Review & GIVEAWAY: Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire by Josephine AngeliniTitle: Trial by Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy #1

About: This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

My Thoughts: I am a huge fan of the Starcrossed series, so when I saw something new by Josephine Angelini, I was very excited.

Let me start by saying that this is very different from Starcrossed. Very. The world(s) is (are) so different … there’s a lot to learn. Not just for Lily, but for the reader as well. The world she finds herself in is so different, it can take awhile to get your head wrapped around things. I suppose it’s good, because it helps you relate to Lily. But, that’s only my thought after having completed the book. Until now, it made for some surprisingly slow reading. I expected to get sucked in pretty much right away, but that didn’t happen until the last quarter or so.

Don’t let that keep  you from reading this. It’s an amazing, imaginative world. And the idea of your worst enemy being a different version of yourself? Kinda chilling!

The characters are great. Lily is someone you start out feeling sorry for, but she really finds herself once she’s in the alternate universe. Her friends and allies are pretty neat characters — especially Rowan (book boyfriend? Oh, yes!), whose story slowly is revealed through the book. I’m sure there’s more to everyone’s stories, and hopefully we’ll see more of them as the series progresses.

By the end of the book, I couldn’t read fast enough — and I wasn’t quite ready for it to end. That’s kinda the mark of a good story in my mind — even if it took awhile to get to that point.

4 Stars

Source: Sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: Trial by Fire is scheduled for release around September 2, 2014. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

Win It: Oh, yes, you can win your own copy easy-peasy! Up for grabs is one copy to one lucky winner in the U.S. (sorry, international friends). Just follow the instructions below, and Rafflecopter will help me choose a winner in two weeks! :-) Contest closes at midnight on Sunday, September 14.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Top Ten Tuesday: Lunch Buddies

Top Ten Tuesday

So, I’m not too sure of this week’s theme, but I’m going to challenge myself. I might not be able to get to ten, but I’ll try!

Top Ten Book Characters Who Would Be Sitting at My Lunch Table

… if I was still in school. I’m not sure about this one, as I said above. But, these have been fun to do as of late, so I’ll give it the old college try — or something. As always, these are not ranked; they are listed in the order in which they come to mind.

  1. Hadrian Blackwater from The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan: He’s one of my favorite characters ever. He would have to be there.
  2. Felicia from The Memory Chronicles by Lenore Appelhans: One of the better female protagonists out there, in my opinion.
  3. Harry Potter: Must I say more?
  4. Katniss Everdeen: Again, must I say more?
  5. Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Such a cool guy. And, yeah, a big-time book boyfriend …
  6. Callum Hunt in The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare: He’s such a great character. He’d be fun to have lunch with every day!
  7. Shelby Jane Cooper from There Will Be Lies by Nick Lane: I absolutely loved her when I read the book, so she has to be on this list!
  8. Arista from the above-mentioned series, The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan: Want a strong, positive female character? She’s it. She doesn’t start that way as the series sets off, but she becomes amazing by the time it concludes!
  9. Kestrel from The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: I absolutely loved her — so much that I almost waxed poetic about her in my review.
  10. Lia from The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson: She’s one of those characters who grew on me as I read. By the end, I just loved her!

That was fun — and not as hard as I’d thought it would be. And, honestly, I probably could do another ten, twenty, thirty, even more, if I really look back through my lifetime of reading …

I look forward to seeing others’ posts! :-)

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Month in Review: August

AugustAnd now it’s September. What. The. Heck? Where’d August go? At least I had a bit of a busier month so far as reading and blogging went! ;)

Books Read/Reviewed in August

  1. Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang ~ 4.5 stars
  2. Cold Days by Jim Butcher ~ 3.5 stars
  3. Remember Me by Romily Bernard ~ 3.5 stars
  4. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare ~ 3.5 stars
  5. Help for the Haunted by John Searles ~ 3.5 stars
  6. The Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter ~ 5 stars
  7. Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans ~ 5 stars
  8. Blackbird by Anna Carey ~ 3 stars
  9. Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini ~ 4 stars
  10. Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke ~ 5 stars
  11. Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for Kids Only! Collectible Edition by The Bathroom Readers’ Institute ~ 5 stars
  12. Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli ~ 5 stars

Top 6 Books in August

  1. Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke
  2. The Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter
  3. Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans
  4. Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli
  5. Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for Kids Only! Collectible Edition by The Bathroom Readers’ Institute
  6. Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Special Event in August

  • GIVEAWAY of Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (ENDS September 14)

Traffic Report

All traffic stats are provided by Google Analytics.

Top 5 Referring Sites/Blogs:

  1. Google (organic) ~ 341
  2. bloglovin’ ~ 20
  3. Bing (organic) ~ 16
  4. ~ 13
  5. Yahoo (organic) ~ 12

Top 10 Viewed Pages:

  1. Proud Book Nerd ~ 160
  2. Review: The Queen of Zombie Hearts ~ 27
  3. Get Scars by Cheryl Rainfield Free! ~ 26
    Review & GIVEAWAY: Trial by Fire ~ 26
  4. (5.) Review: Want to Go Private? ~ 21
  5. (6.) Review: The Iron Trial ~ 20
  6. (7.) Review: The End Games ~ 18
    Contact ~ 18
  7. (9.) About ~  17
  8. (10.) Top Ten Tuesday: Gotta Read It! ~ 15

As always, thanks for sticking around — even through the dry spells! :)

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DNF: Ghost House

Ghost House by Alexandra AdornettoTitle: Ghost House
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Series: The Ghost House Saga #1

About: After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger…

Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her.

To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own.

My Thoughts: If you know me as a reviewer — or simply as a reader — then you know that I do NOT like to give up on books. I do not easily come by books that I cannot find a reason to finish. It is very rare that I decide it’s too painful to finish, or too boring, or just not worth my time. Don’t believe me? Search above in my search box for DNF. Go ahead, I’ll wait …

The last DNF (or, for those who aren’t quite sure about what I mean, did-not-finish book) I encountered was almost two full years ago! October 2, 2012. Knowing that, please realize that it grieves me to have to give a book such a dismal rating. And it’s so very, very hard for me to write a fitting review — or at least, fitting reaction that adequately explains the why behind the DNF and zero stars. I work in publishing and I am a creative person; I understand how hard an author works on their book. And I understand how painful negative feedback can be. So, I am truly sorry for what I’m about to write. Please know that I don’t want to make someone feel bad, but I feel that my integrity as a reviewer, as someone others can look to for honest, reliable reviews (even if they likely won’t always agree with my opinions) is on the line here. It is my policy to share the good, the bad, and the ugly — regardless of anyone’s feelings. If you’re closely tied to this book in any way, I encourage you to just move on. You won’t like what you see here.

So, my thoughts: I made it to page 120. Out of 314 in the ARC I tried to read. Each page was painful. I had to FORCE myself to read even a little bit. I went on a five-hour drive with my family this weekend to visit relatives, and hoped to read it in the car. When I can’t even get into a book during such a trip, I know it’s a lost cause. And it’s a shame, because I really wanted to like this. It sounded pretty good.

So, what didn’t I like? Everything. Everything? Yes. Everything. I cannot think of one single positive thing to say about this book. I’m gonna list what I don’t like — just remember, this is based on 120 pages of the book. It’s possible I missed something good, but hopefully you’ll soon understand why I didn’t care to find out for sure.

  • Chloe comes across as an idiot teenager who’s trying to come across smarter than she is. She uses words that I don’t think any teenager ever (in modern days, at least) has ever uttered — unless they’re trying to seem smarter than they are.
  • It was looking like we were headed toward a teen/ghost love story. NO THANK YOU! I could take it if it’s a teen and lover who knew each other before one of them died. But this is a ghost who died over a century and a half before Chloe shows up. This is something I simply cannot swallow. Especially if Chloe is as smart as she wants people to think she is.
  • The writing is abysmal. Oh, yes, that bad. This book is over-written. I’m not shown this story, I’m told it. And the writing just isn’t fluid. There are “big words” thrown into the narrative in seemingly random spots. And the use of these words just doesn’t fit the rest of the story’s writing. The words stand out, as if the author is trying to look more cerebral, or academic, or something. (So perhaps Chloe’s problem isn’t a character problem, but rather an author problem.)

Simply put, I could not get past the crappy writing to get into the story. And that is RARE. Usually, if the writing is subpar, I can overlook it when there’s a great plot. The plot here? Nah. I’ve got better things to do with my time. (And, no, I will not, under ANY circumstances, touch another book in this series. I might even shun this author, that’s how bad the writing was.)

0 Stars**Please note that all DNF books are given 0 stars by default.**

Source: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: I don’t generally recommend purchase of books I don’t like, especially not DNF books. So, I strongly urge you to check this out of the library before making the decision to purchase!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Monday! What Are You Reading?We just got back from a long weekend out of town, and it occurred to me that it’s MONDAY! Figures. The week I didn’t have it even close to ready! ;)

Last week’s reviews:

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke | Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for Kids Only! Collectible Edition by The Bathroom Readers Institute | Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli

Other post:

Top Ten TuesdayYes, again, one. Simply click the button to get to the post.

Current giveaway:

Trial by Fire by Josephine AngeliniI still have a finished copy of Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini up for grabs. Just click the cover to get to the giveaway!

What I’m reading now:

The Vault of Dreamers ~ Getting started on that one tonight. It sounds really good. | Crash the Chatterbox ~ I’m so far staying up to date with the series with my church. | Dangerous Women ~ I WILL finish it before it’s due! ;) | Beyond the Bake Sale ~ I’m just not ready to admit defeat quite yet.

On deck this week:

Ambitious? Maybe. Wish me luck!

So, how about you? What’s your week in books look like?

If you’re here as part of this meme, please make sure to let me know — especially if you’re new. I’d love to return the visit. (Oh, and be careful. My comments have been a bit wonky. If your comment doesn’t appear right away, please shoot me an email so I can make sure it’s not in spam!)

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Review: Little Boo

Little BooTitle: Little Boo
Author: Stephen Wunderli
Illustrator: Tim Zeltner
Series: n/a

About: The leaves fall, the wind blows, and one little pumpkin seed tries and tries to be scary. But he doesn’t scare anyone . . . not the snowflakes in winter, not the bees in spring, not even the watering can!

The wind tells him to be patient—he’ll be scary soon enough. But waiting is hard. Will the little seed ever be really, truly scary?

My Thoughts: This is an absolutely adorable book. The second I started reading, my 6-year-old said, “aww!” LOL She loved the story and was very happy to hear it read — and even happier to run away with it when we were finished reading! ;)

The illustrations are colorful and beautiful. They make the pages a pleasure to look at, and worth lingering on after finishing the corresponding text.

If I were to say there’s a message to this book, I’d say it’s about patience. Sometimes we have to wait to be able to do what we want to do. And it’s usually worth the wait.

Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli is an excellent fall addition to any children’s book collection.

5 StarsSource: ARC sent by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: You can order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for Kids Only! Collectible Edition

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader for Kids Only! Collectible EditionTitle: Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for Kids Only! Collectible Edition
Author: The Bathroom Readers’ Institute
Series: Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader

About: Here is a chance to own the very first Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader For Kids Only! in a hardcover edition with all new illustrations! When younger readers demanded a Bathroom Reader of their own, Uncle John put together this collection of facts, fads, quotes, history, science, origins, pop culture, mythology, humor and more! Plus it’s full of wacky and fun illustrations and Uncle John’s famous “running feet” — those fun and fascinating facts on the bottom of every page. Curious young readers will learn about the real Dr. Seuss, baseball superstitions, the birth of The Simpsons, how carnival games are rigged, the history of dining on scorpions and tarantulas, shocking truths about thunder and lightning, and disgusting bodily functions like ear wax production and digestion (and why they’re important), and much, much more!

My Thoughts: My kids absolutely love this book! They find the information in here interesting, disgusting, hilarious, and awesome. They could all pour over this for hours. Favorite parts include: Body Music: The Fart; Body Music: The Burp; Fireworks Facts; The Nose Knows, and many more. I doubt any of these favorites would surprise any parents out there! LOL

And the “running feet” mentioned above? Fantastic. Lots of tiny facts that even adults will find interesting! A few examples:

What’s the oldest veggies known to humans? Peas. ~ page 244

Left-or right-handed? Either way, the nails on that hand grow the fastest. ~ page 168

England is only two-thirds the size of New England. ~ page 214

There are many more — about one per page.

This book has something for everyone. A section on mythical creatures for my mythology-obsessed 11-year-old. Gross body information and bathroom lore for my 8-year-old son. And a whole bunch of other things for my 6-year-old who is still young enough to find it all quite interesting.

This is a fun way for kids to learn new things. And even the adults in their lives will learn something new — guaranteed!

5 StarsSource: Received through Kismet Book Touring for review. (Click the button below for more tour stops.)

Blog TourRead It: You can order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Dissonance

Dissonance by Erica O'RourkeTitle: Dissonance
Author: Erica O’Rourke
Series: Dissonance #1

About: Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

My Thoughts: Funny how I keep ending up reading books about similar concepts one right after the other. Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini is the last book I read, and there’s a very similar concept in that book. Parallel universes, endless branches. And only some people can navigate between the universes. From there, however, the differences (mostly) end.

Del is trouble, but with a good heart (mostly). Honestly, I think her sister, Addie, is worse. Awful, horrible, nasty big sister. I would NEVER let my oldest treat her siblings the way Addie treats Del. I don’t get what the problem is, but perhaps we’ll learn more along those lines further into the series. I hope, because right now, I wanna see Addie get taken down. She’s vindictive, cruel, and a selfish you-know-what. I kept wondering what her problem is.

Despite the similarities to Trial by Fire that I mentioned above, this is a very unique book (at least based on what I’ve read) with a really cool premise. Yes, parallel universes have been touched on before, but I think this is a fresh take on how all of it works. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bonus: There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns. And huge surprises — including surprising, unexpected betrayals — plus some heartbreaking events all thrown in. Fantastic!

Simon. Love him. Book boyfriend for sure. He’s sweet, kind, and someone I’d totally let my girls date (when they’re his age). Love this guy!

So, I don’t wanna say anymore, because I don’t wanna ruin anything for anyone. If you’re in for a good book that’s a wild ride, this just might be for you.

5 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: You can order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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