Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Playing Hurt

Playing Hurt
Released: March 08, 2011
Published By: Flux
Young Adult
Pages: 311, Paperback
Source: Purchased, Read.Chat.Love Book Tour

Overall: Fabulous! 

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration back home. Then she took a horrible fall during senior year. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
That summer, Chelsea's dad hires Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player and "boot camp" trainer, to work with her at a northern Minnesota lake resort. As they grow close, Chelsea finds that Clint's haunted by his own tragedy. Will their romance end up hurting them all over again—or finally heal their heartbreak?
My Thoughts:

Having a working title really worked well for Holly Schindler's second YA novel, PLAYING HURT. The title is what initially drew me to read the synopsis of this book. Being a hockey fan is what continued my quick forming obsession with getting my hands on the story of Chelsea and Clint.  Take those two initial attachments to this book and pair it with a very simple yet lovely cover and having Holly Schindler's name printed across the front and I was sold from the get go.

Our two main characters in PLAYING HURT, Chelsea and Clint, are both individuals who were facing two similar losses and facts of life, yet it affected them differently allowing the whole situation to come full circle.  Where one character could mend the mind, the other could mend the body, then together they could mend their hearts.

Chelsea was a likable character, despite her questionable behavior at times and her defiant inability to communicate.  Throughout her story I could feel her emotions, her confusion, her frustrations.  Holly was brilliant in bringing to life a character that many people could relate to, including the complex emotions and situation that young adults find themselves facing.

Clint, with a story much sadder than Chelsea's, was an even more likable character and helped keep her story grounded.  The simplicity of Clint's personality and the complexity of his relationships with those around him really painted him as the good-guy, the guy you wanted everything to work out for.  Clint grew, just like his female counterpart.  His evolution was really endearing to see and I truly adored him as a character.  (Did I mention he had a certain swoon-worthy factor that totally amped up the story?)

One theme in PLAYING HURT I really noticed was personal growth.  Across the board, every character had room to grow, to understand, to accept and even to love.  PLAYING HURT wasn't a mindless story based on insta-love or a superficial plot. PLAYING HURT was real.    

What I got after I opened this book was not what I expected at all.  I thought I'd be getting a nice and fluffy story of the mediocre, superficial sort but I was wrong.  If there are a few things I've learned about Holly Schindler it is her affinity for keeping it real and her ability to bring to life the raw moments.  Charming, raw and real.  Holly Schindler's PLAYING HURT is a great summertime read that is full of real emotions, real people and real situations.


Holly Schindler |Website| |Twitter| |Blog|
YA Outside the Lines  (YA group blog)
Smack Dab in the Middle (Middle grade group blog)


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Thursday, April 28, 2011

ARC Review: Dark of the Moon

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett
Release Date:
September 19, 2011
Published By: Harcourt Children's books
Pages: 320 Pages, Hardcover
Young Adult
Source: Netgalley
Overall: Fab!

Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, finding companionship only with her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.Then a ship arrives bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, and Ariadne meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.
But Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that "monster" is Ariadne’s brother . . .

My Thoughts:

Dark of the Moon, as written by Tracy Barrett, seems to bring forth the question what if we got the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur wrong.  Just like the Theseus in our story felt the need to inflate his adventures when setting out for his true paternal parentage, perhaps those before us shaped the myth of Theseus and Minotaur into much more of a nightmare then the true story ever was?

You don't need to know the true myth behind Theseus and the Minotaur to read and enjoy Dark of the Moon.  I am not one to follow myths or really indulge in the history of Gods and Goddesses enough to know the true myths in which some YA novels are based on but Tracy Barrett's telling of Ariadne, Theseus and Asteriorn, Ariadne's brother and the monstrous creature, in this case the Minotaur, spiked my curiosity.

I appreciated Dark of the Moon for what it was but I felt really detached from the characters.  Ariadne, our Soon-to-be-Goddess was no one I could even begin to relate to or with.  Maybe it was the fact she was soon to be a Goddess, but overall, there wasn't much to like or dislike about her.  She simply seemed like an important piece of the tale, one in which we had to meet to understand Tracy Barrett's version of this story.  There was nothing ornately interesting about her and she just sort of glided in between the scenes of the story.

While Ariadne, our Soon-to-be-Goddess, didn't pull any emotion out of me Asteriorn did.  I couldn't help but feel bad for the monstrous creature that he was painted to be.  His small smirks and relations with his sister proved that he wasn't the complete monster others painted him to be.  At times he seemed sad and misguided and other times innocent.  The thought of part of the original tale holding true where Asteriorn, the Minotaur, was concerned was slightly unsettling to me.

The person I enjoyed most in the Dark of the Moon was Theseus.  I didn't really find him to hold that swoon-worthy factor some many of us look for in YA fiction but I enjoyed his character nonetheless.  Even when he wasn't truly adventurous, he told his story like he was.  His part of the story was much more fast paced and interesting.

Overall, I enjoyed Dark of the Moon.  It forced my curiosity until I was scouring the internet for further information on this Minotaur creature.  It is a story and retelling of a great tale.


Monday, April 25, 2011

The Fab List: Jan - March 2011 Noteworthy Picks

The Fab List:
Jan-Mar 2011 Noteworthy Picks

These are just a few January-March 2011 releases that I highly recommend to you.  Some are by debut authors and some are the work of veterans. These 2011 releases have made my Fab List despite maybe not receiving a 5 star review.  And I fully plan on seeing which of these books make the Top 11 of 2011 Fab List which I'll do at the end of the year.

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
January 01, 2011
Sourcebooks Fire
|Goodreads| |Amazon| |Website| |My Review|

Why Read It:  Totally different.  I couldn't put it down despite the fact I was really reluctant to read this book to begin with.  It was totally different and really scary to think about.  A great eye opening book.  

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
January 04, 2011
Harper Teen

Why Read It:  I absolutely adored Clara, Christian and Tucker.    Beyond the characters, the story was brilliant and beautiful.  I adored it! 

Timeless by Alexandra Monir
January 11, 2011
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
|Goodreads| |Amazon| |Website| |My Review|

Why Read It:  Stunning Characters and Stunning Story!  I didn't put this one down and when I read the words at the end, "To Be Continued..." I couldn't help but squeal.  This is a must read.

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
January 25, 2011
Harlequin Teen
|Goodreads| |Amazon| |Website| |My Review|

Why Read It:  Meghan, Ash, Puck... GLITCH! Need I say more?  *Swoon*  Julie Kagawa made sure The Iron Queen was a fully involved book of adventure, friends, love (requited and unrequited), mystery, and all-things-fey.

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
March 07, 2011
Harcourt Children's Books
|Goodreads| |Amazon| |Website| |My Review|

Why Read It:  Wow!  So amazing.  Magic.  Mystery.  Romance.  What more do you need beyond a beautifully written story?  

Wither by Lauren De Stefano
March 22, 2011
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing|Goodreads| |Amazon| |Website| |My Review|
Why Read It:   Wow, Lauren sure didn't hold back on the dark theme's, deep rooted raw emotions, and a romance or tri-mance that totally pulls each and every which way.  This was my first dystopian, one of which sits beautiful on my shelf to show off the beautiful cover. 

A Few Honorable Mentions:

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus : A great verse read!  I had my doubt but Kimberly Marcus held nothing back!
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins : Usually it is said #2 books fall flat in a series... There is no way this #2 will ever be said to have been the least favorite of the series.  I had no clue how much better this series could get, but it did!  

Wow!  I can't even begin to think how I'm going to pick a Top 11 of 2011 with all of these books!  I still have several books I am dying to read from the first quarter of the year. January and March were really bountiful months in the book community!

Check Back in July for the next 2011 Fab List, April-June.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (20) + Follow Friday (19) + Week in Review

It's Follow Friday!

This is Follow My Blog Friday, a weekly meme hosted by hosted by Parajunkee's View!

Follow Friday Question:

What's on your playlist?

Wow!  I don't have real playlists.  I sort of just shuffle through.  I love stuff from the 90s.  Wilson Phillips.  Salt-n-Peppa.  Sir Mix A Lot.   But I also like Dredg, The Dirty Heads, Sublime, Lady Gaga, No Doubt, Black Eyed Peas.  I even love Trans Siberian Orchestra.  I really like it all :-)  I even adore Sam Cooke.  

Book Blogger Hop
Also, it is the Book Blogger Hop, a weekly meme hosted by Crazy-For-Books 

Book Blogger Hop Question:

When you find a book you like, do you go and hunt down all of the books by that author?

I do, I like to see if it is something I'd like!  I have to admit though,  I have come across some books that I just can't get into as easily.  While an author's style may transfer from book to book, the voices and story does not (unless it is a series.)  But I do love to see what they offer and if it sounds like something I'd like, I'll pick it up, or at least to keep an eye out for it on sale if I'm not quite sure.

How About You?  

Week In Review (multiplied by a whole bunch!) 

ARC Review:  Mercy by Rebecca Lim



Whatcha Think About Wednesday:  Authors Attacking Bloggers

Also, Don't forget to stop by for Read.Chat.Love's Playing Hurt Blog Tour.  Holly Schindler has been awesome to work with.  I'm so excited for next week!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Delacorte Books for Young Readers Edition

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It is a great way to draw attention to those books not yet released but well awaited.

Here is my fourteenth Edition of Waiting on Wednesday!  This is something I decided to do only every other Wednesday to make room for my new feature Whatcha Think About Wednesday.  Because of this, I have decided to give each WOW a theme and to show you at least two books... apparently more this week.

Waiting On Wednesday: Delacorte Books for Young Readers Edition

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

"These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, Which as they kiss consume." —Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare 
The most tragic love story in history . . . 
Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell
Release Date: November 08, 2011
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge. Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets. Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she's offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.


Monday, April 18, 2011

ARC Review: Mercy

Mercy by Rebecca Lim
Release Date:
May 17, 2011 (In America)
Publisher: Hyperion Books CH
Pages: 288, Hardcover
Young Adult
Source: Netgalley 
Overall: Fabulous!

A fallen angel haunted by her past. Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers. Who will show her Mercy? 
Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate. 
But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind. 
Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time? 
The first in a dazzling new series, Mercy masterfully weaves romance, mystery and the supernatural into a spell-binding tale.

My thoughts:

Author of Mercy, Rebecca Lim, brings to us a multifaceted story of Angels, mysteries and lost-loves.  With never a dull moment, Mercy, is a gripping and strong opener to a series that seems to promise to continue the multifaceted trend.

As much as our main character, Mercy, is disoriented as she is introduced to us and throughout the book, so was I.  I am assuming the book is written like this to wrap us in a blanket of mystery.   I truly didn't have any clue what was going on with Mercy when she was first introduced to us but as more was revealed to us it almost seemed to have the opposite affect on me, it felt like the less I knew.  While we may have been introduced to Mercy's mind we ended up knowing the appearance and persona of Carmen, the girl Mercy overtook at the start of this book.

I enjoyed the mystery within a mystery with Mercy, character and book, but I found it a little difficult to understand.  There seemed to be little transition between thoughts of the present and the past, or was it a dream?

I hoped for a little more closure where Mercy was concerned, even with another book set to publish in June 2011 (overseas), but somehow it all worked.  I read on eagerly despite my qualms and I quickly checked up on whether this was a stand alone or a series so I can impatiently await the next installment of Mercy's story.  With a little of this, that and a bit of 'ish', Mercy is a great read which will keep you on your toes.

Note:  Reading the synopsis before you crack into the pages of Mercy's story should clear up most of the initial confusion I felt when I started the book.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whatcha Think 'Bout Wednesday (6)

So there seems to be a few authors going rogue in the blogging community and attacking those giving them what they see as negative reviews.

For the posts I've seen this happen in, the reviews are not out-of-line and are not personally attacking the authors, yet the authors took it upon themselves to attack the blogger along with others in the comment sections.

So my question is...

What do you think about Authors attacking Bloggers/Reviewers for giving well thought out negative reviews?
Do you think an Author has a right to contact the Blogger/Reviewer when a negative review is given?  Do you think there is a right way and wrong way to do this?  Do you think no negative reviews should be posted?  

You get the picture, right?  So tell me what you think!

What do I think?

I think that an Author has every right to contact a Blogger/Reviewer when posting either a positive or a negative review for clarification, comment, praise or question.  I do, however, believe Bloggers/Reviewers have the right to give negative reviews when displayed in a respectful and well thought out manner and in turn deserve the same well thought out email/comment and the same level of respect when an Author wishes to contact them.  With this, I think any negative conversation should be done in private, in an email, and that it should never include attacking either party.  I also believe that there should be no negative correspondence done in the comments sections of the blog, defacing possibly both the Author or the Blogger/Reviewer.

Not all books will appeal to all people.  No one picks up a book to be purposefully disappointed or let down.  The fact someone sat down and read the whole book then took the time to write a review is respect enough, especially if they do it in a favorable manner, explaining themselves well.  Reviews are opinions.  Bloggers/Reviewers are all allowed to have them.  While it may hurt as an author to see someone who didn't grasp what you were going for, as long as that Blogger/Reviewer didn't personally attack the Author's character, I think an author should respect their opinion.  A fair written negative review does not merit an Author to slash the blogger's character, curse at them, or attack them in email.

I think there is a fine line between acceptable reviews and reviews that are better left off of the blog. I also believe there is a fine line between an Author contacting a Blogger/Reviewer over a negative review and what would be attacking them.

It really is a sticky situation.  I just think that attacking of any kind, from either party, should not exist.  Everyone works hard, on both sides of the book.  I think there should be a level of respect spread across the bookish community and unless you prove yourself not worthy of that respect (excessive attacking, bashing, etc.) that everyone needs to keep it in mind.

So tell me, what do you think?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Second Hand Heart

Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Released: September 02, 2010
Published by: Black Swan
Pages: 460, Paperback
Adult/Young Adult
|Author Blog| |Author Twitter|
Overall: 5 Stars - Flippin' Fabulous

Vida is 19 and has never had much of a life. Struggling along with a life-threatening heart condition, her whole life has been one long preparation for death. But suddenly she is presented with a donor heart, and just in time. Now she gets to do something she never imagined she'd have to do: live. Richard is a 36-year-old man who’s just lost his beloved wife, Lorrie, in a car accident. Still in shock and not even having begun the process of grieving, he is invited to the hospital to meet the young woman who received his wife’s donor heart. Vida takes one look at Richard and feels she’s loved him all her life. And tells him so. Richard assumes she’s just a foolish young girl. And maybe she is. Or maybe there’s truth behind the theory of cellular memory, and maybe it really is possible for a heart to remember, at least for a time, on its own. Second Hand Heart is both a story of having to learn to live for the first time, and having to learn to live all over again. Synopsis via Goodreads.
My Thoughts:

Catherine Ryan Hyde has proven she has a way of touching hearts and brining books to us that touch some of the deeper meanings of life.  Second Hand Heart is no exception.

Second Hand Heart couldn't be a more fitting title for the story of nineteen year old Vida and her heart.  Vida's life is quite tragic, living an existence where every breath can be her last since she brushed death on the day she was born.  Her heart condition doesn't only affect her diminishing heath and ability to live a normal day-to-day life, it also affects the person she is... her heart.

When Vida is given a second chance at having a heart we are introduced to the scientific anomaly of cellular memory.  When Vida meets Richard, the husband of the woman whose donated heart saves Vida's life, the story of the heart takes over and takes us on an emotional roller coaster side by side with a girl dying to live and show a grieving man that her heart remembers him.

Like Vida is intense, Richard is grieving and this sets the tone for Second Hand Heart.  Their journey together isn't pretty and it literally tugs at your heart.  Catherine Ryan Hyde makes it impossible to take sides, willing Vida to back away and find herself or willing Richard to give in to the girl who holds the heart he felt he would be eternally bound to.  Both main characters are likable and strong in their own right.

Other key characters help build this story's character.  Abigail, Vida's mother,  paved the way for Vida's need to let go and intense feelings.  Esther, Vida's best friend even though over half a century her senior, helped instill Vida with strength and faith she carried close to her literally and figuratively.  It was the way she accepted Vida when she accepted few others which created a mini-story within a story equally as touching.  Then there is Victor, Victor who saw Vida, noticed Vida and was ready to accept Vida.  Victor was there to help Esther and Vida do what they had to, to finally move on in life, to let go of what needed letting go of.  Then he was just there, in his possibly gothic style and all.

Second Hand Heart is an extraordinary story and completely unforgettable.  I've cried before but very rarely does a story keep tears dancing in my eyes from the first page to the last.  It was hard to stop the way the  journal pages of Vida and Richard's story came to life.  This will be a book I hold onto.

Cover: 5
Characters: 5
Plot: 5
Re-readable: Yes, I think so
Overall: 5

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness : April 2011

Book Soulmates
Thought it was about time I joined in on the Random Acts of Kindness going around!

Have you heard of it?

Random Acts of Kindness is hosted by Book Soulmates and is a fabulous way to spread the love, make someone smile, and maybe receive a smile yourself.

Here are the RAK Rules, as posted at Book Soulmates.

• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.

• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)
• Create a wishlist and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}
• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wishlist and contact that blogger for their address.
• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
{Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes :)

Here is my April 2011 Wishlist... 
These are just a few of the books I've been totally itching for but just haven't had a chance to grab.  Some are new releases, some are out this month, and some are ARCs I've seen floating around the blogosphere.
(My Goodreads Wishlist can be found here!)

Do you have an RAK Post?  Link them to me!