Friday, February 25, 2011

Win a signed copy of Matched by Ally Condie

Ok, I know that I said I wasn't posting here anymore, and that's still true, but over on Once Upon a Distraction - a blog a couple friends and I have together - we are having a contest to win a signed copy of Matched by Ally Condie. It's going until the end of this month and it's super easy to enter. And let's be honest, who wouldn't love a signed copy of this fabulous book?

Just go here and read how to enter. And while you're there, take a look at the stories we've posted for February - these girls are pretty talented. And, if you're interested, my story is here.

I hope you're all enjoying the books that you're reading, and savoring that sweet anticipation for the books we can't wait to come out. Happy reading!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Now it's time to say goodbye

Yes, you read that right. I'm saying goodbye to this blog. It's been great fun sharing my thoughts on the books I'm reading with everyone, but lately I have found it too stressful to be fun anymore. I have just enough of a competitive spirit that reading became a race instead of something I enjoyed.

So, I'm no longer going to be posting reviews here. But, I'm still going to be reading books, and if you liked my reviews, then come and find me on GoodReads. I've found that I can still share my thoughts on what I'm reading without the stress of the blog. (If it makes no sense, that's ok. It just feels different to me.) And I would love to see what you all are reading as well. It helps me find amazing new books to read.

But be aware that I will only be posting *full* reviews of books I absolutely loved. All others I will just use the stars to rate how much I liked it. These authors have worked so hard on their books that they bravely sent out into the world, and in my opinion, if I didn't like it, they don't really need to know the details why. It just might not have been my cup of tea, or something else that was unique to me and really doesn't matter. Others will and do love those books so who am I to say what I thought was bad? I wouldn't like it if people bashed books that I absolutely love, so I won't do it to others. But, if I fall in love with a book, I will write a full review saying why and expressing my thanks to the authors for being brave and awesome enough to write something that spoke to me so deeply. If they feel enough love, maybe they'll write more in the future. : )

So, there you have it. My long and rambling reasons why I won't be updating this site any longer. It's been a great experience and I've enjoyed discovering this community online, but I'm done now.

Thank you so much to those who followed me, and read what I had to say. You're all amazing. And unless we meet again on GoodReads, happy reading everyone!!!

- Jenn

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Matched - Ally Condie

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I had to give myself a little time to let this book settle for me before I gave it a review. Because I absolutely loved it, but I really struggled with the pacing. It just felt like it moved slowly, even though all of it was fairly important to the story and the characters. It did pick up quite a bit at the end, so I'm hoping that now that most of the setup has been covered the next books will be as gripping as the end of this first book. But the story itself was extremely excellent. It reminds me a lot of The Giver, which is one of my favorite books. It's subtle in the same way, and a very emotionally moving book. 

I loved Cassia. Sometimes she made me crazy because she was trying so hard to make everyone happy when it was clear that it was impossible. But I can't say I would have done differently, especially considering the way the Society works. The flow of her evolution was absolutely beautiful as her eyes were opened to just exactly what the Society was like, and what that meant for her. She has such a strong inner spirit, and her internal fight to figure out what she wants and what she can even do it about it is encouraging as well as heartbreaking.

As for the love triangle, this is one of the most heartbreaking ones I've read. They are both such great guys, and they offer so much to her in different ways. Xander is sweet and caring and offers her the safe route. The path that is expected of her, the boy that she knows and feels safe and comfortable with is with Xander. But Ky is unknown and mysterious and dares her to be more than what's just expected of her. He pushes her to want more, and while it's dangerous, it's very alluring. I honestly love both of these boys, even though I'm rooting for Ky. But I definitely hope that everyone gets some kind of happy ending at the end of the trilogy.

I highly suggest this book. It's an excellent story and I'm dying to find out what happens next to everyone - even though I have to wait until the fall for Crossed to come out. This is the start of a great trilogy.


Ally Condie
Penguin Young Readers Group
384 pages
$17.99 (hardcover)

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Lost Saint - Bree Despain

Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi.  She gave her soul to the wolf to save him and lost her beloved brother.  When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do.  She must become a Hound of Heaven.  Desparate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot - a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero.  But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel begins to crumble.  Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace becomes prideful in her new abilities - not realizing that an old enemy has returned and deadly trap is about to be sprung.

This book was an excellent middle book. I struggled with it in the beginning, but only because I hate when characters I seriously love are having so much trouble. But once it got going, it really took off and was almost impossible to put down. There were so many WTF?? and NO WAY!! moments, especially at the end, that it blew me away. And the ending was seriously one of the meanest cliffhangers I've read in a long time. She joins the ranks of Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, and Richelle Mead as authors who make waiting for the next book SO much harder than it needs to be. Honestly ladies, you torture me.

While Grace is struggling to stay connected to Daniel and trying to find Jude, she's really discovering what she wants out of life and how to connect to her new powers. It's heartbreaking to see how Jude's leaving has affected the family and what that has done for Grace's options for her future. And my heart was aching over pretty much everything with Daniel. Bree has excellently written the characters in Grace's life so that you never really quite know who to trust, which makes for an exciting read. And the ending - the villain, the sacrifices, the, so amazing. I was practically in tears by the time I was done. December seems much too far away to have to wait for the next book.


The Lost Saint
Bree Despain
416 pages
$17.99 (hardcover)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

Katsa has 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 . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

I read this book about 6 months ago and devoured it in a couple days. I really, really liked it, but was left feeling unsatisfied with the ending. After reading it again (slower this time), that feeling is still there, but not nearly as strong. I knew what to expect from the characters this time and it helped me to appreciate them better.

The great thing about this book is that it's a "non-traditional" romance story. Katsa feels no real desire for romance. She has no wish to marry or have children or any kind of happily ever after. She wishes only to live on her own terms. So she really struggles when love shows up. And even after that, she still doesn't want to belong to anyone but herself. It's an interesting point of view to read from. As far as leading men go, Po is definitely swoon-worthy. He's smart and funny, and a more than worthy love interest for Katsa's strong personality. I love him and his back and forth with Katsa were some of the best scenes in the book.

The most beautiful thing about this story - that I failed to notice in my first reading - is Katsa's evolution as a character. While there is a love story in here, the book is basically about Katsa. About how she grows and matures and really takes her own destiny into her own hands; whether it be her place in the kingdoms or her love life. It's exquistely written, and while I was wishing for a more solid conclusion at the end, it was still a good ending. I am keeping my fingers crossed, however, that in the future she'll write another book that will allow us to see Katsa and Po again. I want to know what they're up to. : )


Kristin Cashore
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
480 pages
$17.00 (hardcover)