Sabbatical



I've been mulling this over for weeks and the truth is, life is just getting in the way of blogging. I work full-time and I'm expecting my first child in January so preparations are well underway. I'm barely making time to even READ these days, much less keep up my blog about it. I'm sad at the thought of letting it go but if I'm being honest with myself, there are just more important things for me to be doing right now.

So it's with a heavy heart that I'm signing off... for now. I hope to be back one day, a day where I have some time to devote to this. Right now, I'd like to focus on finding time to actually just read again. Reading is a passion of mine that has been on the back burner for over a month now. As I embark on the amazing task of becoming a parent, I know it's important to remember to carve time out for myself as well.

So off I go! Nursery painting and decorating await. Cannot wait to meet our little girl in January. I know she will be well worth the wait. Hope you all achieve everything you'd like to in the coming months and that you stay passionate about the things that really matter to you. And as always, HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

Back-to-School Hiatus



Back-to-school time for an educator means INSANITY! Wanted to explain my absence, been working really hard to get this new school year off to a productive and positive start. Things seem to be calming down just a bit so I hope to be back to normal posts next week. Hope you're all having a wonderful September. Almost Fall, y'all! Enjoy! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Conjured



Synopsis:

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.


I was really excited to read this one because the premise sounds fresh and intriguing... and for the first three-quarters of the book, Conjured did not disappoint. However, the twist at the end and the truth about Eve's past KILLED this book for me. Highly disappointing and the very end only barely managed to salvage a book that had great potential.

Conjured introduces us to Eve, a teenage girl in the witness protection program who has severe memory loss issues. Eve can't remember anything about her past, except for these terrifying dreams she has when she falls unconscious from using her magical powers. Eve isn't sure if these dreams or visions are real or imaginary, but she knows that they terrify her and that there are horrors in her past that the witness protection program agents would do anything to discover.

Eve meets some new people along the way and begins to be unsure who she can really trust. When a serial killer starts killing again, it becomes more important than ever that Eve recover her memories of who she really is... but will she be able to handle the truth? Or will it be more shocking than she ever thought possible?

This book had a lot of potential and I was EXTREMELY interested in what really happened to Eve in her past. Unfortunately, reality fell far short of expectations and the twist of Eve's identity nearly made me want to put the book down. I'm all about interesting plot stories, but this one was VERY far out there. That being said, if you don't mind things getting a tad bit strange, this could be a great book for you. It releases tomorrow, enjoy! *XOXO*

Waiting on Wednesday (43)



Synopsis:

When Callie's life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven.

Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.

However, Callie uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls who always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.

As she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love-and break.


SQUEE! This one looks GREAT! And it being compared to If I Stay by Gayle Forman and the movie Ghost? Yes, please! Got awhile to wait for this one but it sounds like it could be well worth the wait! YAY! Details:

Expected publication date: December 23, 2013. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Summer Favorites

Summer for an educator means many weeks of summer vacation which translates for me into lots of opportunities for summer reading. Since my summer vacation started mid-June, I have read 15 books. Of those 15 books, 2 of them stand out and deserve to be highlighted as my personal "Best Books of Summer 2013"...

The first book was so amazing, it hooked me on page one and I could not put it down! It's not an exaggeration to say that I INHALED it:



SQUEEEEE! Love this series! Was a little worried the second book would be a letdown after the amazingness of the first but Gena Showalter does not disappoint her fans with this one. Amazing, amazing book. Check out my review of it here.

The second book that rocked my socks this summer:



To be fair, I also ranked the first and second books of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin as 5 star books as well but A Storm of Swords, the third book, takes the cake! This book was incredible! MAJOR characters die left and right in shocking and insane ways. Even though the book is uber-long, I got through it pretty quickly because it was just so engaging and entertaining. Martin knows how to weave a tale, that's for sure. For fans of the TV series who haven't read the books, you get ready for the next season! More shocks are coming your way!

Hope you all enjoyed your summer reading as much as I did. Now bring on Fall! Enjoy! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Once We Were



Synopsis:

"I'm lucky just to be alive"

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

Woohoo! Back in the fabulous world that Kat Zhang created in the first book of The Hybrid Chronicles, What's Left of Me. I LOVED the first book and jumped at the chance to read an ARC of the second and it did not disappoint. While it wasn't quite as amazing as the first (and doesn't that happen quite often with sophomore books?), it was still a SOLID book that was packed full of all the wonderful things that had fans falling in love with this world.

Once We Were picks up where we last left Addie and Eva, recently escaped from a life-and-death situation for Eva. Addie and Eva find themselves with the hybrids and their underground resistance. The girls meet new and interesting fellow hybrids who are near in age to them and they start experimenting with disappearing on purpose, giving the other time to be alone in their body. Both girls have experiences with very different boys and begin for the first time in their lives to have some independence.

Their new friends are unhappy with the slowness of the adults leading the resistance and Addie and Eva find themselves part of shocking plans to make a difference. When they realize how far their new friends are willing to go, will they be able to stop things in time, or will they make a choice they will regret forever? Danger, betrayal, love and friendship collide in this next installment of The Hybrid Chronicles.

This book was really good, 4 of 5 stars. It wasn't as mind-blowing as the first but I really enjoyed this installment and cannot WAIT to see where the next book takes our favorite hybrids. It's good to see Addie and Eva starting to have some true independence from each other, independence that allows them to form separate relationships and attachments. I also really liked the addition of the new characters, some more than others of course! All in all, this book will engage readers much like the first book did. And it comes out one month from today! Enjoy!! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: September 17, 2013 by HarperCollins

Game of Thrones

I finally got around to reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, after MUCH prodding from my husband and brother-in-law who are hardcore fans, and let me tell you... this book did NOT disappoint. I dreaded reading it mainly due to the length cause these books are MASSIVE. Over 800 pages of teeny, tiny writing but I found that it was so engaging, the pages flew by much quicker than I thought possible. It also helps that I had already seen the show on HBO.

So how do the two compare? I am so impressed by the job that HBO and creators did with the first season of the show because it caught ALL of the major plot points of the book. There wasn't anything vital that was missed and it was great to see these amazing characters brought to life. There was one scene with the direwolves that was left out that was incredible in the book, Grey Wind is a bad*ss!! It would have been near impossible to pull off that scene without CGI wolves though. Another thing that is different for me is my like for Jon Snow. On the show, I wasn't that drawn to his character but I really like his chapters in the book. I also find Ghost more interesting in the book, especially how silent he is which is not depicted on the show.

My verdict? Read the books, then watch the show. They are both fantastic and are sure to please. There's more sex in the show, and lots of full frontal nudity by both sexes, but it's great entertainment that will leave you wanting more. Enjoy! *XOXO*

The Dread of August...



The beginning of August marks a time of dread for me... the end of summer. Stores are full of back to school deals, flyers are arriving in the mail, and stay-at-home moms are posting all over Facebook about how happy they are that school is almost back in session. And that last one really gets to me. Isn't the whole POINT of being a stay-at-home mom to spend time with your kids? I don't think they realize how many people would LOVE to stay home with their children (like me!) but can't financially afford to do so. So when they start spouting off that nonsense, I can't help but get a little bitter.

And I know, I know... having two months off in the summer is GREAT. But I can guarantee you this... every time a non-educator tells you that you shouldn't complain about summer ending because "at least you get all that time off!", you strongly desire chopping them in the throat. Yes, you get time off but being an educator is HARD work with long hours, not much appreciation, and dealing with other peoples' "babies" all day leads to some uncomfortable and interesting conflicts with parents. By the time summer rolls around, you NEED that time off or you will go insane.

So I'm in full-on dread mode, trying to avoid stores because each time I see a colorful and excited sign about back to school, I want to punch or kick it down. Once I'm back in the swing of things, I'll be happy to be there, happy to be back helping kids graduate high school and hopefully move on to bigger and better things. But knowing that a long week of pointless training and team-building activities, not to mention some 11-hour days, starts off the school year? UGH. That's enough to make ANYONE dread the return.

Here's to enjoying the last couple weeks of summer... hope you all have built some wonderful memories and have made some time for yourselves. Fall will be here before we know it! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Flicker and Burn



Synopsis:

Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They're terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they're also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them. While she battles these new pursuers, she's also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds--old murders and vendettas--might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family. But connecting the dots is tough and time-consuming and may finally be the undoing of her relationship with the handsome Max--who's now her boyfriend. But for his own safety, Sara Jane may have to end this relationship before it even really starts. Her pursuers who've shown her her mother's amputated finger and the head of the Chicago Outfit who's just whistled her in for a sit-down make a romance unthinkable. The only thing that matters is finding her family and keeping everyone she loves alive.

Flicker & Burn is the sequel to Cold Fury and like often happens with sophomore books, this one fell a little flat. While there was plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers interested, it lacked a certain quality that the first book had and the addition of the "Ice Cream Creatures" was odd and off-putting at first, even taking me out of the story at times. Here's hoping the third book feels more like the first and regains some of the magic of the first book.

Flicker & Burn picks up with Sara Jane Rispoli desperately trying to find her family, and keeping things safe with the Outfit in the meantime by her acting as counselor-at-large. It seems as if she's only a step ahead of the strange and terrifying ice cream creatures which have been chasing her all over Chicago, and frighteningly close calls lead her to actions that she never thought herself capable of. The constant need for secret-keeping drives a wedge between her and Max--a wedge that may be uncrossable. The only person she has to rely on is her friend Doug, but when she has to risk his well-being to get closer to the leader of the ice cream creatures, will their friendship be able to survive?

Shocking secrets, surprising family visits, friendship, loyalty and betrayal abound in the second tale of the Cold Fury Series by T.M. Goeglein.

Like I said above, this book wasn't as good as the first but it wasn't terrible. It had it's moments where it was really good and I have high hopes for the next installment. I hope the third book is more like the first. I rated this 3 stars on Goodreads because I was feeling generous that day, it may be more like a 2.5. But I WILL be reading the next book so that says something. Judge for yourself when it releases in August. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: August 20, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile

*REVIEW* Through the Zombie Glass



Synopsis:

Inspired by the childhood classic Alice in Wonderland, this harrowing and romantic story features teen zombie slayer Alice Bell who has lost so much—family, friends, her home. After a strange new zombie attack, Alice fears she may be losing her mind as well. A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do wicked things. The whispers of the dead assault her ears and mirrors seem to come frighteningly to life. She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more—including her boyfriend, Cole—than she does now. But as Cole strangely withdraws and the zombies gain new strength, Ali knows one false step may doom them all.

SQUEEEEEEEE!!!!! This book was INCREDIBLE! I inhaled it in two days and found myself almost whining when I had to put it down for things like sleep and hanging out with friends and family. Doesn't the world know that when you're reading a book THIS good, you need zero interruptions?!? This series has seriously become one of my FAVES ever. The first, Alice in Zombieland, was amazing and the sequel did not disappoint. 5 stars! 5 stars! 5 stars!!!

Through the Zombie Glass picks up after the first and how wonderful for us readers because Ali and Cole are together and things seem to be settling down in Ali's life. She's training, slaying, and making out with her steamy hot and protective boyfriend. Ali is bitten on a patrol and strange things start happening to her--it seems that she's awakened something evil inside, something determined to destroy everything Ali holds dear. In addition, a couple new slayers have arrived in town and when Ali locks eyes with one of them, the cute and cocky Gavin, she is thrown into a vision, visions she used to share only with Cole. And the vision portrays her in a very unlikely scenario with Gavin...

As Cole begins to withdraw from her, and become closer with Veronica, the other new slayer in town and his ex-girlfriend, Ali is heartbroken but must persevere because things are getting more and more complicated inside her mind. Shocking events caught on camera lead Ali to be sequestered for her own good, and the good of others. A stinging betrayal lands Ali and her friends in the most dangerous predicament yet. Will they survive before the evil inside Ali threatens them all? Will Ali and Cole find their way back to each other? Will the meaning behind the new visions become clear? All will be answered in the second amazing installment in the White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter.

This book. THIS BOOK! So amazingly good. It's jam-packed and the pacing is superb, I seriously did not want to put it down! This has quickly become one of my fave series and there's no doubt as to why! This series has got it ALL--action, danger, betrayal, smokin' hot boys, romance, love, jealousy, zombies, bad guys, friendship, loyalty, family and so much more. And let's talk about Cole for a second shall we? Oh, Cole... you have rapidly slayed my heart and become one of my fave lit boys ever. He's hot, like smokin' hot, a little on the bad side, super protective, and yet sweet and loving all at the same time. RAWR. I could eat him up.

Seriously... if you haven't checked out this series yet, I beg you to do so immediately. Through the Zombie Glass doesn't release until September so you have plenty of time. You'll be so happy you did! Beware evil urges... and keep an eye out for rabbit-shaped clouds. Cause while most people can't see them, the zombies are out there hunting us all. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: September 24, 2013 by Harlequin Teen

Perfect Pins (13)

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 amazing that I've pinned.

This week's pins are two chicken dishes that were OUT OF THIS WORLD! The first comes from a controversial source, Paula Deen. While I'm not going to go into the whole scandal, I will say that the woman can COOK. And her recipe? Best chicken fingers I have ever had. They didn't even need any dipping sauce, they were seriously THAT good. To check out the recipe, visit here. A preview of the awesomeness:



The second recipe is Pretzel Chicken with a Mustard-Cheddar Sauce. Everything about this dish was phenomenal from the yummy coating to the tasty sauce. I could eat this every day! For information on how to create this mouth-watering dish, click here. Check out the image below:

FUN FRIDAY (24)


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's tidbit is more of an explanation... because I have been one extremely busy chick this summer and it's prevented me from updating the blog as much as I would like. Life has DEFINITELY been getting in the way these days, in some fabulous, and in some not-fabulous ways.

First off, I'm pregnant! Which is super exciting and nerve-wracking and NEW. We only just went public with the news since we reached the 12 week mark and had a wonderful appointment and ultrasound. Our little bean was measuring ahead by a few days, had a strong and beautiful sounding heartbeat, and was moving around like crazy, quite an amazing sight. But before that appointment, we hadn't been back to the doctor in over 5 weeks so I've been avoiding the internet like crazy since I google things that freak me out WAY too often. But I'm feeling more confident that our little one may be sticking around for good so I'm not as anti-internet as I was before.

The second thing that's been keeping me so distracted is my father-in-law. He gave us quite a scare by ending up in the emergency room with a horrendous UTI that left him unable to relieve himself... at all. Led to quite the nasty infection and his temperature spiked to 105 degrees! Definitely a scare for everyone. He's been battling a couple different forms of cancer for quite awhile now so anytime he ends up in the hospital, you can't help but fear the worst. I'm happy to say though that things are peachy now! He's released, doing great, and we're all getting together for a pizza/pool party tomorrow. Yay summer!

I hope the summer is treating you all well and that you're getting to spend lots of time with your family and friends, cause isn't that what it's all about? And I hope you're finding some time for you as well... reading, beach time, running marathons, whatever it is that makes you happy. Enjoy life! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* The Dream Thieves



Synopsis:

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

I was SUPER stoked to get my hands on this book because the first, The Raven Boys, was really fantastic. Unfortunately, the first two-thirds of this book did not live up to my expectations and the only thing that saved this book, and solidified a 4-star rating, was the last third of the book. Woohoo for strong endings!

The Dream Thieves picks up after the events in The Raven Boys and the whole crew is still trying to find Glendower. The search for Glendower leads the group to discover a starling and disturbing fact--Cabeswater has disappeared. Something is disturbing the ley line and now Gansey and the rest are worried that the mystery of Glendower will never be solved. In addition, surges in the line have brought some unsavory characters to town in search of the elusive and unknown Greywaren...

Enter Ronan and a shocking secret he's been keeping from everyone--Ronan can control his dreams in unusual and shocking ways, including the ability to take from his dreams anything his heart desires. As he learns more about his gift, he enters a deadly game with another boy with the same unusual talent. As the stakes raise higher and higher, will Ronan be able to control what comes out of his dreams or will he be caught in the crosshairs?

It's hard to properly summarize this book without giving too much away because there's quite a lot going on, and some interesting new characters to contend with. Like I said above, the ending of the book really did save it but things were a bit choppy up until then. It felt like at first that Ronan's ability just came out of nowhere and readers weren't really given much explanation. But slowly the facts start coming out and things start making more sense and the dream "thieving" becomes very interesting.

Ronan isn't the only thing going on in this book though... there's Adam and the fallout from his sacrifice in the first book, Blue begins falling for the wrong person, and Blue's mother, Maura, begins dating a very dangerous man. There's definitely some sub-plots going on, some more interesting than others, but the overall effect is a book that, by the end, will definitely fall in the "not boring" category. I'm curious to see what happens in the next book and I do hope that I enjoy it more than I enjoyed the beginning of this one.

Form your own opinions when The Dream Thieves releases in September. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: September 17, 2013 by Scholastic Press

*REVIEW* Altered



Synopsis:

Adelice always knew there’d be a price to destroying the Guild, but is she willing to pay it?

After a daring escape to Earth from Arras, sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys thought she would finally be in control of her own destiny. She would be free to be true to herself and to her heart—to love Jost, the boy the Guild said she could not have. But Earth is not abandoned, as she’d always been taught it was. It’s inhabited with survivors waging a war against Arras. The world that was supposed to offer a new beginning is still tangled up in the past.

Now Adelice is being called upon to harness her phenomenal power and break Earth from the grip of the Guild. But even as she uncovers the truth about her parents and her former life, she discovers that nothing on Earth is as it seems either. Everyone has secrets, especially those she loves most. What’s more, those secrets are driving Adelice and Jost away from each other, and Adelice into his brother Erik’s waiting arms. Now torn between two brothers and two worlds, Adelice must decide what—and who-she’s fighting for, before it’s too late.

Altered was WAY better than I thought it would be! In fact, I liked it even more than Crewel, the first book in the series. While Crewel was confusing at times and took quite a bit of time to get into, Altered ensnared me from the very beginning and the constant twists, turns, and shockers kept me engaged until the very last page.

Altered picks up with Adelice, Jost and Erik's arrival on Earth. To their surprise, Earth is not abandoned but has numerous people fighting to survive, including many refugees who have fled from Arras. The trio gets on the radar of Kincaid, the local leader, and they are taken to his estate. There, they begin to learn of his plans to take out Arras once and for all. Shocking truths about Adelice's parentage and genetics lead her to discover that she is even more powerful than she realized.

Events drive a wedge between Adelice and Jost and when he takes off on a mission, Adelice and Erik begin to grow closer and closer. When Jost and the others return from their mission, a betrayal sends all of them fleeing the estate towards their only hope--the elusive Whorl. What they find will change things forever and Adelice is forced to make a heartwrenching choice, a choice that will alter her destiny... possibly forever.

This book was so good!!! It had everything you could possibly ask for: intrigue, mystery, family, BETRAYAL, love, fights, danger, and loyal allies. It was engaging and enjoyable from the first page until the very last one. I was sad to see it end! And I LOVED the love triangle, even though they usually drive me insane. I love Adelice and Erik together and it was really satisfying to watch them grow closer. I don't know how I'm going to make it SO LONG before reading the third book! Really can't wait. Scoop this book up when it releases in October. Enjoy!! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: October 29, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Series Highlight: Raised by Wolves



I read through the Raised by Wolves Series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes so quickly, I didn't review each book individually. But because I was so impressed with the series, I did want to do at least one post about it because these books are GOOD. Raised by Wolves, the first book in the series, is still my favorite. The interactions between Bryn and Callum are fantastic and the introduction of Chase will make readers very, very happy. This book is by far one of my favorite wolfy books out there. Phenomenal book.

Trial by Fire, the second book in the series, did lose a little bit of the magic for me, but it was still a solid book. Readers get to see Bryn come into her own even more and we get to see more interactions between her and her crew, meaning Dev, Lake and Chase. There are quite a few new additions in terms of characters, some lovely and some way less than. A big disappointment for me with this book was the lack of Callum. Callum features way less prominently in this book and I found I really missed his interactions with Bryn.

Taken by Storm is the third and final book in the series and up until the end, it was rivaling the first book as my favorite. But the end? UGH. Barnes delivered a massive disappointment with her choices to end the series. That being said, it's still worth the read and as a fan, I can only hope that she will one day return to the Raised by Wolves world and redeem herself.

My point to this post? If you haven't read this series, you owe it to yourself to do so. It's truly fantastic, even with some baffling ending decisions. Seriously one of the best shifter/werewolves books out there. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Happy 4th of July!



Happy 4th of July, y'all! :)

I love holidays, especially ones that bring together family, friends and really good food. The husband and I are headed to a pool party BBQ this afternoon complete with illegal fireworks and more food than anyone could possibly eat EVER. I hope you all have a fantastic time with family and friends! And try to carve out some reading time, I know that's MY plan. Enjoy! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* All the Truth That's in Me



Synopsis:

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.

All the Truth That's in Me was a total surprise for me from the very beginning, mainly because I didn't know the book was not set in the modern world. This book will bring you back to a simpler time when towns were everything to people, and everyone in town knows EVERYONE else's business. But even though the time may have been simpler, the horrors that people can commit to each other are very much the same horrors people can face today.

All the Truth That's in Me introduces us to Judith, a girl who has been through a hellish ordeal, watching her best friend get murdered and then being kidnapped and mutilated before being set free. Judith has returned to her town as an outcast--she's mute now and feels like she's lost her voice in more ways than one. She is forced to watch the boy she loves live his life with another and truly feels that her life is hopeless. An attack on the town forces Judith to consider the unthinkable... what is she willing to trade for the safety of her town? Judith's choices lead to shocking revelations in her town, revelations that will change things forever...

This book was a little slow for me at first, but I was definitely intrigued to find out all that had happened to Judith in her captivity. And once the story really got going, it was impossible to put down. I finished it in one sitting once I reached the halfway mark! There's definitely some twists and turns that will keep you riveted and the ending is wonderful in more ways than one. This book? A definite winner. See for yourself when it releases in September. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: September 26, 2013 by Viking Juvenile

*REVIEW* Shadows



Synopsis:

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know... until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

I really wasn't sure what to expect with Shadows, especially after the first couple of chapters. Robin McKinley has created a totally fresh and unique world that takes some adjusting to. I have to admit, I was confused quite a bit there in the beginning! That confusion kept me from loving the story at first, but once I got to know the characters? Completely different story. Shadows reeled me in and kept me glued to the pages until the very end.

Shadows introduces us to Maggie, a Newworlder who is less than thrilled with her mom's choice in a new husband. Val creeps Maggie out majorly, mainly due to the weird and frightening shadows that she sees clinging to him and following him around everywhere he goes. Maggie is convinced he's hiding secrets, and that he didn't quite leave all magic behind in Oldworld.

Just when Maggie begins to fear she's losing it, she meets Casimir, a beautiful stranger from Oldworld who seems quite intrigued and taken by her. An explosive encounter with Val leads Maggie to some shocking truths about what she has been seeing. It all comes to a head when Maggie and Casimir encounter a shocking and dangerous event in a park, an event that Maggie seems to have the power to stop. Maggie is thrust into a world that she thought was gone in Newworld forever and she learns that she may just have the power to help fix everything. Shocking twists and revelations abound in this fantastical tale by Robin McKinley.

Like I said above, there are many elements to the world that Robin McKinley created that are a tad bit confusing in the beginning. It takes a little while to wrap your mind around everything! But don't you worry... you will end up so attached to Maggie and Taks and Mongo and EVERYONE that you won't care that you don't FULLY know what's going on, it just ends up adding to the experience!

This book has so many good things going on: action, intrigue, mystery, romance, friendship, family, love, magic, and lots of sweet and helpful critters. I want a dog just like Mongo now! And the characters are FABULOUS and you will end up rooting for them all. And the romance... the romance!!! LOVED it! The book leaves things totally open so I'm hoping that Robin McKinley is planning on writing a sequel ASAP. Seriously... you will love this book. Look for it in September! Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: September 26, 2013 by Penguin Group (USA)

*REVIEW* Relativity



Synopsis:

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can't come true; some things just can't be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities.

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat... her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth...her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

Relativity by Cristin Bishara was a solid and entertaining read about a fascinating topic: alternate realities. Who doesn't think it would be neat to be able to travel to a world where your life has played out in a different way based on small and seemingly insignificant choices? If you're into that kind of thing, you will find this book highly entertaining.

Relativity introduces us to Ruby, a teenage girl who has been moved halfway across the country to live with her father's new wife and her heinous and evil daughter. Ruby is upset that her life has been uprooted, especially since she left behind her best friend, George, who she happens to be in love with. The only thing Ruby likes about her new house and life is this old and majestic tree on the property that she can't seem to stay away from. And this tree is hiding a powerful secret...

Turns out, the tree is a wormhole to alternate realities and Ruby quickly becomes engrossed in learning about the alternate lives going on. Ruby gets to experience life where her mom did not tragically die and she even gets to meet a brother that never existed in her world. And in several worlds, Ruby has a connection with George that is much more than friendship. Will Ruby decide to stay in an alternate and better world? Or will seeing how things could have been make her miss her real life that much more?

This book was super entertaining, I LOVE the idea of alternate realities! It was highly entertaining to see how each world was playing out and to see Ruby's reaction to the changes. And being able to spend time with her mom? Completely heartwarming. And her brother? Loved him! I hated that Ruby had to leave so much behind each time she moved on to another world.

I was pleased by the ending but refuse to spoiler it for anyone so you'll just have to check it out for yourself when it releases in September. You won't be sorry, enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: September 10, 2013 by Walker Childrens

Perfect Pins: Inspiration Edition

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 amazing that I've pinned.

This week's post stems from a very sad and heartbreaking thing... the loss of a dear soul much too soon in life. A high school classmate of mine unexpectedly collapsed at church this morning and could not be revived. While we still have not heard what caused her death, she was seemingly healthy, happy and young. At only 32 years old, and a mother of two young children, her death comes as a shocking blow to all who knew her. She was a beautiful and caring soul, inside and out, and she will be deeply missed.

How this ties into Pinterest for me is my Quotes and Inspiration Board. Pinterest has given me much to think about from famous words of famous people, to quotes from ordinary people like me. As there are too many wonderful ones to post, I will link my board here. If you're ever in need of inspiring words, you're sure to find some there.

And as for me, this will serve as a reminder to me right now:



Hold your loved ones a little closer tonight. Tomorrow is a gift, not a guarantee. *XOXO*

Waiting on Wednesday (42)



Synopsis:

A teenage girl is transformed into a reluctant superhero and must balance her old life with the dark secret of who she has become.

Prima ballerina Anthem Fleet is closely guarded by her parents in their penthouse apartment. But when she meets the handsome Gavin at a party on the wrong side of town, she is immediately drawn into his dangerous world. Then, in a tragic accident, Anthem falls to her death. She awakes in an underground lab, with a bionic heart ticking in her chest. As she navigates her new life, she uncovers the sinister truth behind those she trusted the most, and the chilling secret of her family lineage... and her duty to uphold it.

The Dark Knight meets Cinder in this gripping and cinematic story of heartbreak and revenge. From Alloy Entertainment, this inventive new superhero story is sure to captivate any reader.

YAYYYYY! Everyone knows I love me some superheroes so this book caught my eye immediately when I read the premise. Cannot wait to see what it's all about when it releases in October.

Expected publication date: October 8, 2013 by HarperTeen

It's JUNE, y'all!



HAPPY, HAPPY JUNE!!!!! :)

For all my fellow educators, you guys will understand why June is one of my favorite months of all... THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER VACATION!!! It's been one heck of a year for me at work and I am ready to put it all behind me and to use the summer months to refresh and recharge before the next school year is upon us. The official countdown has begun: 10 more work days and then it is blessed freedom. Cannot wait! Hope June treats you all kindly and that you get lots of summer reading done. Bring on the warm days, warm breezes, and lazy afternoons with favorite literary characters. Enjoy! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* 45 Pounds (More or Less)


Synopsis:

Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 8 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in two months.

Welcome to the world of informercial diet plans, terrifying wedding dance lessons, endless run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin -- no matter how you add it up!

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson is a funny and touching look at a topic that many women can relate to: the struggles we face with weight, body issues, and meeting societal ideals of beauty and attractiveness. I think it's interesting that I read this book in the aftermath of the Abercrombie & Fitch scandal where their less-than-attractive-himself CEO got diarrhea of the mouth and basically said he's anti-fat and "uncool" people *eyeroll*. Maybe he needs to read this book to see inside the mind of a teenage girl dealing with body and self-esteem issues. In fact, anyone who has ever made fun of a "fat girl" should read this book!

45 Pounds (More or Less) introduces us to Ann, an overweight teenage girl who has struggled with her weight her entire life. Not helping matters is her perfect size 6 mother who has never been shy to criticize the way Ann looks. A hilarious, but horrifying, encounter in a dressing room at a ultra-hip store, coupled with the fact that Ann will be a bridesmaid in her aunt's wedding, leads Ann to order a diet plan off an infomercial.

As Ann battles the bulge, and the lure of her food addiction, readers will be taken on her journey and will find themselves rooting for the girl inside. Add in a new potential best friend, a possible love interest, and some shocking realizations about Ann's mother, and this book will have you sold.

I really enjoyed this book. As someone who has struggled with weight for the past ten years (most of my adult life), I could really relate to what Ann was going through. I challenge you to read this book and NOT root for Ann, it's impossible. This book is very touching and relevant, but it also has a great deal of humor and hope. Just writing this review is making me want to read it again! I really think there's something in this one for everyone, whether you've struggled with weight or not. Because most of us have something we're insecure about, some family member that makes us feel less-than sometimes, or friends who aren't really friends at all.

Seriously, READ THIS BOOK. You won't regret it! It'll be a perfect addition to your beach read pile come summer. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: July 11, 2013 by Viking Juvenile

*REVIEW* Alienated


Synopsis:

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

Alienated by Melissa Landers was such a pleasant and fabulous surprise for me! I went into it not knowing what I would end up thinking and feeling about it but let me tell you-- this book is AMAZING. I can't wait until it releases so I can snag my own copy! And the best news? It's the first in a series... a series that is sure to captivate all who read it.

Alienated introduces us to Cara, future valedictorian of her high school who has been chosen to host the first L'eihr exhange student. While she's slightly apprehensive, and her boyfriend and best friend's reaction to the news definitely isn't helping matters, Cara knows this is a unique opportunity to skyrocket her career before she even sets foot on a college campus. What Cara wasn't counting on was forming an intense attraction to Aelyx, her exhange student. Aelyx is gorgeous and intelligent and the two end up forming a bond that shocks them both.

As the bond between Cara and Aelyx deepens, paranoia and anti-L'eihr emotions start plaguing the town. It soon becomes unsafe for Cara and Aelyx to go anywhere without police protection. A shocking confession from Aelyx throws Cara for a tailspin just as things are becoming more and more dangerous. Will Cara and Aelyx be able to survive the storm, or will their worlds separate to never collide again? All will be revealed in this magical tale by Melissa Landers.

This book is SOOOOOO amazing!!! I really wasn't expecting to love it the way that I did and don't you just love it when a book does that to you? I could NOT put it down and even after I was forced to sometimes (boo work!) the story stayed with me. I adore Cara and Aelyx, they are both wonderful characters. And the whole concept of the L'eihrs is fascinating. I can't wait to learn more about them in the next book!

For those who are leery due to the whole "alien" thing, rest assured: This book has WAY more than sci-fi going on. It's romantic, funny, entertaining, anxiety-provoking at times, and just plain awesome. I'm super sad it's not releasing until February because I want to read it again! As will you once you've read it the first time. This book? Total keeper. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: February 4, 2014 by Disney Hyperion

Work Woes



UGH! Work has been sooooo insanely busy lately, I haven't had a chance to update the blog in almost a week. My boss had her baby 5 weeks early and while I'm super happy for her cause he's healthy and so stinkin' adorable, it's put things into a tailspin at work trying to wrap up state standardized testing and getting ready for graduation. The end of the year in a high school guidance office is chaotic enough without having to do the work of someone else.

Whine-fest over! I've got a couple reviews to get up this weekend and I haven't done a Perfect Pins post in forever so be expecting some new stuff soon. Peace! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Triangles


Synopsis:

A cruise ship. A beautiful island. Two sexy guys. What could possibly go wrong?

In the Bermuda Triangle—a lot.

Hoping to leave behind the reminders of her crappy life--her father's death years ago, her mother's medical problems, and the loser who’s practically stalking her--seventeen-year-old Autumn Taylor hops on a ship with her sister for a little distraction. When she wakes up in the Bermuda Triangle, she fears she's gone nuts for more than one reason: that loser’s suddenly claiming they're a happy couple... a hot guy is wrapping his arms around her and saying "Happy Anniversary"... and suddenly, she’s full of bruises, losing her hair, and getting IV medication. Autumn visits the ship's doctor, hoping for a pill or a shot to make the craziness go away. Instead, she's warned that these "alternate realities" could become permanent.

She just has to ask herself one question—how the hell is she going to get out of this mess?

Triangles sounded like it would be a lot of fun and mostly, it didn't disappoint. The beginning was a little rough but once things got moving, it ended up being a cute and meaningful tale.

Triangles introduces us to Autumn, a teenage girl dealing with the fallout from serious family drama. Her father passed away years ago and a horrible accident has left her mom in a coma, leaving her older sister as her sole guardian. Tensions have been high so Autumn is thrilled to be going on a cruise to leave all her problems behind. Little did she know, her problems would follow her with a vengeance...

As the cruise ship enters the Bermuda Triangle, each day Autumn wakes up facing a new and highly altered reality. She finds herself in a serious relationship with a smoking hot guy who is a little aggressive with his sexuality, a very serious relationship with a boy who has been following her around in her real life like a puppy dog, and she even wakes to find herself living the life of a cancer patient. The same themes from her real life flow through her altered realities leaving Autumn struggling to figure out what lessons she should be learning. Will Autumn manage to figure things out in time, or will she be trapped in an altered reality for the rest of her life?

Sooooo... all in all, this ended up being a really good book. But let me tell you, I DESPISED Autumn in the beginning of this book. Like really and totally despised her. I was hoping she would fall overboard to never be heard from again! I found her unnecessarily cruel, moody, bratty, and obnoxious. But as the book goes along, you start to see the things in Autumn's past that have led her to be the way that she is. And believe it or not, you start to feel empathy for the little witch.

By the end of the story, you can't help rooting for her, and especially for her and Joey. What a sweetheart! Seeing Autumn work through her feelings of guilt, loss, and fear is really special and the ending will make you smile. See for yourself when it releases next month. Enjoy! And as always, HAPPY HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: June 18, 2013 by Spencer Hill Press

*REVIEW* The Distance Between Us


Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

THIS BOOK WAS AWESOME! I literally read this book in less than 24 hours... 24 hours that included a full night of sleep and a full day of work. I had my nose buried in this book every chance I could get, it was that addictive. Putting it down felt like TORTURE. Right this very second, LEAVE THIS PAGE and go add this book to your TBR list. Immediately!!! You will not be sorry! Read on to find out why.

The Distance Between Us introduces us to Caymen, a teenage girl who lives above a doll shop with her mom. Her mom had gotten pregnant when she was younger by a rich boy, a boy who ran for the hills. Caymen's mom was also disowned by her parents so it has just been Caymen and her mom, living paycheck to paycheck, for as long as Caymen can remember. Making fun of rich customers has become a hobby and Caymen never imagines she will look at a rich person any differently... that is, until she meets Xander.

Xander is special, different, and surprising, and though she tries to fight it every chance she gets, Caymen finds herself falling for him despite his immense wealth. A shocking revelation comes to light though that makes Caymen doubt everything Xander has told her, and everything they were building with each other. Caymen also realizes that there is a lot she has been kept in the dark about, things that could change her life forever. Will Caymen learn the truth about who she really is? And even if she does, will it be too late for her and her mom to move forward with each other? All is revealed in this phenomenal tale by Kasie West.

THIS BOOK. THIS BOOK!!!! Please do yourself a favor and SERIOUSLY add this book to your TBR pile right this very second. It was unbelievably addictive, awesome, romantic, funny, and more! I LOVE Caymen. One, her name is so original and adorable and she is SO incredible. I love her wit and her humor and her STRENGTH. Girlfriend has got it going on and is one of those characters that everyone is going to fall in love with. And Xander? SWOOOOOOOON!!! PERFECT YA boy: hot, sweet, caring, observant, persistent, romantic, and yeah, rich. HELLLOOOOO! What's not to love? The chemistry between those two is so hot and jumping off the page, you'll have to drop the book!

Can you tell I liked this one just a little bit? It is going to be one of THE books of the summer. PERFECT beach read that you will not want to put down. So bring an umbrella and a ton of sunscreen cause you will be on that beach for hours, unable to unhook yourself from this story. Enjoy!!! SNAP it up July 2nd and then spend the day falling in love with it just like I did. Happy Reading! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: July 2, 2013 by HarperTeen

Waiting on Wednesday (41)


Synopsis:

In the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the Sky, a harrowing account of anorexia and addiction.

She was a good girl from a good family, with everything she could want or need. But below the surface, she felt like she could never be good enough. Like she could never live up to the expectations that surrounded her. Like she couldn’t do anything to make a change.

But there was one thing she could control completely: how much she ate. The less she ate, the better--stronger--she felt.

But it’s a dangerous game, and there is such a thing as going too far...

Her innermost thoughts and feelings are chronicled in the diary she left behind.

Expected publication date: June 4, 2013 by Simon Pulse

I cannot wait to get my hands on this book. I work in a high school as a counselor and see girls struggle with eating disorders frequently and think that this book will be really good for me, not only as insight into how a sufferer thinks and feels, but as a jumping off point of conversations that can sometimes be very difficult to have. Books with meaning are often the ones that stay with us the most. Here's hoping this book lives up to all I'd like it to be.

*REVIEW* The Vow


Synopsis:

No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie-—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?

I was really excited to read The Vow, but that excitement quickly turned to disappointment as the beginning of this book was very slow and frankly, a little boring. Thankfully, the end redeemed the book quite a bit and it ended up being a decent read. I rated The Vow 3 of 5 stars on Goodreads.

The Vow introduces us to Annie, a teenage girl living a smothered existence due to her parents and their extreme overprotectiveness. Lena, Annie's older sister, disappeared on an ordinary walk home and the fallout from that event has shaped Annie's and her parents' lives in many ways. The one amazing thing in Annie's life, other than her art, is Mo, her best friend. Mo's family is from Jordan but Mo has lived in America his whole life... that is, until his father loses his job, and his work visa, and the entire family must leave the country or face deportation.

Annie comes up with the perfect plan-- her and Mo will get married, enabling him to stay in the country he loves. Unfortunately for the friends, this is not as simple of a plan as they originally thought. Legal issues force Annie to hurt those she loves the most, including the new boy in her life. Friendship, loyalty, legality and more collide in this tale by Jessica Martinez.

Like I said before, the beginning of this book is SLOOOOOOOW. I knew the premise from the synopsis and it felt like we were just NEVER going to get there! But mid-way through, the book picks up some steam and things get very, very interesting. I'm glad I stuck it out because to be honest, I was about to call it as a DNF about 100 pages in. I'm glad I didn't because it ended up being a decent book that I think many people will end up enjoying. You just have to stick with it through it's snail-pace beginning.

To see for yourself, snap it up when it becomes available mid-October. Enjoy! And as always, HAPPY HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: October 15, 2013 by Simon Pulse

Weekend Plans: Iron Man and Relay for Life

I've got QUITE the weekend planned... I am OBSESSED with Iron Man and am sooooooo excited about Iron Man 3 coming out TODAY!!!! The husband and I are headed to the theater right after work to catch the movie in IMAX 3D. Bring on some RDJ! *squeeeeeee*


Then tomorrow it's all about giving back... the family and I are headed out to Relay for Life to help raise money for cancer research. My family, as I'm sure many of yours, has been touched by cancer and it feels good to be able to give back. Makes for a super long weekend but it's definitely worth it.


I hope you all have a wonderful and productive weekend this first weekend in May. And Sunday is Cinco de Mayo, y'all! Have something spicy and live up your day! Enjoy! *XOXO*

Teaser Tuesday: Faery Tales and Nightmares


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!

Today's teaser comes from Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr:

Irial took a long drag from the now lit cigarette before speaking. "I'm better at this game, Niall. You can be the intimidating, bad-tempered king to everyone but me. We both know that I wouldn't raise a hand to stop you if you wanted to take all of your tempers out on me. There's only one person I'd protect at your expense... and her life span is but a blink of ours." pg. 258

It's no secret that I'm a huge Melissa Marr fan... I looooove her Wicked Lovely series so it's shocking to me that I'm just now reading this book. To be fair, I had read many of the short stories before, at least a majority of the ones based in the Wicked Lovely universe. While the Dark Court is not my favorite, I've enjoyed reading the stories in this book. And I'm just now about to start reading the first short story that has my Keenan in it! *swoon*

The other short stories in the book? Meh. But for me? It's all about the Wicked Lovely faeries so it's ALL good. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Blast from the Past: Clockwork Angel


So I decided to re-read Clockwork Angel because I read it back in 2010 and the details were all a bit hazy. I remembered that I LOVED the book, but wanted to reaquaint myself with it before moving on to read the second and third books. I am SO glad I made the decision to re-read it because it was just as good as I remembered, if not more so! I'm now plowing through the second book, Clockwork Prince, and cannot wait to see how it all ends up.

Click here to read my original review of Clockwork Angel, and if you haven't given The Infernal Devices a go yet, what are you waiting for? Truly phenomenal. Hope you love them as much as I do! And as always, HAPPY HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

FUN FRIDAY (23)


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's tidbit is this: I may be one of the world's worst dancers. Does this fact stop me from dancing? Of course not! But it's BAD... like really bad. I make faces, weird motions, you name it. Classic "white girl can't dance" going on and I could care less! I even have a dance I call the "waving the fart dance". You have to see it to believe it! My husband mocks me for my moves all the time, probably because I do what I call "interpretive dance" in the car wayyyy too often.


The moral of this rambling? Be yourself! Bad dancing is better than NO dancing and life is short... live it up and have FUN. You only live once! Enjoy! *XOXO*

Waiting on Wednesday (40)


Synopsis:

When aspiring music journalist Ren Kingston takes a job nannying for a wealthy family on the exclusive island of Nantucket, playground for Boston's elite, she's hoping for a low-key summer reading books and blogging about bands. Boys are firmly off the agenda.

What she doesn't count on is falling in with a bunch of party-loving private school kids who are hiding some dark secrets, falling (possibly) in love with the local bad boy, and falling out with a dangerous serial killer...

Expected publication date: August 1, 2013 by Simon & Schuster UK

YOWZA! Saw this one on Goodreads and was instantly intrigued... and the cover. The cover!! There's something haunting about it that instantly drew me in. Cannot WAIT to get my hands on this one. Bring on summer! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Invisibility


Synopsis:

Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

Invisibility is a joint venture by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan. The premise of the book is unique and fresh and I quite enjoyed it. While it didn't end up being a mind-blowingly amazing read, it was a solid book that could easily have a sequel should the authors decide to go that route.

Invisibility introduces us to Stephen, a teenage boy who has been invisible his entire life. Since his mom passed away, Stephen has lived a very lonely existence--being part of the world, but not. Imagine his surprise when a new family moves into his apartment building and Elizabeth, the teenage girl, can see him. No one has ever been able to see him, not even his mother, so Stephen knows that Elizabeth seeing him must mean something. The two form a romantic relationship and eventually, Stephen tells her the complete truth about who he is. The pair decide to jump headfirst into investigating the world of cursecasters. What they find will change things for both of them... forever.

Turns out, Elizabeth is far more connected to Stephen's world than he ever thought possible. Will Elizabeth be able to use her gifts, with the aid of some allies, to free Stephen from his curse once and for all? Or will Stephen's grandfather destroy everything in his quest for the ultimate revenge on his family? It's a frantic race against time as good and evil collide in this fantastic magical tale by Cremer and Levithan.

This book has MAJOR potential, and there's a really good story underneath it all. I love the split POVs between Stephen and Elizabeth and the supporting cast of characters are great. My problem with this book is the pacing just seemed OFF sometimes. Like it would drag for awhile and then speed through things to the point where I often felt off-kilter and confused. I'd like to read another book in this world, a book that goes more in-depth into the world of cursecasters and spellseekers because Invisibility felt kind of thrown together in a way. I also wasn't very satisfied with the ending of this one and I imagine there will be others left disappointed as well.

All in all? A decent book. 3 of 5 stars. There are things that could have made it better, but it had a good story, good romance, and characters worth caring for. It just needed a little more execution and I'm hoping that Cremer and Levithan will write a sequel to address those concerns. Guess time will tell! You be the judge when Invisibility releases early in May. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: May 7, 2013 by Philomel

FUN FRIDAY (22)


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's tidbit: I have a severe addiction to TV. It's BAD!!! In addition to the shows I watch on TV during the regular season, I've also become engrossed in several through Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Those services are terrible for someone like me! Lucky for me (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), my husband is as addicted to TV as I am. Our ideal evening consists of chinese takeout and a couple uninterrupted hours of watching whatever our latest addiction is.

So what am I watching these days? During the regular TV season I watch: How I Met Your Mother, The Voice, Grey's Anatomy, Modern Family, Hell's Kitchen, Raising Hope, The Office, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and True Blood. I'm working on getting caught up on Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Castle, Parks and Recreation, and Big Bang Theory. Not quite sure how I'm going to keep up with everything next season but I'm going to give it my best shot! I wonder if they have a TV Watchers Anonymous... cause I bet I would fit RIGHT in!

Anywho... hope everyone has a wonderful and SAFE weekend. Scary things going on in the world these days. Hug your loved ones and give them an extra squeeze or two. Enjoy life! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Spies and Prejudice


Synopsis:

Fields’ 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?

This book was really, really good. I FLEW through it because I couldn't stand to put it down! I LOVE it when a book affects me that way. Talia Vance does a masterful job of creating a story that will instantly ensnare you, and she has created a character that readers will love standing behind. This book must be added to your TBR piles NOW. It would be a crime not to! (pun intended) *wink*

Spies and Prejudice introduces us to Berry, a teenage spy who works for her father. The best thing about being a teenage spy is that most adults just ignore her presence, which makes her extremely valuable to her dad and great at what she does. Helping her out is her friend Mary Chris, stunningly gorgeous and quite handy at making interesting and helpful spy equipment. On a routine assignment, Berry and Mary Chris meet two boys, one who instantly gets on the bad side of Berry by calling her "nothing amazing". This of course wasn't said to her FACE, but you can't be too careful around a teenage spy. Something about Tanner sets Berry on edge... but the most annoying part is how she finds herself intrigued by him.

When Berry accidentally sees Mary Chris' father exchanging information about her mother, who committed suicide many years ago, Berry becomes convinced that she must uncover the truth. Enlisting the help of Drew, a new boy at school who is extremely easy to talk to, Berry sets out on a mission to find out the truth about what happened to her mother. During the course of her investigation, Berry realizes that both Tanner and Drew are hiding secrets... which one can she trust? And will her investigation cost her everything-- her best friend, her potential boyfriend, maybe even her life? Buckle up for this one! Talia Vance will take you on a wild and exciting ride.

YAYYYY! What a ride this book is! I really hope Talia Vance writes another book in this world because there are still so many truths to uncover! The pacing is phenomenal and the characters are really great, especially Berry. It's a light and fun read and will be the perfect beach book this summer. While some things were a tad predictable, I like how Vance kept me guessing about the motives of some of the characters all the way until the very end. You should definitely read this book!!! Snag it when it releases in June. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: June 11, 2013 by Egmont

Waiting on Wednesday (39)


Synopsis:

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know... until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

Expected publication date: September 26, 2013 by Penguin Group (USA)

YAYYYY! Saw this on Goodreads and I think this will be right up my alley! Magic, mystery, and a super hot boy? Yes, please!!! I also happen to love the cover and while I know you're not supposed to, I TOTALLY judge a book by it's cover. Can't wait to get my hands on it, woot!

*REVIEW* Parallel


Synopsis:

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.

This book was AMAZING. It just had this quality to it, a quality I found it impossible to turn away from. Putting this book down was painful! And when it ended? I was SAD! Hahaha. I wasn't ready for the story to end! I really wanted to keep going on Abby's journey with her, the story was that engaging and real. I can't overstate my enthusiasm for this book.

Parallel introduces us to Abby, a girl who wakes up in a life she can't remember. She's transported from LA to a dorm room in Yale, with no recollection of how she got there. With the help of Caitlin, her longtime BFF, Abby learns that her world collided with a parallel world and she is no longer in control of what happens to her. Any decision her parallel self makes, one year in the past, could change everything for Abby...

Abby falls in love with her new life at Yale and worries what her parallel will do to change things for her. Abby feels like she finally has it all... a great life, roommate, friends, and a seriously cute boyfriend. As her parallel experiences her senior year of high school, Abby starts getting memories of a boy, and an adorable and sweet romance. What is the right path for Abby? Will she even have a say in how things end up, or will her parallel's choices make her choices for her? All will be revealed as worlds literally collide in this fantastic tale by Lauren Miller.

SQUEEEEEE! This book was so, so good! I found it a little confusing at first, it's such a strange thing to think about, parallel worlds. But once I wrapped my mind around it, this book ensnared me and captivated me the ENTIRE. WAY. THROUGH. My biggest complaint with this book is that it ended! I'm not ready to say goodbye to Abby, I want to keep going with her to see what happens next!

I recommend this book for EVERYONE. It's truly phenomenal. Make sure to scoop this one up immediately when it releases in May. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: May 14, 2013 by HarperTeen

Spring Break Hiatus



Just wanted to let everyone know that I haven't disappeared, I'm on SPRING BREAK!!! I swear, I love Spring Break more as an educator than I ever did as a kid. I'm taking this week off from most online activities but will be back in the swing of things when I return to work next week. Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and is enjoying the beginning of Spring. Take care and as always, HAPPY HAPPY READING! *XOXO*

Perfect Pins: Easter Edition

HAPPY EASTER!!!! :)

Welcome to PERFECT PINS, the EASTER Edition! 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 amazing that I've pinned.

This week's pins are my favorite Easter-inspired things from the site. First, an adorable Easter cake:


HOW adorable is that cake?! And since it calls for simple ingredients, like box cake and pre-made icing, it's easy-peasy. And for those of you who are like me and who prefer making things from scratch, it's easy to substitute in your own cake and icing. SCORE! For details, click here.

Next up is a ridiculously cute Easter centerpiece idea:



There were no instructions attached but it's pretty self-explanatory and beyond adorable. Great use for peeps! And I LOVE Gerbera Daisies so I think it's perfect!

And last, but not least, is an Easter Egg Wreath:



SQUEEEE! TOO cute! I can't wait to make one of my own. I've already got the wreath, just need to get some eggs and get to work! For instructions, visit this site.

Hope you all have a FABULOUS Easter holiday with your loved ones! If you've got any great recipes or craft ideas for Easter, please feel free to share! I'm always looking for new ideas. Take care! *XOXO*

*REVIEW* Severed Heads, Broken Hearts


Synopsis:

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts was a total surprise for me in that I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. This story is SUPER engaging and I had the hardest time putting it down, a true testament to how good it really was. The book has been renamed and will be published as The Beginning of Everything which personally, I think is a TERRIBLE switch, but that's just me. Whatever you choose to call it, this is a GREAT book that will appeal to many.

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts introduces us to Ezra, a seriously popular high school student who has just had a major life-altering event happen to him. Ezra was the victim of a hit-and-run accident that leaves his knee shattered and his tennis hopes and dreams annihilated. He goes back to school completely unsure where he will fit in and how he will survive the last year of high school. Lucky for him, an old friend adopts him into his group of social misfits and things seem like they might not be that bad after all.

Enter Cassidy Thorpe, a beautiful and slightly mysterious new addition to the misfits at their school. Ezra and Cassidy quickly form a bond and a beautiful new relationship that opens Ezra up to new and exciting things. Just when Ezra thinks things can't get any better, a shocking turn of events leaves him feeling miserable, confused, and alone. Will Ezra figure out the truth in time to save his relationship? Or are there some truths that cannot be overcome? All will be revealed in this addictive tale by Robyn Schneider.

This book is REALLY good. I love books told from the male perspective, and Ezra is a character you can't help rooting for. I just found this book to be engaging in a way that is hard to describe... it's almost like you don't feel that it SHOULD be as engaging as it is and it's a pleasant surprise as you keep reading. I was shocked at the number of times I had to force myself to put it down!

I think this book has really good messages about picking yourself up after a tragedy, the true meaning of friendship, hope, love, and letting go. I truly think there is something for EVERYONE in this book and highly recommend it when it comes out in August. It's a fast, easy read that you won't regret. Enjoy! *XOXO*

Expected publication date: August 27, 2013 by Katherine Tegen
 
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