Mini-review: Stirring Up Trouble (Juli Alexander)


 Product Details:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 186
Publisher: Create Space (january 17, 2012)
ISBN: 9781468152784
Source: copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review



What’s worse than lusting after my best friend’s on again off again boyfriend? How about my dad dating his mother, and my mom redesigning his bedroom for her show? With fate interfering so cruelly, can you really blame me for putting my magic potions to not-so-good use?

I’m Zoe Miller, a fifteen-year-old witch with only one power-—a talent for potions. I have my life all mapped out. I plan to be a doctor and develop drugs to cure disease. We already have potions to help all kinds of symptoms, but none of them will get by the Food and Drug Administration. I mean, the government bureaucrats are not going to okay the ingestion of bat wings or unicorn horns. Luckily, fat-free margarine has already been found to be an adequate substitute for dead man’s toe. So, I really hold out hope that I can make things work. Looking for edible substitutions to use in the potions is my passion.


In one word, this book is “cute.” It was a fun beach worthy read. Nothing too complicated. I knew I would like this book when I read that the witches that use self-serving potions to shed a few pounds or grab the attention of the local hottie would “suffer” (i.e. turn into the hideous witches you’re used to reading about). I could totally relate to the characters’ desire to suffer with a hairy, green wart for thinner hips.

The characters were hard to connect with. There didn’t seem to be a lot of depth with the majority of the characters in the book. Anya was super-self absorbed and pretty unlikeable, but I’m certain that was intentional. Jake seemed alright. Typical teenage boy. I would like to see him grow a bit more in the upcoming books. Zoe was unique and likable. Yes, she’s a witch. But she’s a self-conscious humanitarian witch. Her goal in life is to become the scientist that cures cancer. Pretty awesome.

The plot was pretty straight forward. Young teenage witch has a crush on her best friend’s ex-boyfriend. Young teenage witch’s parents complicate her love life. Young teenage witch has a colossal mishap and gets in trouble. It’s fairly predictable, but still enjoyable. It seems like the majority of the conflict is going to occur in the next book, at least that’s the impression I got from the ending. Since our poor witch got into a bit of trouble, she has to have a magic tutor. Except, her tutor isn’t what she expects. You might think that a 95 year-old wizard would look like one of the California raisins from the 80s, but he doesn’t. Seems he got into a tad bit of trouble himself when he traded his old self for a super hottie body. So, like I said, the plot will thicken in the next book.

As I said, this was a “cute” read. It was quick and fun, and didn’t require a lot of effort on my part. I was turning the pages pretty quickly because I enjoyed the story. If you want a fun book to read while taking a break from the zombie and dystopian books currently flooding the market, then you would enjoy Stirring Up Trouble.

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Cover Reveal: Reached (Matched #3)

Check out the cover for book 3 in the Matched (Ally Condie) series...





It's sad for me to admit this, but I have the other books sitting on my shelf, untouched. BUT, my BFF just told me how much she loves these, so I think I'll start reading them soon. She's pressuring me on Facebook, so I better get on it. 


On sale today...

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Looking for a few good books to pick up this week? Check out the awesome books on sale today. Personally, I'm intrigued by Perception and Embrace and have already ordered a copy of both. If you want more information about the books, follow the links below.




You thought you knew him. You were dead wrong.

Carver Young dreams of becoming a detective, despite growing up in an orphanage with only crime novels to encourage him. But when he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the world famous Pinkerton Agency, Carver is given not only the chance to find his biological father, he finds himself smack in the middle of a real life investigation: tracking down a vicious serial killer who has thrown New York City into utter panic. When the case begins to unfold, however, it’s worse than he could have ever imagined, and his loyalty to Mr. Hawking and the Pinkertons comes into question. As the body count rises and the investigation becomes dire, Carver must decide where his true loyalty lies. More information here.
 When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared. More information here.


 Four players with one thing in common: the will to win

Malcolm wants to get to the NBA ASAP. Roko wants to be the pride of his native Croatia. Crispin wants the girl of his dreams. M.J. just wants a chance.

March Madness is in full swing, and there are only four teams left in the NCAA basketball championship. The heavily favored Michigan Spartans and the underdog Troy Trojans meet in the first game in the semifinals, and it's there that the fates of Malcolm, Roko, Crispin, and M.J. intertwine. As the last moments tick down on the game clock, you'll learn how each player went from being a kid who loved to shoot hoops to a powerful force in one of the most important games of the year. Which team will leave the Superdome victorious? In the end it will come down to which players have the most skill, the most drive, and the most heart. More information here.
It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…
 More information here.

A choice between love and survival . . .Lucy's family is excited to spend the summer in Bar Harbor, Maine. Her minister father is pleased to preside over such a prestigious congregation, and his social-climbing wife is ecstatic at the chance to find a rich husband for her daughter.Yet Lucy wants nothing to do with the Bar Harbor social scene; she's simply excited to spend the summer by the sea, watching the waves from her favorite spot on the cliff. Despite having never gone swimming, Lucy feels an intense connection to the ocean, and meets a handsome ship-builder who shows Lucy a world she's never known, yet somehow always longed for.However, her mother will stop at nothing to keep Lucy and the ship builder apart, even if it means throwing Lucy into the arms of a wealthy man with a dangerous secret. Can Lucy break free and embrace her destiny as a daughter of the sea? Or is she doomed to waste away in a gilded cage, slowly dying of a broken heart?


February Wrap Up

Wow, so I haven't done one of these in a bit, but since I was feeling productive this month I thought it would be a good time to post a monthly wrap up post. So here it is... my February.. err..accomplishments. ("Accomplishments" is for lack of a better word!)

 Read and Reviewed:
Click the image to read the review.

Ashlyn's Radio Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2)
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) 

Divergent (Divergent, #1) 

Whew... There were several WoW and "On Sale Today" posts, but I am happiest with my reading. Cleaning of this TBR shelf, one book at a time! bam!

EPIC Hunger Games Giveaway




So, I've been thinking about doing this for some time. Well, here it is... just in time for the movie premiere. I know you're excited. Try not to get your undies in a bunch. =)

Here's what's up for grabs:


and no, that's not all. There is more!


Hunger Games 'Down With The Capitol' Bookmark





 


Still not done...

You can follow THIS LINK to see the two tee-shirts I've picked out for the giveaway. You can decide which one you want if you win. =)

and yeah... that's a whole lot of awesome heading your way.


Rules:
* Open to US mailing addresses only. Sorry.
* Must be 13 or older to enter.
* Contest runs from 3/1-3/16.
* Enter the form below to be entered.
Want to enter? Fill out the form below.


Waiting on Wednesday (18)

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
It seems I have a while to wait for this book, but wait I will! How awesome does this one sound? Seriously! This hits the shelves just before my birthday, so I know what I'll be asking for!
Available: August 28, 2012.
Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. She was made as a copy of someone else, expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other,” if she ever died. Eva spends every day studying that girl from far away.
But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
Now she must abandon everything and everyone she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

Review: Katniss the Cattail (Valerie Frankel)

There are some books that just deserve a permanent home. This is one of them. If you're a fan of The Hunger Games, you need this book! Period.


When I originally finished The Hunger Games trilogy, I had mixed feelings. I was a little disgruntled by the quick wrap up in Mockingjay. But now, after reading Katniss the Cattail by Valerie E. Frankel, I realize how brilliant Suzanne Collins really is. Oh. My. Goodness.

If you are a fan of The Hunger Games, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of Katniss the Cattail. Why, you ask? The answer is simple. This book explains the symbolism throughout the series. Sure, you may think you have already figured out the majority of the books’ hidden meanings, but let me assure you—you are wrong. The plant names and “big” symbols are easy to dissect. There is no challenging that; but did you realize that almost every name in this book has some link back to Roman civilization? More importantly, to the overthrowing of Caesar? Amazing stuff.

I devoured this book the moment I opened my mailbox. Everytime I read something “new” about a character, my brain started turning. I couldn’t help but stop and think about how a particular character interacted in the book; how they were described. It makes me want to reread the series with a more critical eye so I can appreciate the literary genius that is named Suzanne Collins. I do hope the movies can pull off this subtle characterization. Knowing the history behind the names really brings a new depth to the characters.

Wondering about what you might find in Katniss the Cattail? Here is a small sampling of some of the information I found so captivating:

·         First, I must begin by saying that when my father (who is now hijacking my YA books before I can read them—note to self: stop taking books to his house when you visit) saw me watching the trailer for the movie, he stopped and watched it to. I had goosebumps at the end, but he replied, “That seems very Orwellian.” I didn’t pay much attention to his ramblings, because he’s always saying stuff like that (love my nerdy dad). But then I read the books, and I thought: Holy crap. Obviously this is a dystopian read, but there is more to it. George Orwell is the author of one of my favorite books, Animal Farm. (I do hope you’ve read this book!) As the plot of Mockingjay develops, I knew the leaders were important. District Thirteen’s leader was no saint. The events that followed were not by chance. Just like in the Orwell classic, “the pigs lead a revolution to drive out the farmer and run the farm themselves, but soon they elevate themselves over their fellow animals, becoming indistinguishable from the farmers in the end. Here is the true danger of power… The lesson in both series is clear: Absolute power corrupts absolutely; those who conquer tyrants will soon become tyrants themselves” (Frankel 79). Brilliant. Now be honest, when you read Mockingjay, were you thinking about Animal Farm? Seems like I should listen more closely to the ramblings of a middle aged man. Oh, and I’m not even going to start explaining the similarities between the Capitol’s lifestyle and Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World!

·         There is also a hint of mythology in The Hunger Games. (I’ll be honest, I didn’t recognize this one.) Apparently, Collins has explained in interviews that the Hunger Games themselves were inspired by the story of Theseus. As the story goes, every nine years, seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls would be sent to Crete as Tribute for the Minotaur to devour.  Theseus volunteered to be placed with the Tributes, and killed the Minotaur (Frankel 80). Does the plot sound familiar?

I don’t want to give away all the gems in this book, but these two I found to be pretty interesting. Katniss the Cattail is divided into three sections: The names of Panem, symbols, and literary allusions. The symbols were pretty straight forward, but the allusions and historical value of the names were insightful. The author has done a fabulous job of putting together the research. When a great work of fiction presents itself, it only makes sense to view it under a critical literary lens. I know The Hunger Games is being taught in classrooms across the country because I have friends that are teaching the book to their students. At first I worried that it would be too graphic or gory for the censorship hounds, but after reading about the plethora of literary devices used in the novels, it only makes sense to teach these books. Get your copy here for a mere $7. =)

If you’re interested in other books by Valerie Frankel, she has written several on the Harry Potter series and one titled From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey in Myth and Legend. You can also find her on her website http://vefrankel.com .

Get ready for The Hunger Games giveaway

Since I just finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy, I decided to jump on the bandwagon in time for the movie release next month. What better way to celebrate an awesome series than with an awesome giveaway?

Here's what's up for grabs:

plus...

SWAG from Amazon. Click here to see the list of items that will ship from Amazon. Oh, and you get your choice of shirt, since I know not everyone was Team Peeta.  

So go check out the loot on Amazon, and then come back Thursday to enter!

Fill out this form to enter:

Review: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

Product Details:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 487
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (March 1, 2011)
ISBN: 9780062024022
Source: My own copy


In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

If I had to describe this book with just one word, it would be: intense. The dystopian world that Roth has created is truly intense. I couldn’t imagine having to pick a “faction” that would require the dedication of the rest of my life, especially the factions in Divergent. I think that Tris was one of the best characters I have read in a long time. She is strong, smart, and courageous. It was no surprise she chose to join the Dauntless faction. She belonged there more than any other recruit. But of course, her time during the initiation wasn't easy. It was very The Hunger Games-esque. The best and worst of human nature was present at all times.


Then there was Four. Smoldering, complicated Four.  Their relationship was wonderful. I loved that they were equals. There was no "side" with the upper hand. They fed off one another’s strengths. It was a very believable path towards a relationship, and I am a sucker for a good love story. Granted Four wasn't making bread, but he still won a spot in my heart.

I thought the overall plot of the book was fantastic. It was a little slow at first, but it picked up quickly. There were plenty of terrifying twists and turns throughout Tris’s time in the Dauntless headquarters. However, the tension was slow building; but when it exploded, it hit the fan. At times, I was a little frustrated with the slow building tension, but I appreciate its purpose. It was a slow and steady building climax, but the ending was a bit unresolved, in my opinion. There was a huge climatic event that didn’t seem to offer much resolution, but I know that’s because the next book is going to begin in the middle of some kick butt action. Overall, this was a good read, but I think book two will be better.
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In My Mailbox



 In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the Story Siren to highlight all the wonderful bookish things bought, borrowed, downloaded, or received during the week.


 
So, it's been a pretty slow couple of weeks around here, but I don't mind. I've been able to catch up on some much overdue reading! But the good ol' mailbox is feeling the love once again...

 
For review:

 
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your KingdomPrince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You've never head of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as "Prince Charming." But all of this is about to change...

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Guztav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it's up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other associated terrors to becom the heroes no one ever thought they could be.
I am super excited about this one. You can't tell by the cover, by the faces on the characters are very expressive. The girl on the left looks super ticked off. My curiousity is brewing. Huge thanks to Walden Pond Press for allowed me the opportunity to read this book, which I am sure I will enjoy!

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