up was very satisfying.
 3.5/5



The Big Three:
Language: not an issue
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: not an issue

Just So You Know:
I received a review copy of Just Ella as part of the blog tour hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer in exchange for an honest review. Just Ella is available now!

 
Check out the book blast for Just Ella. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween Books for Wimps

I love how festive Fall, and October, and Halloween can be. Pumpkins and candy and leaves and all that. I love it all. Except for that whole being scared business.

So this October I've tried to find books that feel Halloween-y, but aren't super scary. Here's what I've got.

Pumpkin Patch (not scary at all)
Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
It's got moors! And a big, old creepy house with creepy-house noises and a secret passageway.
(But mostly it's a romance)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrated by Death himself! Spooky!
(It's actually a WWII book; not really a romance)


Corn Maze (a little eery late at night)
Felicite Found by Julia King
A mysterious girl jumps from a bridge and loses her memory. And then is haunted by disturbing dreams.
(Also a romance)

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by
A modern Gothic story with ghosts and graveyards and people who are not what they seem.
(Another romance)

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
A girl has a unique way of sensing the dead, and trying to find out who killed them.
(Did you guess romance? You are correct!)


Haunted House (these actually scared me)
The Diviners by Libba Bray
A gigantic book about an occult murderer set in the Roaring '20s.
(I haven't finished it yet. Maybe there is romance?)


Ashes by Ilsa Bick
I didn't finish this, because scary zombies! But Rusty liked it.
(And he informs me there's a love triangle!)


Neighbor's Halloween Party (ymmv)
Stiff by Mary Roach
Non-fiction about all the ways cadavers donated to science are used.
(Sadly, no romance. But, you can read all about how the body decomposes)


What have I missed? What are some of your favorite (not-so-scary) Halloween books?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Read This: Fangirl

Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell

The Short Story
Cath and her twin sister Wren have been through everything together: their mom leaving, their dad's mental health struggles, and now their upcoming college experience. But Wren is ready to move on. And to Cath that means being left behind. No Wren for a roommate, or a Simon Snow fanatic, or a co-writer on their very popular fanfiction. All Cath's got are a surly roommate, her overly nice (maybe?) boyfriend, and a big online community with a lot of expectations for her. Somehow she's got to try and make that be enough.
My favorite read of 2013!
4.5/5

Come for the....
everything! I really enjoyed this book, a whole lot. Cath, and her starting-out-college experience, were so easy for me to relate to. On the outside I was a total Wren (minus the drinking) - let's be social! And have new experiences! But on the inside I was completely Cath - anxious and unsure and afraid that I was completely weird and it was easier to be distant. I loved that the book was set in college but wasn't all about boozing or the sexy times. It was so similar to my own experience, living in a very crowded dorm, with the roommate with the ubiquitous boy friend(s), and wondering if I was good enough for some of my classes.

Freshman Kathy is in the orange. Why were we even dressed like this? I don't know. It was 13 years ago.
There's just so much good in Fangirl . Cath has an interesting family dynamic, and a very interesting fanfiction hobby/habbit/lifestyle, and some school drama, and one of the most adorable romances I've read in a while. Oh, Levi. He was so perfect for Cath and I wanted the whole book to be them, being together and cute, all the time. Basically I loved nearly everything. If you're apprehensive of Rainbow Rowell after Eleanor & Park, rest assured that Fangirl is much happier and more hopeful.

 Don't Think About This Too Hard
  • My only small complaint was that the pacing felt a little wonky in parts. Too slow in some areas and too fast in others. I also could haven done without the longer excerpts of Cath's fanfiction.

The Big Three:
Language: regular profanity, including the f-word
Sex and Stuff: making out, people discussing sex
Violence: not an issue

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Best/Worst Series Endings

Come participate in Top 10 Tuesday at The Broke and The Bookish!


The Best Series Endings:
Goliath (Leviathan series)
Nice mix of history and steampunk and everything I wanted to wrap up

Mockingjay 
The ending made sense for the tone and message of the series. Plus she picked the right boy (unlike the movie casting...)


The Bitter Kingdom (The Girl of Fire and Thorns series)
Everything was right about this book.

Reached (Matched series)
I loved that we got all the characters' points of view

Destined (Wings series)
I loved the very, very end for its realism.

Bonus:
Real Live Boyfriends (Ruby Oliver series)
So nice to see Roo finally come into her own.




Endings that Left Me Wanting

Requiem (Delirium series)
You can't end a book before the end happens!

Sever (Wither series)
The whole series was just bizarre, but Sever was the bizarrest.

Feedback (Variant)
More questions than answers.

Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices series)
Just, no. Felt like she tried to make everyone happy at the expense of sense.

The Death Cure (The Maze Runner series)
So violent, and just overall unsatisfying

Bonus:

We'll Always Have Summer (The Summer series)
It was too unrealistic for me.

Winner, Winner, Book Thief T-Shirt

Thanks again to everyone who entered to win our fancy pantsy The Book Thief-inspired T-shirt giveaway! The winners are:

First winner: Kristilyn (won the gray shirt)
Second winner: Taffy (won the white shirt)
Third winner: Josanna (won the green shirt)

You guys can head over to Suey's blog to see a nice post about what everyone learned from the book. So interesting! Winners, we'll be contacting you guys shortly.

Taffy, look at what you won!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Just Ella Book Blast (and Tour)

I'm so happy to be part of the Just Ella Book Blast! Look for my review on October 29 and enter to win $50 today.

Just Ella Tour

Just Ella Just Ella by Annette K. Larsen Book Summary:

A Proper Romance

Ariella was only looking for a distraction, something to break up the monotony of palace life. What she found was a young man willing to overlook her title and show her a new and vibrant way of life. But when her growing feelings for Gavin spiral out of control and clash with the expectations of her station, she will discover that the consequences of her curiosity are far more severe than she’d imagined.

I watched in helpless horror as two guards hauled Gavin to his feet and dragged him from the room. My voice was frozen, unable to protest as another guard took hold of my arm, leading me upstairs. From the confines of my room, I stared into the darkness beyond my window, hoping to catch one more glimpse of Gavin. He was gone, and I wondered if he would have been better off if he had never met me.
 


Praise for Just Ella

"I fell in love with this book. Treat yourself to something wonderful. You can't go wrong with Just Ella!" ~Inspired Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer "By far one of the best romance novels I've ever read. Pulls you in with great, likable characters and keeps you going with a sweet and exciting love story--plus a good plot to give it even more substance. Full of those tender moments you want to go back and read again, plus exciting moments, clever humor, and some suspense as well." ~Jana Miller "Annette Larsen writes a love story that takes time, is complicated, and yet still sweeps you up in the romance (without the cheese, thank you). It's compelling and emotional and sweet and you will love every page." ~Kimi  


Book Blast/Blog Tour Special
Grab your copy of Just Ella for just $3.99!
3.99
Excerpt

“Now, wait just a minute. You can’t just plunge into a pool of water.” “Why not?” I should have said something cleverer, but I felt a bit scatterbrained, all thoughts having fled when Gavin’s arm went around me. He made a noise of exasperation. “Why not, she asks. Because, Princess, what’s going to happen when you show up for your lessons completely drenched? Or, what happens when we both show up on the palace grounds completely drenched? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to explain that to anybody.” Unfortunately, he had a point. “Don’t call me Princess.” He had been so relaxed today, so willing to be himself and let me be myself. I hated that he felt the need to remind me of my rank. I was tempted to be angry and walk away but I also wanted to see how long he would keep his arms around me. Simply out of curiosity, of course.    



annetteAuthor Annette K. Larsen
I was born in Utah, but grew up in Flagstaff Arizona and St. Louis Missouri, the fifth of seven children. I attended college at Southern Virginia University and Brigham Young University where I studied English and Theater. I now live in Idaho with my husband and four children.

I have Charlotte Bronte to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to sacrifice what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but it the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it.

I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.  


I write clean romance. Why? Because that’s what I love to read, but over the years I’ve discovered it’s quite a challenge to find good clean romance. I believe it’s a genre that many people are looking for and too few authors are writing. My first novel, Just Ella, took me many years to write because I wanted it to be more than just a cutesy love story. I wanted it to have depth, to feel genuine. Hopefully I succeeded, but you’ll have to be the judge. 



     

BookBlast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/31/13

 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Answers for the Last Book Thief Discussion Post

My question post is just too big to add answers to, so yay! New post!

Also, don't forget about the Twitter Chat tonight! 8 PM Mountain, but I'll be around a bit earlier for anyone living more eastward. Use #BookThief to chat.

1. How did you feel when Max had to leave the Hubermanns? What did you expect would happen to him?
I was so sad! It almost made me mad at Hans for giving bread to that other man because I didn't want him to put Max in danger. I totally expected Max to get caught and end up being killed. And I kind of blamed Hans. (not anymore, just at the time)

2. Why do you think Liesel ran out to Max when they finally did cross paths, even after she had seen what happened to Hans earlier in the book?

Probably for a lot of reasons, but I thought she wanted to let him know she'd gotten the book he hid for her. And that she wanted to encourage him and let him know she was still the Word Shaker, no matter what happened. Ugh, that part made me cry.

3. What did you think of Death spoiling the ending a couple chapters before it actually happened? Did the warning make it easier to handle?
I was so mad! (no one is surprised) I actually put the book down and wondered if I should even bother finishing it. But, of course, I picked it back up. And it did make it a little easier. I was such a crying mess reading that part that I almost wasn't paying as much attention while I read about the bombs. So knowing what happened beforehand kept me from missing what actually happened. (if that makes any sense)

4. Which death impacted you the most?
Rudy's. I think it was the idea of completely lost opportunity that was so hard for me.

 5. How did your view of Ilsa Herman change over the course of the book?
I didn't know what to make of her in the beginning, but I really came to appreciate her. I love that she left cookies for Liesel, and that even after Liesel destroyed her book, she still brought her that little notebook. I think she really cared about Liesel, much more than Liesel realized at the time.

6. The power of words is such a big theme throughout the book. Which instances of powerful words stuck out to you? Or, which quotes from the book stuck out to you?
I tried to post a lot of quotes on twitter, so I won't repeat them here. But, the whole Word Shaker story, and the part where Liesel destroyed that book in the library really got to me.

7. In this post Markus Zusak says:
In many ways I felt that the book is about Liesel’s different kind of loves - for Hans, for Rosa, for Rudy and Max, and for books and living in general.

Which of those loves resonated with you most?

I think her love for Hans, because it's what started everything else. If it weren't for him, she wouldn't have really loved words, or Rosa, and she would have never even known Max. I think her relationship with Rudy was even a mini version of Hans and Rosa's relationship. So, yeah, Hans.

8. Thoughts on Liesel and Death finally meeting?
It was so much sweeter, and less sad, than I expected. That was the part where I realized that I had actually started to like Death. I loved how he answered Liesel's question about understanding her book.

9. If this was your first time reading The Book Thief, is it what you expected?
If it was a reread, what did you notice this time around?

No, not at all. It was more intensely sad (in certain parts) than I expected, but lighter and more heartwarming than I thought. Basically, I was expecting non-stop sad. And I was really happy that was completely wrong.

10. Will you see the movie?
Yep. I watched the trailer (again) as soon as I finished the book, and I am so excited!

Thanks again for reading along with us, everyone! I don't think I would have read this on my own.

Don't forget the T-shirt giveaway