Best of 2012

I've been seeing a lot of posts about blogger's favorite books of 2012 and I thought, "Why the heck not?" Now not all of these books came out in 2012, as some have yet to be released, but I read them for the first time in 2012 so that counts for me! These are also in no particular order because I'm not even TRYING to rank them. They were all awesome for different reasons, feel free to check out my linked reviews for more info!

Remy O’Malley heals people with touch—but every injury she cures becomes her own. Living in a household with an abusive stepfather, she has healed untold numbers of broken bones, burns,and bruises. And then one night her stepfather goes too far.

Being sent to live with her estranged father offers a clean start and she is eager to take it. Enter Asher Blackwell. Once a Protector of Healers, Asher sacrificed his senses to become immortal. Only by killing a Healer can a Protector recover their human senses. Falling in love is against the rules between these two enemies. Because Remy has the power to make Protectors human again, and when they find out, they’ll becoming for her—if Asher doesn’t kill her first.

With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is getting used to his new life. Okay, so he hadn’t exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf sort-of-girlfriend, but things are going fine, right?

Well...not really. He’s pretty tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for one thing, and he can’t help but feel that his new house hates him. His best friend is a werebear, someone is threatening his sister, and while Sam realizes that he himself has a lot of power at his fingertips, he’s not exactly sure how to use it. Which, he has to admit, is a bit disconcerting.

But when everything starts falling apart, he decides it’s time to step up and take control. His attempts to do so just bring up more questions, though, the most important of which is more than a little alarming: Is Douglas really dead?

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous-it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real...

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies...

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them... until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

Perfect Pins (3)

Welcome to PERFECT PINS! Perfect Pins is a nod to my newest obsession: Pinterest. Pinterest is AMAZING and I am so addicted to that site! I've gotten so many awesome ideas, DIY projects, and recipes from the site and I've really started to accumulate a list of things I've tried. So I figure once a week, I'll highlight something (or things!) amazing that I've pinned.

Today's pin is an idea that I used in my wedding:

Pinterest is a GOD send for people planning weddings. I saw this sign on Pinterest that you could buy through Etsy (which is another AMAZING site) but I decided to make my own because it was WAY cheaper. I designed it using the same fonts shown in the picture through Microsoft Word 2010 and then had it printed at Office Max on heavy card stock. Put it in a picture frame and voila! Wedding genius!

This sign was especially fabulous for us because we ordered custom wedding invites through Etsy that had the "Eat, Drink and Be Married" slogan on them. Super awesome way of bringing our theme all together on our big day. If you're getting married, or know someone who is, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE direct them to Pinterest. We found SO many ideas on there that we incorporated and the day just wouldn't have been the same without them. Enjoy! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Crash


If what you see is what you get, Jules is in serious trouble. The suspenseful first of four books from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.

Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.

What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode...and nine body bags in the snow.

The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.

In this riveting start to a gripping series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa McMann, Jules has to act—and act fast—to keep her vision from becoming reality.

So I have to admit that I was a little unsure about whether or not I wanted to start this new series by Lisa McMann, not because I haven't enjoyed her writing in the past (because I really have!) but because I was so majorly disappointed with the third and final book of her Wake trilogy. Well, let me tell you... I am SO happy I put aside that bad experience and decided to read this book because Crash was really great! A wonderful start to a promising new series. Yayyy!

So the synopsis really says it all... Jules is bombarded with horrible visions of a grisly accident that leaves nine people dead, including the boy she's been in love with for as long as she can remember. She's tasked with finding a way to prevent the accident from happening which is much easier said than done! Not only is Jules dealing with her own doubt about her sanity, but who will else will actually believe her? It's a race against time as Jules tries to solve the puzzle and prevent the death of innocent people.

As if that wasn't enough to deal with, Jules is confronted with old family secrets, secrets that shed light on the feud her family has with the Angotti family. The family her crush happens to be a part of. Joy. Will Jules figure it out in time or will she be too late? Or worse, will she end up in a body bag herself? You've got to read to find out!

I really enjoyed this book. It's a SUPER fast read because you won't want to put it down! I'd give it a solid 4 of 5 stars. And the ending... what a cliffhanger!!! Cannot wait to see what will happen next. I'd definitely recommend this book to others because it's engaging, fast-paced, and will have you unable to put it down. What more could you ask for in a book?

My only complaint with this book would be Jules' phrase: "Oh my dogs". Which is weird enough, at least to me because I've never heard it before, but it's more the fact that she says it WAYYYY too much. Repetition is quickly becoming a pet peeve of mine in books so I'd love to see that phrase forgotten as the series continues.

But hey, I'm nitpicking which means all in all, I REALLY liked this book! I bet you will too. Be sure to check it out when it releases in January. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: January 8, 2013 by Simon Pulse

Perfect Pins (2)

Welcome to PERFECT PINS! Perfect Pins is a nod to my newest obsession: Pinterest. Pinterest is AMAZING and I am so addicted to that site! I've gotten so many awesome ideas, DIY projects, and recipes from the site and I've really started to accumulate a list of things I've tried. So I figure once a week, I'll highlight something (or things!) amazing that I've pinned.

Today's pin is a recipe... Snowflake Cupcakes:

I LOVE baking and let me tell you, these were the MOISTEST cupcakes I have ever made. They were completely fantastic! And the frosting was totally yum as well! I highly recommend making these scrumptious treats if you're looking for a total win recipe. The only thing I struggled with was the snowflakes... I ended up using a snowflake candy mold. Ah, well. My snowflakes might not have been as pretty, but this cupcake was amazing in my mouth and that's what it's ALL about!

Click here for details on how to make these glorious cupcakes. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Waiting on Wednesday (34)


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.

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn't always tell the whole story.

Expected publication date: May 21, 2013 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

YOWZA! This one sounds awesome. I'm particularly interested in reading it because I work as a counselor in a high school and "sexting" has become SUCH a huge issue! Young girls don't seem to understand the possible ramifications from such an act. I think this book is BRILLIANT and if I like it, I'll be recommending it to a lot of the girls I work with.

What are YOU waiting for? Leave me a link and I'll check it out! *XOXO*

Teaser Tuesday: Fifty Shades Freed

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading!

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser comes from Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James:

"I would build this for you," he whispers. "Just to see the way the light burnishes your hair, right here, right now." He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. "You look like an angel." He kisses me just below my earlobe, takes my hand in his, and murmurs, "We despots do that for the women we love." (13% through the Kindle e-book).

If you've read my reviews of the first two books of this series, you know it's no secret that I'm not a huge fan. I'm really struggling to get through this one, I've been reading it for a week and a half and I'm only 13% of the way done! But to each their own. I tried to post a sweet, not raunchy, spoiler. Gotta keep things PG! *XOXO*

Perfect Pins

So I'm thinking about doing something new here on the blog since I've usually got a gap on the weekend now since I rarely ever post an IMM post anymore. I've just been VERY busy this fall and winter and I haven't been reading nearly the volume that I had been before. AND I made an agreement with myself to try to read through some of the books I've bought that are sitting on my shelves, impatiently waiting to be read. I've got well over a hundred books so I'm trying VERY hard not to buy new books. The only exceptions I make are for open series cause it's just too darn tempting to continue on with a series I've already started.

Anywho... so I'm starting PERFECT PINS which is a nod to my newest obsession: Pinterest. Pinterest is AMAZING and I am so addicted to that site! I've gotten so many awesome ideas, DIY projects, and recipes from the site and I've really started to accumulate a list of things I've tried. So I figure once a week, I'll highlight something (or things!) amazing that I've pinned.

Today's pin is a DIY craft project and gift idea for Christmas. I made candy sleighs for token gifts for my coworkers and they turned out SO cute! The picture below shows 6 sleighs but I ended up making 12 because they were just so easy and fun to make:

For inspiration, click here. And HAPPY PINNING! *XOXO*

Waiting on Wednesday (33)


The last night of summer is only the beginning.

Skye wants to meet the boy who will change her life forever. Seth feels their instant connection the second he sees her. When Seth starts talking to Skye at the last beach party of the summer, it’s obvious to both of them that this is something real. But when Seth leaves for college before they exchange contact info, Skye wonders if he felt the same way she did—and if she will ever see him again. Even if they find their way back to each other, can they make a long-distance relationship work despite trust issues, ex drama, and some serious background differences?

Teen favorite Susane Colasanti returns to the alternating-voice style of her beloved debut When It Happens in this Serendipity-inspired story about summer, soul mates, and the moments that change our lives forever.

Expected publication date: May 21, 2013 by Viking Juvenile

Yayyyyy! I really enjoy Susane Colasanti's writing and can't wait to scoop this one up! There's something oh-so-romantic about summer romances... whether they are just flings or become something more. This one sounds like a PERFECT beach read and I totally plan to read it either poolside or laying on a beach this summer.

What are YOU waiting on? Leave me a link and I'll check it out. And as always, HAPPY HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Fifty Shades Darker


Daunted by the singular sexual tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven, and demanding Fifty Shades. While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront her anger and envy of the women who came before her and make the most important decision of her life. Erotic, sparkling and suspenseful, Fifty Shades Darker is the irresistibly addictive second part of the Fifty Shades trilogy.

Hmmm. Not quite sure where to start about this one! Fifty Shades Darker is the second book in the insanely popular Fifty Shades trilogy and I say "insanely popular" because I'm not quite sure how it gained so much fame! There are so many things wrong about these books but for some reason, women seem to be inhaling them and loving every minute. I was hoping to start feeling some of that magic myself in the second installment, but unfortunately it too fell flat for me.

Some reasons this book just didn't do it for me: The repetitiveness. I am so over hearing about Ana's inner Goddess and what she's doing and also her snarky subconscious. Um, really. Do we need an update on those two entities over and over and over and over... you get the point. And let's not even go there with Ana's constant insecurities. And I'm tired of hearing about her not eating. This is relevant how? She does mention at one point that she likes being this slim *eyeroll*. I found her beyond obnoxious at some points in this book.

Something else super annoying: The CONSTANT fighting between Christian and Ana. They have sex, they fight, they have sex, they fight, repeat over and over and over and you've got the gist of this book. They're oh so in love with each other after barely knowing each other and all I can think is it must be lust because ALL they seem to do is have sex and fight.

I still have some issues with the writing, mainly due to the same repetitive words and phrases being used WAYYYY too freakin' much. If Christian is called mercurial one more time, I may chuck the book against a wall. Another thing? I really think the author pulled the old, "high school student writing a research paper" thing and pulled out a thesaurus sometimes to try to make her writing seem more sophisticated. She used some big and unnecessary words at times. Your book? Not a literary masterpiece. Feel free to stick to your normal vocabulary.

*sigh* Now I'M being snarky. You may ask WHY in the world I continue to read these when I find so much fault with them and there's two answers to that question. For one, I had purchased all three e-books and I hate not reading something I've paid for. The second reason? I hate leaving things undone. That includes reading a series. And I will admit... for the FIRST time, I had an emotional reaction when reading this book. There's a scene late in the book that had me tearing up a bit. I've been a bit emotional the past couple days (fellow ladies can gather why, haha) so I'm sure that contributed but at least I had a reaction to this series other than disgust.

SUPER happy this series is only a trilogy. It definitely seems as if the author is trying to add additional layers into the story. There's some drama going on other than Christian and Ana's childish bickering. That being said, I'm still thrilled this story is almost over. One book to go! *cheers*


Happy Friday!! :) Welcome to FUN FRIDAY where I reveal something about me, some personal tidbit that will allow my followers to get to know me better. I follow several blogs and I sometimes wonder who the bloggers REALLY are behind the words, so I thought it would be a cool thing to open up a bit and to reveal more about who Karen really is.

Today I want to chitchat about two amazing kitchen gadgets that I have recently discovered that I NEVER want to live without. The first is my Kitchenaid stand mixer. I love him so much, I named him! (Mjolnir. Yup, Thor's hammer. If you knew my husband and his obsession with Thor, you'd get the name choice). Mjolnir can do it ALL. Shoot, I shredded chicken with him the other day! He's made my baking a million times easier and shredding cheese? No problem! The attachment for that is pure awesomesauce.

My second kitchen love is my Keurig. He's a new addition so he doesn't have a name yet, but he's quickly become one of the most-used things in our home. I've primarily been rocking the hot chocolate, but the husband has made every flavor coffee imaginable and it's just SO FAST. Truly amazing stuff.

So why am I thinking about this tonight? Because these two boys joined forces for me tonight to create the best hot chocolate with whipped cream EVER. Mjolnir did the whipping, and the Keurig did the hot chocolate. Talk about a fabulous way to unwind after a super intense work week. Love my boys! Yeah... the husband too. Life is good. Hope y'all can say the same! Have a wonderful weekend and as always, HAPPY HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

Must Have Book!

Soooo.... I totally missed Waiting on Wednesday this week. I'll blame my job which has been INSANE due to irresponsible seniors. (I work in a high school so I don't know why I act surprised when the seniors can't get their act together!) Anywho... I got an email from Barnes and Noble about this book and just had to squee publicly a bit:


A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon.

Ummmm.... YES, PLEASE!!! I loved Gayle Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went and can't wait to dive into this next duo of what I am SURE will be fabulous books. YAYYYY! Check out her writing if you haven't before, it's really good! And as always, HAPPY HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

Amazon's 12 Days of Books Sweepstakes!

In case you haven't heard, Amazon is doing a deal on books right now. 12 Days, 12 Deals! In addition, they're having a sweepstakes where you can enter EACH day to win a $250 Amazon Gift Card. For my fellow book addicts, $250 can go a LONG way!! Make sure you check it out. Happy Holidays and as always, HAPPY HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Fifty Shades of Grey


When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

I honestly debated for quite some time about whether or not to write a review of this book. Fifty Shades of Grey seems to be an obsession for so many women and I decided I just HAD to see what all the fuss was about. In the end, I was left majorly disappointed and a little peeved that I bought all three books. I definitely should have read the first one before making that commitment!

So why did this book disappoint me so much? I think that a major reason for this is that I just don't feel the connection to Christian Grey that so many readers seem to feel. And that's really SHOCKING for those who know me and the way books usually resonate! I just don't get his appeal. At all. And I'm usually all about the bad boy so it's really surprising to me! Yeah, he's supposedly really good looking and has more money than any person could possibly need, but he's SERIOUSLY messed up. Deal breaker!

And then there's the writing... *shudder*. This book is no literary masterpiece and I'm a pretty forgiving reader. I mean, I enjoyed the Twilight books! But seriously, the writing is repetitive with the same phrases being repeated over and over and over and the writing just hasn't hooked me in to an emotional connection with the characters. I want to LOVE the characters but haven't been given enough to get there.

There ARE some seriously steamy passages that are hot, I will give the book that. But I guess BDSM just doesn't do it for me because some of the passages had me rolling my eyes and cringing. But hey, to each their own. Some people LOVE these books and good for them. I plan on finishing the series because I already paid for it and that just irks me enough to ensure I see it through to the end. But I can already guarantee these books are going on the "never-to-be-read-again" list. You be the judge! And as always, HAPPY READING! *XOXO*
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