Monday, September 30, 2013

Best of the Bunch - September 2013

Best of the Bunch is a book blog hop hosted over at Always Lost in Stories on the last day of each month, where we can look back over the books we have read over this past month and give a Best of the Bunch award to our favorite book of that month.

September 2013

This month I reviewed the following books:

  • You Are Mine by Janeal Falor | Review | Rating: 5/5
  • Beautifully Broken by Sherry Soule | Review | Rating 3/5
  • Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover | Review | Rating 4/5
  • Runes by Ednah Walters | Review | Rating 4/5
  • Immortals by Ednah Walters | Review | Rating 4.5/5
  • Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins | Review | Rating 2.5/5
  • Loving Your Lies by Piper Shelly | Review | Rating 4/5
  • Towering by Alex Flinn | Review | Rating 2.5/5
  • Identity X by Michelle Muckley | Review | Rating 4/5
  • Escape From Eden by Elisa Nader | Review | Rating 4.5/5
  • Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux | Review | Rating: 5/5
  • The Elite by Keira Cass | Review | Rating 3/5
And my September 2013 Best of the Bunch winner is . . .

You Are Mine by Janeal Falor

I really loved/hated (loved to hate?) the misogynistic world that Falor created for You Are Mine and I am definitely looking forward to reading her next book.  I just posted a cover reveal and giveaway for Mine to Tarnish (even though I very rarely post cover reveals) because I loved the first book so much!

Click here to read my full review.

Summary: Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life—worth less than the shadow she casts.

Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly.


So, what was your best September read?

Review - The Elite (The Selection #2) by Keira Cass

Title: The Elite
Series: The Selection #2
Author: Keira Cass
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Pages: 323, Hardcover
Goodreads Rating: 3.94 stars
My Rating: 3/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-13 (Nothing more than kissing)

Summary from Goodreads: The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

*NOTE: This review contains spoilers for The Selection (book #1 in this series - if you haven't read The Selection, read my review of that book here instead!).* 

I was looking forward to reading The Elite, but also a little leery of it based on how The Selection ended.  Once America decided to lie to Maxon and not tell him that Aspen was the boy who broke her heart, I knew it spelled trouble.  I'm Team Maxon all the way and I have to admit that America's actions toward him bothered me more than a little.  Still, I was hopeful that she might redeem herself in The Elite.  Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.

I'm not going to go into a lot of details about the plot of the book because the synopsis sums it up pretty well.  Instead, I'm just going to jump into what I did and didn't like:

The negatives:
  • America (and Aspen).  Like I said, I'm Team Maxon.  Even more than that, I'm Team Honesty, Integrity, Don't Cheat on Your Pseudo-Boyfriendy.  Okay, yes, because of the whole Bachelor-like premise of the book, Maxon was seeing other people and maybe you could argue that America should be able to do the same.  Except she wasn't being honest with Maxon and she knew that what she was doing was just plain dangerous and wrong (since she had agreed to the terms of the Selection).  Her inability to choose between Aspen and Maxon made her just string them both along.  In fact, at some points, I wondered if Maxon would have been better off if he just chose Kriss (in fact, I'm still kind of wondering that).  I really WANT to want America and Maxon together, but this book just made me so aggravated with America and her petty childishness (not just regarding the love triangle, but in so MANY ways) that I kind of felt like maybe I'm Team Maxon, but not Team America.  I will say that America redeemed herself slightly by the end of the book and I have hope for the next book, but she definitely didn't completely win me over in this one.
What I Loved:
  • The girls.  I loved the dynamics between the girls in this book and that we got to learn a bit more about each of them (those that were still there).  I also liked that the book showed some of the problems and jealousies that occur in a situation like this (a la The Bachelor).
  • The revolution.  I liked that the revolution and the social issues in the book took a bit more center stage in this book.  I'm definitely more curious about what will happen with the revolution now than I was in the first book.  This book focused a bit more on the fact that the winner of The Selection will actually have to help lead the country and gave us some insight into what that means.  Is America up to the job?  I hope so!  
  • The ending.  Like I said, I definitely had more hope for America at the end of this book.  I am cautiously optimistic that she will grow up a bit and start to understand that her actions affect other people as well as herself (and that she'll stop going back and forth between Aspen and Maxon - please!).  I think that the premise that has been set for the third book could be really great - hopefully Keira Cass will follow through and the third book will be a winner!
While I didn't exactly dislike The Elite, I can't say that I loved it either.  But I have definitely not given up on this series and I am still anxiously awaiting book 3.  Hopefully it will bring the series to a satisfying end!  3/5 stars.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Post & Giveaways Galore - 9/29/13

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on my blog and share news about what's coming up in the week ahead. 

Last week on FYFA:
  • Embrace and Hold Tight by Cherie Colyer (excerpt & giveaway) - Still time to enter to win a $20 Gift Card!
  • Kinetic by S.K. Anthony (excerpt & giveaway) Still time to enter to win a copy of the book and a $25 Gift Card!
  • Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader (review & giveaway) - Still time to enter to win an awesome prize pack!
  • Spam-a-lot (Let's Discuss) - A fun discussion about spam comments!
  • Mine to Tarnish by Janeal Falor (cover reveal & giveaway) - Still time to enter to win a copy of the book!
  • Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux (review)
  • To Know Me by Marcy Blesy (excerpt & giveaway) Still time to enter to win a copy of the book!
Coming this week on FYFA:
  • The Elite by Keira Cass (review)
  • Just Ella by Annette K. Larsen (book blast & giveaway)
  • Cerberus by P.K. Gallagher (book blast & giveaway)
  • Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead (review)

Other Current Giveaways on FYFA:
(Besides the ones that are listed above.)
  • Scars of the Bifrost by A.J.M. Mousseau (excerpt & giveaway) - Enter to win a copy of the book and a $25 gift card!

Even More Awesome Giveaways on Other Sites:

Lots of good stuff!  Have any giveaways running on your site right now?  
Feel free to share them in the comments!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Excerpt & Giveaway - To Know Me by Marcy Blesy

To Know Me

Summary from Goodreads:
To know me is to die...

Seventeen-year-old Mae is convinced that the consequences of her poor decisions have caused the untimely deaths of her dad, sister Laura, and grandma who all die within a year, no matter how ludicrous her thoughts seem to those she loves. The solution? Run away so no one else she cares for gets hurt (even if she has to keep a GPS tracker on her phone at all times).

Desperate to earn her diploma and salvage something of her life, she transfers schools when people get too close. After switching to Woodson Prep with only two months to go until graduation, Mae keeps her goals in sight. But when she meets Ty, the "perfect boy" with his own secrets and a relentless interest in Mae, she must decide if she can stop running from the past and still protect those she loves.

Available from:

To know me is to die. I mean, to really know me, like when you know I can run for hours without so much as a water break, or that cinnamon sugar doughnuts are my weakness, or that my dad gave me a whole different name. But I don’t let people get that close. I’ve learned the hard way. Too many people die in my life. Grandma said I was only unlucky.

“It’s not your fault all those people you love die. It’s just bad luck that you’ve had to deal with grief so young. Not fair at all,” she’d said. That was right before she died on my seventeenth birthday and right after my sister Laura, my dad, and my dog Petie.

I direct Mom Number 4 toward the front door of the high school. I always get a new mom when I transfer schools. I have yet to find a school that allows a seventeen-year-old to register herself. I wanted to graduate in Ohio, but too many people started asking questions. They weren’t important questions. Just stuff like, “How come I can’t ever come over to your house?” or “Why won’t you ever talk about yourself?” or when I do, “That’s not what you told so-and-so.” I had to leave. To let people into my life isn’t an option anymore. But, there’re no worries anyone will start to ask questions here. It’s already March. That diploma is as good as mine. Then I can enroll in online college and try to salvage something of my pathetic life.

About the Author
I am a former elementary school teacher and currently run an elementary library which is the perfect job for my interests.

In October 2010 I  had an essay published in Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Devotional Stories For Mothers.   Another essay will be published in November 2013 in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls.

In 2012 my debut picture book was released by Bronze Man Books. Am I Like My Daddy? follows the journey of a child who seeks to learn if she is anything like the dad who died when she was young.

My middle grade novel, Confessions of a Corn Kid, as well a YA short story trilogy, The Lexie and Rhett Chronicles, and To Know Me, were released direct to kindle in 2013.

I am a great eavesdropper and person profiler which proves a fabulous advantage for a writer. As my favorite shirt says, Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.

***Author Links***
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png

2 e-book copies of To Know Me (mobi) (US)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blitz organized by:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review - Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux

Author: Madeleine Roux
Release Date: January, 2011
Pages: 340, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3.83 stars
My Rating: 5/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-16+ (Just kissing shown, but some gory violence)

Summary from Goodreads: "One woman's story as she blogs - and fights back - the zombie apocalypse"

Allison Hewitt and her five colleagues at the Brooks and Peabody Bookstore are trapped together when the zombie outbreak hits. Allison reaches out for help through her blog, writing on her laptop and utilizing the military's emergency wireless network (SNET). It may also be her only chance to reach her mother. But as the reality of their situation sinks in, Allison's blog becomes a harrowing account of her edge-of-the-seat adventures (with some witty sarcasm thrown in) as she and her companions fight their way through ravenous zombies and sometimes even more dangerous humans.

I really loved the concept of this book - I mean, a woman blogging during a zombie apocalypse?  What could be cooler than that? Even better - the book totally lived up to its cool concept!  I actually originally saw this book reviewed on another blog and had to pick it up because Allison and I share a last name - obviously it was meant to be!  Thank you, blogger who introduced me to this book (wish I could remember who it was).  I did not want to put this book down (even when I had lots of other things I should have been doing) - I needed to know what was going to happen to Allison and company!

The negatives:
  • Didn't always sound like a blog.  Okay, so the only issue that I had with this book was the fact that the blog didn't always read like a blog to me.  The story was told in a narrative style that sometimes just read like a regular book (with dialogue embedded, etc.) and I found myself thinking, "Is this what it would sound like if someone was blogging about her experiences?"  To be fair, I don't think the book would have worked that well if it wasn't told in this style, so I can't complain much.  Oh, and one other thing about it being a blog that bothered me was that I was sometimes confused about the dates - a few times Allison was telling about past events (when she had missed a few days of blogging) and I was confused about when we "caught up" because the dates seemed to coincide with when she was writing, not necessarily with when things happened.  (Then things would be synced again - like her description of Halloween was on Oct. 31st).  This was a minor issue, though, that I let slide because I was enjoying the book so much.
  • The comments.  Like I said, I loved the concept that this was being written as a blog and I thought it was really fun to read other people's comments at the end of each blog entry.  Not only was the concept interesting, but it gave us insights into what was happening in the rest of the world during the zombie invasion.
  • It wasn't about the zombies.  Okay, I know this sounds like an odd thing to say about a zombie novel, but this book wasn't really about fighting zombies.  Sure, there were some zombie fighting scenes, but the zombies themselves weren't actually that terrifying (something that might bother zombie lovers).  I mean, they kind of shuffled around and they weren't all that hard to kill.  It was really the sheer number of them that made them dangerous.  But, that was okay because the zombies were not really what the book was about.  The book was about what life would be like if you were suddenly trapped in a small space with people you don't really know all that well and what you would need to do to survive.  I loved the first part of the book, where Allison and her "friends" were afraid to leave the small room they were trapped in, but knew that they would have to venture out eventually in order to survive.  I loved that they made their first trek out into the world for "food" - chips, candy bars and soda.  Every decision they made had a huge potential backlash, but they knew that they couldn't just sit and hide in this room forever.  And once they left their protective shell, that's when things got dangerous.  Which brings me to my next point...
  • The danger and the high stakes.  This is a zombie novel.  Really, everybody shouldn't just live happily ever after.  And, well, they don't.  In this book, you don't know who will live and who will die (including Allison herself).  Even with the humans, you don't know who should be trusted and who will just go whack-o crazy and crack under the pressure of the apocalypse.  I will warn you now - characters you love will die, characters you were so-so about will die, characters you weren't so crazy about - yep, some of them will die too.  Zombies are equal opportunity killers.  And once the action picks up (about a quarter of the way into the novel), it doesn't let up.  I was constantly wondering what would happen to my favorite characters next.  Like I said before, I didn't want to put the book down.
  • Allison.  Thank you Allison Hewitt for living up to our last name!  Allison is one of the best female heroines I've run across in quite awhile.  She is by no means perfect - in the face of the zombie apocalypse even she does some morally questionable things (but she realizes it and questions it all right along with us).  Still, Allison is a take-charge, natural born leader who also happens to be incredibly brave and smart and pretty witty as well.  Can't ask for much more than that!
In case you hadn't noticed, I LOVED this book!   Hang on tight while you face the zombie apocalypse - and be prepared for one crazy ride!  5/5 stars.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cover Reveal & Giveaway - Mine to Tarnish by Janeal Falor

I don't usually post cover reveals (just because they don't excite me all that much unless the cover turns out to be beautiful - which you don't know ahead of time), but I really loved You Are Mine, so I was happy to participate in this one!  So, what do you think?

Mine to Tarnish (Mine .5)
Release Date: 12/02/13

Summary from Goodreads:
Katherine’s place is the same as any woman’s—on the shelf next to the dresses and bolts of cloth. When she’s sold to a warlock, life grows even bleaker. Her new owner is as old and rancid as he is cruel, driving her to do the unthinkable: run.

Nothing prepared her for being on her own. And she’s definitely unprepared for the warlocks hunting her down. But she must stay one step ahead because if caught, the best she can hope for is death.

Book One:
(linked to Goodreads)

About the Author
Janeal Falor lives in Utah where she’s finally managed to live in the same house for more than five years without moving. In her spare time she reads books like they’re nuts covered in caramel and chocolate, cooks whatever strikes her fancy, and enjoys the outdoors. Her husband and three children try to keep up with her overactive imagination. Usually they settle for having dinner on the table, even if she’s still going on about the voices in her head.
Author Links:
    photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png

10 e-ARC copies of Mine To Tarnish (INT)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal Organized by:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spam-a-lot - Who comes up with this stuff?

Do you ever read through the spam comments that you get on your blog? They can be pretty frustrating, but they can also be a source of great entertainment!  I mean, really, who do they think they're fooling?  Since those poor spammers never get a single reply, I thought I'd take a sampling of my spam and respond to their comments here.  It's only fair, right?
(Click the images if you need to see them a bit larger.)

First, we have the insulting spam.  Is this supposed to get my attention?  I guess it worked.

The least you can do if you're going to spam me is praise my wonderful work!

And then there are those spam comments that are just downright weird and confusing!

Ah, the joys of spam.  Since I've moved to CommentLuv, I don't get much of it anymore, but the ones that slip through (on old posts) are so much fun!  Who needs books?  I should just start reviewing spam!

So, how about you?  Any good spam lately?  Don't keep it all to yourself!  Please, share!

This post is being linked to the Let's Discuss blog hop over at Oh, Chrys! and The Fiction Conniption!  Come join us for some fun discussions!