f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: November 2011
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesay - #6: Can't Wait Winter Reads

{ ++ } Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish, this meme features a different theme every week, and hey, it's Tuesday - we've got the rest of the week ahead of us.  We all need a little fun, and who doesn't love the challenge of ranking their top 10 anything...especially when it comes to books?!  I know I do, hence why I thought it'd be fun to participate, and spice things up a little!



Top Ten Books On My TBR List For Winter



1. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi ( Goodreads | Amazon )
Why: Veronica is such a total sweetheart, and this book sounds totally up my alley. 

2. Everneath by Brodi Ashton ( Goodreads | Amazon )
Why: I'm really getting into mythology-based books, and this one sounds particular fabulous.  

3. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows ( Goodreads | Amazon )
Why: Um, where to start?  Gorgeous cover, unique sounding plot, plus I have heard some amazing things about this one.  

4. The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rosenberg ( Goodreads | Amazon )
Why: How fun does this book sound?  Cute and emotional, likely.  I just have a great feeling about it.  

5. Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry ( Goodreads )
Why: Marie is an awesome, sweet-heart blogger and from the excerpts she's given us so far, this novel sounds so fantastic!

6. When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellison ( Goodreads | Amazon )
Why: Witchy, vampy YA?  Yes please!

7. Illuminate by Aimee Agresti ( Goodreads | Amazon )
Why: This book just appeals to me.  I was lucky enough to be sent an invitation to read it through NetGalley and every time I think about it, I get all warm and fuzzy.  Plus, y'all need to be following Aimee on Twitter if you aren't already!

8. Starters by Lissa Price ( Goodreads | Amazon )
Why: Lissa followed me on Twitter awhile back and seems so awesome from the email or two we've exchanged.  And this book just sounds really cool and futuristic. 

9. Undeadly by Michele Vail ( Goodreads )
Why: This book sounds so flippin' awesome.  A necromancer academy?  Plus, the main character has my name!

10. Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale ( Goodreads | Amazon )
Why:  For some reason, the synopsis of this one just resonates with me.   I think it's going to be really good! 



{ ++ } Your turn!  What are you guys most excited to read this winter?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Hushed by Kelley York





Hushed by Kelley York
Pages: 260
Expected publication: 12.06.2011 (Entangled)
Source: NetGalley e-ARC
Final Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon
Find the author online: Twitter | Website


He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

My Review



The opening pages of Kelley York’s YA thriller, Hushed, introduce us to Archer Pond, a college student who, after failing to protect his best friend, Vivian Hilton from a brutal attack during their childhood, has devoted his existence to righting the wrongs done to her.  I wasn’t sure at first if this book was going to be for me or not – considering it’s no secret our main character has murdered before – but I decided to give the book a try, and I have never been so glad that I did!  Hushed was heart-wrenching, and so breathtaking that I stayed up way too late one night to finish it; Hushed had its hooks in me as deeply as Vivian into Archer, but in the best way. 

I struggled with Archer throughout the book.  There were times where I was not sure if I could like him, much less sympathize with him.  But as Kelley York wound her story around my heart, I found myself gravitating toward Archer, who despite his valiant attempts to distance himself from everyone around him, was at heart, the same scared boy he’d been years ago, during Vivian’s darkest hours.  Archer grew up trying to make up for his perceived weakness, keeping everyone except Vivian at arm’s length, never truly bonding with anyone, be it a friend or a romantic partner.  All his hopes were wrapped up so tightly in Vivian that he never noticed her suffocating him – until Evan. 

It’s been a week since I finished Hushed and I am still thinking about Archer and Evan.  These two are going to haunt me for awhile, I expect.  Evan comes totally unexpectedly into Archer’s dismal existence, at once flipping on a switch inside Archer, bringing a new side of him to life.  Evan strips off Archer’s blinders, and makes him see both his life and Vivian for what they are.  Archer has become Vivian’s creation – he’s nothing without her, but watching him slowly begin to trust Evan, seeing their bond flourish, seeing Archer begin to view himself as something other than an extension of Vivian was so poignant.  With Evan, Archer comes to life in new ways, and what I loved most about them is that was never simply about lust or romance.  It was obvious how Evan felt about Archer, just like it was clear that even though Archer wasn’t sure how he felt about Evan, there was a deep sense of caring and trust between them; the two males were always about friendship and faith, at their core.  I adored the unexpected responses Evan pulled from Archer, and seeing their interaction.  I cried once or twice over them, and a few of their scenes literally took my breath away – they were that gorgeous. 

The pacing in Hushed was right on track – slowing down when it needed to, to better focus on the relationship blossoming between the experienced Evan and the innocent Archer – and then speeding along toward the tense climax.  I also really enjoyed the different relationships between the characters, especially that of Archer and Marissa, Vivian’s mother.  None of the characters felt like stereotypes.  I was disappointed with how things turned out with Archer and his mom, since that relationship had suffered so much since the death of Archer’s father, alluded to several times throughout the book. 

Finally, there is Vivian, the worst sort of female.  Objectively, I can see how she was meant to be an incredibly sympathetic character, but I despised her.  Yes, she was a victim at one point in her life, but between her own tendency to place her trust and blind faith in the wrong people, and her parasitic relationship with Archer, I mostly spent the entire book wanting to shake her.  I liked her at first, but as her character degenerated further, she made me a bit ill.  By the end of the book, I couldn’t find any reason to feel sorry for her.  She wanted to destroy Archer, and any happiness he had found, and I was never so happy as I was when he started to see her for what and who she was, although that was very heart-breaking, in its own way. 

Overall, despite a few gripes I might have had with the story (mainly how one or two of the arcs turned out), Hushed gripped me from the start, and refused to let me go.  I had to keep reading.  I had to finish, to know how it turned out.  And now, I find myself hoping that Kelley York might one day revisit these characters, if only because I’m still wondering and worrying (and swooning) over Evan and Archer, and waiting to see where they go from the ending of HushedKelley York’s debut novel is sweet and tender, exhilarating and difficult, explosive and heartrending – genre-bending YA fiction at its best. 


Be sure to check back here on December 16 – as part of the HUSHED blog tour, I will have an interview up that day with Kelley York!  



Memorable Quote



The mattress shifted with added weight and Evan slid into bed alongside him. Archer wavered in that beautiful, dreamy place between asleep and awake, where nothing felt real and yet too-real all in the same breath. He drifted closer, searching for more of that comfortable heat, and Evan welcomed him with open arms. Fingertips trailed the
length of his spine, from the small of his back to the nape of his neck and back again. Comfortable. Comforting.

“Don’t go,” he murmured.

It wasn’t until Evan whispered, “I won’t,” that Archer was finally able to sleep.

Disclaimer



In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  No money or compensation of any sort exchanged hands.   I review books with no intention of monetary gain; rather, I review books out of my love of reading. 


300 Followers Appreciation Giveaway

Once Upon a Prologue has reached 300 followers!



*dances*
*looks at the number in disbelief*
*eats chocolate*
*dances around some more*
*flails*

 { ++ } Thank you!  That's right, YOU.  You, reading this right now.   Y'all made this possible, everyone who has clicked that magical "follow" button in the past months.  I want y'all to know, from the bottom of my book-loving heart, that every single comment to my blog makes me smile.  I started this blog in March and never dreamed I'd have 1 follower, let alone 300+.  That is a true joy to me.  I do a geeky applause thing every time I gain a new follower, here on on Twitter.  I do a little dance when an author responds to my fangirl-y tweets, or emails.  I can't believe this is my life.  

{ ++ } So, to say "thank you" in some small way... Let's have a giveway! You guys like winning things, right?  Thought so.  Go enter, and spread the word...  I don't expect to reach this goal, BUT, if I reach 400 followers before this giveaway ends, I will add a THIRD winner. 

{ ++ } All you have to do to enter is leave a blog comment!  TWO winners will win a book of their choice up to $20 from The Book Depository.  And there are lots of chances for extra entries!  So...THANK Y'ALL and have fun with this one.  The giveaway is behind a cut for html issues, so just click "read more" to enter!

Introducting new feature: Once Upon a Blogger

Because connecting doesn't stop at the "follow" button

{ ++ } With your interest and help, each month  I will feature a fellow blogger in Once Upon a Blogger (name help goes out to Suz at A Soul Unsung!)  Hopefully this interview feature will be a really fun way of getting to know my followers.  I want y'all to know that I adore each and every one of you, and that I really am interested in getting to know y'all.  And there are a couple of goals.  1) Maybe you want more exposure for your blog?  This is one way.  2) Who doesn't love being featured, and getting to be in the spotlight for a chance?  3) There are more and more GREAT book blogs out there, and none of us can discover them all.  4) There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, when it is done the right/tasteful way - you might as well get the word out about your blog!  So I am hoping that I'll find some terrific candidates for this feature in order to spread the word and the love about upcoming bloggers.  I can't promise you new followers, but I can promise you a fun interview, and that I will encourage others to come and check out your blog! 

{ ++ } The other day, I started thinking about my blog: where it is, where I want to take it.  If I gain more followers, then that is amazing.  There is nothing that lights up my day like blog comments, people coming by to follow, participating in my giveaways, etc.  But I don't want my blog to grow solely through the "follow for a follow" mentality.  It's easy enough to click the "follow" button.  It's more difficult to keep coming back and staying in touch with that blogger.  So  I want my blog to be about more than that, to be about this blogging family that I've stumbled into this year.  I simply don't have the time to follow everyone who follows my blog; but what I CAN do, is find ways to reach out to y'all.  To say "hello," and "thank you."  

{ ++ } I want you guys - yes YOU - to be involved.  I want to promote a sense of camaraderie between us bloggers.  We are the few and the rare who GET one another, so we need to stick together, and to grow closer, starting now.  All I ask that you do in order to participate is send me an email at courageousgrace (at) gmail (dot) com, so that I can get an idea of who is interested.  I'd like to kick off this feature in January, 2012, so I will be talking more about it before then, but I'll love y'all forever if you help me make this feature a success. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giveaway Winner: SAVING JUNE Giveaway

{ ++ } Congratulations to the ever-awesome Michelle at Book Briefs.  She won my Saving June Giveaway!   I want to thank everyone who entered and took the time to like my Facebook page, tweet about the giveaway, etc.  It's YOU GUYS who make my blog a success.  :)  

{ ++ } Look for my 300 follower appreciation giveaway on Monday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

{ ++ } Just wanted to wish everyone  a safe and happy Thanksgiving!  I will be taking tomorrow and Friday off of blogging to spend time with family (and working the early shift on Friday.)  I will be back next week with a 300 followers giveaway (seriously, I notice/appreciate/adore each and every one of you!), new reviews, and information on the two new features I'm starting soon, including how to get in on those. 

{ ++ } So eat lots of turkey, pie, and whatnot, spend time with those you love, and be happy.  : ) 

Waiting on Wednesday - #17: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

{ ++ }  This weekly event/feature is graciously hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine.  You know that feeling you get when you're browsing upcoming books on Goodreads or Amazon and one strikes your fancy?  Maybe you squee.  Maybe you giggle to yourself.  Maybe you bounce in your seat.  We all get excited (I do a combination of all three of the previous choices...) about new books, be it a favorite author you're familiar with, or someone whose work you'll be reading for the first time.  Jill's meme gives us the chance to spotlight what we are anxiously awaiting this week.





I'm Waiting On...



Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish.

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.









Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Expected publication:05.22.2012
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon

Why this book: The cover is absolutely stunning!  I am a sucker for the name Galen.  And I am kinda digging the mythology plots these days! Plus?  Anna is totally a sweetheart and fun to follow on Twitter!

{ ++ } What's YOUR WoW this week?  :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - #16: Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout

{ ++ } Miz B over at Should Be Reading hosts this weekly meme, where us book lovers get a chance to spotlight our currently-reading and basically...do a little teasing.  : ) The rules are simple: 


  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.  (Full disclosure: I actually go hunting for a good teaser.  heehee.)
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.  (Um.  Sometimes I post more than 2 sentences.  hee.)
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their to-reads if they like your teaser.

Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout
Expected publication: 12.06.2011 (Entangled)
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon



"I think and talk better when I walk."  He held out a hand to me.  "If not, I turn into the dickhead Damon you're not very fond of."

"Ha. Ha."  I stared at his hand.  There was a fluttering in my stomach. "Yeah, I'm not holding your hand."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not going to hold hands with you when I don't even like you."

"Ouch."  Daemon placed a hand over his chest, wincing.  "That was harsh."

Yeah, he needed better acting classes.

 Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.




{ ++ } So what's YOUR teaser this week?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon



Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
Pages: 342
Published: 10.04.11 (Harper Teen)
Series: Carrier Trilogy (1)
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon
Find the author onlineTwitter | Website


From the moment she sets foot at her new school in Ireland, Megan is inexplicably drawn to the darkly handsome Adam DeRis. But Megan soon discovers that her feelings for Adam are tied to a supernatural fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that unites them could be their ultimate destruction.

This electrifying debut novel was first discovered on inkpop.com. the online community for aspiring writers. THE CARRIER OF THE MARK sizzles with unbridled romance, a unique supernatural hook, and a breathtaking Irish setting, and will entice fans of the Need series by Carrie Jones and the House of Night series by P. C. and Kristin Cast.








My Review



I went into this book only knowing the synopsis; so, I was at once excited and nervous.  There was and is a great deal of hype surrounding Leigh Fallon's debut novel.  Carrier of the Mark lived up to a few aspects of that buzz for me, but let me down slightly in others.  The book was paced fairly well, and while some of the twists were too predictable for my taste, for the most part, it was a fast, enjoyable read, though I do want to go more in depth on a couple of my likes and dislikes, and my reasons why.  

Leigh Fallon introduces us to Megan Rosenberg, a teenage girl who moves to Ireland with her father.  Megan's dad has lived a sort of nomadic life ever since Megan's mother died some years back in a car crash, but when they settle in Kinsale, Ireland, they both seem to feel an instant sort of kinship to the land.  I liked Megan right away - she had a personality, wasn't just a cardboard cut-out of a character, and her relationship with her dad made me want to laugh and hug them both, but, and this is just a personal hang-up of mine, I wanted MORE to their relationship, more interaction.  Her dad seemed to care a lot about her but in some ways it was like he just wasn't there.  But so, we meet Megan, who starts at her new school, and makes some fairly awesome friends right off the bat, then garners the attention of the anti-social/gorgeous Adam DeRis.  

I hate to do this, but I feel like I can't review this book without mentioning Twilight.  Normally I don't make a big show of comparing one book to another, but there are similarities here.  Megan is a lot more self-aware than Bella, but under Adam's "come-closer-no-stay-away" vibes, she kind of melts into a puddle of goo, a la Bella around Edward.  Adam's siblings somewhat reminded me of some of the members of the Cullen family.  And some of the events that happened in the book strikingly parallel Twilight.  The difference though, is that Carrier of the Mark is not Twilight.  Megan is not Bella - her choices, in my opinion, are more intelligent than Bella's.  For example, instead of instantly decided to join Adam's world, she asks questions, wants to know their history, etc, then makes an informed decision.  Adam is not Edward, even if he does have his moments where you want to shake, or perhaps slap him, but he has a personality all his own.  And Carrier of the Mark brings up a heart-wrenching question that Twilight, to the best of my memory, never asked its version of: what if Megan and Adam's attraction/bond is only brought on by their ties to the elements? 

The mythos in this series was my absolute favorite part of the book.  I'm not so sure about the whole prophecy thing that is revealed further in the book, but I think Leigh Fallon has done a fabulous job of building her world, so to speak.  There's enough that is hinted at in Carrier of the Mark to whet the reader's appetites, while leaving room for much more in the following two books. 

The characters was all strong, well-fleshed out for the most part, and I really enjoyed their relationships in the book.  Megan was self-confident, although I'd have absolutely loved her to be more spirited.  Caitlin was a sweetheart and immediately likeable.  Aine and Rian probably stood out to me the most - Aine with her vivacious, ethereal nature, and Rian, with his tortured nature.  For some reason, I gravitated toward him more than I realized, until I was finished with the book.  I saw another reviewer who pointed out that, given the nature of the DeRis family, Rian's reactions and thoughts seemed the most genuine.  I think I agree with that!

And, while I won't spoil, I had a lot of issues with the ending.  I am not a fan (as y'all have probably noticed by now) of books where the ending is wrapped up too neatly, or too quickly, and I feel like in some ways, that happened in both cases with this book.   I don't think the book would have suffered from another 30 -50 pages or so added in closer to the end as a pay-off to the suspense that built before the rushed ending. 

Overall, while I had my issues with this book, it was a quick and fun read, which left me with some questions answered, and still more unanswered.  I am normally not a fan of the "insta-love" plot device which seems to be a favorite of far too many authors, but for the most part in this book, I thought it worked, though I would like to see more of the sequel devoted to building Adam and Megan's relationship.  Carrier of the Mark held my attention, and I feel like Leigh Fallon has a lot of potential for her future books with her debut.  

Memorable Quote



He brought his other hand up to the other side of my face and held it there, as if memorizing it.  Slowly, he bent toward me and kissed my left cheek, then my right.  His breath was so warm it sent tingles down my spine.  I sat perfectly still, delighting in every sensation.  - Megan

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox: #14


{ ++ } Kristi at The Story Siren hosts this weekly meme which gives bloggers a chance to highlight the books we bought, checked out, won, or otherwise procured over the last week.  And whether I've came into money (brb, laughing forever) or only had the goods to splurge on a book or two, they all deserve some love.

{ ++ } This is my first IMM in a couple of weeks, so enjoy!  I'll be doing this probably once a month from now on!  Be sure to leave me links to your IMMs so I can come visit.  :)










Received for Review



Cinder by Marissa Meyer [ Goodreads | Amazon
Illuminate by Aimee Agresti [ Goodreads | Amazon
Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout [ Goodreads | Amazon
On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane [ Goodreads | Amazon
Pure by Julianna Baggott [ Goodreads | Amazon ]
Hushed by Kelley York [ Goodreads | Amazon ]
The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark [ Goodreads | Amazon ]

Purchased



Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon [ Goodreads | Amazon ]
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Heiber [ Goodreads | Amazon ]
Chime by Franny Billingsley [ Goodreads | Amazon ]
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent [ Goodreads | Amazon ]

{ ++ } So what did y'all get this week?  Anything fabulous?  Leave me links so I know and can come visit your IMM! 

{ ++ } Tomorrow: my review of Carrier of the Mark!  Be sure to stop back by to check it out.  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

ARC Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington + Giveaway

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Expected publication: 11.22.2011 ( Harlequin Teen)
Pages: 336
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars
Further information: Goodreads | Amazon
Source: NetGalley e-ARC
Find the author online: Blog |

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.




My Review




Where to begin with Hannah Harrington's debut novel?  From the  opening lines, all the way to the final sentences, Saving June had a tight hold on my emotions and on my heartstrings.  I think part of that was the subject matter, while another part was seeing the journey Harper Scott, the main character makes over the course of the book.  Harrington has created a unique, identifiable character in Harper, the second daughter, who feels as if she has lived her entire life trying - and failing - to measure up to June, her older sister.  In the wake of June's suicide, Harper devises a plan: since she couldn't save her sister, she will take June's ashes to California, a place June always wanted to live.  And it's here that the book really begins to take form and resonate.  

Joining Harper on the road trip are her best friend, Laney, and Jacob Tolan.  The three make for an unlikely trio in Jake's van, Joplin.  Harper is weighed down by the loss of her sister, and the burden of watching her mother drown her sorrows in the nearest bottle.  Laney has a perfect life on the outside.  And Jake has secrets of his own.  Watching the three of them interact was a joy.  Both Jake and Laney made me laugh, and by turn, tear up more than once.  Laney is a wonderful foil to Harper, and I really enjoyed the glimpses Hannah Harrington gave us into their friendship, and the bond that they share.  And Jake, with his love of music.  I think I swooned over him more than once - about as often as I wanted to shake him for, as the summary promises, that infuriating demeanor.  

It isn't a straight shot to California.  The three stop several times along the way, for various adventures, ranging from tagging along on a protest and going to a punk rock concert, all of which is totally new to Harper.  Chapter by chapter, Harrington peels away at the surfaces of each of the three characters, in order to showcase their hidden quirks, and facets to their personalities.  There is more than meets the eye to each relationship the characters have with those around them, and I was fascinated by it all.  I absolutely loved how all three of their points of view on one subject or another were challenged at some point, forcing them to stretch their perceptions.  

And I can't do this book justice without mentioning Harper and Jacob's relationship.  Jake and Harper continually pushed one another's buttons.  They drove me absolutely crazy.  They would have a tender moment, and then one of them would back off and completely blow it.  I would think I had Jake all figured out, then he would prove me wrong - same with Harper.  These two really pulled me through the gamut of emotions - happiness, nervousness, sorrow, and hope.  In the end, they turned out to be really good for one another, although at one point, I had made up my mind that I loved them so much as they were, I didn't want them to cross the line into romance.  There was such a fabulous slow burn building between them, and a dynamic that I couldn't get enough of.  

But what made this book real for me, what caused it to stick out in my mind, to the point that sitting here writing this review a good week after I finished the book, I'm thinking back on parts and wanting to reread it, is the emotion.  I adored how music played into the book, and even that became an outlet for catharsis.  When Jacob played "Hey Jude," I played it, too.  I cried along with Harper more than once.  Hannah Harrington takes her characters on a journey - and as a a reader, I went along without question.  Harper's grief is so real, so genuine, that it affected me, reading.  The sorrow, the love, the memories - it all really caught a hold of my heart while I was reading this book.  (Side note: I listened to Miranda Lambert's "Over You" while reading this book and now it will always remind me of Saving June: "but you went away, how dare you, I miss you.  They say I'll be okay but I'm not going to ever get over you.")   I think the most striking emotional outlets for me were the parts that revolved around music: Jake and Harper dancing, Jake's song, etc. 
Overall I highly recommend this book.  I will most definitely be purchasing a finished copy.  In fact, I loved it so much that I thought I'd do a giveaway - US AND International!  Read on for details!  (P.S. If I reach 350 followers here by the time the giveaway ends, I'll add a SECOND winner...)



Memorable Quote


June is gone.  For the first time, the enormity of that hits me.  Every muscle aches, my heart most of all.  I am throbbing with how much I miss her.  It hurts worse than anything.  I don't know how I'm supposed to be expected to live day to day carrying this kind of pain.  I don't know how I'm supposed to go out there, spread her ashes and let her go. 

I want to stop running away from everything. 

I want to find something to run toward.  
- Harper

Disclaimer



In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  No money or compensation of any sort exchanged hands.   I review books with no intention of monetary gain; rather, I review books out of my love of reading. 






Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - #5: Save it for a Rainy Day



{ ++ } Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish, this meme features a different theme every week, and hey, it's Tuesday - we've got the rest of the week ahead of us.  We all need a little fun, and who doesn't love the challenge of ranking their top 10 anything...especially when it comes to books?!  I know I do, hence why I thought it'd be fun to participate, and spice things up a little!






Top Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf For The Longest But I've Never Read





{1} City of Bones by Cassanda Clare.  |  Don't get me wrong, it sounds really interesting, and it's obvious people love it.  But for me, all the hype has me in hives going, "keep it away from me!"  I tend to go the other direction when every force out there is telling me to do something.  I figure I'll read this one one someday. 

{2} The Pact by Jodi Picoult.  |  This is the first Picoult book I bought.  I read through parts of it, and it was so incredibly sad and hard to read that I put it down and moved on to her other books.  It's one of the few Picoults I've not read. 

{3} Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.  |  Twilight scarred me for life, and although this series sounds so appealing and amazing, I'm just not sure I'm quite ready to read a story about a girl who falls in love with a wolf/werewolf.  Back in the day I was a huge Team Jacob girl and I got my feelings hurt by the way some fans of both camp acted, and how the actual books ended. 

{4}The Secret History by Donna Tart.  |  Two of my best friends have read and loved this book.  I bought it back in 2007 and have no real excuse for having not read it, other than I'm saving it for that proverbial rainy day. 

{5} Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner.  |  Right about the time I bought this one, intending to dive into a "women's fiction" readathon, YA books took over me life and Jennifer's books got put on the back burner.  I'm hoping to change that in 2012.

{6} A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.  |  I've picked up this book a few times and tried to read it.  I just haven't been in a "fantasy" mood in awhile! 

{7} Shadowfall by James Clemens.  |  This guy wrote the amazing Banned and the Banished series, published the first two books in the Godslayer Chronicles (Shadowfall and Hinterland) then completely fell off the map - website hasn't been updated in years, etc.  I want to reread the B&B one of these years but I can't work up the nerve to read Shawowfall just yet.  

{8} The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon.  |  I made it through the first four books in her Outlander series then took a break lest I get burned out.  That "break" has lasted about three years now.  I'm going to go back to the series and start from scratch the next time I'm in the mood to read historical romance, because Gabaldon is an excellent storyteller. 

{9} Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris.  |  I read all the other Southern Vampire novels (I think I like the books now more than I do the show, True Blood,) then took a break.  I usually read the novel so fast that I decided to wait until there were a few more out in paperback so that I could do a mini-read-a-thon of the books. 

{10} Elijah by Jacquelyn Frank.  |  I read the first two books in this series in 2012, picked up and got about 75 pages into Elijah, then swore of paranormal romance for awhile.  I've been afraid to go back in case I have the same reaction.  I really want to finish this series, but I'm terrified of that book. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

ARC Review: Tempest by Julie Cross


Tempest by Julie Cross
Expected publication: 01.17.2012
Pages: 352
Series: Tempest (1)
Source: ARC received via NetGalley
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon
Find the author online: Twitter | Blog




The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.




My Review




Every once in awhile a book comes along that's different, unique, in that it reaches out and grabs at you, pulls you headfirst into the story, and does not let go.  For me, Tempest was that book.  I read it over the course of one day, and agonized over having to leave it for any amount of time.  I cried my eyes out a few times, actually sobbed, at the depth of emotions this book made me feel.  I finished it about two weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it, wondering what the sequels will hold, wishing it was time for any information on the sequel.  I'm still thinking about Jackson, about Holly, and about all the other characters I met while reading this book.  I'm having a little bit of separation anxiety, now that it's over.  This book affected me, way deep down.  It changed a small part of me, took me out of my comfort zone, in reading a book narrated by a male, and has lingered with me.  Julie Cross has gained a reader for life in me. 

In Tempest, we meet Jackson Meyer, who is for all intents and purposes, a normal, 19 year old male: except, oh, he can time travel.  Along with his geeky friend Adam, Jackson has experimented a little bit with his new found ability - discovered on accident - but nothing consequential.  I loved Jackson immediately.  Julie Cross wrote for him very believably - Jackson was one of those guys who wanted to hug one minute and shake the next: clueless sometimes, but with a good heart.  I kind of latched on to him, and found myself cheering for him throughout the book.  I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book, being that it is from his point of view, but it worked out very well.  Julie's writing is very smooth, flows easily, and Jackson is a sympathetic narrator. 

I also fell really hard for the actual plot of the book.  At one point early on, Jackson states, ...I have to constantly remind myself of one very important fact: Hollywood gets everything wrong when it comes to time travel.  And in Julie Cross's Tempest, Hollywood does have it all wrong.  Cross has created a new sort of mythos when it comes to time travel, those who can travel, how they can, and what they are after.  Over the course of Tempest, we learn more about Jackson's abilities, as well as meet other travelers: good and bad.  I'm really intrigued by "the bad guys," of this series, and their motivations.  I feel like we'll see a lot more of them in the next two books, which is good!  There's a really interesting history and dynamic there that I'm interested in seeing how it all plays out, especially a few things that were hinted at near the end of Tempest. 

Of course I can't properly review this book without talking about the romance.  I loved every minute of Jackson and Holly's interaction.  I thought it was fascinating, getting to see him with 009 Holly and with 007 Holly.  It really made me think about the difference a few years can make in a person's life, seeing the two versions of Holly.  I thought they were very sweet and cute and loved the progression of their relationship.  Holly was a really strong character, which was nice to see!

I'm also still geeking out over Adam Silverman.  I didn't expect to love him as much as I did, and I think that's mostly because of 007 Adam.  He had some great one-liners and some moments of comic relief.  And Jackson's father is very fascinating.  Personally, I hope he has as big of a part in the sequel as he did in Tempest, because I really love how their father-son relationship evolved in the book.  I feel like all the secondary characters were fleshed out very well, but there are definitely some minor characters I want to see more of in the sequel. 

The parts that struck me the hardest were Jackson's interaction with one of his family members.  I can't say who, since that's a spoiler, but I lost it a couple times.  Every one of those few scenes was so precious to me.  I feel like in some ways, those scenes were the heart of the book, at least for me. 

I adored this book.  I can't give it any less than 5 stars, even with there being a couple of a little too convenient plot arcs.  I highly, highly recommend you either preorder a copy, or go out and buy a copy in release day.  I don't think you'll regret it!

Recommended for: fans of Diana Gabaldon, Myra McEntire.  (I haven't read a lot of time travel books; however, I have a mad love for Doctor Who, so if you are a Whovian, you'd probably also enjoy this novel.)

Memorable Quote




I retrieved my journal from the bag lying in the grass and wrote only four words.  A reminder for days even more difficult than this one.  Because the truth is...even though I have no idea what comes next... at least for today: I have no regrets. - Jackson

Disclaimer



In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  No money or compensation of any sort exchanged hands.   I review books with no intention of monetary gain; rather, I review books out of my love of reading. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Challenge Post: 2012 Debut Authors



{ ++ } This year I am entering Kristi's (The Story Siren) Debut Author challenge.  You can find all of the relevant info, buttons, newsletter sign-ups, and everything else here, but the gist of it is...


CHALLENGE OBJECTIVE:

  • To read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 - January 31, 2013.* 

*The 2013 extension is so that December Debuts can be read and count toward the challenge.

RULES & GUIDELINES: 
  • You must have a blog to post your reviews or be a member of Goodreads. 
  • Your blog must be written in English.
  • Deadline to join is May 31, 2012.
BOOK GUIDELINES: 
  • Must be a young adult or middle grade title.
  • Must be the author’s YA or MG debut, released in 2012.
  • If an author has a previous novel published for adults or children, they can still qualify for the challenge.
  • If an author has a previous YA or MG title, they do not qualify for the challenge.

{ ++ } I wanted to share my list of the 2012 debuts I am for sure going to read.  I am hoping to read more than 12; however, I am also hoping to spend some time wittling down my personal TBR stack I've accumulated this last year.  So we'll see how it goes!  :)  I will come back here to add links to my reviews once I have read and reviewed the books, so check back!


2012 Debut Author Challenge: My TBR



1. Article 5 by Kristen Simmon |  my review
2. Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf |  my review
3. Undeadly by Michele Vail |  my review
4. Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins |  my review
5. Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale |  my review
6. The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges |  my review
7. Illuminate by Aimee Agresti | my review
8. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi |  my review
9. Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone |  my review
10. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks |  my review
11. Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry |  my review
12. The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long |  my review

Also hoping to read:

13. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows |  my review
14. My Heart be Damned by Chanelle Gray |  my review
15. When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen |  my review
16. Fracture by Megan Miranda | my review

If I have the opportunity/time to read more debut YA/MG authors, I will add to this list!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Discussion Post: Possible New Features (Featuring...You!)

 
 
 
Guest Posts / Blogger Interviews
AKA building a connection through interaction with my followers!


{ ++ } Something that I want to start doing is interacting more with my followers, to build relationships with y'all.  I've got a couple of exciting ideas that I want to throw out there and see what sort of response they get!  Please take a sec to read this post and maybe take a moment to comment, or shoot me an email if you want to discuss that way!  I'd ideally like to kick off one or both of these ideas either in December or January.

{ ++ } One thing I'd really, really like to start doing is hosting a monthly guest post feature.  I would absolutely love to host one blogger per month as a guest blogger here, possibly more if the idea really takes off as I hope it might.  I think it might be fun for it to possibly be a give-and-take in that if the other blogger is interested,  I could also do a corresponding guest post (same topic or different) on their blog!

{ ++ } I'm also considering spotlighting one blog per month in a get-to-know-the-blogger interview type deal.  I know several other blogs, some more well know than mine, already have features like this, but I thought it would be neat to spotlight some up-and-coming bloggers, some of the bloggers who helped me get my start, or simply anyone who's game.  So if anyone IS interested in this idea or in the other (I'm really loving the guest post feature idea, by the way!) please either comment to this post or email me at courageousgrace@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday - #16: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

{ ++ }  This weekly event/feature is graciously hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine.  You know that feeling you get when you're browsing upcoming books on Goodreads or Amazon and one strikes your fancy?  Maybe you squee.  Maybe you giggle to yourself.  Maybe you bounce in your seat.  We all get excited (I do a combination of all three of the previous choices...) about new books, be it a favorite author you're familiar with, or someone whose work you'll be reading for the first time.  Jill's meme gives us the chance to spotlight what we are anxiously awaiting this week.





I'm Waiting On...




Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.





Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
Expected publication: 03.06.2012 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt )
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon


{ ++ } Basically this book looks decadent, heart-pounding and kinda awesome.  I'm in love with the cover, and the plot sounds like a story I'll really love.  Plus I follow Aimee on Twitter, and she seems super sweet and interested in her fans!  

{ ++ } What's everyone's WoW pick this week? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: The Calling by Ashley Lynn Willis

The Calling by Ashley Lynn Willis
Pages: 360
Published: 10.12.2011
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: received from the author
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon
Find the author online: Blog  | Twitter


Mandy Hardy lost more than a breast to cancer; she lost her fiancĂ© when he dumped her a week before her mastectomy. Her ego bruised and her self-esteem battered, Mandy’s sure she’ll never fall in love again.

Justin Seward is a headstrong Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer with a heart of gold and the supernatural ability to command the seas. He had to hide his feelings while Mandy was engaged to his best friend. Now that she’s free, he’s vowed to make her his.

Together, they may hold the key to each other’s salvation. But when Justin’s past catches up with him, and Mandy’s ex-fiancĂ© wants vengeance, they realize they might not live long enough for happily ever after. The Calling is a 360 page contemporary romance with a paranormal twist.




My Review



Cancer survivor Mandy Hardy is scarred both physically and emotionally when her ex fiance's former best friend, Justin Seward comes back into her life.  Author Ashley Willis's brave, yet hesitant main character won my heart within a few pages, although seeing Mandy struggle to accept the hopes Justin has for her, and for them, hurt my heart a little at times.  Deserted by her fiance just as she fell truly ill with breast cancer, Mandy is terrified to open up to someone again - even loyal, patient Justin.  But Justin stole my heart as he won Mandy's - slowly, and with infinite care and tenderness.  Having admired, respected, and maybe even loved Mandy from afar for years, Justin finally approaches her once Ty, her ex, is out of the picture, and what plays out across the pages of Ashley's parnormal romance is a beautiful, loving relationship that, while not without its bumps, really warmed my heart, and brought me to tears a time or two.  

This story is definitely a paranormal romance; however, it isn't the first in a series, and it is not on quite as large of a scope as say, JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, or Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld, which I think is part of what I enjoyed so much about it.  I knew I was reading a stand-alone book, and that the struggle the two main characters were facing was more internal than external.  I think I loved that more than anything, because it allowed for so much character growth, and asked some really important questions, like ones Mandy had to ask herself: is one broken heart enough to close yourself off to love for good?  Anyone who has ever withstood a break-up will understand and sympathize with Mandy; even if sometimes throughout this book for me that was wanting to nudge her along, or give her a shaking.  

At its heart, The Calling is Mandy and Justin's story.  It's a story about beating the odds, in more ways than one.  Ashley Willis paints a vivid portrait of Mandy's battle not only to love again, but simply to let herself go and give herself permission to live her life to the fullest, without fear.  And for Justin, it means overcoming his own past - finding a way to mend what's left of his tattered family, and believing that he can have a future with the woman his heart has chosen.  

I really fell in love with Justin.  Ashley Willis definitely created a male worthy of swooning over in The Calling.  Justin is just enough of an alpha male to suit my tastes, which means along the way, we get some delightfully steamy scenes between him and Mandy, which were the perfect accompaniment to their relationship.  But he's also not without his issues, and seeing his growth during the course of The Calling just made me want to hug him.  Justin is caring and solid, a touchstone for Mandy, a friend, and a lover, and really, just everything any girl could want.  Yet Ashley also gives him enough attributes so that he still seems genuine, and not overly perfect.  

My only dislike about this heart-warming and satisfying read was the end.  The pacing was right on the money, and the plot was solid, as were the main and secondary characters and their relationships.  I felt like the end fell apart a little bit though.  A certain character's explanation for why he did some of the things he did didn't feel like it was ever truly explained, at least not to my satisfaction.  And while the ending was satisfying, the climax of the story fell a little flat for me, because in some ways, it just wasn't what I wanted for this couple.  But that is why Ashley is the author, and gets to determine the story that's told.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book!

Recommended for fans of: Lara Adrian, Gena Showalter, JR Ward, Jacquelyn Frank, Jessica Andersen

Memorable Quote




Justin’s warm lips pressed against Mandy’s, and her heart fluttered like a hummingbird, the flighty sensation making her dizzy. He kissed her in a way that only time and anticipation could warrant—starting soft and gradually becoming more demanding. His burning desire, the way he held her, and especially the way he touched her as if she were precious, all made her want more.

She buried her hands in his thick hair, her body stirring in ways she’d forgotten were possible. Why had she been so cautious with him? Even one hour of this, being touched as if she were a treasure, would have been worth a lifetime of heartache.

Disclaimer



I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  No money or compensation of any sort exchanged hands.   I review books with no intention of monetary gain; rather, I review books out of my love of reading. 

Teaser Tuesday - #15: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

{ ++ } Miz B over at Should Be Reading hosts this weekly meme, where us book lovers get a chance to spotlight our currently-reading and basically...do a little teasing.  : ) The rules are simple: 

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.  (Full disclosure: I actually go hunting for a good teaser.  heehee.)
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.  (Um.  Sometimes I post more than 2 sentences.  hee.)
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their to-reads if they like your teaser.
Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Expected publication:  11.22.2011 (Harlequin)
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon

It feels weird, being out in the real world again.  Around people living their lives like normal.  Their presence is oppressive.  The very fact that the world is going on like normal, like nothing ever happened, makes me want to scream.  I know it's irrational to expect everything to grind to a halt because of June, but still.   - Page 55




'If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Winner: The Near Witch Giveaway

 

{ ++ } Congratulations to Marie at Ramblings of a Daydreamer!  She won the copy of The Near Witch that was up for grabs in my giveaway.  Thank you to everyone who participated, and all the wonderful bloggers who re-tweeted my constant giveaway tweets.  :)  You guys are awesome, and I can't even begin to say how much I appreciate all the support.  My little blog is so close to 300 followers, and as geeky as it is...that makes my day.  Every day.  I think y'all will understand.  :)