Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Giveaway: Changeling and Stormbringers by Philippa Gregory

Hey everyone!

Today I have a giveaway for the first two books in the Order of Darkness series by Philippa Gregory! This giveaway is open to US addresses only. All you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Here is a summary for the first book in the series, Changeling-

Changeling (Order of Darkness #1)Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 12, 2013

Relay for Life

Hey, everyone!

This is kind of a random post, but it’s about something I really really care about- so I would appreciate it if you continued reading.

For the past 7 years, I’ve participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. I started going to my town’s event when I was 10. At the time, I knew about cancer and I knew that it had affected people in my family, but I didn’t really grasp what it was and how much of an impact it can have on someone’s life. Obviously, I know more about it now. I know more about the literal disease, but I also know more about just how much of an impact it can have.

When I was younger (before I started participating in Relay), I lost two of my great-grandparents to cancer. I was too young to really grasp just how much of a struggle they had to go through. My great-grandma was diagnosed with brain cancer in July (I honestly don’t remember the year), they caught it in the later stages, and she ended up passing away in December of the same year. In the summer of 2006, my great-grandfather (on the other side of my family) was diagnosed with cancer. Because he was taking care of my great-grandma, who was also ill at the time, he didn’t go to the doctor until after she had passed away. Since he had taken so long to figure out what the pain in his abdomen was, the doctors diagnosed it as cancer. It had already spread throughout his body and it was too late to do anything. He ended up passing away in October of 2006.

Most recently, I have had two more family members diagnosed with cancer. My great aunt (the sister of my previously mentioned great-grandfather) was diagnosed last year. Though she went through treatments, the treatments were unsuccessful, and she passed away.

In the past year, someone closer to me, my Papa (grandfather), was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma (a type of cancer that affects lymph tissue). This was the first time that I really saw the affects of cancer (in all of the previous stories I told, I was either too young to remember or the relative didn’t live in the area). Seeing my Papa have to go through chemo and radiation and personal, internal struggles gave me a new perspective. I had heard stories of what it was like and how hard it was, and I didn’t doubt those stories- but watching someone go through it is way different than just hearing about it. Earlier this year, thanks to the treatment that he went through, we got the fantastic, amazing news that my Papa is now in remission.

You may be asking yourself why I wrote this super long post. I didn’t write it because I had the urge to share information about my personal life, or because I was told to write it. I wrote this post as a demonstration of just how many people are affected by cancer.

So this year, instead of walking on somebody else’s Relay for Life team, my family decided to band together and create our own- in honor of my Papa. You don’t have to, but I would really appreciate it if you were to donate to our Relay team, Bare it All. Any little bit helps. The American Cancer Society provides services that help educate people about cancer, help people take steps to try and prevent cancer, help those who have already been diagnosed with cancer, and ultimately trying to find a cure for cancer.

Like I said previously, you don’t have to donate. I completely understand that not everybody can. However, if you can, I would more than appreciate it.

**You can donate to my Relay team, by going to my ACS page HERE, and clicking “Donate Now”.**

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt

Right of WayHere are Peyton and Jace, meeting on vacation. Click! It’s awesome, it’s easy, it’s romantic. This is the real deal.
Unless it isn’t. Because when you’re in love, you don’t just stop calling one day. And you don’t keep secrets. Or lie. And when your life starts falling apart, you’re supposed to have the other person to lean on.
Here are Peyton and Jace again, broken up but thrown together on a road trip. One of them is lying about the destination. One of them is pretending not to be leaving something behind. And neither of them is prepared for what’s coming on the road ahead…

Two-way Street was the first Lauren Barnholdt book I read, so when I found out that there was going to be a companion, I was overjoyed. Barnholdt did not disappoint at all. Peyton and Jace were both fantastic characters. They each had their own thing going on, but when they were together- the novel was completely electric. The chemistry between them was so good. I read this book quite awhile ago, but it’s still stuck in my head.

Jace was kind of dark and brooding, but in a super adorable and fantastic way. Though at times he annoyed me, it was mainly because of how Peyton thought of him. That being said, it was obvious that even when they were fighting, Peyton and Jace still cared deeply for each other.

Right of Way (like Two-way Street) had a road trip. Road trip books are some of my favorite kinds of books. However, it’s really easy to make them seem unnecessary and awkward. Barnholdt knows how to successfully write a road-trip book. My one tiff with this book is the pacing. The beginning of the book went by so fast. It was addicting and easy to read. However, towards the end, the pacing started to get really weird. The book felt longer and a little more messy.

Despite the pacing issue, I still really liked Right of Way. Lauren Barnholdt is one of the best Contemporary Young Adult novel writers. Right of Way makes a perfect summer read. I recommend Right of Way, along with Barnholdt’s other novels. They’re all really well written.

FTC- Received for review via Edelweiss.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Thousand Words

Ashleigh's boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he'll forget about her while he's away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh's friends suggest she text him a picture of herself -- sans swimsuit -- to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits "send."
But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone -- until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he's the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh's photo -- and didn't look.

I was skeptical when starting Thousand Words. I loved Brown’s debut novel Hate List (and still do, because that book is freaking amazing), and was worried that Thousand Words wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Though it didn’t end up living up to my expectations, I did still enjoy the novel. I found myself trying to start Thousand Words a multitude of times- so I definitely think that it is the type of book that you have to be in the mood to read. That being said, once I started it, I read it in one sitting. Though I wouldn’t call this Brown’s best title, her fantastic writing style and realistic plot are still prevalent and stand out amongst other YA titles.

Ashleigh, though hard to empathize with, was still a well written character. I felt bad for her, however, I didn’t agree with a lot of her choices. At times she came off as being overly clingy and annoying. However, as the story progresses, she grows into a stronger, more independent character. Kaleb was a huge jerk- but he’s supposed to be. Their relationship is one of the cases where I don’t understand why the two people ever got together in the first place. Though the unlikely pairing annoyed me, it made sense with the actions of both characters.

Thousand Words was small, and I feel like it was too small. The story didn’t really grow as much as I had hoped it would. Though I liked that it dealt with something prevalent in our society- Thousand Words doesn’t strike me as something that I’ll remember. It worked as a good, high quality quick read, however I’m afraid it won’t have the impact that it should have.

FTC- Received from publisher.

Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance

Spies and PrejudiceFields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.
Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.
So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.
But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

For some reason, despite the fact that I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice, the various adaptations of it fascinate me. Because of this fascination, I jumped on the opportunity to read Spies and Prejudice. There are a lot of Pride and Prejudice adaptations, and this one was one of the better young adult ones. This book is like if Veronica Mars and Jane Austen had a baby. Fantastic.

Berry is a total badass. I loved her. She was a no-holds-barred type of character, and an excellent spy. I loved how devoted she was to the business she was in, and how strong of a character she was. Berry is the type of character that I want to read about all the time. She isn’t afraid to do what she wants or be herself. Then there’s Tanner. Tanner, Tanner, Tanner. I’m not even going to attempt to cover up my love for him. I love Tanner Halston, because he is dark and brooding and basically a horribly irresistible YA love interest. I loved the banter between him and Berry- it was one of my favorite parts of the whole book.

Spies and Prejudice is a novel that will capture you from the very beginning. It’s well written, addicting, and has spies. What’s not to love? Talia Vance is a writer that I’ll definitely be reading in the future. I love her writing style, and the way she sculpts her stories. Spies and Prejudice isn’t an Austen re-make that you’ll soon forget.

FTC- Received from publisher.