Ex Libris: 500 Followers Giveaway

Fantastic prizes to choose from! Now through September 13, 2010! Go to Ex Libris to win!

On My Wishlist

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too - Mr Linky is always at the ready for you to link your own 'On My Wishlist' post. If you want to know more click here.

I have been wanting to read this series, I just haven't gotten around to it yet. You can read an excerpt of the first book "The Reincarnationist," here.

You can sign up for M.J. Rose's newsletter here and get a free 100-page sampler of the Reincarnationist series to enjoy!

The Bestsellers

The Bestsellers
Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and near Chicago during the week ended Sunday, August 22:

Hardcover Fiction
1. Star Island by Carl Hiaasen

2. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

3. Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith

4. I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson

5. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. The Girls of Murder City by Douglas Perry
2. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

3. Women Food and God by Geneen Roth

4. Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life by Thomas Geoghegan

5. Get Capone by Jonathan Eig

Paperback Fiction

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
2. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

3. Tale of the Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb

4. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
5. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Paperback Nonfiction
1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

2. Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
3. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

4. I Drink for a Reason by David Cross

5. Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

3. The Adventures of Ook and Gluk by Dav Pilkey

4. My Mommy Hung the Moon for Me by Jamie Lee Curtis
5. Artemis Fowl 7: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Women and Children First, Chicago.

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine highlights future releases in books, this week I'm excited for.....

So Shelly by Ty Roth.

"Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end."

Book Review: Out of Time

Book Review: Out of Time by Caroline B. Cooney

First sentence: "Annie Lockwood had not forgotten about Strat, of course."

From School Library Journal: "This sequel to Both Sides of Time (Delacorte, 1995) fails as both a romance and a time-travel story. Anna Sophia Lockwood once again slips back in time to be with her love, Hiram Stratton, Jr. She arrives only to find Strat's sister in the clutches of the nefarious Walker Walkley; Strat locked up in an insane asylum because of her (and the large fortune Walkley wants to get his mitts on); and Strat's fiancee, Harriet, dying of TB in an Adirondack sanitarium. Annie rescues Strat, takes him to Harriet in time for her last breath, and then sends him along his way before being kidnapped by Walkley. In the end, of course, she ends up back in her own time, better able to deal with the turbulence within her family. The time-travel device seems to exist in order to give Cooney a soap box from which to moralize on the plight of women in the late 19th century, and it stands out from the narrative like a sore thumb. Even the romance flops. The same young man who spends a wakeful night at Annie's side, watching her sleep and twining her hair through his fingers, forgets about her completely when he sees Harriet. Cooney tries several times to work in the turmoil in Annie's family, but it comes off as forced as the young woman's endless musings about the perfection of Strat's love. They are a tiresome pair of lovers, caught in a tiresome story."

My take: I didn't realize when I picked this up for a quarter at a library sale that it was a sequel. I might have liked it better had I read the first one. But I wanted a fast read, so I'd be book-free when "Mockingjay" comes out... :) I didn't like this book and I know there are a lot of people who think Ms. Cooney's writing is excellent. I just can't get into it. This is the 2nd book by her I have read. You would have thought I'd learned the first time. You can bet there won't be a third time. Sorry Cooney fans... I just didn't like it.

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Laurel Leaf (July 7, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0440219337
ISBN-13: 978-0440219330

My Rating: D

Book Review: The Struggle

Book Review: Vampire Diaries: The Struggle by L.J. Smith

First sentence: "Damon! Icy wind whipped Elena's hair around her face, tearing at her light sweater."

From Harper: "Elena quickly realizes that the only thing more dangerous that being in love with a vampire is being desired by two. As Stefan struggles to suppress his instinctive thirst, Damon persists in his quest for Elena's heart. A dark turn of events forces Elena to risk her mortality to save one of her immortal suitors."

My take: I liked this one better than "The Awakening." After I read this one, I thought to myself that the story is finally starting to get good. I never read these books before watching the TV series and I don't know if that's good or bad. I love the TV show, and I'm enjoying the books. Though there are some nitpicks I have about the differences. If you are looking for a vampire book that's pretty good, this is a good suggestion to add to your list. I have the next two in the series, but am going to read something else in the mean time. I'll come back to the series soon.

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; Reissue edition (March 30, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061990760
ISBN-13: 978-0061990762

My Rating: B

Blogoversary Extravaganza!

*** Scroll down for an important update! ***

My 1 year Blogoversary is coming up in September and I want to do something special for all my followers (old and new)! Entry deadline is September 30, 2010 at midnight central time. This contest is open to citizens of the US and Canada only!

I will select 3 winners! (If I hit 200 followers, I will add 2 more books and choose 4 winners!) Yes. I do have 2 copies of Mockingjay!

The first place winner will get first choice of the prize packages.
Second place winner will get 2nd choice.
Third place gets no choice, but still gets a prize!

A) Mockingjay and She's So Dead to Us

B. Mockingjay and Charlie St. Cloud

C. $10 Gift Card from Amazon.com. ($10 in USD)

To win, you must fill out the form below before September 30th, 2010 at midnight!

It is to everyone's advantage to spread the word!

***UPDATE*** 9/15/2010
Tweet about the contest -- leave the link to your tweet in the comments and get an additional entry! You can do this once a day through the end of the contest (You still need to fill out the form below for the main entry).

Grab the Extravaganza graphic above -- put it on your blog, leave the link in the comments and get another entry! (You still need to fill out the form below for the main entry).

For every Tweet and/or blog link make a separate comment below to be counted!

Thank you and good luck!

Grab a button! Spread the word!

Contest Rules:

* You must provide follower name and email. Email will be used to contact winners.

* Giveaways are for US and Canada citizens only.

* Once contacted, winners have 48 hours to email me their mailing address.

Contest is now over!

Book Review: The Awakening

Book Review: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

First sentence: "Dear Diary,Something awful is going to happen today."

From the back: "Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he'd kill to possess her."

My take: I just finished this -- and let me tell you. It's a good thing that books 1 and 2 come together, because if I didn't have the next one in the series, I'd be mad. The end of this book is such a big cliffhanger I'm surprised it was ever published as a stand alone book! It's definitely a part 1. I fell in love with the series on TV, and thought I'd give the books a try. It disturbs me when I watch a movie or TV series and things are not the same as the books. First off... Elena is definitely a blonde in the books. It's not a major thing, just a little thing that bugs me. It may not bother you at all. The book was well written. I've read other work by L.J. Smith and I admire her writing. The Awakening is a good book and if you can put your thoughts of the show aside and get past the differences in the book, you'll enjoy the read. I did.

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; Rev Mti edition (February 23, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061990752
ISBN-13: 978-0061990755

My Rating: B

Book Review: She's So Dead to Us

Book Review: She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

First sentence: "So? What do you think?"

From the back: "Ally Ryan would rather be in Maryland. She would rather be anywhere, in fact, than Orchard hill, site of her downfall. Well, not hers exactly, but when your father's hedge fund goes south and all your friends lose their trust funds, things don't look so sunny for you. So her mother moved them away to flee the shame. But now they're moving back. Back to the country club, new car every year, family came over on the Mayflower lifestyle that Ally has outgrown. But there are bright sides. Like gorgeous Jake Graydon. Ally and Jake instantly like each other, but it won't be easy for them to be together -- not if his friend (her former friends) have anything to say about it. Is Ally ready to get thrown back into the drama of the life she left behind?"

My take: I put off reading this one for awhile. I'm not sure why. I think it was the title and my assumption it was about something vampires. Don't misunderstand, I love vampires and paranormal. I thrive on paranormal. So, I'm not sure why the delay. I really enjoyed the book. The ending is a huge cliffhanger (or three) that leaves you wanting more. I loved Ally. She put up with a lot and handled many things much more diplomatically than many people would have. This is the first book I've read by Kieran Scott and I'm sure it won't be the last. Especially since this is a trilogy and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one when it comes out. Good book, highly recommended.

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416999515
ISBN-13: 978-1416999515

My rating: A

Book Review: The Named

Book Review: The Named by Marianne Curley

First sentence: "I wake with the heavy feeling that my brain turned to lead during the night."

From Amazon.com: "Sixteen-year-old Ethan Roberts has more to worry about than his lackluster grades. As one of the Named, he is charged with secretly protecting history from the Order of Chaos--an evil group that seeks to alter the past to achieve ultimate power in the present. Ethan is given orders to train his first apprentice, 15-year-old Isabel Becket, in a few short weeks as his growing nightmares soon make it apparent that trouble is brewing on a cosmic scale. The two are helped by Arkarain--Ethan's violet-eyed, blue-haired, 600-year-old mentor--and their secret powers. Isabel is a healer. Ethan is a master of illusion. Their stories evolve in rotating chapters, each told in a similar first-person point of view that makes chapter transitions disorienting at times. But The Named is at its strongest when school and parents fade. Its imagined settings are a pleasure, from the booby-trapped catacombs that house the Prophecy that was written before time to the Citadel--a way-station to the past--with its wildly decorated rooms. Ethan and Isabel's missions to Medieval England and colonial America are also a thrill, indicating that the adventures detailed in this book are just the beginning for this duo."

My take: Well if you wonder why I'm not reading very many books this month, one of the reasons is I'm just not that into the books I've picked up to read so far. Except for Graceling, which I enjoyed. But it takes me a lot longer to finish one that isn't that interesting for me than it does one that I'm glued to. I struggled through this book. Literally. Too bad, too... because it looks like such a fascinating series to get into. I am not even sure what it is about the book that didn't keep me spell-bound. The characters? Maybe. I was confused about a few things. But in all fairness to the book, the series, the author... I may have been preoccupied these past several days. My dog was sick and dying of cancer and I had to have him put to sleep yesterday morning. So, take this review (and any other negative one lately) with a grain of salt.

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (May 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599905434
ISBN-13: 978-1599905433

My rating: D

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

First sentence: "It was as black in the closet as old blood."

From the back: "It is the summer of 1950 -- and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, a young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath."

My take: I really wanted to like this book but I really didn't. I found the fact that it was about an eleven-year old girl hard to believe given the vocabulary she had and the things she did. I didn't get very far into the book before I decided that I just could not do it. I couldn't finish the book. That doesn't happen for me very often. Usually, something along the way keeps me interested enough to at least struggle to the end. Not this time. Sorry. I'm sure that there were many others who read the book that found it delightful. Sadly, I'm not one of them. I may try again some other time, given the fact that it got such high ratings, but not now.

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (January 19, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385343493
ISBN-13: 978-0385343497

My Rating: E

Book Review: Graceling

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

First sentence: "In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind."

From the back: "Katsa had been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight -- she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace -- or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away..."

My take: This book was hard for me to get into at first. I found it a bit on the slow and boring side at first. But after I stuck with it for awhile, I got into it so much I hated putting it down. I really enjoyed the story. The characters. The places. I like reading books with strong heroines. To say Katsa is a strong heroine is an understatement indeed. The friendship that forms between her and Po is fun and filled with action and adventure. And who could keep from falling in love with him? I don't believe Ms. Cashore's book, "Fire" is about Katsa and Po, but I still think I might like to read it.

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

The Book Nerd Club

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Graphia; Reprint edition (September 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0547258305
ISBN-13: 978-0547258300

My Rating: B

Book Review: A Kiss in Time

Book Review: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

First sentence: "If I hear one more syllable about spindles, I shall surely die!"

From Harper Teen: "Talia fell under a spell . . . . Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . .

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger's soft kiss.

I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!

Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak! Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old.

Can a kiss transcend all—even time?"

My take: I liked this book. I liked "Beauty" a tad bit more, but this is still an entertaining easy read. It's a remake of Sleeping Beauty. Alex is the kind of boyfriend I'd like to have. He hasn't always had his head on straight but like any male... it takes the love of a good woman to set him on the right path. Talia goes from being a spoiled rotten brat to a very mature young lady with a heart. Enjoyable read! Now, I want to read more by this author and see the movie, "Beauty."

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006087421X
ISBN-13: 978-0060874216

My Rating: B

Monthly Recap: July

1. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
2. The Devouring by Simon Holt
3. Need by Carrie Jones
4. Everlost by Neal Shusterman
5. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
6. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
7. Witch & Wizard by James Patterson
8. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
9. 13 to Life by Shannon Delany
10. Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood
11. The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares
12. Forget You by Jennifer Echols
13. Breathless by Jessica Warman
14. Beastly by Alex Flinn
15. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

So many awesome books in July! It's really hard for me to choose just one favorite. If I had to pick one book that stood out from the others I think it would be Ann Brashares' The Last Summer (of You & Me). This book took a little bit for me to get into but once I did, I was glued! A close second would be Forget You by Jennifer Echols. And I can't wait to see Charlie St. Cloud because I loved that book as well.

My least favorite book read in July was James Patterson's Witch & Wizard.

July Giveaway Winner!

July Giveaway Winner is: Jessica @ BookSake.

Congratulations, Jessica!

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