Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Hardcover, 304 pages

Released: January 11, 2011

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 9780385738385
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

The author does a great job of ensuring the reader does not get lost in all of the past vs present experiences. We witness the horse drawn carriages from the early 1900's, the club scene in the roaring twenties, downtown NYC without all the shops and the mansions...oh how beautiful they must have been! The use of music throughout the story was the perfect additon, not only for the plot development but also in making the time period really come alive. It was the setting that really captivated me and kept me going.

Have you ever read a book that had you frustrated? Sadly, Timeless did this for me. It had all the elements of a great read: time travel, dreams, music and of course love but I found the writing a little weak, almost ackward/cheesey at times. Many conversations that take place were short and choppy, making it hard to really feel the connection with characters (and this is a love story). As I was reading, I kept wondering how the author was going explain the impact of going back in time and altering the past, something the main character finally questions herself with 25 pages left. I was most surprised at the abrupt ending and huge twist thrown at the reader. Had this book contained a little more (it is on the short side at under 300 pages), I would have been more left more satisfied, rather then bitter...did it really need to be cut off, "to be continued"? Having said all this, am I going to read book two? Probably, there is great potential in the story!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? February 28, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week. Feel free to join in this weekly event if you'd like as well as use the picture above. Thanks Sheila for hosting!

Last week:
I reviewed Delerium by Lauren Oliver (Loved it! You can also read my interview here).

I read Timeless by Alexandra Monir & just posted my review this morning.

I fianlly started...hangs head in shame that it has taken me this long...City of Bones by Cassie Clare!!! Special thanks to Jackie, Melissa for making this happen & for the fun book chat on Friday night :)

This week:
Finish up City of Bones for another chat Friday night with the crew! Also writing up my review for Weird Sisters (I am so excited to have an interview with Eleanor Brown as well!)

What are you reading?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

*Throws confetti* And the winner is....

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway last week. Congrats to April on winning a signed copy of Madame Tussaud and a pair of Marie Antoinette cupcake earrings!!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interview Time with Lauren Oliver

One of my top 10 favorite books last year was Before I Fall, Lauren's debut about a girl who dies but is able to go back to that day & relive it, each time seeing the impact she had. It was so beautiful, complex and a book that sticks with you. Lauren newest book, Delirium, is a dystopian novel with the view that love is a disease that needs to be cured. Her writing invokes a variety of emotions which is something I love, making it more like active rather than passive reading! The characters feel so real that you can't help struggle with them...and at times you also want to vent some frustration. I recently had a chance to ask Lauren a few questions about Delirium, so without further ado, please welcome Lauren to the blog!!

Where did the idea for Delirium come from?
The idea for Delirium came from an essay I read by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in which he wrote that all great books were about love or death. The next day I was thinking about that quote--particularly about how and in what form a modern love story could be told--while I was on the treadmill at the gym. I was simultaneously watching a news story about a flu outbreak that had everyone freaking out about the possibility of a pandemic, and I was kind of marvelling that people so easily go into panics about reports of these diseases, and at some point the two trains of thought--love, and disease--just sort of combined in my head.

Lean's best friend Hana appeared to be more on the rebellious side. Were you a rebel growing up?
In some ways. I was always a good student and a dedicated friend. But I definitely liked to do things my way. I’m pretty stubborn. And I wore leather pants a lot! Does that make me a rebel?

Hopefully life in the future won't treat love this way. If you could live in any time period, what would you chose and why?
I mean, I would probably choose now. There are a lot of things about modern life that frighten me, it’s true, but I think people have a tendency to romanticize the past needlessly. It’s like, sure, Victorian life was good…if you were in the top 99.99 percent of the population that could afford to make it good! Most people, like, washed linens all their lives for ten dollars a year.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what we can expect in book #2, Pandemonium?
Okay, a teensy one…Lena will have to learn to survive in the Wilds. And some crazy stuff happens! That’s all I’m going to say.

(ok guys, I tried. If you've read Delirium the ending will leave you with a whole lot of questions, especially a big one about one character in particular!!!)

Have you read Delirium yet?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Hardcover, 441 pages

Released: February 1st 2011

Publisher: HarperTeen

ISBN: 9780061726828
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

According to new findings, love is a disease. Therefore at age 18, everyone is cured of Amor Deliria Nervosa. People are led to believe that life is better without desire, that it only causes physical and emotional pain...even death. Your job and marriage partner are determined (well you do have a few names to pick from) via testing, and post-surgery your older memories are lost so there is no regret or feelings of loss. The government knows what's best for you and society. Lauren begins each chapter begins with a quote, many from The Book of Shhh (Saftely, Health and Happiness Handbook) brilliantly showing just how easy it is to manipulate people to make them see things a certain way. My favorite was the listing of the symptoms in chapter ten because phase one and two do exist!

The main character, Lena, is nearing her 18th birthday & looking forward to the surgery - especially since her mother succumbed to the effects of the disease when she was younger. She witnessed the suffering her mom felt, her longing for the husband she had lost. But during Lena's big testing, something happens that changes everything. A distraction takes place that stops the testing & she sees a boy. Soon after, Lena becomes aware that her best friend, Hana, is listening to underground music and attending night parties past curfew. Then Lena meets the boy again....and her eyes are opened to the beauty feelings and emotions! The juxtaposition between the controlled city and the lush land beyond the boundary are evidence to the reader (and Lena) that control depletes so much from the world.

Delirium was a slower start that ramped up quickly. I read in spurts on the way into work, at night, whenever I have some time to myself. As such, I try to finish off at the end of a chapter. When reading Delirium, I would get to the end of the chapter & jump right into the next, it was that addicting! As Lena and the boy fall for each other & her surgery days away, the reader can't help but feel empathy. You are drawn right into her world, feeling her emotional rollercoaster. These feelings are wrong, could kill her...or are they? The ending, my goodness, is an ending that will blow you away. This is book one of a trilogy so I expected a cliffhanger but wow. It was satisfying and pulls at your emotional strings, my heart was racing. I can't wait to sink my teeth into book two!

How far would you go if you fell in love when you aren't allowed to?

Come back to the blog tomorrow for an interview with Lauren Oliver!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Drum Roll Please....

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway last week. Congrats to NISE on winning an advanced copy of Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower!!!!

Guest Post and Review: The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou by Susan Higginbotham

I am excited to have Susan Higginbotham with us today. Susan is one of the finest historical fiction authors, her passion & meticulous research combines to create unforgettable stories! Please give a warm welcome to Susan as she explains why there continues to be a fascination with British Monarchy from centuries ago.

I am not a celebrity watcher. The only time I look at People magazine is when I’m stuck in a waiting room with nothing to read, and since I almost always have a paperback or my Kindle tucked in my purse, that hardly ever happens.

But dead celebrities—or at least dead British royal celebrities—are a different matter altogether. I never tire of them, and my bookshelves are ample testimony to that. Even if I didn’t have the excuse of needing to buy books for research (which, incidentally is such a good excuse, I still think I’m putting one over someone), I’d probably still read everything I can about British royalty, particularly the Plantagenets and the Tudors.

What is it that fascinates me—and so many others—about these people? A lot of it, I suppose, comes from living in the United States, where of course we don’t have any home-grown royals. There’s also the glamour, the allure of reading about a lifestyle where a staff took care of all of the dull minutiae of daily life and where a single garment could feed, house, and cloth a laborer for years.

But that doesn’t really satisfactorily explain my all-consuming interest in these long-dead men and women. After all, the modern-day rich and famous have a lot of glamour in their daily lives as well—and they don’t interest me at all. Nor do living royals for the most part, though I’ll certainly be watching this spring’s royal wedding.

No, for me, credit has to go where credit is due—to the English king and queens themselves, each a distinct individual. There are the strong and the weak kings, the mad kings and the coldly calculating kings. There are the reigning queens, two of whom, Elizabeth I and Victoria, gave their name to an entire era. There are the royal consorts, the royal relations, the royal favorites, some living quietly in the shadows, some as powerful—or more so--than the king himself. There are the men and women who served these monarchs in war and in peace. Some came to glory though their service; some paid for their loyalty with their own lives. And did I mention the royal mistresses?

With this cast of characters, there are so many stories that remain untold, and so many stories that await a fresh retelling. It’s no wonder, then, that as a reader—and as a writer—I just can’t get enough of them.

About the book:
It would be called the Wars of the Roses, but it all began with one woman's fury...

Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England, cannot give up on her husband-even when he goes insane. And as mother to the House of Lancaster's last hope, she cannot give up on her son-even when all England turns against him. This gripping tale of a queen is at its heart a tender tale of love: passionate, for her husband, and motherly, for her only son.

My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:
Told in first person narrative, Margaret of Anjou comes alive in The Queen of Last Hopes. Susan has also included a few chapters told from the perspective of other Lancansters (William de la Pole, Henry Beaufort, her son Edward and Henry VI) which threw me off the first time but was easy to follow along. Over the years, Margaret has been villianized, but Susan writes her story from a different point of view. Margaret is a daughter, a wife, a mother, she is portrayed in a more sympathetic tone. There were times I thought she appeared too nice, but it was great to see Margaret painted in this new light, Lancastrian rather then the pro-Yorkist propaganda. If you follow the War of the Roses, this book may cause you to question which side you are on! Be forewarned, this is an emotional story, you're going to need kleenex close by.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Hardcover, 240 pages

Released: February 8th 2011

Publisher: Simon Pulse

ISBN: 9781416994817
The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:

I should probably preface this review with the fact that I was absolutely blown away by Wake and now can't help but use that as my standard for all her work. I remember the day I read it & chatting to my BFF telling her how she HAD to read it so we could discuss it...and soon!

Lisa has a truly unique style of writing. Her sentences are choppy, yet in few words she can invoke anxiety and panic. In Cryer's Cross, Lisa does it again, keeping you on the edge of your seat (pun intended, what is with Lisa and chairs LOL!)

Why are kids going missing in this small town where nothing happens? Meet Kendall, who suffers from OCD to an extreme and it is her odd behavior that eventually helps solve the case. In addition to the mystery, Cryer's Cross focuses on Kendall and her relationship with two boys: Nico, the hottie quasi-boyfriend (she is too chicken to commit) that she has known forever and the new guy in town, Jacian, who initially comes off as quite standoffish and rude. Now this is where I can't help but make the comparison.. I LOVED the relationship between Janie and Cabel in Wake, but I never got that with Kendall/Nico/Jacian. Nico was perfect (though not in the story for long) and Jacian warms up eventually but easily accepts Kendall's crazy OCD behavior....if only boys were really like that in high school! Sorry, I just didn't believe it.

As the story unfolds, the reader is also given a glimpse into the mind of who is behind the behind, talk about creepy! I was hoping for a longer explanation, especially with one of the elderly characters so to me, the ending to me was a bit flat & wrapped up too quickly. The again, maybe the adrenaline rush had started to fade here?

If you are looking for a quick read thriller to get your pulse spiking at times, this is one to check out. And since I can't help myself....I highly recommend Wake after if you haven't already read it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Hardcover, 231 pages

Released: January 1st 2011

Publisher: Point

ISBN: 9780545240772
After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:
I really enjoy the contemporary re-telling of Austen books. When done right, the young adult versions have the opportunity to open up a whole new world to readers that have yet to discover classics and I love them for that.

Prom and Prejudice is Elizabeth Eulberg's ode to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. What I think is most important in a re-telling, and Elizabeth tackles perfectly, is keeping the essence of the characters: Lizzie is quick to judge, Darcy appears uptight & arrogant while Wickham is a snake. Although some characters are missing or changed (for instance Jane is her best friend, Lydia is Jane's sister), the gist of the story remains: Lizzie is initially turned off by Darcy's withdrawn and snobbish appearance, while Lizzie learns the hard way of Wickham's true nature. I loved how the author altered the story a bit by incorporating the piano in a different way, creating an opportunity later in the book… such a Happily Ever After feeling when you get to the end.

We all know how it ends, but it sure if fun to see how Lizzie and Darcy get there! Prom and Prejudice is a great, cute read that leaves you smiling and feeling satisfied and wanting to (re)read Pride and Prejudice…or at least watch the movie...again!

(and if you haven't already, check our her debut, The Lonely Hearts Club, this should be required reading for young girls! The book is so much fun & contans such an important message of friends & loving oneself. You can find my rave review here)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's Day!!!! Hoping your day is filled with love...or at least some chocolate :) Here's some ideas for those that want to do a little something more then the stereotypical flowers or chocolates to the ones they love...a little blurb from Terry L. Orbuch, Ph.D., author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great


1. Send an email or text message out of the blue: “Here’s just one reason I love you...”

2. Put a greeting card in the mail. Mail from a spouse is always a surprise.

3. Slip a handmade coupon on his or her pillow—for a foot massage from you, performing a hated chore, washing the car, etc.

4. Make a reservation at the restaurant where you had your first date.

5. Make your spouse a CD collection of the music you first listened to and loved together.

6. Make your partner his or her favorite dinner or dessert.(anything chocolate please & thank you)

7. Read a morning love poem to your partner while he or she is still in bed.

8. Have your favorite photo of you two framed or transferred onto a coffee mug.

9. Send his or her parents a thank-you note for bringing your beloved into the world. (this one sounds a little creepy!)

10. Buy a DVD on massage and tell your spouse to schedule an appointment. (my fav..hoping hubby reads the blog today of all days, LOL!!)

Excerpted from 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great by Terri L. Orbuch, Ph. D. Copyright © 2009 by Terri L. Orbuch, Ph. D. Excerpted by permission Delacorte , a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

What are your plans for today? We cheated & ate all our chocolates on the weekend. Hopefully we'll have a nice dinner at home tonight...hmm, maybe I'll make homemade pizza in the shape of a heart?!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway Time with Michelle Moran

I am so honored to have Michelle Moran on the blog today. Not only a fantastic author, she is one of the friendliest authors out I really really enjoy her blog updates about ancient findings!

Michelle's newest book, Madame Tussaud is set for release this coming Tuesday (February 15th), my review will be out shortly. In the meantime, I have great news for my readers too! Thanks to Michelle, I have a chance to giveaway a signed copy of the book along with and adorable pair of Marie Antoinette cupcake earrings ! After reading Michelle's interesting guest post below, leave a comment telling me if you've ever been to a wax museum & if so where, then fill out the form to enter..easy, peasy.

Please give a warm welcome to Michelle....


When most people hear the name Madame Tussaud, the first thing that comes to mind are the eerily lifelike waxworks which crowd her museums throughout the world. But who was the woman behind the name, and what was she like in the flesh?

Madame Tussaud’s story actually began in 18th century Paris. While most people know her from her famous museum in London, it was in France, on the humble Boulevard du Temple, where Marie first got her start as an apprentice in her uncle’s wax museum, the Salon de Cire. At the time, the Boulevard du Temple was crowded with exhibits of every kind. For just a few sous a passerby might attend the opera, watch a puppet show, or visit Henri Charles’ mystifying exhibition The Invisible Girl. The Boulevard was a difficult place to distinguish yourself as an artist, but as Marie’s talent grew for both sculpting and public relations, the Salon de Cire became one of the most popular attractions around. Suddenly, no one could compete with Marie or her uncle for ingenious publicity stunts, and when the royal family supposedly visited their museum, this only solidified what most showmen in Paris already knew — the Salon was an exhibition to watch out for.

But as the Salon’s popularity grew, so did the unusual requests. Noblemen came asking for wax sculptures of their mistresses, women wanted models of their newborn infants, and – most importantly – the king’s sister herself wanted Marie to come to Versailles to be her wax tutor. While this was, in many ways, a dream come true for Marie, it was also a dangerous time to be associated with the royal family. Men like Robespierre, Marat, and Desmoulins were meeting at Marie’s house to discuss the future of the monarchy, and when the Revolution began, Marie found herself in a precarious position. Ultimately, she was given a choice by France’s new leaders: to preserve the famous victims of Madame Guillotine in wax, or be guillotined herself.

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution is the story of Marie’s life during one of the most tumultuous times in human history. Her survival was nothing less than astonishing, and how she survived makes for what I hope is a compelling read.

Check out Michelle's blog at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Win an advanced copy of Sins of the House of Borgia!

Like historical fiction? Here's your chance to win an advanced copy of Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower, which is set for release on March 8th. Entry is easy, peasey, just leave a comment then fill in the form below.

Book blurb from
In 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella expel the Jews from Spain, six year old Esther Sarfati finds herself travelling to Rome to join her father, a successful banker who has helped his fellow Spaniard, Rodrigo Borgia, finance his bid for the Papacy. Nine years later, as Pope Alexander VI, he repays the favour by offering Esther a place in the household of his daughter, Lucrezia, who is about to marry Alfonso d'Este, heir to the Duchy of Ferrara. Against her own better judgement, but in accordance with her father's wishes for her future, Esther converts to Christianity and enters Lucrezia's service as lady-in-waiting. Flattered by Lucrezia's favour, seduced by the friendship of her cousin, Angela Borgia and swept off her feet by Lucrezia's glamorous and dangerous brother, Cesare, she is drawn into a web of intrigue and deceit which will test her heart to its utmost and burden her with secrets she must carry to her grave. Set against the glittering background of the court of Ferrara in the early sixteenth century, this is the heart-breaking story of what happens to an innocent abroad in the world of the Borgias.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - February 9, 2011

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I can't wait to read Elizabeth I by Margaret George. I've somewhat recently been sucked into historical fiction & find Queen Elizabeth quite fascinating. I have yet to read a book focusing soley on her life, but loved watching the Elizabeth I (TV miniseries).

New York Times bestselling author Margaret George captures history's most enthralling queen-as she confronts rivals to her throne and to her heart.

One of today's premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma-the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel- bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?

In this novel, her flame-haired, lookalike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth's rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice had been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family and each vying to convince the reader of her own private vision of the truth about Elizabeth's character. Their gripping drama is acted out at the height of the flowering of the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake-all of them swirl through these pages as they swirled through the court and on the high seas.

This is a magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner that is George's finest and most compelling novel and one that is sure to please readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.
Hardcover, 688 pages

Expected publication: April 5th 2011 by Viking Adult