Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler

“For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel envy…”

Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that’s okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn’t hold it together, who will?

Great story about family, survival, will power, courage, being yourself and growth. 
Tess's older, popular, athletic sister has cancer. How will Mom, Dad, Kristina and Tess handle the information? That is what the story is about and how the people around them are affected as well. The characters are unique with their own voices and personalities and especially growth.
I thought it was a little unrealistic for Tess to take her parents. BUT! I was thinking the same things Tess said them. LOVED Tess's "bodyguard."

Be yourself is a huge theme in this book.

Rating: PG 14
S: main character loses her virginity so she won't die a virgin (only told about, not written). Drunk teens groping each other.
V: No but some parts are about cancer and death.
L: I can't remember...

25% test (p.71):
" and a blue dress under an open white lab coat. I think how unfair it is that she seems to have been dealt an overabundance of good genes. Brains. Beauty. She got it ll.
She touches Kristina's shoulder a she passes. i have an urge to yell at the doctor, to demand she tell us it's all been a big mistake. 
I glare at her, wanting her to fix my sister with her slender, pretty hands. Make the nightmare go away. mom closes the book she's been snooping in and moves back, sitting int he chair beside Kristina. Dad doesn't budge, but follows the doctor with his eyes. The doctor walks around her desk, clicks a key on the keyboard, and checks the screen for a second before turning her attention to Kristina. My sister stares at her and her eyes fill with tears. when I look at Dr Turner's face, I know immediately. The news isn't good. I feel sick to my stomach.
I blink rapidly, trying to keep my tears inside.
"Kristina," Dr. Turner says, and shifts her hip against the desk, not sitting yet. She nods at my parents. they've already met, formal introductions have been made. She smiles at me. "You must be Tess," she says, but doesn't seem to expect an answer, which is good because my throat is too tight, nothing, no sound is capable of coming out.
We all stare at her, holding our breath as a family. Waiting.
She sits in her chair, and leans back. "The tumor is directly above the knee. As expected with this type of cancer, we're looking at a Stage 2B. The mass is larger than I would like, but despite that, we're going to do what we can to help you keep your leg, Kristina. Many osteo patients can have limb-saving treatment and that's what we'll hope for you."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget.

Interesting story of Cinder AND Ella, two sisters, not one person. But when their mother yells at them, it comes out Cinderella!
While this book isn't one I'd pick up and read again, there are many readers who will love this retelling. Good job, Melissa!

Thank you Cedar Fort and NetGalley for the early peek. Don't forget to read the discussion questions at the end of the book. 

Want to buy it?
Cinder and Ella

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

Tim Ferriss Reviews Anything You Want

Tim Ferriss is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Workweek. He has a diverse background of experience, including working as an actor, speaking seven foreign languages, holding a world record in tango, and being a national Chinese kickboxing champion. He has written for Maxim and the Philadelphia Inquirer, has appeared on MTV and CBS radio, and has been interviewed or featured in such major publications as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and more. Read his review of Derek Sivers's Anything You Want:

I love this book!
Derek is the entrepreneur's entrepreneur. Just as important, perhaps more so--he is a phenomenal teacher. Whether detailing the fascinating rise of CDBaby, explaining catastrophic (but common) founder mistakes, or teaching me about relational databases in two minutes using analogies, he makes the complex simple. Moreover, he makes it all actionable.
If you want a true manifesto, a guidebook with clear signposts, and a fun ride you'll return to again and again, you have it here in this book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. --Tim Ferriss
Derek Sivers's Recommended Reading
We asked author and founder of CD Baby Derek Sivers to tell us about the books that have influenced him the most as an entrepreneur. His list includes everything from What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful to The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. Check out Derek's complete list of recommended reading for those aspiring to follow their passion to build a successful business--and a rewarding life. 

I loved the story of how Derek Sivers "accidental" started a company and six years later was making $10 million. He loved music and wanted to sell his CDs but the record companies told him they only took the music distributors gave them. 
When his CD Baby company was succesful, the record labels came to him to put their music on his site. Guess what he said? NO.
Throughout his story, Derek explains business and ideas and what not to do. Inspirational. I read several passages aloud to my husband who also enjoyed the ideas Derek presents.
Good, clean, inspirational read other then the two or three swear words ("F" bomb once).

Want to buy it?
Some bullet points from the book:

  • Business is not about money. It's about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.
  • Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself.
  • When you make  a company, you make a Utopia. It's where you design your perfect world.
  • Never do anything just for money.
  • You can't please everyone, so proudly exclude people.

I received this e-book from the ongoing Domino Project to read and review through BzzAgent. That's it. Nothing more. Oh. I am a bzzagent!
The Domino Project is the idea of Set Godin and Amazon. Want to get involved? Click HERE for the Domino Project website.

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides ARC Review SIGNED Giveaway!

The magical, secretive society of JANITORS will sweep the country in the fall of 2011. Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve year- old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You'll never look at a mop the same way again.

Don't you love the cover? 
Wait tell you read the inside!
Tyler has come up with a fun twist on magic. Gross garbage thingys in the school. Admit it, you've often daydreamed about such creatures roaming the school. You've also wondered about at least one of the janitors sanity...right?

 Wanna win this awesomesauce, fantastically, stupendous book?

Tell me in 140 words or less about the dust bunnies under your bed.
Contest ends midnight July 30th, 2011.

Want to buy it?

25% test (p. 70);
""And he drew on my face," Daisy said. "But it washed off."
Another bout of silence hit the truck like a black hole.
"Could someone please explain why I'm a chameleon," Spencer finally muttered.
"A chameleon," Mr. Gates said as he turned into Hillside Estates, "is a type of lizard that changes color. Might be green one moment and black the next. It changes to fit the environment around it, sometimes to blend in, sometimes to stand out."
"But what does that have to do with me?" Spencer pointed out Aunt Avril's house and the big Ford rolled into the driveway.
"You don't get it?" Daisy asked, a faint smirk on her face. "In our family, a chameleon is someone whose story changes. They might tell it one way, then totally twist it around and ell a different version. People do it when they're insecure. Sometimes to blend in, sometimes to stand out."
Spencer wasn't pleased about being called a color-changing lizard. He had a comeback worked up, but he lit it die on his lips. Just wait. The soap was in Daisy's drawer. Soon she'd see that he wasn't a chameleon.
"Thanks for the ride, Mr. Gates," Spencer said, slipping off the edge of the seat. he checked his pocket for the flashlight and the latex glove. With both items secure, he walked to the back of the truck, But Mr. Gates had beaten him there. With a smile, Daisy's dad lifted out the boy's bike."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You'll never look at a mop the same way again...

Saturday, July 23rd I am giving away a signed ARC of JANITORS by Tyler Whitesides. Come back over in a few days and enter the contest to win!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the twilight saga: the official illustrated guide by Stephenie Meyer

Fans of the #1 New York Times bestselling Twilight Saga will treasure this definitive official guide!

This must-have hardcover edition--the only official guide--is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. With exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references, and much more, this comprehensive handbook is essential for every Twilight Saga fan.

I'm not going to find the 25% in this book. There's too much fun in here for you to miss if you are a Twilight fan. I love to read more about characters, their genealogy, back stories, author insights and deleted scenes in any series I enjoyed. This illustrated guide is packed full of information. All 543 pages worth of facts, pictures and details.

Want to buy it?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

#3 in the Wings series. More look at the relationships in the book, especially between the two boys and the girl they are fighting over. Who will she pick? And who is the new Wildflower? Is she foe or friend? And will I read the next one? probably not.

Rating: PG
V: A couple of fights with trolls
L: None
S: Kissing, making out

Want to buy it?

25% test (p. 94):
"Too weird," David said s they say on Laurel's bed taking about her trip to Avalon and ignoring the textbooks spread out around he,.
"I know, right? I sort of assumed being cast out for your beliefs was a human thing. which I personally find totally ironic."
David laughed. "I was thinking along the lines of breaking the laws of physics by traveling thousands of miles yesterday in, like, two seconds."
"Different strokes," Laurel said, waving his comment away with a smile. "So did you find out anything about the membrane Katya was talking about?"
"I think so," David said. The, in a teasing tone, "Did you?"
"Maybe? From what I read online, the thylakoid membrance is the place where the chlorplasts are. So all of the..."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.
But there is a cost.
The Keeper likes to keep things.
Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

LOVED this retelling of the twelve dancing princesses. I wasn't sure I would because I LOVE Jessica Day's George's book. There is room for both.
Azalea is the oldest princess in a poor kingdom. Her mother dies and makes Azalea promise to watch over her eleven other sisters. Their castle has a bit of magic left over from the reign of one of the kings.
The girls love dance because it is a connection to their mother who taught them to dance and so the girls love to dance. But they aren't allowed to dance during mourning. Azalea tries to keep their spirits up by secretly dancing in the ballroom but someone catches them and stops it. The author adds tons of different dances and steps that I don't know so I skimmed these parts.
Enter Mr. Keeper who isn't dead but isn't alive and isn't a zombie either.  Thanks to the leftover magic, the princesses can dance on Mr. Keepers pavilion every night. Unknown to them, he exacts a price.
Entwined has mystery and romance as well as a great story and characters.

Rating: PG
L: None
V: Fighting; scary dead guy
S: Kissing

Want to buy it?

25% test (p. 118)
"...beaming from learning a new step, or how to balance on just their toes, or when Azalea tucked them into bed, their cheeks flushed and smiling.
"Sometimes i wake up," Flora said one morning, "And I wonder if it's even real."
"If feels like a dream, "Goldenrod agreed, sleepily.
Mornings came much too early, and after the girls had groggily dressed, they stumbled to breakfast late. They mended slippers over their porridge, or in the afternoons in the cool cellar. The slippers became more tattered each day, and Azalea had to back them with extra fabric from old tablecloths, because the satin frayed so. They couldn't last much longer, Azalea knew, but she would sew her fingers raw to make them do. She had to immerse herself in the silver forest, in the dancing, if only for on more night.
And though she wouldn't dare admit it to anyone, she wanted to see Mr. Keeper again.
He hardly ever spoke to her or any of them, other than to welcome, bow them in, and wish them a good night when they left, but the essence of him lingered. When Azalea spun, spotting her head as her skirts billowed around her, she could swear she glimpsed his midnight eyes watching through the lattice, or at the entrance, but when she turned about again, she saw only rosebuds. his sleek movements mesmerized her, and she..."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

XVI by Julie Karr

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

I liked some of the dysoptianess of the book. I liked Grannie and Pops, the grandparents. I didn't really connect with Nina. I thought her sister, Dee was five-years-old the way she acted but she's actually eleven.
When girls turn sixteen in this world, they are tattooed with "XVI" on their wrist to signify their age and the legality of any man having sex with her. The government owns the media and the media tells the population sex whenever and with whoever is perfectly fine as long as they are sixteen. If the girl gets pregnant, it's up the to boy what happens to the baby. Girls are taught they are sex toys and it's fine. 
Kudos to the author for having the main character disgusted with the whole XVI and sex propaganda. 
I got tired of the "big brother is evil" scenarios. On the other hand, there wasn't much story line for how the world came about or how the resistance was going to stop the government from having so much control and I would've liked to read more about that plot.

Rating: PG 15 (max)
V: fighting
L: a little. "F" bomb toward the end
S: constant talk of it but no scenes

25% test (p. 81):
"...found out my mom was a tier-two cashier, most of them quit talking to me. I didn't let it get to me too much--when we were tier-five, I never talked to tier-twos. Besides, I get so caught up in my drawing that I'd have probably ignored Can Stacy if he'd walked in the room.
Even thinking about that move made me feel angry, and then could I be angry at Ginnie now? Then Dee came in and hung over the back of a chair, her toes skimming the floor. You think Maddie and Justin still go to Dickens?"
"Sure, I bet most of your friends will be at your old school. We've only been gone four years.  I hoped I was right. She needed something to make her feel better. She needed friends.
"Neens...I miss Mom." She sobbed quietly next to me. 
I scooped her up knocking of the container of flour with my elbow, hugging her as tight as I could, Holding back my own tears. Even though she was eleven, she felt so small, so vulnerable. Eventually, she stopped crying.
"I'm sorry." She sniffed and swallowed hard. "You miss her, too, don't you?"
"Yes, I do."
"What did they do with her body? Is it out in space with all the burial pods?" She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and looked at me expectantly.
i didn't know what had happened--"We'll dispose of the body in the usual manner..."--I had to say something comforting. "Yes, it is. They sent her body out that very morning. She's up among the stars now."
"Gran says she's in heaven." Dee looked at me. "You don't believe in heaven, do you?"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shug by Jenny Han

Twelve-year-old Annemarie Wilcox (a.k.a. Shug) is facing the start of junior high saddled with a lot of baggage: an impossibly gorgeous older sister, bickering parents, an excruciating crush on her best friend, Mark, and absolutely no self-confidence. Boasting one of the most likable young protagonists in recent memory and narrated in the pitch-perfect voice of conflicted 'tweenness, Jenny Han's appealing debut novel scored an unqualified success with our grown-up booksellers. We think it's sure to resonate with the 9-12 set.

Great voice of the main character. I enjoyed reading Shug's story as she matured throughout the story. Her voice and personality remained strong and consistent.
The struggles of a junior high student will resonate with anyone because it's the same as our story. Crush on boy, boy likes someone else; best friend gets a boy to like her first; obnoxious boy teases and torments; embarrassed or angry with mom who doesn't listen or understand; the pecking order of sleepovers; afraid to make a wrong move and become a social outcast. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Rating: PG
L: a little
S: an innocent kiss or two

Want to buy it??

25% test (p.62):
"...bump elbows. I'm afraid that what I feel for him shows all over my face. I'm afraid of  everything.
Sitting there in the dark, I close my eyes. I imagine that we're on a real date, that it's just the two of us, that--
Jack pokes me on the shoulder, hard. "Wake up, butthead."
I slap his hand away and try to pay attention to the movie.

The movie is over too soon. Walking out of the theater, I feel like a real teenage girl who goes to the movies with boys, and I'm scared but I'm excited, too. As Elaine and I are mounting our bikes, Jack says, "Why do you always wear your hair up, Annemarie?" Before I can answer, he yanks the ponytail holder out of my hair and a few strands come out with it.
I yelp, and my bike falls to the ground with a loud clatter. My cheeks are flaming, and I feel like I have a fever. Stomping on his foot, I yell, "You barbarian! You idiot!"
He holds the hairband high above my head. Jack Connelly, the only boy in our class who is taller than me.
My hair is swinging around wildly, and I feel like a cat whose tail has been cut off. Give it back!" I scream. For some reason I feel like I could cry."