Monthly Wrap-up: July

List of July reads. Yikes! This list is much smaller than I wanted it! It's a lame and awful excuse, but I blame work. It's taken over every facet of my life! Only 2 1/2 more weeks, and I can go back to normal!

Leigh Bardugo - Shadow & Bone (The Grisha #1)
                       - "The Witch of Duva" (The Grisha #0.5)
                       - "The Tailor" (The Grisha #1.5)
                       - "The Too-Clever Fox" (The Grisha #2.5)
Jen Calonita - The Grass Is Always Greener (Belles #3)
Lauren Christina - "Beautiful Bitch" (Beautiful Bastard #1.5)
Kady Cross - "The Dark Discovery of Jack Dandy" (Steampunk Chronicles #2.5)
Jennifer Echols - Love Story
Lauren Graham - Someday, Someday Maybe
Richelle Mead - Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)
Marissa Meyer - Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
                        - "The Queen's Army" (Lunar Chronicles #1.5)

Weekly Wrap-up: July 21-27

So...I kind of got a promotion at work this week, buuuuuuut it was unexpected and comes with a LOT of extra work. So my whole week was spent dealing with work emergencies, and what little free time I had was spent feverishly finishing reading these books or attending the semifinal matches of the CONCACAF Gold Cup (basically, one of the biggest soccer games of the year for the US Men's National Team). While work was a total pain, the reading and the soccer game were well worth late, late nights and (at least for the game), hours spent stuck in traffic. Soccer guys games = happy Mary!

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) - Richelle Mead: 5 stars. Very different from Vampire Academy but still really interesting.

Love Story - Jennifer Echols: 4 stars. It has never been and will never be my favorite Echols' book, but it's sweet and real, just like all of her stories.

Currently Reading:
Broken Faith - Brandy Nacole
Transparent - Natalie Whipple

New to my bookshelf this week:
Library books:
Defy the Dark - Saundra Mitchell: You guys know how I feel about anthologies. :D
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True - Sarah Strohmeyer
Let the Sky Fall - Shannon Messenger
Venom - Fiona Paul

DRCs (Digital Review Copies aka ARC ebooks):
Just Like Fate - Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young
Learning Not to Drown - Anna Shinoda

Top Ten Tuesday #7: Top Ten Topics I Find Less Interesting

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Topics that don't interest me
Now, I don't follow this as a hard and fast rule, but these are the trends that generally make me shy away from a book.

1. Fairies. Don't get me wrong. I like Tinkerbell and The Iron Fey, but in general, I find fairies a lot less interesting than most other supernatural/paranormal entities. I think it's because the so-called "fair" folk usually suck. They're all aloof and obnoxious, and generally, they embody a ridiculous superiority complex. Ugh. Get over yourselves and go back to being covered in mischevous glitter a la A Midsummer Night's Dream-style, guys!
2. Drugs. No. Not interested. Drugs are just about all that's wrong with the world. Miss you, Cory Monteith.
3. LGBT. While I do appreciate a well-written novel with well-written characters who happen to be lgbt such as Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Winger, The Shadowhunter Chronicles, or Beauty Queens, I'm really a straight romance buff.
4. Anything by William Faulkner. Hate him. Trashy southern lit at its worst. Ugh ugh UGH. "My mother is a fish." Seriously, that's a Faulkner quote. NO.
5. Religion/Chrisitan fiction. I find learning the academic, historical, and theologial aspects of various religions interesting, but I'm actually not as interested in getting preached to via fiction. Don't be offended if I'm not into your brand of Christian or [insert your religion here] lit. My own religion does have a number of well-known mainstream authors (I guarantee at least a couple are on your list of favorites), but there are many fictional works published by church-operated presses. I have no interest in them either. I prefer novels that portray religion in someone's life without being completely overwhelming because that's much more realistic. A couple examples of books that do it right are Miranda Kenneally's Stealing Parker and Things I Can't Forget.
6. Classics. I'm too busy reading books that are being published now that I have no time for the classics. Exemptions are Austen (duh) and Shakespeare (also duh).

Topics that DO interest me:
 Since I missed this previous TTT post, I thought I'd put them here.

1. Sports. I love sports to the point where I am a bigger fan and follow more sports than most guys I know. I have favorite teams, favorite players, and favorite obscure Olympians. I follow trades and stats and off-season chatter. Sports in books is book porn for me.
2. Hollywood. Anything to deal with the lifestyles of the (moderately) rich and (somewhat) famous is a total guilty pleasure. It doesn't have to be real Hollywood gossip to be interesting and fun. See: Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita. Adorable series. I think it's the glamour mixed with the sheer absurdity of the whole lifestyle. If sports are book porn, Hollywood books are a molten chocolate lava cake filled with fudge. And crack.
3. Romance. Yup. I'm a sucker for a good romance. Shut up, Lady Gaga. You know nothing. Please note that this says romance, not smut. Smut has its place too, but I generally prefer the sweet kisses and hand-holding to getting down and dirty. *cough* Generally.
4. Marching band. I was a band nerd for over a decade, and I loved ever second of it. Why else would I ever have stylistically walked around a giant rubber-and-plastic field in 90 degrees and 90% humidity at the ripe old age of 23? It wasn't because of those sexy wool uniforms. They were hot. Literally. Hot. Sweltering. Band was the best thing I ever did in my life, and I love traveling back to those days with a good book about other marching nerds. Jennifer Echols's Major Crush is a great read.
5. Boarding School. I think kids who never attended boarding schools are more obsessed with the idea of boarding schools than kids who actually did attend. Winger and Anna and the French Kiss are fantastic examples of good boarding school stories.
6. Magical Boarding Schools. If boarding schools are super cool, magical boarding schools are like Antarctica. Okay, that metaphor was terrible, but seriously, they're amazing. Don't tell me you didn't want to attend Hogwarts or Hex Hall or Camp Half-Blood (not a school but same kind of experience) or the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women (not magical, but pretty dang close so I'm counting it in this category because it's not a "normal" school) or St. Vladimir's or a House of Night or....I can keep going, but the point has been made. Magical boarding schools > regular boarding schools > regular school.

Thoughts? Got a great book that fits the first few categories that will change my mind? Let me know! Also, fellow bloggers, always feel free to leave a link to your TTT posts. I'd love to compare lists!

Weekly Wrap-up: July 14-20

I'm sure you guys can tell what I was obsessed with this week! this next week will be pretty busy with lots of work and lots of books on my tbr!

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) - Leigh Bardugo: 5 stars! Why didn't anyone recommend this to me directly?! It was fantastic! Good thing I already have a copy of Siege and Storm or I'd be moved to violence.
"The Tailor" (The Grisha #1.5) - Leigh Bardugo: 5 stars. A good background story about Genya, who is my favorite secondary character in the series.
The Grass is Always Greener (Belles #3) - Jen Calonita: 3 stars. As many people have said, this feels more like a middle book than the final book of a trilogy. I enjoyed it, but I wish Jen would write a fourth book. The series doesn't quite feel complete. Another would wrap everything up a bit more, I think.
"The With of Duva" (The Grisha #0.5) - Leigh Bardugo: 5 stars. Sooo creepy, and with a great twist ending!
"The Too-Clever Fox" (The Grisha #2.5) - Leigh Bardugo: 5 stars.

Currently Reading:
Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) - Richelle Mead. Another solid adult series for Richelle. Really good so far!
Transparent - Natalie Whipple.

New to my bookshelf this week:
For Darkness Shows the Stars - Diana Peterfreund (library)
The Sea of Monsters graphic novel - Rick Riordan (library)

Yeah YA! Panel + Giveaway


Harlequin Teen currently has 10 of its authors on tour for Harlequin Teen Author Fest 2013, and on Friday, July 12, Aimée Carter, Julie Kagawa, Katie McGarry, Gena Showalter, and Rachel Vincent  made a stop in Southlake, Texas (a Dallas suburb). If you haven't read my transcript of the Beneath the Surface panel, you should! I ended up meeting Aimée, Julie, and Katie a day early, which was really exciting for me, but I was glad to see them again and to meet Gena and Rachel as well. This event was different from the BTS panel because 1. there wasn't an official moderator; the authors just did their own thing before breaking for the audience Q&A, and 2. these authors have been touring for a while so they had their "act" down pretty well with really good interaction among each other.

Courtesy of Mundie Moms!
 Katie from Mundie Moms was on site as the live blogger and she snapped a picture of the crowd. Lots of bloggers! I'm in the front row wearing black, then on the right side in the front are Jasmine & Marissa from Beneath the Moon and Stars. In the back, center, are Karen from Teen Librarian's Toolbox and Kari from A Good Addiction! I know Katie did a post about the event, but you should definitely check everybody else to see if there are more items up for grabs.

 Transcript under the cut!

Top Ten Tuesday #6: Authors who deserve more recognition

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Authors who deserve more recognition
There are plenty of amazing authors out there, but sometimes, it seems the only ones anyone ever wants to talk about are: JK Rowling, George RR Martin, John Green, Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, or Veronica Roth. Sure, I get it. These authors are great and deserve every bit of press (except Stephenie who receives far too much negative press. Get over it, people) they get. But just once, I'd love to see more people know and love these authors too!

1. Jennifer Echols. I can't say enough good things about Jennifer. Not only is she an incredibly kind and funny person in real life, but she's a top-notch author as well. Jennifer has this amazing ability to write about things that are so close to my own life that I feel like she's writing pages from my diary for me! The heroines are strong but flawed, the love interests sexy but vulnerable, the relationships 100% relatable and realistic. If you haven't, you really should read her books. I particularly recommend Going Too Far for her dramas and The Boys Next Door for her comedies for those of you who are new to her books.

2. Elizabeth Eulberg. I found The Lonely Hearts Club in a B&N years ago. After I fell in love with the premise, I promptly ran over to my local Borders and bought it, as well as the copy of Prom & Prejudice I found. Well, Borders didn't last, but my love of Elizabeth's writing did. LHC will resound with every girl who has ever had love troubles, and P&P is for that deep-seated desire in all of us to live Elizabeth Bennet's life. Elizabeth is also a lovely woman in real life, and her writing is utterly relatable too.

3. Jen Calonita. I met Jen last year at the same time as Elizabeth, and she's another author who is super kind and interesting IRL. While I had already devoured all 3 of Elizabeth's books, although I actually possessed two of Jen's, I had never picked them up. In the year since, I have read all except the very last book in the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series. Jen's books speak to the guilty pleasure we all have of living in Hollywood, and she has plenty of behind-the-scenes info to back it up. The best thing I can say about Jen's books is that I always feel good when I close the back cover.

4. Andrew Smith. Andrew is getting plenty of buzz for his amazing novel Winger (as he should; it's fantastic), but I hadn't heard of him before I went to TLA and a copy of Winger was urgently pressed into my hands. Andrew is a male ya writer, a novelty in the current female-driven ya economy. Andrew's writing is flush with humor and Real Life Issues and it's all about boys. I love it, and I'm super excited to start on Marbury Jack.

5. Kady Cross. I picked up The Girl in the Steel Corset because it's a freaking awesome cover, and I had recently really gotten into the whole steampunk movement. Kady blew my expectations away. It's an amazing story about tough girls, cute boys (including a good guy duke with a kind personality and a bad boy criminal with a soft heart), and cool gadgets. While the Steampunk Chronicles has a decent following, it doesn't get Kady nearly the attention it should.

6. Miranda Kenneally. Catching Jordan was all the rage for its release, but I haven't heard a lot of acclaim for Miranda's companion novels in the Hundred Oaks series. Miranda is another amazing contemporary author with a mind for high school realism while maintaining butterfly-inducing romance with cute boys. Love her books!

7. Elana K. Arnold. After reading Burning, I was hooked on Elana's writing. It's so poetic and lovely. I haven't read her other work yet, but I absolutely will after having such an amazing experience with this one. While the good reviews are glowing and amazing, there are some negative ones out there that I think Elana and Burning totally did not deserve. Trust me; that book is amazing, and so is Elana.

Aaaand....that's all I can think of! Do you have any suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

Beneath the Surface Panel + Giveaway


I realized a few months ago that, while I really love borrowing books, movies, tv shows, and music from the Dallas Public Library because of their humongous collection, the Irving Public Library is The Place to Be when it comes to author events in the area. Kristin from Cool Librarian Glasses and her compatriots have this thing locked down. You'll see what I mean.

A little background: there was the Beneath the Surface panel Thursday with Rae Carson, Aimée Carter, Tessa Gratton, Tahereh Mafi, Ransom Riggs, and Nova Ren Suma . Friday night was the Yeah YA panel featuring a whole host of Harlequin Teen authors such as Aimée, Julie Kagawa, Katie McGarry, Gena Showalter, and Rachel Vincent. So I get to the BTS event and was chatting up my fellow blogger friends Alex from Peace, Love and Fangirl, Marissa & Jasmine of Beneath the Moon and Stars, and Kari from A Good Addiction. We're talking about books that destroyed us, and I say, "Oh, what was the one I just read? *flip through Goodreads Read shelf* Oh, yeah, it was The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa! Man, that really gutted me!" About two minutes later, Kari says, "Oh, my gosh, that's Julie Kagawa." My head jerks up and my eyes widen. Yeah. Julie Kagawa and Katie McGarry were attempting to crash the Beneath the Surface panel under the radar. *snort* Like under the radar was even remotely an option for them.

Lucky me, I end up sitting next to Julie! Before and after, I had the supreme pleasure of talking to her about her books, publishing, and just whatever. Katie McGarry likewise was super nice and easy to talk to. Our little blogger group kind of circled up with them and talked while most attendees were queued up to talk to the authors who were actually doing the panel. I even told Julie about our conversation before she came in. She replied with this amazing, horrifying sentence: "Well, I hope you cry more reading The Forever Song than you did reading The Eternity Cure." WHAT?! Julie Kagawa, WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT!!! *iz ded*

So that was the wonderful surprise of the evening. The actual panel was pretty fantastic, but that's not surprising because of Kristin and the rest of the IPL staff. Pictures & transcript under the cut!

Weekly Wrap-up: July 7-13

So...not a lot of reading this week. Also not a lot of blogging. BUT I did manage to attend two book signings this week. You guys. The bold letters should make you really, really excited. I may not have posted much, but I recorded both events and will have transcripts up soon. Plus, when it comes to me, signings =  free books for you guys. If you're not excited yet, GET THAT WAY.

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) - Marissa Meyer: 5 stars. SO glad the hype was true!!
Beautiful Bitch (Beautiful Bastard #1.5) - Lauren Christina: 1 star. I deserved this one. I'm ashamed to admit that I even read it. You guys, it was SO. BAD. I mean, even if you don't count that Lauren & Christina's story is basically a smutty fanfic, the style was horrible. Why do I do these things to myself?!

Currently Reading:
Transparent - Natalie Whipple: Pretty interesting. Wish I had devoted more time to reading this one this week.
Shadow & Bone (Grisha #1) - Leigh Bardugo: Okay, okay, I'm finally reading this one! By page 70-something, I was already madly in love with the Darkling. I think I'm a goner.

New to my bookshelf this week:
Surprisingly, no new library books to report. However, I did buy more books to be signed, including:
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) - Rae Carson
The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1) - Aimee Carter
The Lost Sun (United States of Asgard #1) - Tessa Gratton
The Immortal Rules & The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #1 & 2) - Julie Kagawa,
Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) Katie McGarry
Intertwined (Intertwined #1) - Gena Showalter
Dani Noir & Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma
My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers #1) - Rachel Vincent
(These were all personal copies for me. I don't count giveaway books as being on my bookshelf)
Oh, and I also snagged an ARC of The Iron Traitor last night, thanks to Aimee, Julie, and Harlequin Teen. NBD.

....Wait, what am I saying?! I freaked the crap out, duh! zSdklgas:Ldkgjarsgkaslri <---me last night. Review will be coming much, much closer to publish date, but details about both signings and authors who can't fly under the radar despite much effort will be posted later this week. Ta, darlings, and happy reading!

Top Ten Tuesday #5: Movie Adapatations

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Best/Worst Movie Adapatations
I mean, they're everywhere. Some are good. Some are great, even. Some are so horrific you hope the screenwriter, director, cast, and remaining crew receive a swift and just kick to the behind or get trapped inside an elevator with a clown or a skunk or something. This list is waaay over 10, just fyi.
NOTE: Movie posters image credit to

 1. The Golden Compass sorta kinda based on the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. I can't, you guys, I just can't. No no no no and more no. The book is lovely and engaging and thrilling, but the movie fell short in every single way. As handsome as Daniel Craig is, he couldn't save this. The ONLY things I approve of are Eva Green as the witch and Iorek, who is a BOSS. And the music is lovely. Nothing else fit well. I could only stomach this gross bastardization once. Verdict: WORST. EVER.

 2. Eragon vaguely based on the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. 19-year old Paolini entered the literary world with a bang with Eragon, and Hollywood was eager to get in on the action. Too bad they wanted money too badly to bother making a GOOD MOVIE. As much as I liked the cast (some of them, anyway because Joss Stone as Angela? REALLY? Ugh), the script was simply horrid. Music was great, set the mood, and the script killed it. Epic feel and cool cinamatography: ruined by the script. RUINED. And then Paolini went ahead and ruined the series so that was the end of that. I can stomach the movie if I pretend it's original. I am moved to extreme violence if I compare to the book. Verdict: WHAT THE CRAP IS THIS NONSENSE HAVE YOU EVEN READ THE BOOK.

3. Avalon High based on the book by Meg Cabot. Go home, Disney; you're drunk. To be fair, I had long outgrown the Disney Channel by the time Avalon High was adapted, but it just wasn't at ALL like the book I love. It's one of my favorites by Cabot and Disney ruined it. I mean, I read ya so it's not farfetched for me to like a movie marketed to teens, even a Disney Channel movie (I own all 3 HSM movies, true story). I couldn't even sit through the whole thing.
Verdict: Major disappointment.
 3. Blood and Chocolate extremely loosely based on the book by Annette Curtis Klaus. Problems: 1. They kept Klaus out of all parts of production. 2. They aged the characters. 3. They moved the setting from the US to Europe. 4. They changed the characters. Basically, the movie makers changed every single facet of the story. It's not a bad movie, but it's a horrid adaptation. Like Eragon, I have to keep the movie and the book completely separate in my mind. I will say this: Gabriel is freaking AWESOME in the book so don't judge him by the creepy pedophile factor Olivier Martinez brought to the role. Verdict: Not even close!

 4. City of Ember based on the Book of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau. I haven't read the book, but I really enjoyed the movie so I want to read the book. Saoirse Ronan is like the queen of book to movie adaptations and I love her. After seeing her in this, I kinda wanted her to be Katniss, but I think the roles may be a bit too similar.
Verdict: Decent.

 5. Inkheart based on the Inkworld series by Cornelia Funke. Good cast. The movie didn't have quite the same magical feeling of the book, but I still enjoyed it. Verdict: Not bad at all.

6. The Princess Diaries based on the series by Meg Cabot. Lots of changes from the series to the movie, but Meg Cabot signed off on everything, especially the death of Mia's dad and the change from Grandmere to stuck up biddy to nice but intimidating and classy world leader because she got Julie Andrews as trade. I think it was a good choice. Plus Erik von Detten in his prime teenage glory. Plus I knew after #2 that Chris Pine was gonna be major. I was right.
Verdict: Not an honest adaptation but a movie that will still make you smile.

7. The Twilight Saga based on the books by Stephenie Meyer. The epic Twilight debate aside, the movies are pretty solid adaptations of the source material. I liked the cast (most of them), the music, the setting, the feeling. Truthfully, I really enjoyed them. I even like the major freak-out moment in BD#2. Way to surprise your audience! Verdict: Both good and bad.

8. The Host based on the book by Stephenie Meyer. This is one of my favorite books ever, but it is very, very large. I think the screenwriter and director did a marvelous job slimming it to a good size without watering it down. I would have liked the actors to be slightly older as the characters are in their 20s and even though the actors are in their 20s, they look like teens. Still, I really enjoyed it.
Verdict: Pretty dang good.

9. The Hunger Games based on the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Very, very good at getting the material and the feel of the movie right. Good casting, good music, but shaky effects make this bird fly a little lower than I'd have liked it to. I don't know why directors think shaky-cam is a good idea in this day and age, the way technology has adapted and improved, but it's not. Just say no to handheld camera work, guys!
Verdict: Good but could have been the best

 10. The Harry Potter series. Books by J.K. Rowling. I don't even know what else is to be said about these babies because it's on everyone's lists. Not closer to the end of the post for me because while epic and amazing, there are many, many details I would have liked to see be a bit truer to the books. So much was changed, even if it was slight, so many things taken out (moment of silence for Peeves). I think the problem lies with the many directorial changes. Also, Alfonso Cuaron was completely wrong for Prisoner of Azkaban. It's my favorite out of the series so that one movie is what really keeps this from being ranked higher.
Verdict: A must-see but quality/faithfulness really depends on which film

11. Mean Girls based on Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by
Rosalind Wiseman. As a general rule, nonfiction books don't work as movies. Unless the script is written by Tina freaking Fey. Mean Girls resonates with every single one of us, which is why everyone ever quotes it every five seconds. Cheers to being Lindsay's greatest gift to the world before she went crazy. Come to think of it, she and Cady have a lot in common...
Verdict: Four for you, Glen Coco! You go, Glen Coco!

12. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe based on novel by C.S. Lewis. I haven't read any of the Chronicles of Narnia, which is a shame, but I had a bad experience with The Magician's Nephew and never went back. Still, the movies kept the magic that everyone assures me is an integral part of the books.
Verdict: Magical and wondrous

13. She's the Man based on Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. Whaaat? You didn't know this was based on Shakespeare? Well, it was! She's the Man was part of Amanda's golden years similar to Mean Girls for Lindsay. It's sharp and plays up the wit that made Amanda and William both top of their craft...before she went crazy and he died. Also, here's to Channing Tatum's abs before he became super A-list famous. One of my most favorite movies ever.
Verdict: This and 10 Things I Hate About You make Shakespeare totally understandable, relatable, and modern.

14. The Lord of the Rings based on the series by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is what you get when a movie is made by die-hard fans with a mind-blowing budget. Sure, JKR had script control for the Harry Potter films, but sometimes she okayed the changes that I wasn't happy with. Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, and Fran Walsh dedicated years and years to getting this story just right and expected the same high quality of work from everyone around them. Everyone around them rose to the challenge. At an impressive 12+ hours, this trilogy is impressive and faithful and utterly gorgeous. JRRT would be proud, I think.
Verdict: If you didn't think I would list this as The Best, you're crazy. If you didn't list this as your #1, you're crazy. :P

Blog Tour: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: MTV books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC from TLA and DRC from Netgalley
Status: Standalone

1. This ARC was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 2. Thanks to Shane from Itching for Books for setting up the blog tour! View the full tour schedule here.

Bailey wasn't always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey's were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie's debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey's antics and ship her off to granddad's house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey's fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey's heart once before. She isn't sure she's ready to let Sam take her there again...

Weekly Wrap-Up: June 30 - July 6

Not a very productive reading week. Somehow I read more when I'm busier than when I have more "free" time.

Awaken (Abandon #3) - Meg Cabot: 4 stars. Pierce + John forever. That is all. Review here.
"The Dark Discovery of Jack Dandy" (Steampunk Chronicles #2.5) - Kady Cross: 5 stars. Mmmm, Jack Dandy. Sure, Giffin is wonderful, but there's something lovely and damaged about Jack that makes me want to rip his clothes off cuddle him.
Someday, Someday Maybe - Lauren Graham (yes, THAT Lauren Graham): 3 stars. I really enjoyed Lauren's writing and style,  but I just wasn't very into the story.

Currently Reading:
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) - Marissa Meyer: high expectations on this one because everybody claims it's better than Cinder so I hope it lives up to the hype!

New to my bookshelf this week:
Gameboard of the Gods - Richelle Mead. Super excited about this!

Dirty Little Secret Giveaway

 Giveaway is CLOSED
Check here for open giveaways.

Jennifer Echols is one of my favorite authors. No question about it. I like to say that if I kept a diary, Jennifer's books would be written out of it. I started reading her books way back in 2006 with Major Crush, which ironically, I took on a band trip (and got made fun of for having a book about marching band while being in the marching band. Go figure). Since then, I've read every book she's published (several times) and traveled with her on her forays into the world of adult and new adult fiction. For years, I've been trying to schedule around Jennifer's events and meet her, but it hasn't worked out. Finally, this April, my dream came true and I met Jennifer face-to-face. The first few minutes were truly ridiculous as I fangirled all over her. Pretty sure everybody around us was horrifically embarrassed for us both. But I didn't care one iota because Jennifer graciously talked with me for a long time about her books, publishing, and random things. It was glorious.

So in honor of Jennifer and her lovely books, I am hosting a giveaway in advance of the release of her latest young adult drama Dirty Little Secret.

Giveaway the first:
Open to US/Canada only!
Midnight CST July 3-10
Prize: Signed copies of Endless Summer, Going Too Far, and Forget You PLUS a signed arc of Dirty Little Secret.

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Giveaway the second:
Open to all countries that are NOT US/Canada!
Midnight CST July 3-10
Prize: Kindle copy of Dirty Little Secret. This will have to wait until the book's release on July 16 to be given, but I wanted to do another international-friendly giveaway! Thanks for being patient, international readers!!
Please note that because this is a Kindle ebook giveaway, you should have an account with Amazon.

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Top Ten Tuesday #4: Most Intimidating Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Most Intimidating Books

Most books don't really intimidate me because I've read a little of just about everything. That being said, I am somewhat hesitant to pick up the books on this list either because of sheer size or high expectations based on public reactions or whatever.

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Um, yeah. I call myself a book lover, but I've never read one of the best series of all time. I started Magician's Nephew and couldn't handle it. Should've started with Lion, Witch, Wardrobe, I know, but I wanted to start with the chronological beginning. And there's just so. much. hype!

2. Ender's Saga by Orson Scott Card. Another hyped series. Plus, it's fairly large, with several books, spinoffs, graphic novels, and novellas. I think I want to see the movie and then decide if I'll read it. At least the first one.

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This is one of the first-ever young adult novels, and I've been "over" the classics since I left school. I dunno. I just don't appreciate them enough. I did like a musical Little Women I watched a few years ago. I definitely feel like if I were to read a classic, this would be a pretty good one.

4. House of Night series by PC & Kristin Cast. So I really enjoyed the first four books of the series, but by the fifth, I was kinda over them, and I didn't even pick up the sixth. I just didn't have enough patience to keep it up all the way through novellas and extras and DANG. TWELVE NOVELS. I think I may try to get back in once all twelve are out, but I don't know. It wasn't just the amount of reading to do; it was also the drama, which got stale. And Zoey just had too many people into her. I like my romance to be dramatic, but not that dramatic.

5. Inkworld series by Cornelia Funke. Like with House of Night, I emjoyed the first one, but I was cowed by sheer size. These novels are dense! Plus, I kind of like where Inkheart left off so I don't know if I really want to move on the others. We'll see. Maybe one day.

6. Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. Same thing. Enjoyed the first book, but I just don't know if I'm interested enought to keep going. Plus, another series and author with so much hype! I may read her other books before going back to Grace & Sam.

7. The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy by Carrie Hand. Hype. HYYYYPE. And I'm not into the whole zombie thing as the rest of the world so I dunno. I probably will pick this one up sometime. It's just that usually, there are a lot of other things that I want to read more. Sorry, Carrie Ryan!

8. Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. Same. Exactly the same. Although I did read his Leviathan series, which was amazing so I know he's a great writer. Just a lot of high expectations. Probably will read someday. Just not yet.

9. Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. Ditto to everything stated above. Hype. High expectations. Plus fairies. I'm not into them as most other supernatural/fantasy creatures.

10. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson. Yeah, not exactly young adult, but whatever. My brother and brother-in-law swear by these. I just don't know if I want to make such a huuuuge committment. I mean, Jordan DIED while writing these and the fans were waiting for years for the end. I don't think I'm that committed. Same with George R. R. Martin's books, which are supposed to be freaking amazing.

Review: Awaken by Meg Cabot

Rating: 4/5 stars
Pub Date: July 2,2013
Publisher: Point (A Scholastic imprint)
Genre: young adult, paranormal romance, mythology (Greek)
Format/Source: ARC from the publisher
Status: Book 3 of the Abandon trilogy

Death has her in his clutches. She doesn’t want him to let go.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera knew by accepting the love of John Hayden, she’d be forced to live forever in the one place she’s always dreaded most: the Underworld. The sacrifice seemed worth it, though, because it meant she could be with the boy she loves.

But now her happiness — and safety — are threatened, all because the Furies have discovered that John has broken one of their strictest rules: He revived a human soul.

If the balance between life and death isn’t fixed, both the Underworld and Pierce’s home back on earth will be wiped away. But there’s only one way to restore order. Someone has to die.

Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When the good publicists at Scholastic offered me a copy of Awaken at TLA, I'm pretty sure I blacked out for a moment in a fit of pure fangirliness because I totally love this series. Meg Cabot is one of those authors whose books I preorder the moment the links go up, and I'm very rarely disappointed in her work. Meg's writing is kind of like the same voice as the voice in my head so her writing is very compatible with me. PLUS, she's always giving me, the superfan, what I want. For instance, sequels to her lovely Mediator and Insatiable series. Woohoo! Two years ago, I fell in love with Pierce and John in Abandon, last year I bought Underworld and it was one of the few books that was allowed to journey with me from Tennessee to Texas, and now, I had an early copy of Awaken AND I just found out that Meg Cabot follows me on Twitter. WHAT?!


Okay, fangirly moment over. Back to Awaken, which picks up only a short time after Underworld. Pierce and John are back down under...and they're not alone. I will elaborate under the cut for the sake of anyone who has not read the first two novels. To you people, I say, "GO READ THEM NOW." Ahem.