Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No More Waiting! (5)

No More Waiting is a feature I periodically do here to highlight books that have recently been released. I also highlight book-related sales that are currently available.

Click here to see previous No More Waiting posts

Books I've Read and Recommend

A high fantasy with twists and turns, allies and enemies who are not what they seem, and a budding friendship between two boys makes Witchlanders both intriguing and unique compared to most YA books coming out lately. I loved it!

Books I Want to Read

A spooky ghost who likes to kill people, a guy narrator, a witch mother, and a spirit-sniffing cat...doesn't that sound like a recipe for success? Early reviews seem to think so!

This sounds like one of the most original takes I've heard of on Arthurian legend. Set in modern times, a girl is caught up in a feud "older than time" between Morgan le Fay and her sister Vivienne. I'm not sure if this one is MG or YA.

I loved The Adoration of Jenna Fox, but I'm not sure yet if I want to mess with my positive feelings for that book by reading this one. This is set many years later and follows Jenna's two friends (can't say anything more without spoiling the first book).

I like the idea of a scorned and butt-kicking Juliet and a battle that has been raging for centuries.

Possess by Gretchen McNeil
A girl who battles demons already sounds pretty good, but the Buffy comparisons have me sold.

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel
I like Frankenstein and I like this cover. I'm game!

Wildwood by Colin Meloy 
The descriptions of an epic MG fantasy and the "American Narnia" are enough to catch my eye.

Free e-books!

This is a novella from her Past Midnight series. I've heard good things about that series, but I haven't read it yet.

Like historical fiction meets Gossip Girl.

I don't remember how this book first got on my radar, but I pounced on it as soon as I saw it was a Kindle freebie. Romance, castles, arranged marriages, hate-turned-love, ghosts, mystery, oh my! I hope it's as good as it sounds.

On Sale Now!

Last I checked, these books were significantly discounted on Amazon. I am not affiliated with Amazon, so I won't be profiting in any way if you do decide to buy these books through them. I'm just a reader who likes a good deal and thought I'd share.
These are all hardcovers that are under or a few cents over $7

 I love these books!

I love these books!


What books are you going to spend your hard earned money on? (Or use your well-worn library card on?)

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Feel free to link me your reviews in the comments!

Today is also the last day to enter my River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren giveaway!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sweet Venom 2 Title Hunt Giveaway!

I'm so happy to be a part of Tera Lynn Childs' Title Hunt for the next book in the Medusa Girls series!

My letter is: 

Not sure what to do with this? Head on over to Tera Lynn Childs' website to learn what to do with that letter and how you can enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card or one of five signed copies of Sweet Venom! 
This contest is open internationally!

Review Comparison: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Review Comparison: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Review Comparison is an original feature I do where I pull out the pros and cons of the featured book mentioned in my review and other bloggers' reviews.

Click for my original review: 

The following bloggers kindly allowed me to include their reviews in this feature: 

Pica Reads
Yearning to Read
Books Your Kids Will Love
Lisa Tawn Bergren
A Backwards Story
Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading: 5 out of 5
Erica: 5 out of 5
The Bookish Type: 5 out of 5
Happily Never Ending: 5 out of 5
Proud Book Nerd: 4.5 out of 5
Books Are a Girl's Best Friend: 4.5 out of 5
Bookworm1858: 4.5 out of 5
Dystopian Desserts: 4 out of 5
The Bucket List: 4 out of 5
Melissa: 4 out of 5
Sniffly Kitty: 3 out of 5

Please click on the links to read their full reviews!


Reviewers were almost unanimous in saying that, despite the book's high page count, Entwined was a fast read, though a few reviewers did note that the beginning was slow. The romances were liked by almost all reviewers, with the only complaints being minor desires for more passion and depth. Most reviewers commented on the family dynamics taking center stage, and this feature was almost unanimously liked. The biggest sources of disagreement were over the character development (some say perfect, others wished for more) and the character Bramble (loved and hated). 

~Writing, Pacing and Setting~

  • "distinct writing...[Heather Dixon] describes the scenes well, leaving a beautiful image in my head" (Happily Never Ending)
  • "...vivid imaginings...captivated me" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend) 
  • "...interesting details make for a magical book" (Books Your Kids Will Love)
  • "Lush and descriptive, Entwined brings the tale to life like never before" (A Backwards Story)
  •  "It's breathtaking and a moving story" (Happily Never Ending)
  • "Dixon's writing is and lush and emotions run deep in this story" (Melissa)
  • "I love Heather Dixon's voice. The diction was powerful, creative, and mind-blowing" (The Bucket List)
  • "Easy to read and follow" (Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading)
  • "The only thing I found jarring were occasional modern phrases from the girls" (Lisa Tawn Bergren)
  • "...somewhat confusing terminology" (Dystopian Desserts) 
  •  "There were far too many repetitive phrases" (Small Review)

  • "...great fun to read" (Proud Book Nerd)
  • "I can't stop smiling and swooning and laughing...It was downright hilarious!" (Erica)
  • "...many laugh-out-loud moments" (A Backwards Story)
  • "Incredibly funny" (Pica Reads)
  • "...some very humorous scenes!" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend) 
  • "The Penderwick-like titles for things like The Great Rosebush and Snowball Scandal were absolutely adorable" (Small Review)

  • "...delightful...This was a total escape read, delving back into a literal fairy a fresh new way" (Lisa Tawn Bergren)
  • "It stayed true to most of the tale, but differed in a few things, and adding an intriguing, magical, dangerous twist." (Erica)
  • "...manages to remain true to the original tale while still becoming its own entity" (A Backwards Story)
  • "...a fresh new take on the 12 dancing princesses" (Dystopian Desserts)
  • "The twists and turns and the originality of it all (all the while keeping really close to the Grimms' story) were almost too good to be true" (Yearning to Read)
  • "...a unique spin to the fairy tale and added a fresh and creative dimension that has really made it her own" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend)
  • "...Dixon was able to beautifully combine elements of the original story while branching off in ways that fit so perfectly they could have easily been a part of the original" (Pica Reads)
  •  "My only complaint is that it's not as original as I had thought" (Proud Book Nerd) 
  • "Entwined just didn't stack up well enough against the two other 12 Dancing Princesses retellings I've read..." (Small Review)


  • "...fantastic job of pacing the story...I was engaged and interested throughout the book and to the very end" (Books Your Kids Will Love)
  • "Desipite its length, this book moves fairly quickly while still allowing me the chance to savor the story" (Bookworm1858)
  • "This is a big book (480 pages) but was so smoothly written that it didn't take any time at all to read it" (Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading)
  • "It's a very quick read with a page count that's a lot longer than it seems" (Small Review)
  • "It captivated me from the very beginning, and kept a tight hold throughout the entire story!" (Erica)
  • "There were no breaks in the story line, the writing flowed gracefully from beginning to end, and there was always something new to chew on...Even when there wasn't a lot of action or mystery, it was still undeniably interesting..." (Yearning to Read)
  • "The pacing remained even and never dragged. Once the story sucked me in, it was impossible to put down" (A Backwards Story)
  • "...immediately pulls the reader into an enchanted world and brilliantly imaginative story" (The Bookish Type)
  • "...[I] was drawn in from the first is long, but I didn't mind at never drags. I barely noticed the length" (Pica Reads)

  • "I do have a gripe and that's about the story being way too long. I can definitely see it shorter by about another 1/4" (Melissa)
  • "It was very slow in the beginning, making it incredibly difficult to get into...after [a while] it got much better...the ending was fantastic!" (The Bucket List)
  • "...the plot is quite slow moving and although this allowed for the excellent character and relationship development, it did affect my enjoyment slightly" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend)

Plot/World building

  • "...the trips to the woods were very well explained and logical" (Books Your Kids Will Love)
  • "The landscaping...was magical...Seriously, this world is perfect" (Yearning to Read)
  • "The forest itself is gorgeous and I could see it in my mind's eye" (A Backwards Story)
  • "The world-building in this novel is phenomenal" (The Bookish Type)
  • "...the world within came alive" (Proud Book Nerd)
  • "...a beautiful world...a gorgeous setting" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend)
  • "I could hardly visualize anything in the villain's domain...I was SO disappointed, especially given that the regular world was described well" (Small Review)

  • "...a historical fantasy full of jaw dropping magic, gorgeous dancing, and fantastic characters" (The Bucket List)
  • "...good balance of old traditions, formal dancing at balls and modern behaviour without it seeming out of place" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend)
  • "...a fun read but don't expect much emotional impact" (Sniffly Kitty)
  • "...encapsulated a beautiful vision alongside dark and misleading magics...brilliant" (Dystopian Desserts)
  • "Usually it is not explained why the princesses go off at night, and I appreciated that this retelling had a backstory that explained everything" (Pica Reads) 
  • "...key features of the original tale that are usually integrated in the retellings, but they aren't explained in this version...It felt sloppy" (Small Review)

  • "I love the way Dixon fleshes out [the dancing] and turns it into an entity of its own" (A Backwards Story)
  • "I learned things about dances that I had never heard about it" (Happily Never Ending)
  • "Dixon also managed to write the dancing scenes so that both dancers and people with very little knowledge of dancing could easily enjoy them" (Pica Reads)



  • "...their names are in alphabetical [order] which makes it easy for a forgetful reader" (Books Your Kids Will Love)
  • "...having the alphabetical names helped distinguish all of the different characters...This made things so much clearer and helped define each princess as their own character" (Pica Reads)
  • "...the author did a fantastic job making each character different in the book with such a huge cast of characters" (Books Your Kids Will Love)
  • "[Except for Azalea] I liked pretty much all of the other characters and I loved the responsible and sweet sister Clover" (Small Review)
  • "I loved each and every girl. They all had a part, each one was able to show her colors and to let the reader get to know them" (Erica)
  • "I loved all of the sisters, each and every one of them. Each one had her own lovely something to add to the story" (Yearning to Read)
  • "...each of the girls had a distinct personality" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend)
  • "...excellent character and relationship development" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend)
  • "Each character shined on the page" (The Bucket List)
  • "I quite like Azalea's sisters, though there's too many of them to remember" (Melissa)
  •  "The eldest three, Azalea, Bramble (!), and Clover, seemed to have the best defined personalities..." (Bookworm1858)
  • "...the author could have added more depth to all of Azalea's sisters...all their personalities felt one-dimensional" (Dystopian Desserts)
  • "...there isn't a whole lot of depth to the characters or the story" (Sniffly Kitty)

  • "[Azalea] was a strong heroine who had her moments of doubts. It made her more accessible for the reader" (Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading)
  • "Azalea, the protagonist, was mesmerizing, struggling with issues of grief and anger in a believable way" (Lisa Tawn Bergren)
  • "[Azalea] feels like a real girl with real problems, and she faces them head-on" (The Bookish Type) 
  • "I thought she was very unfair and childish...then there's this one scene where she earns herself the Dumbest Move Ever award" (Small Review)
  • "...even after 400 pages, I couldn't find myself empathizing alongside [Azalea]" (Dystopian Desserts)

  • "I didn't really like Bramble" (Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading)
  • "Thank heavens for [Bramble's] ill-mannered, unruly, outspoken, fiery personality. It definitely livened up the reading" (Erica)
  • "Bramble is a personal favorite" (Yearning to Read)
  • "I quite like Bramble" (Melissa)


  • "The story is really about family and love...and that just warmed my heart" (Bookworm1858)
  •  "[Entwined is] actually a moral story about the importance of family" (Sniffly Kitty) 
  • "This is really the crux of the plot, with everything else taking a backseat to the family's relationship" (Small Review)
  • "I loved the family dynamics so vividly described and drawn out" (Lisa Tawn Bergren)
  • "The focus on emotions and the relationship development...was emotional, complex, and ultimately endearing" (Small Review)
  • "The close bond between the sisters was adorable to see and was a joy to read about when so many YA book families are dysfunctional" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend)
  • "Their relationship is heart-warming and adorable, reminding me of puppies playfully tumbling over one another" (The Bookish Type)
  • "...not unlike unruly puppies...quite adorable the way they tumble into mishaps and accidents, and it made me giggle" (Sniffly Kitty)
  •  "The other sisters make their presence known and all together, the sisterly affection and camaraderie was one of my favorite parts" (Bookworm1858)

  • "I liked the King and overall he seemed to be the one that did the most growing in the book. A nice touch" (Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading)
  • "The King was a great character because of the conflict he brought to the story" (Yearning to Read)
  • "It is refreshing to see a parent-child relationship develop and grow, rather than stagnate or be pushed aside" (The Bookish Type)
  • "...the King was a significant presence and complex character, with a charm and charisma all his own" (The Bookish Type)
  • "[The King] just might be my favorite character with all of his complex stoicism covering up a softie heart" (Small Review)
  •  "It was nearly as magical as the secret passage to see the relationship between the princesses and the king grow and change" (Pica Reads)


  • "Great villain also, very creepy" (Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading)
  • "eerie...I think his character's transformation in attitude towards the girls was very well written" (Sniffly Kitty)
  • "The antagonist was fascinating..." (Lisa Tawn Bergren)
  • "...without a doubt, one of my favorite antagonists...I never really knew if he was good or bad. He had me chilled to the bone and then doubting my own feelings about him" (Yearning to Read)
  • " mysterious and written in such a way, my arms got goosebumps as I read" (A Backwards Story)
  • "...close to perfectly written" (Pica Reads)
  • "The villain is creepy, no doubt about that...[but] I never felt that terrifying trapped feeling I usually get with this tale. The stakes never felt that high to me" (Small Review)


  • "The way the three romances proceeded was familiar...I liked all three guys and they all seemed honorable and decent chaps" (Bookworm1858)
  • "There were a lot of male characters presented in this story, which I loved. They were all so unique!" (Yearning to Read)
  • "Bradford is quite possibly the most huggable hero ever written...[their romance is] endearing...[and] cleverly plotted..." (The Bookish Type)
  • "I loved that not only Azalea had a romance, but Bramble and Clover also each had one" (Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading)
  • "Each romance is different and fitting the personalities of the different sisters, but each one is adorable in its own way" (Small Review)
  • "...heart fluttering, brilliant, joyful, beautiful romances...each one as breathtaking and beautiful and romantic as the next" (Erica)
  • "I like the romance here and it did keep my interest in the novel for quite a bit" (Melissa)
  • "Love interests are introduced early on, allowing time for love to blossom...[I] loved meeting all of the potential suitors" (A Backwards Story)
  • "Brilliant...none of them are forced or out of feels completely natural" (Pica Reads)
  • "...there was no love at first sight...cute" (Books Are a Girl's Best Friend)
  • "...I didn't feel satisfied with the romance!...I wished for them to have a more passionate romance than just the rare peck on the cheek" (Dystopian Desserts) 
  • "My one complaint is that I wish the guys and the actual romances were fleshed out a bit more than they were" (Small Review)

      What do you think? 
      Does the Review Comparison make you want to read the book?
      If you've read Entwined, how does your opinion compare to the ones presented here?

       Did you enjoy this post? 

      Monday, August 29, 2011

      Book Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

      Entwined by Heather Dixon
      Release Date: March 29, 2011
      Publisher: Greenwillow Books
      Pages: 480
      Received: Own
      Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
      Goodreads Page


      From Goodreads:

      Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

      The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

      Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

      But there is a cost.
      The Keeper likes to keep things.

      Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.


      It's not you, it's me

      The thing about fairy tale retellings is that, well, they're retellings. So right off the bat you've already got that "been there, done that" thing going on. I also find it practically impossible not to draw comparisons to both the original story and other retellings.

      And herein lies my biggest problem: Entwined just didn't stack up well enough against the two other 12 Dancing Princesses retellings I've read--and ADORED (Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George and The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell).

      I didn't find the twist to the original story as inventive or compelling, the villain wasn't as intriguing, the world building wasn't as immersive, and the explanation for why the princesses were dancing and couldn't talk just didn't hack it for me. And the family thing? 100 times better in The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.

      This isn't to say Entwined was bad. It's just that I didn't head-over-heels love it like I love those other three books and I couldn't help myself from constantly drawing comparisons (I know, totally unfair to Entwined).

      Maybe it is a little bit you

      Remember how I've said I'm not the kind of reader who really takes note of writing style? Well, I took note here. And NOT in a good way. There were far too many repetitive phrases. If Azalea dug her nails into the palm of her hand one more time I was going to reach into the book and throttle her. She seriously does this all the time. I felt so sorry for her hands. The king also sucks in his cheeks a lot. And do we really need to hear about Bramble's freaking yellow-green eyes every single time she does anything?!

      That said though, I thought the Penderwick-like titles for things like The Great Rosebush and Snowball Scandal were absolutely adorable.

      But Azalea, oh Azalea.  She's the focus of the third-person narration and she rivals Agnes when it comes to main characters who do stupid things that annoy me because they're so childish and dense. I know people will love her, and truly I did like her in a lot of scenes, but the way she treated her father really bugged me. I thought she was very unfair and childish when it came to him. She pouts, throws fits, and does these totally impulsive and stupid things. Then there's this one scene where she earns herself the Dumbest Move Ever award.

      It's characters like Azalea that make me feel really old and stodgy because I just want them to pull it together and be responsible already. On the flip side, I liked pretty much all of the other characters and I loved the responsible and sweet sister Clover. I would have loved this book so much more if Clover were the focus of the narration instead.

      Enough "character girl" let's talk about the plot already!

      The 12 Dancing Princesses tale is one of my favorites to retell because it has a few key plot points that can be taken in a bunch of interesting directions. Here they are, and here's what I liked and didn't like with Entwined's version:

      The mystery of the dancing princesses: 

      WHY are they dancing?! This question sets up the story right away with a mystery and, usually, authors answer this question with some sort of curse or other type of entanglement. Given that the name of this book is entwined, I was expecting something awesomely creepy that wrapped the princesses up in layers of dastardly spells. 

      Ya know what I got instead? 


      Yeah. Now before I start knocking that too much, I have to admit that this was an approach I hadn't read before and for that I appreciated it. The focus on emotions and the relationship development that followed between the sisters and their father after the death of their mother (in the first chapter) was emotional, complex, and ultimately endearing. This is really the crux of the plot, with everything else taking a backseat to the family's relationship.

      That said, a creepy curse would have been so much cooler than petty princesses who don't feel like following the conventions of mourning their dead mother. It also would have fit in a lot better. As it is, the magical elements and more obvious parts of the retelling seemed almost out of place to me. It often felt like Heather Dixon had a beautiful story about a family coming to terms with grief and the growth of their relationships but then felt like it needed some sort of drama, so enter the 12 Dancing Princesses retelling bits.

      Also, why are there 12 princesses? Why did the mother die? These are key features of the original tale that are usually integrated in the retellings, but they aren't explained in this version. They just ARE, and I was very disappointed with that. It felt sloppy. 


      Ok, here's the thing, I don't like useless damsels, but, come on, isn't the idea of a dashing young man pledging himself to rescue the princesses in distress kinda hot? Well, I think so. And the guys in the book are all so sweet.

      Did you catch that plural? Not one, not two, but THREE girls have romances with three very different but all totally crushable guys. Each romance is different and fitting the personalities of the different sisters, but each one is adorable in its own way. My one complaint is that I wish the guys and the actual romances were fleshed out a bit more than they were. They're all very MG-level.

      I also thought the king was pretty swoon-worthy, too, but I'm older so that's ok. (He just might be my favorite character with all of his complex stoicism covering up a softie heart).

      The villain: 

      The idea of some creeper living in a magical kingdom under your bedroom is already pretty scary, but when he magically forces you to return to him night after night to dance until your feet bleed with no escape, well, that can be downright terrifying. And here's where I'm really disappointed with Entwined

      The villain is creepy, no doubt about that. While the rest of the book is all very MG, the stories about the villain's past deeds and some of the things he does to the girls were totally unsettling for me and would be far too brutal for some of my MG girls who would otherwise love the book.

      Even with that, I never felt that terrifying trapped feeling I usually get with this tale. The stakes never felt that high to me (though that might have been because I couldn't care less if Azalea was stuck down there forever). The fact that the princesses were always willing dancers also seriously took away from the sense of consuming peril. 

      When bad things finally started to happen (in, like, the final 100 pages) I couldn't help but feel like giving them the "Talk to the hand" signal because they were only getting exactly what they had been courting for the past 300 pages. Actions have consequences, girls!

      The world building

      I am a total sucker for world building, and ever since I read Jessica Day George's version of the underground kingdom I've been utterly captivated by the possibilities of the 12 Dancing Princesses' underground world. Merrie Haskell created an equally vivid world that is both like and completely unlike JDG's imaginings. But Heather Dixon? 

      Totally gypped me on the world building! I could hardly visualize anything in the villain's domain. The silver forest, the lake, the pavilion, nothing. I was SO disappointed, especially given that the regular world was described well. (Bramble's stupid yellow-green eyes must have used up the rest of the description quota). 

      Bottom line

      I know I'm complaining, a lot, and I do stand by that. I was straight up disappointed with this version. That said, I did still like enough of it to warrant a 3.5 star rating and I'll probably even reread it. This is a nice retelling and I'm glad I read it and own a copy.

      It's a very quick read with a page count that's a lot longer than it seems. Even with the less action-oriented plot, Entwined never felt like a long book. I do wish the pacing had been a little brisker, but it's not that type of story.

      Though I had a lot of bones to pick with Entwined, I liked it enough that I am on the lookout for whatever Heather Dixon writes next.

      Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

      Jeez, are you still here? Sorry that was such a long one!
      Do you have any questions about Entwined that I haven't addressed? 
      Feel free to ask in the comments!

      Totally disagree with me? Well, you're not alone!
      Check out the Review Comparison.

      Looking for another book like this? 
      You might like: 

      Click on the covers to go to Goodreads or my review.

      Sunday, August 28, 2011

      Small News

      I'm back!

      If you're reading this, that means the hurricane caused a blackout and I have no power!

      Don't worry, I'm fine! I'm probably reading by candlelight and pretending I'm Laura Ingalls Wilder or Jo March.

      But, that means I won't be here to reply to your comments or comment on your own blogs. I will also be turning off the auto-comment feature, so your comments won't appear publicly until the power comes back on. I do have a few posts scheduled for the next few days.

      I'll miss you!

      Saturday, August 27, 2011


      I wanted to do something to make up for the cancellation of the previous giveaway, so I thought what better way than to hold a giveaway for something else? And what better prize than a book from the absolutely amazing River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren! Not sure about the series? Check out my Waterfall review or Cascade review to see me fangirl all over the place.

      The winner can have their pick of one of the books from the series
      (print copy or Kindle edition if available--your choice!):

      If you already entered the previous giveaway for the canvas, then you have been automatically entered in this giveaway AND you have been automatically given five extra entries as my personal apology for the premature cancellation. If you're not sure if you entered the previous giveaway, then go ahead and enter again here and I'll check for you.

      If you win the giveaway but you already own all three books, don't worry--we'll talk.

      Info for the giveaway:
      • You do NOT have to be a follower
      • You must have a US mailing address (or know someone with a US address I can send the book to for you)
      • You must be 13 years of age or older
      • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
      • If an address is not provided, the winner will have 24 hours to reply to my email with their address before a new winner is chosen
      • The giveaway will close August 31st. The winner will be announced Friday September 2nd in the Recap post

      Friday, August 26, 2011

      Recap 8/20 to 8/26

      In case you missed anything, here's a recap of what was posted Saturday, August 20th through Friday, August 26th. 

      + Important giveaway announcement. Please read if you entered!

      Giveaway Announcement

      Due to recent unforeseen events, I am cancelling the canvas giveaway, removing my review, and redacting my endorsement.

      I am so sorry to all of my readers who entered the giveaway. I am deeply disappointed with these events and I am sorry for any inconvenience or dashed hopes this may have caused.

      I want Small Review to be a happy place where honesty, integrity, and goodwill are valued. I will always strive to maintain and protect those values on this blog.

      To that end, and to try to make things up to you, I will be hosting a replacement giveaway tomorrow for a book that I will personally provide. Everyone who entered or tried to enter the canvas giveaway will be automatically entered in this new giveaway and you will each be given five extra entries.


      Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
      Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
      Cover review: removed

      (Click on the links to go to my reviews)



      Spotlight List: Ghosts

      What's Your Status?

      A meme created by Zakiya from Butterfly Feet Walking on Life where we recap our reading week. Feel free to visit her site and link up your own What's Your Status Posts. Here's how my week went:


      Torrent (The River of Time #3) by Lisa T. Bergren
      The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
      Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

      (Click on the link to go to Goodreads)

      Reviews to come on all of these. I ADORED Torrent, really liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and thought Sirenz was fun but just ok.

      Currently Reading

      Miss anything last week? Click here to read a Recap

      Thursday, August 25, 2011

      Spotlight List: Ghosts


      Whether it's ghosts as an enemy or friendly ghosts, I love a good ghost book. Ghosts as enemies are sure to scare me and leave me turning on every light in the house. But, I also have an extra weakness for ghost romances. Maybe it's the forbidden love aspect? Whatever the reason, I'm a complete sucker for them.

      A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
      Release Date: September 21, 2005
      Publisher: Graphia
      Pages: 282
      Goodreads Page

      Helen has been a ghost for 130 years, but she cannot remember how she died or why she is stuck in ghostly limbo. For all of her 130 years, she has never been able to make a connection with a human or affect their world...until now. A boy in the class she is haunting sees her and brings life, love, and adventure to her for the first time in 130 years.

      This book was emotionally beautiful. About halfway through it does veer off into subjects that are a little unexpected and pushes the bounds of morality, but I was fascinated. The ghostly romance is to die for (is that too corny?), but there is a lot more to the story than that. This works as a standalone book, but there is a sequel coming out soon that will provide resolution to the one point that left me a little uncomfortable.

      The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
      Release Date: October 1, 2008
      Publisher: HarperCollins
      Pages: 312
      Goodreads Page

      The Graveyard Book starts out with a bang as infant Nobody Owens' entire family is murdered. Nobody wanders into a nearby graveyard where the local ghosts decide to adopt him. Though unconventional, Nobody's childhood is filled with love from his adoptive ghost family. But Nobody can't stay in the graveyard forever and the man who murdered his family is still looking for him to finish the job...

      This was my first exposure to Neil Gaiman and so far it is my favorite (I also read Coraline and Stardust). While the overarching story with the murderer was good, what really grabbed my interest was Nobody's relationship with his ghost family. Tender, touching, and sweet, they were the type of characters who didn't even need to do anything all that exciting to still command my attention. If you like that heartwarming "family feel" in your books, then I recommend checking out The Graveyard Book.

      Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme
      Release Date: August 24, 2009
      Publisher: Running Press Kids
      Pages: 272
      Goodreads Page

      New to town and trying to impress the in-crowd, Jamie takes a dare to spend the night in the local cemetary. While there, she meets a handsome boy named Paul who takes her on a tour of the graveyard and its residents. Jamie soon realizes that the "actors" she meets are actually ghosts, and some of them do not intend to let her leave.

      Though a little thin overall, I enjoyed Tombstone Tea. The best part for me were the flashbacks to the ghosts lives leading up to their deaths. The villain is creepy!

      The Mediator series by Meg Cabot
      First book: Shadowland
      Publisher: HarperCollins
      Goodreads Page for the series

      Suze is a mediator, which means she can see ghosts and must help them cross over after they've died. She grudgingly accepts her "job" while trying to be as much of a normal teenager as she can. The series follows Suze as she assists friendly ghosts, battles angry ghosts, and gapples with her romantic feelings for the super sexy ghost Jesse who just happens to haunt her bedroom.

      I adore this series! Suze is a wonderful main character. She's snarky, light, fun, and totally relatable (except for the whole ghost thing). You'd think with a hot ghost living in her bedroom this would be an insta-love book, but it isn't at all. It's almost excrutiating how long it takes for those two to finally get together, but it's excrutiating in the best possible way. If you're looking for a slow burn romance, kick butt main character (Suze is a must-have on my sleepover party invitee list), and exciting ghost adventures then be sure to check out this series. It's one of my favorites ever.

      The Haunting Emma series by Lee Nichols
      First book: Deception
      Publisher: Bloomsbury
      Goodreads Page fir the series

      After throwing a party that went badly, Emma is shipped off to stay with her new guardian, a hot but mysterious college guy named Bennett. Enrolled in her new private school, Emma can't help but feel like she's been here before, in another life. Visions of the past and ghostly images begin to appear leading Emma to wonder whether she's losing her mind...or seeing ghosts.

      Emma is another character with a permanent invite to my sleepover party. She's spunky, sweet, and snarky and totally relatable (again, except for the ghost thing). The secondary characters are just as lovable and the villain is CREEPY! I also really like the world Lee Nichols has created with all of the little details that help flesh out the story and make the premise seem real.

      What are some of your favorite ghost books? Have you read any of these books? 
      Do you prefer your ghosts scary or friendly?

      Want to see more Spotlight Lists? 
      Click HERE to see more of my lists
      You might also like Spotlight List: Gothic Fiction

      Wednesday, August 24, 2011

      Waiting on Wednesday (32)

      Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we all feature upcoming books we're eagerly anticipating.

      I've altered things a little to include one book that hasn't come out yet and one that has already been published but I still haven't gotten around to reading yet.

      Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer
      Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer

      Goodreads description of Just Your Average Princess (October 11, 2011):

      Jamie Edwards has loved everything about growing up on a pumpkin patch, but ever since her cousin Milan Woods arrived, things have really stunk. Jamie can’t imagine it was easy for Milan to leave her life back in Los Angeles and move to Average, Illinois, population one thousand. But it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for her since (a) Milan’s drop-dead gorgeous; (b) she’s the daughter of two of Hollywood’s hottest film stars; (c) she’s captured the attention of everyone in town, including Danny, Jamie’s crush since forever; and (d) she’s about to steal the title of Pumpkin Princess right out from underneath Jamie!

      Why I want to read it:
      Usually stories are told from the perspective of Milan's character, so it will be fun seeing the "other side" of the story. It almost feels like a "from the perspective of the ugly step-sister" type of twist. I like plain Jamie already!

      Product description of Cindy Ella (February 7, 2008):

      Prom fever has infected LA, especially Cindy's two annoying stepsisters, and her overly Botoxed stepmother. Cindy seems to be the only one immune to it all. But her anti-prom letter in the school newspaper does more to turn Cindy into Queen of the Freaks than close the gap between the popular kids and the rest of the students. Everyone thinks she's committed social suicide, except for her two best friends, the yoga goddess India and John Hughes-worshipping Malcolm, and shockingly, the most popular senior at Castle Heights High and Cindy's crush, Adam Silver.

      Suddenly Cindy starts to think that maybe her social life could have a happily ever after. But there's still the rest of the school to deal with. With a little bit of help from an unexpected source and a fabulous pair of heels, Cindy realizes that she still has a chance at a happily ever after.

      Why I want to read it:

      Cinderella retelling. It doesn't seem like Cindy's life is all that bad. She has two friends and her crush (the most popular senior) on her side already. Doesn't sound too shabby, but I'm still a sucker for a fairy tale retelling. I've heard Robin's books are funny and I can always go for a laugh.

      Have any of you read either of these books? Would you recommend them? 
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