f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: May 2012
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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Expected publication: June 12, 2012 (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
Pages: 303
Series or stand-alone: Lies Beneath (1)
Rating: Squee-worthy 
Source: E-ARC from the publisher
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Find the author online: Twitter | Website

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. 

But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. 

Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

My Thoughts

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that, within a few pages of reading, you just know: it's special.  And Lies Beneath is that book, in which Anne Greenwood Brown lures the reader deeper under the surface of her debut novel, and into a splendidly sinister tale of revenge, tinged with brilliant, slow burning chemistry between the main characters. Lies Beneath is everything the synopsis promises and more, opening with an introduction to Calder White, a singular merman, who - although he does participate in killing humans for survival purposes - seems to live by a different moral code than his seductive, predatory sisters.  I at first was not sure if I would enjoy this type of book, from a male narrator; yet Calder was wildly surprising, pensive, and heart-felt even.  Full of a need to escape the choke-hold his sisters have over him and his life, I could sympathize deeply with Calder.  

Anne Greenwood Brown delivers a masterful tale of suspense, loyalty - sometimes misguided -, affections and secrets with Lies Beneath.  I loved every minute of it, and devoured this book eagerly.  I read it over the course of a few hours in two nights and the time I was away from it was rather painful, because I was thinking, wondering: what was going to happen next?  I was immediately hooked on Lies Beneath, and really felt like for me, this story worked, as did the pacing.  It never felt rushed, or too leisurely.  Anne did a great job of balancing the mystery with the back story and romance, and building relationships between the characters.  Even the big reveal - there is one, and it is pretty awesome - wasn't something I saw coming...but for once, I wasn't trying to figure out anything...I was too wrapped up in enjoying this book!

I really fell, hard, for Calder (he totally drives an old Impala...FOR THE WIN!), and for Lily.  Both characters were fleshed out very well, and absolutely resonated.  Anne Greenwood Brown did an amazing job of  making me care about the characters in Lies Beneath.  Calder and Lily's interactions were hilarious at times, with him trying to figure out how to act human, and her trying to make sense of him, and then sobering and wrenching at times, as they realized they were truly from two different worlds.  I wanted to shake them both at times, but mostly, I wanted to see them happy, and my heart hurt for the two of them at various parts of Lies BeneathAnne Greenwood Brown has definitely created two unique characters with Lily and Calder, and I simply couldn't get enough of them.  Their chemistry and slow understanding of one another had my heart pounding more than once.  

And Calder and Lily, although they were my favorites, weren't the only well-done characters in Lies Beneath.  I really liked Lily's dad, Jason, and her relationship with her parents.  It wasn't perfect because none of them were perfect - but it was genuine and it was real.  And I also found Calder's sisters to be really fascinating - sometimes creepy, especially the domineering Maris - but nevertheless completely absorbing characters.  I want to know much more about Pavati and I felt so bad for Tallulah more than once.  I really do wish we'd seen a bit more into their motivations, what made them tick, other than the need for revenge against the Hancock family.  

Overall, if you're looking for a fast-paced, delicious mystery, with undercurrents (I couldn't help it) of danger, romance, and the supernatural, I would definitely recommend Lies Beneath.  It's the first in a possible series, though there will be at least one more book, Deep Betrayal, and I for one cannot wait to read it.  Anne Greenwood Brown has a flowing writing style that never feels choppy or ethereal, but rather gets to the heart and soul of the story she's telling, and I'll be anxiously waiting for more of Calder White. 
Further Thoughts

Are mermaid books the next big thing?  With several due out this year, it would seem so.  How do you feel about this, happy, sad, impassive?  What do you think of books told from a male's POV?

Book Trailer

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: Fated by Alyson Noel

Fated by Alyson Noel
Published: May 22, 2012 (St Martin's Griffin)
Pages: 352
Source: ARC from ATW ARC Tours
Rating: Beam-worthy
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Website | Twitter

Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she’s never met.

There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she’s encountered before...but only in her dreams. And she’ll get to know her grandmother—a woman who recognizes Daire’s bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers—but it’s an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter who’s out to steal her powers. 

Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she’s meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

My Review

Fated was the first book I had the chance to read by Alyson Noel, and I was really excited for it for a few reasons - mostly because of the amazing-sounding synopsis, absolutely gorgeous cover, and those names: Daire and Dace.  How adorable, right?  And Fated started off really promisingly, and I settled into it thinking I was going to enjoy it a great deal; unfortunately, I ended up feeling as if this is, regrettably, one of those books that despite the fantastic premise, never lives up to its potential. 

First I want to talk about what I DID like: the mythos, woven into Fated in the form of legends and wisdom imparted by Paloma, Daire's grandmother.  Daire's mother sends her to live with Paloma - a woman Daire has never met - when Daire's visions become too much to handle, and she is labeled as mentally unstable.  Paloma is able to help Daire, and to teach her, and I thought she was a terrific character and mentor, and I loved watching the relationship between Paloma and Daire develop.  The New Mexico setting came alive in Fated, and I look forward to reading more about the Santos family's heritage.  I also liked the rivalry between the Santos and Richter families, and am curious to see where that goes in the future books in this series, especially between Cade and Dace. 

Unfortunately that's where my enjoyment stopped, due to the writing style.  Alyson Noel isn't a bad writer.  But it's as if she deliberately chooses the oddest ways of phrasing her sentences.  I don't have Fated with me anymore but an example is, instead of having Daire say "I see my mother standing in the kitchen, looking at me.  I know from the expression on her face that I'm in trouble," it was, "I see my mother standing in the kitchen, looking at me.  Knowing from the expression on her face that I'm in trouble."  At first I thought it was an odd technique we'd see scattered throughout the book, but no, it was like that throughout Fated, and after awhile, that started to drive me insane with annoyance, and finally completely jolted me out of the story several times, making it more and more difficult to connect with the characters and story.  After that, as much as I tried to like Fated, I just wanted it to be over. 

Finally, the romance took me by surprise, and not in a good way.  From some of the lead-up to Daire and Dace's interactions, I was hoping for something more...epic, really.  Daire's dreams led me to believe I would end up rooting for her and Dace as a couple, but instead, all I felt was let-down.  I hope in the other books in this series, that Noel spends a LOT of time developing their relationship, because as it stands, they definitely feel like insta-love to me, and their shared dreams feel like a cheap plot device.  I'd also like to see a great deal of character growth on Daire's end, because she came across (to me) as a spoiled kid throughout most of Fated.  Something does happen near the end that makes me think we'll see her grow up some; if not, I'm not sure I'll continue past the second book, Echo

Overall, there were some elements of Fated that I really quite enjoyed, but not enough to make me love this one.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ARC Giveaway: Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw

Recently HarperCollins was generous enough to send me an ARC of Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw, which looks REALLY awesome.  The only problem?  I haven't read the first book, and don't have time to do so before the end of June, which is when Blackwatch will be released.  So...I thought maybe one of my lovely followers might want my ARC.  The giveaway is pretty simple - no hoops to jump through.  Just enter by leaving your name/email and there's a few extra points for Tweeting about the giveaway.  It's US AND International so please join up if you're interested in this ARC!

Kate has escaped the clutches of the High Council and Silas has left Albion for the continent. But their lives are forever linked and as the veil weakens, causing Albion's skilled to fear for everyone's safety, Silas and Kate find themselves drawn together by the mysterious and corrupt Dalliah Grey.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
Pages: 320
Expected publication: June 19, 2012 (St Martin's Griffin)
Source: E-ARC from the publisher
Rating: Squee-worthy
Series or stand-alone: Stand-alone
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Twitter | Website

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. 

As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

My Review

Until this book, I had never read anything by Courtney Summers, despite hearing great things.  Yet for some inexplicable reason, the synopsis and cover for This Is Not A Test called to me, and when I received the opportunity to read an ARC, I jumped at the chance. I went into the book really excited and emerged completely overwhelmed - in the best possible way.  Even though the Goodreads description puts the page count at 320, the E-ARC I read was only around 200 pages...and yet Summers managed to expertly craft so much emotion, heart, and soul into those pages.    

This Is Not A Test is one of those books that you just can't help but wish you weren't done with, can't help but wish lasted a few more pages, a few more moments with characters I came to love.  We see a post-apocalyptic world through troubled, broken Sloane Price's point of view, and I fell instantly for Sloane.  She's almost ruined, but there's still a spark of life left in her and it's enough to reach out and take hold of you, as the reader, and refuse to let go.  Sloane made me want to weep, and made me want to put my arms around her for a long time.  Sloane is a fierce, devastated girl, and at times, an unreliable narrator, but she's so vivid all the same.  Courtney Summers wrote an amazing character in Sloane, and I really loved her writing style, too.  It was just right for this book - haunting without being ethereal, direct at times without being bland, and just descriptive enough without going too far.  

Nothing about This Is Not A Test was what I expected.  I haven't read many zombie novels, so I didn't anticipate the depth to not just Sloane, but all the secondary characters.  Too many authors ignore their minor characters, and shove too much character development on their main character - but not Summers.  Instead of one character to feel for and sympathize with, she gives you six.  Six unique, individually scarred teens, who each earned a place in my heart over the course of this novel.  Twins Grace and Trace (you get past the names, believe me) made me feel SO much.  Rhys made me swoon a few times, and I loved that there was more under his surface.  I wanted to shake and then alternately hug Cary, and I pretty much wanted to hug Harrison forever.  The characters all played wonderful - and at times, dramatically - off of one another, adding many more layers to this novel.  

There's a gripping, harsh sense of urgency throughout This Is Not A Test that you simply cannot ignore.  Amidst that, is all the emotion from the characters dealing with people they've lost in the zombie plague, and Sloane's own struggle.  Six months before the start of This Is Not A Test, Sloane's sister Lily - her confidante, her lifeline - left.  Sloane and Lily's home life is a nightmarish reality that no one should ever be subjected to, and without Lily, Sloane understandably cannot deal.  Throughout the novel, Summers explores Sloane's suicidal tendencies, at once breaking my heart, and inspiring me to cheer for Sloane to want to live.  It's impossible to imagine there being any hope in this kind of a dark novel, yet I think I saw just a bit, shining in around the edges, especially near the end.  

This Is Not A Test was a difficult novel to read, and also immensely haunting.  The story and the characters lingered like ghosts for days after I finished the novel.  I wondered about them - how they were, if they were okay, if they found happiness.  They certainly deserved it, especially Sloane and Rhys.  Their interactions and blossoming romance was another unexpected facet of this novel, but one I definitely enjoyed.  They weren't easy, and they weren't insta-love, either.  They were a beginning, though, something beautiful in the midst of everything horrible.  

If you're wondering if you should read This Is Not A Test, the answer is yes.  It's heart-breaking and thrilling and dangerous.  It's emotional and relevant.  It's possible and it will stay with you after you finish.  Courtney Summers has created a brilliant novel with This Is Not A Test

Book Trailer 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mini-Hiatus + A Few Notes

I'm taking this week off of blogging, which doesn't mean you won't see me at all - I have several reviews scheduled to go live this week, so be sure to check those out if you have a free minute.  They include This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers and Fated by Alyson Noel!  I will also be stopping by blogs some this week, trying to get back into the swing, but I will definitely take a few days off this week, so if you don't see me at your blog, it isn't because I don't want to be there - it's just because I need a quick break.  

Summer is settling in early here in Tennessee, and I wanted a bit of free time to read, garden, and work on getting more outdoor activity.  You'll see me back next week in full swing, which includes reviews, another edition of Once Upon A Book Haul (yay!) and a new discussion post.  Plus this week will give me time to get caught up on scheduling a few exciting posts for y'all! 

Other Things of Interest

  • After much thought on the subject, I am putting my original feature GUEST WHO on hold for the time being.  Even though I LOVE the idea and I ADORE working alongside other bloggers, interest has been rather sporadic, and I can do more by focusing on quality, not quantity, of features/etc here at Once Upon a Prologue.  
  • I WILL still be doing ONCE UPON A BLOGGER (which I may rename) if interest continues.  If you'd like to be in the spotlight, simply shoot me an email.  (courageousgrace [at] gmail [dot] com).  If there is no interest in that feature, then I will probably put it on hold, too, and only keep up with IF I COULD WRITE A LETTER TO ME, my own spin on a "things I've learned about book blogging" feature. 
  • I am considering a new feature, which I may or may not add to the roster here.  I don't like to be too meme/feature heavy, which is part of why I'm cutting back, but I often find myself with nothing to post on Fridays, and my goal is to have a new post for Monday-Friday.  This feature would be something of my own creation, and all it would involve is you wonderful people dropping by and reading what I have to say.  I'm thinking it would be a look back (or to the present) to particular authors who have inspired me, gotten me through rough times, and maybe even TV shows and musicians (briefly, since this IS a book blog) who have helped me grow, learn, etc.  What do you guys think?  Is that too much?  Does it sound remotely interesting?
  • Finally, I recently changed my blog to a 2 column layout, which I like much better; however, I am still looking for a new layout, so that may hopefully be in place at some point this summer.
And last but not least, thank you to everyone for your ongoing support.  I love y'all!  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Pages: 373
Published: May 8th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Source: E-ARC from the publisher
Rating: Beam-worthy
Series or Stand-alone: Stand-alone (for now?)
Further info/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She's survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn't who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

My Review

I was really excited to read Struck by Jennifer Bosworth, because well, from the premise it sounds totally unique and one-of-a-kind.  When I received the book via NetGalley I downloaded it eagerly and read it in one evening.  It's been a few weeks since I finished Struck, but now writing this review, the story is coming back to me, and I can say that although I didn't love this one, I did enjoy the story being told.  As the premise states, the main character, Mia Price is a lightening addict - to the point that her entire body is covered in marks from the many strikes she's endured.  Mia craves lightening, which she knows isn't average, but since the earthquake that devastated LA...nothing about her life is normal.  I felt so bad for Mia, and although I never quite clicked or connected with her, I thought she was a really capable person who had a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, like caring for her invalid mother, and bore all her burdens with surprising strength.  LA is a changed city, and food is now rationed out; Mia and her brother go back to school attempting normalcy, only to find that everything is turned upside down and inside out.  

Struck boasts several different, unique antagonists that wreak havoc, each in their own way, in Mia's life.  The Seekers are looking for people like Mia, while a self-proclaimed Prophet has risen from the ashes of the recent quake and ensuing tragedies.  Throughout Bosworth's novel, I tried to figure out just who the good guys were and who the bad guys were, and I like that - not so much that I was kept guessing, but that no one really stood out as pure.  Everyone had their own agenda, and their own reason for wanting Mia amongst their ranks, and I think that really speaks to the dual nature of both good AND evil.  On both sides there was almost a religious fanaticism angle, which did make me somewhat uncomfortable.  It isn't that Jennifer Bosworth overdid that or anything, I just hate to read about religion being used as a platform for people to profit from tragedy.  

Something that I DID like was Mia's relationship with the love interest, Jeremy.  It has to difficult for authors to create a swoon-worthy male character who stands out from all the wonderful book boyfriends out there, but I thought Jeremy was pretty awesome.  He definitely had some mysteries and some issues of his own, which are revealed over the course of Struck, but even so, I really sort of fell for him, and was cheering for him and Mia despite all the odds against them.  They were obviously mutually drawn to one another, but neither of them proclaimed themselves to be in love after a day or anything, and it was really awesome, actually getting to watch them at times NOT have it easy or instantaneously fall for one another.  Mia and Jeremy had to fight for their happiness, and I liked that.  I truly would love to read more about them.  

Overall I would recommend Jennifer Bosworth's novel for YA enthusiast looking for something out of the normal.  Struck is full of action and breath-taking danger, and while I really did like a lot of things about it, the novel as a whole just didn't rock my world like I wanted it to.  But that doesn't mean that you won't love it!  Check out these other reviews from a few of my blogging friends who really loved Struck, then decide for yourself if it's up your alley or not.  

Anna at Literary Exploration enjoyed it!  So did Amanda at Hippies Beauty and Books!  

Book Trailer  (which looks like a movie trailer!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott
Pages: 224
Expected publication: June 5, 2012 (Simon Pulse)
Rating: Beam-worthy
Source: ATW ARC Tours
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Website | Twitter

Megan survived the plane crash—but can she survive the aftermath? An intense, emotional novel from the author of The Unwritten Rule and Between Here and Forever.

Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.

Scared and alone, Megan doesn’t know whom to turn to. Her entire community seems unable—or maybe unwilling—to see her as anything but Miracle Megan. Everyone except for Joe, the beautiful boy next door with a tragic past and secrets of his own. All Megan wants is for her life to get back to normal, but the harder she tries to live up to everyone’s expectations, the worse she feels. And this time, she may be falling too fast to be saved....

My Review

When I first started Miracle by Elizabeth Scott, I won't lie - I was REALLY excited.  After hearing great things about her other works, I had high hopes for this book.  Miracle, which is from the point of view of Megan, a normal girl before she becomes the sole survivor of a plan crash, had an extremely promising start, but unfortunately for me, never delivered on the heart-wrenching, poignant story I was expecting from the synopsis.  

I think the largest problem I had with Miracle is the main character, and her family and how they were portrayed.  I expected to totally sympathize with Megan, and spend most of her story wanting to hug her.  Instead, I wanted to shake her. Yes, she went through something traumatic and absolutely life-changing.  But although I kept waiting for Megan to slowly snap out of it, to realize that she had friends who wanted to help her get back to living her life...it never happened.  Megan spent the entirety of Miracle dealing - unsuccessfully - with repressed memories and basically wallowing in self pity.  That may sound harsh, especially considering she did survive a plane crash, but it just got OLD after awhile.  It hurt me to watch Megan snub her best friends time after time, to pull away entirely from her family, and to basically detach herself from her entire life - school, church, friends, everything.  As a character, she fell VERY flat and unlikeable for me.  

I also spent a large portion of Miracle angry at her parents.  Whether they perceived her as the "Miracle Megan" she thinks they do, or whether they were just afraid to push her...they saw her detaching and didn't DO ANYTHING.  They just let their daughter fall apart and that REALLY made me SO mad.  I will never understand the trend in literature that says a character's home life has to be really bad...but this was so much worse because her parents did so many things wrong: they coddled Megan long past the point of it being understandable, they ignored her little brother who only wanted a bit of their attention, they let Megan start down the path of ruining her life.  

The love story really disappointed me, too.  I expected more out of Megan and the "beautiful boy" next door, Joe.  I can't say it was insta-love, considering they weren't meeting for the first time, and they didn't fall head over heels for each other.  I liked that they were more of a beginning than anything, but I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that it felt like it took the plane crash for them to make the first move, or for him to really notice her, or vice versa.  

The two characters I really liked best - the only two I really liked, actually - were Margaret, a family friend from church, and Megan's little brother.  Both of them honestly struck much, much more of a chord with me than even Megan did.  I kept waiting for her to do something redeemable and finally in the very end of the book, when she dug deep and found some inner strength, I finally saw a glimpse of possibility within her....but it was too late for me to really love Miracle.  

I would still recommend that you give Miracle a try for yourself.  Even though I didn't love it, there was a lot of potential to it, and I DID really quite enjoy the writing style.  It's definitely a story that has potential to strike an emotional chord with readers, just sadly, not with me.  But definitely decide for yourself!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - #19: May 22: Top Ten Blogs/Sites You Read That AREN'T about Books

{ ++ } 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!

May 22 2012
Top Ten Blogs/Sites You Read That AREN'T about Books 

{ 1 } Twitter.  Twitter has TAKEN OVER my life, you guys.  If my phone is updating and I can't check Twitter, I get a bit spazzy.  And really, it's not pleasant.  I NEED MY TWITTER. 

{ 2 } Charming Charlie.  I really should NOT be allowed to talk about my obsession with this place.  BUT THERE ARE COLOR TABLES.  I walked in for the first time and I literally thought, "So THIS is where Temperance Brennan jewelry shops."  IT'S AMAZING.  There are literally tables for each color you can think of - pink, yellow, brown, red, silver, white, etc.  It's genius and amazing. 

{ 3 } LiveJournal.  My home away from home.  I've blogged (or journaled) here for...8 years.  My LiveJournal account has gotten me through some of the worst times of my life and thankfully, some of the best, too.  (And yes, there was a first, older, embarrassing account that I WON'T be linking to.  *cringes*)

{ 4 } Facebook.  I don't visit Facebook THAT much, but I do love it for keeping up with people's lives who I don't get to see very often.  I don't do any of the games on there - I don't have time - but it has its uses. 

{ 5 } iTunes.  Let's just get this out of the way.  I am a music junkie.  I currently have right at 4,000 songs on my iPod.  That doesn't count the butt ton of music I HAVEN'T ripped into my library or the new stuff I'm downloading weekly.  I...REALLY love music.  When I'm at work during the day it kills me to not be able to have music in the office.  Sometimes I sneak my phone out just so I can turn on some music (really low) to keep me going at night when I work late.  I.  Love.  Music.  My credit card cringes when I open my itunes.  (I was going to show y'all a screen shot of my iTunes but I can't get it to upload.  BOO!) 

{ 6 } Lane Bryant.  I can't shop here often (which is good, because I really AM a shop-a-holic) but when I have a bit of money (hahaha like that EVER happens) I love checking out this site or one of their shops for cute graphics tees, and other such girly things. 

{ 7 } Amazon.com.  Again, with the shop-a-holic theme.  I spend a bit too much time here browsing for good prices of DVD sets and other awesome things.  (Yesterday was purses.  I make no apologies and regret nothing.) 

{ 8 } IMDB.com.  Okay so I KNOW this site can be unreliable at times but most times it feeds my need to squee over any new projects my favorite actors/actresses are involved in.  And yes, I routinely stalk the cast of Firefly's pages to see if they have anything new coming up. 

{ 9 } TV Line.  This site feeds my addiction to know what's going on with my shows.  I read spoilers rather randomly but I love that the site lets me know what's renewed, what's cancelled, etc. 

{ 10 } Goodreads.  HAHA.  Y'all thought I was going to follow the rules for this whole list?  I had to sneak in one book-ish site.  I'm at Goodreads every day.  I'm ALWAYS finding awesome new book recs there.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young

A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young
Pages: 288
Expected publication: June 26, 2012 (Balzer + Bray) (Happy birthday to me!)
Source: ATW ARC Tours
Rating: Swoon-worthy
Series or stand-alone: A Need So Beautiful (2)
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Twitter | Blog

Elise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is.

After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She’s experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people’s lives—people she’s never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose affect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who’s new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection—almost as if they are soul mates.

Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?

My Review 

Once I was a few pages in to A Want So Wicked - which I eagerly anticipated for months before I received my copy through an ARC tour - I immediately fell back in love, hard, with Suzanne Young's writing.  It should be noted that I ADORED A Need So Beautiful, which brought me to tears and sealed the fact that Harlin is one of my favorite book boyfriends ever.  I expected A Want So Wicked to be just a beautiful as its predecessor and Suzanne did NOT let me down in any way.  This book is different in that whereas before we had an entire book to get to know Charlotte - and an amazingly breath-taking cliffhanger to sob over for way too long in my case - this time around, we're introduced to Elise, who doesn't recall her previous life, or anyone from it.  Elise is a friendly, loving normal seventeen year old girl, but early on in WANT, things start changing for her.  Ordinarily, Elise's life is pretty standard, between living with her older sister, Lucy, and her caring father, but suddenly, Elise is surrounded by people: people who want her, people who are afraid for her, people who seem to know things about her even she doesn't understand.  

I liked Elise right off the bat, and admired Suzanne Young's ability to not only create a memorable and awesome narrator in Elise, but also convey Elise's fright and confusion so realistically.  Who are these people that she is drawn to, people she feels an inexplicable, undeniable Need to help?  Like Elise, I was definitely taken aback and curious to understand what was going on; even though I had prior knowledge of Elise's life as Charlotte, Elise was clueless and Suzanne Young was able to seamlessly blend Elise's journey in with the reader's.  That didn't mean I wasn't ceaselessly crossing my fingers for Elise to remember her other life and everyone there who loved her, but at the same time, I was glad that Suzanne took the time to build slowly to Elise's discoveries.  Nothing about A Want So Wicked was rushed or forced; Elise figuring out who and what she was was natural.  Young has a way of binding the reader's emotions into the character's journey - I know that was certainly true for me.  

Everything about A Want So Wicked was fraught with meaning and emotion, from Elise's realizations about herself, to the depth Suzanne Young wound into the amazing mythos she's created, between the Forgotten and the Shadows, to the new stakes to the theme of good versus evil.  Any time I thought I knew what was happening, I was proven wrong in the most fascinating ways.  

I really loved so many aspects of this book, but probably the main part was the romance.  While bad boy Abe had his moments, ultimately he couldn't compare in any way to my love for Harlin.  I adore how brave Harlin is, and for all that he does sometimes hide his feelings, when he does open up, he's absolutely fearless and unguarded.  He isn't perfect, but he IS very much a real-seeming, genuine character.  And his love for both Charlotte and Elise made the book what it was, in my opinion.  Watching Elise and Harlin interact tore at my heart in a violently passionate way.  I wanted to reach into the pages and guide them together, but the path their relationship took was blindingly beautiful.  Many, many tears were shed over them, and throughout A Want so Wicked, Harlin and Elise became one of my all-time favorite couples as they proved over and over again how meant to be they are. 

A Want So Wicked meant so much to me.  I laughed a few times, and I cried oh so many tears.  Don't believe me?  I even tweeted Suzanne about it as I finished her book.   See?  Told you this book really affected and impacted me emotionally!  As emotionally satisfied and overwhelmed as I was when I finished this book, I was also devastated, because it was the last part of the duology.  And yet, Suzanne Young makes it clear in a heart-pounding, hope-infused way that Elise and Harlin's journey isn't over - it's just beginning.  And even though Elise may be a Forgotten, I know I won't forget her story anytime soon. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Once Upon a Book Haul - #3

Inspired by all the book-haul memes I've seen floating around (and mostly accredited to Stacking the Shelves) Once Upon A Book Haul is my own version of a book haul/round-up here at Once Upon A Prologue.  It's a fun way for me to show off the books I've begged, borrowed, or stolen - and in a rare case, actually bought!  I love showing off my pretty new books, be they ARCS I'll pass on or books I'll keep just as much as I do seeing what y'all have added to YOUR collection, so be sure to leave me a link to YOUR haul in the comments so we can squee together over our new books!  (It's totally not embarrassing if we're squee'ing together in case y'all didn't know...)

Books Mentioned
Fated by Alyson Noel { Add it on Goodreads
Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus { Add it on Goodreads}
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers { Add it on Goodreads
The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg { Add it on Goodreads }

Recently at Once Upon a Prologue...

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass
Waiting On Wednesday - Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Bout of Books - My Goal Post 
Be sure to leave me links to what YOU got this week.  And happy reading!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Who - #4: Julia From Bookworm, Am I

{ ++ } Welcome to Guest Who, a new feature here at Once Upon a Prologue, for 2012.  I wanted to get to know my followers and fellow bloggers better, so this idea was born: a guest-post swap!  Each month, I'll feature someone new.  We will write either on the same topic, or one of our own choosing, and it'll give me a chance to see what y'all think about the chosen topic, and have loads of fun!  I will feature you here, and if you choose for me to do a guest post for your blog in return, you'll feature me on your blog! And of course, discussion is welcome, anytime!

To get involved (and I hope you want to!), send me a email at courageousgrace (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject "Guest Who," and we'll have loads of fun doing our posts!

I guess I'm a naturally artsy person, always were, probably always will be...although that sentence is contradictory but well, I'm like that. I like dancing, drawing, singing, reading, collecting quotes, and making little movies in my head which would probably end up in my numerous journals and unfinished stories...I like to hang out by myself or with a select few that I consider friends.

Find Julia online: Book Blog | Original Writing Blog 

My Top Ten Favorite Fictional Characters

Hello, I’m Julia from Book Worm, Am I and like Molli from Once Upon a Prologue I am here to talk about my favorite characters.
After careful consideration, I am glad to say I’ve compiled 10 of my favorite characters; 5 girls and 5 boys.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

 The Selection by Kiera Cass
Pages: 327
Published: April 24, 2012 (HarperTeen)
Source: ARC from the publisher
Series or stand-alone: The Selection (1)
Rating: Beam-worthy
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Twitter | Website
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined

My Review

In The Selection, debut author Kiera Cass delivers an unexpectedly heart-warming story that will leave you wanting more.  Even though I had a major crush on the cover from the first time I saw it, and the premise sounded rather interesting, I went into this book with some trepidation.  I'm not an avid watcher or fan of shows like The Bachelor/The Bachelorette - generally I tend to doubt that two people can truly fall in love on national television.  But there was just something about The Selection that called to me, and so I was also somewhat curious and eager when I started reading.  And luckily, I quickly fell in love with the main character, America Singer, and with the world Cass has developed.  I categorized The Selection as dystopian, and although the stakes are high in some aspects, the vast amount of comparisons to The Hunger Games are misdirected.   

The Selection is in some ways a less sinister dystopian than The Hunger Games, Pandemonium, or Shatter Me.  That's NOT to say in any way that is makes less of an impact; I know as a reader, even after I finished it a few months ago, I was still thinking about the characters weeks after I closed the book.  Kiera Cass has concentrated less on government control as a theme and more of a highly developed, interesting and unfair caste system that I found fascinating.  I wasn't expecting such a focus, but it's a new twist on the "have's vs have-not's" age old dilemma.  America knows the limitations of her caste as well as her place - and the unfairness of that, considering it means she shouldn't marry Aspen, the boy she loves...Aspen, who is a caste below her.  When America is chosen to be in the Selection, her family is over-joyed.  If she wins, she'll marry Prince Maxon, and even if she simply competes, her family will be elevated in status and taken care of, but for America - loyal, with a huge heart - it means leaving behind everything she's ever known, all to become involved in something she doesn't even want.  

Yet just like America, I found myself getting caught up in the atmosphere of life in the castle.  The King and Queen weren't what I expected, and neither were a few of the other girls.  Cass takes care to flesh out her secondary characters, which I really enjoyed.  A few of them fell flat, but for the most part, they were all more than just names on the page.  I also really liked how real everything seemed, through America's eyes.  She was so not dazzled by being in the Selection, and I think that made everything have more of an impact - the sense of danger from rebels was more heightened, as were the feelings she started to have and explore for Maxon.  

The romance in The Selection was sweet and definitely tugged at my heart-strings, but once again, I realized I was reading yet another book with a love triangle.  I will say this: I really believed Aspen and America.  Kiera Cass wrote in a lot of moments between them that showed, rather than told, their love.  So it was a real struggle for me to realize that, and then of course to see America drawn, despite her will, to Maxon.  The prince isn't anything like America thought he would be, and I really DID love their interactions, their friendship, their easy back-and-forth.  I think I'm just over-tired of love triangles.  

The Selection has a lot of elements that I like, but there were several things I thought could have been improved on.  The threat to the people's safety from rebels felt almost thrown in, and I would have liked for that to have been treated better.  The ending was very rushed, including the handling of the love triangle.  And I really found myself hoping this would be a stand-alone.  I think with another hundred pages (or the same amount of pages but events playing out differently) this could have been a satisfying stand-alone; however, I will likely read the next two books in the trilogy. 

Book Trailer

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday - #25: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

{ ++ }  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....

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, TIME BETWEEN US is a stunning and spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new talent in YA fiction.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Expected publication: October 9, 2012 (Hyperion)

Why It's Worth Waiting On:  I'm going to freely admit at this point that ANYTHING related to time travel gets me giggly, teary-eyed, wibbly and usually quite fangirly.  I'm a HUGE Doctor Who fan, thus far, in all his various incarnations.  I think we all know I've really enjoyed the few time travel books I've read and I just, I NEED THIS BOOK.  I've been stalking it and the author since before it had a cover or a full synopsis.  I think the original synopsis was something like, "about a girl who meets a boy who can take her hand and travel through time with her."  And of course, being the geek I am, I immediately added it to my TBR.  I pull it up on Goodreads every so often to stare at the beautiful cover and re-read the synopsis.  I WILL HAVE THIS ONE.  

So that's my pick.  What are y'all waiting on this week?  


Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by R.L. Lafevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Pages: 549
Published: April 3, 2012 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Rating: Swoon-worthy
Series or stand-alone: His Fair Assassin (1)
Source: ARC from the publisher
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Twitter | Website

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

My Review

As I start this review, I'm thinking back on my experience reading Grave Mercy, and realizing: I almost don't know where to start, what to say, or how to ever, in a few paragraphs, accurately express my overwhelming admiration for this stunning novel.  Robin LaFevers has a rare gift; she hasn't just written an entertaining novel - with Grave Mercy, she has created a novel that will linger on in my heart and in my mind for a long time to come.  Between Ismae - unyielding, brash, brave, fierce, and loyal - and Gavriel - a courtly enigma wrapped in a mystery - and the mythos she has created, Robin LaFevers's debut novel struck a chord with me that is still resonating in the back of my mind as I begin the torturous wait for the sequel.  

Startlingly bleak at times, brimming with hope at others, Grave Mercy is the story of Ismae Reinne, whose mother was forced to attempt to induce a miscarriage - one that Ismae survived, only to endure the disgust of her father, who ultimately trades her in marriage to a vile man.  Ismae, then fourteen, escapes to the convent of Saint Mortain, one of the old Gods...the God of Death.  Ismae is offered the chance to live with the sisters there, and to train in the many dark arts that comprise the ways to kill someone.  Ismae, feeling this is her calling, decides to stay; after all, what better home for a daughter of Death?  The story flips to Ismae, now seventeen, on her first small assignments, but Robin LaFevers quickly ramps up the action and the danger, with which this story is fraught with from page one to the final page.  Ismae is thrust into her first serious assignment - to infiltrate the tumultuous court of Brittany, where the young child duchess, Anne, struggles to retain her seat of power.  Gavriel Duval, bastard brother to the duchess is Ismae's reluctant partner in this mission, which only serves to further complicate Ismae's state of mind, as she quickly realizes she is in over her head and out of her league in the court, and with Gavriel.  I sympathized with Ismae right away, who, for all she knows about death, knows so little about love or friendship.  As Ismae set out on her journey, I was right there with her as she tried to pull off a subterfuge unlike any other she'd undertaken so far in her training. 

Robin LaFevers doesn't hold back with either the richly developed court, or the vividly hued characters; everyone, no matter how major or minor stands out lushly, unforgettable.  Ismae accompanies Gavriel to court, where the two remain frostily civil to one another, even though it's immediately clear there is a delicious tension between them, one that Robin LaFevers explores with a gentle, emotion-filled, thrumming touch.  Gavriel and Ismae have an achingly poignant connection that I wanted to drink up and just revel in, though at the same time, I so enjoyed the halting glimpses they each gave one another of themselves too much to want to rush either of them toward anything.  Their progression was perfect, and natural, and organic - a slow-building chemistry that befitted each of them, Ismae especially, who has never known kindness.  Nothing about them was fake or over-done or instantaneous, except that first flicker of interest in one another despite themselves.  I could have read about them for the entire course of Grave Mercy, and not minded at all; they were that gorgeous.  

However, the main plot of Grave Mercy was too satisfying to long for much else; watching Ismae navigate the corridors of court while trying to untangle the lines, secrets, and plots between the various nobles was a puzzle in and of itself.  Though trained in the sinister arts of weapons, poisons, and such, and able to painfully or mercifully (depending on the person) administer a kill as soon as her master, Death, marks a victim, Ismae is hopelessly lost in court.  I was as out of my depth as she was, and it was a great challenge, trying, like her, to figure out who was aligned with who, what was going on, and which plot would put the duchess in danger, versus who wanted to help her succeed.  I really liked Anne, and several of the other supporting characters, and I loved Ismae's fierce loyalty to her.  I hope we might get to see more of Anne, her sister, and even Sybella, one of Ismae's convent sisters, alluded to several times yet seen only once or twice, who nevertheless seems fascinating.  

I don't give perfect ratings and I never feel comfortable saying there was nothing wrong with a book, but the more I think back on Grave Mercy, the more I realize: Robin LaFevers has written a truly wonderful, flawless novel.  The romance and scandal and intrigue against the backdrop of the historical setting just pulses with emotion and heart-pounding peril.  The characters are intensely lifelike, and the religious mythos is well-developed and believable.  As I said in the beginning, Grave Mercy has left its mark on me, and I'll be thinking about it and craving more of LaFever's writing right up until the next installment.  

Book Trailer

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bout of Books 4.0 - Goal Post

This year for the first time EVER I am participating in a Read-A-Thon.  Bout of Books runs from 05/14/12 - 05/20/12 and the goal is to read as much as possible, interact with fellow bloggers, and have fun!  

Along the way, I'll be updating this post as I finish books, and I'll have a link to it in my sidebar so that it doesn't get lost amongst the other things I publish this week on the blog!  So be sure to check back throughout the week to see what I accomplish.  Before I jump into my goals, here's the low down...

  • Head over HERE if you haven't already signed up but want to!  There's a link to the rules, FAQ, and the sign-up post.
  • Follow the Bout of Books Twitter for announcements/info and such. 
Some other info, from the Bout of Books site, courtesy of the lovely ladies there!  (I'm being lazy and copying and pasting so these next bullet points are all them!)

  • Bout of Books is a week long read-a-thon, run from 12:01am on Monday, May 14th through 11:59pm Sunday, May 20st in whatever time zone you are in.
  • Bout of Books is low pressure, meaning participants are only asked to push themselves to read more than they normally would during any given week. There is no competition between readers.
  • How much time a reader wants, and can commit, to read, tweet, or network with fellow bloggers is left to individual preference. All challenges and giveaways are optional.
  • Networking with fellow bloggers is actively encouraged, though never required. Co-hosts are there to facilitate blog hopping and interaction between participants.
  • Use Twitter to post updates throughout the read-a-thon. Everyone will be tweeting with the #boutofbooks hashtag.
Amanda's format is AWESOME so I'm going to use that for my post format as far as my goals.

When Will I Be Reading?

As often as I possibly can - on my lunch break, on my breaks at work, and around chores/family time.   

Where Will I Be Updating?

Both here in this post and on Twitter and of course, Goodreads!  

What Will I Be Reading?

I'm going to use this week to get caught up on my NetGalley reads - I got SO overwhelmed there once, and I've told myself never again, in order to keep reading FUN.  So here are my goals! 

My Reading Progress


Number of Pages Read: 408
Number of Books Read: 1
Total Books Read: 1 (Innocent Darkness)


Number of Pages Read: 336
Number of Books Read: 1
Total Books Read: 2


Number of Pages Read: 272
Number of Books Read: 1
Total Books Read: 3


Number of Pages Read: N/A
Number of Books Read: N/A
Total Books Read: 3


Number of Pages Read: 50
Number of Books Read: N/A
Total Books Read: 3


Number of Pages Read: N/A
Number of Books Read: N/A
Total Books Read: 3


Number of Pages Read:
Number of Books Read:
Total Books Read:

If YOU'RE doing Bout of Books, feel free to leave a comment and a link to your post so that we can wish each other luck in our reading goals!

UPDATE: Well obviously I haven't reached my goal.  I dare say life got in the way a bit this week.  But that's okay because I'm closer to being caught up, and I've read three awesome books this week so...YAY!

Once Upon A Book Haul - #2

Inspired by all the book-haul memes I've seen floating around (and mostly accredited to Stacking the Shelves) Once Upon A Book Haul is my own version of a book haul/round-up here at Once Upon A Prologue.  It's a fun way for me to show off the books I've begged, borrowed, or stolen - and in a rare case, actually bought!  I love showing off my pretty new books, be they ARCS I'll pass on or books I'll keep just as much as I do seeing what y'all have added to YOUR collection, so be sure to leave me a link to YOUR haul in the comments so we can squee together over our new books!  (It's totally not embarrassing if we're squee'ing together in case y'all didn't know...)

Books Mentioned

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott { Add it on Goodreads }
A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young { Add it on Goodreads
Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw { Add it on Goodreads } 
Storm by Brigid Kemmemer { Add it on Goodreads
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo { Add it on Goodreads } Enter my giveaway HERE
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins { Add it on Goodreads }

Thank you to Harper Teen and Around the World ARC Tours!

That's it for this week, everyone.  Please be sure to leave me a link to your blog in the comments so that I can come and visit!  I'm trying to be better about doing that, since I REALLY appreciate comments here.