Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Hazel Tree by Julia Debski

The Hazel Tree

by Julia Debski

Giveaway ends May 01, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #4

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. a chance to share any books you've bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.


Thank you NetGalley for another three awesome books to read. It isn't like I have a problem at all already or anything...*shifty eyes* It's just so easy with that easy "click" to request them.


I bought this for myself as a reward for finishing my Capstone project, and also it was recommended to me by my mentor who has met Christopher and Anne Rice. Just throwing that out there.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

*whisper* I bought this on the 22nd of November, 2013. In the past few weeks, I have watched numerous documentaries and read multiple articles on JFK and his assassination, as well as Jackie and the rest of the Kennedy family.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield


Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance


Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.


I bought this book second hand from our local used bookstore. The cover and title hooked me in, and so I decided to take a chance on it. Unfortunately, I believe that three stars is still a pretty generous rating. There were some really fantastic parts, and then the rest was..mediocre, if not just plain bad. I really hate giving bad reviews because I know a lot of work and heart goes into the story, even if it is badly written. So first, I'll tell you about the good about each point, and then the bad. 

When there were good parts in this novel, they were really good. The opening line, "The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.", was beautiful and I was hooked. The author had intense, poetic description and imagery and at first, it was enchanting. I loved it. But it never really stopped. Everything was described in metaphorical, overly lavish language and by the fourth or fifth chapter, my patience was wearing thin. With a lot of imagery and description came a lot of repetition.

Becca can't wait to escape the small town- Bridgeton- where she lives. She finds the town too small, suffocating....and we are reminded of this in nearly every chapter. The way the town gossips after the murder is mentioned at least 3 separate times, each time taking nearly a page, or more. We get it. Your small town life sucks. And yes, we get it. The girl was dead on the side of the road. It got to the point that in the last couple chapters, when I realized she was going to bring up either of the above points again, I skipped to the next page.

Ooooh so plot. Plot plot plot. This story, as you may be able to tell from the synopsis, had amazing potential. I mean, come on. The parallels that could be made (and some the author did make) and the suspense of finding out the murderer and all that...woah it could have been so cool!....could have been.... Let me explain. The beginning of AAISAG (Amelia Anne Is Dead And Gone) was fantastic. Bam, we are right in the middle of the action. "Dead girl, break up, what the hell is happening every thing is terrible oh no!" It was a great opening! Then, in the middle, the author became lost. There was no plot, just recalling past events in the town and how James (boyfriend? ex-boyfriend?) is gone. And how her parents's marriage is falling apart. And not relevant to the plot at all. Also, the author drops only a couple major hints, and they are not subtle at all, and takes the mystery out of it. However, it does leave you with the question of  "Why?" and "When?" It is enough suspense to hold the reader's interest throughout the drab in the middle. And then, in the chapters leading up to Amelia's death are riveting, suspenseful, and awesome. But then the ending is just....a let down. It had the POTENTIAL to be amazing, but sadly it wasn't. I cared enough about the story to be awfully frustrated with how it ended, especially for James.

Which leads me to James. When the other characters, especially Becca, seemed bland and weakly developed, James was the saving grace. He also happened to be the plot twist of sorts...but wasn't in the novel for most of it. Maybe it is just me, but when one of your main characters is the major plot twist, YOU USUALLY HAVE HIM AROUND IN MORE THAN JUST A FEW DOZEN PAGES. *heavy breathing* Okay, so I got that out of my system. But seriously, if you want to read an amazing character that is multi-faceted and complex and beautifully written. I cared about him, and I was beyond angry at how the story ended for him. It wasn't fair.

Overall, I realize that the novel was kind of sucky. However the good bits (amazing opening, fantastic character, and such) was enough to overshadow some of the bad parts. I am just very sad at the amount of wasted potential and what could have been.

I have learned that knowing where you're going means remembering where you've been. I'm not afraid of what lurks behind me, or ahead.” 
- Becca Williams, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

Maybe I would recommend this...maybe

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Other Books By This Author: Amelia Anne is Kat Rosenfield's first novel. However she has a second one coming out, called Inland, in spring/summer 2014.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Top 10 Things to be Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, with a new Top Ten prompt every week. Check it out!

 I proceed in no particular order…

  1.       Harry Potter. I don’t think it needs saying, but Harry and his entire world is one of my favorite things on earth. How could I not be thankful for this wonderful creation?
  2.           Samantha. I began believing in soul mates when she and I became really close friends at the beginning of junior year and we’ve been inseparable since. I will be forever grateful for her friendship. 
  3.      The Animals. As in, my pets. Three cats, two dogs, and two horses. Those in the picture are (left to right) Walle, Wabu, and Wiki.
  4. Writing. It has been an amazing journey for me, writing and such. I love it.
  5. England. This is bizarre, I realize. But from a writer's point of view, every square inch of this country has a vast history. A storyteller's dream.
  6. Family. Duh. Especially extended family who lives in Europe. I have only gotten to know them well recently.
  7. Books. Cliche? Perhaps. Don't care.
I don't have anymore really....*shifty eyes*

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #1)
 by Hilary Mantel


Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, British Literature, Politics, Biography (kind of)

Synopsis:  England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king, Henry VIII, dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. The Tudor King wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and oppurtunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?


This book, as well as its sequel Bring Up The Bodies, was recommended to me by a dear relative of mine. In fact, in the week that he recommended it to me, on a Tuesday, it was mentioned to me once a day, for several days straight.  It has also won several awards including the Man Booker prize. So obviously this has to be a fantastic book, right?

Well yes and no. I believe it is a fantastic book to a certain type of reader. If you only enjoy light reading, or do not enjoy history then this book is not for you. Otherwise, I believe anyone can like it, even love it. 

Wolf Hall is a hefty read. It is just over 600 pages, and took me about a week to read. My Most Excellent Year is over 600 pages as well, but I read that book in 4 days. So this is an intensive, heavy read and you have to be willing to commit to it. It also does take a bit before you get hooked in. The thing that really hooks you in is the suspense because even though you know that (spoilers?) Anne Boleyn becomes queen and has a daughter (Queen Elizabeth I) you still find yourself wondering whether Thomas will be able to do what the King asks of him. Another negative attribute I found was the confusing use of pronouns. Cromwell is almost always referred to as "he", rather than by name. However, in order to clarify, nearly everyone else is referred to by name rather than pronouns. Still, it means the reader has to focus while reading in order not to lose track of who is speaking. 

There are parts where the story slows down and one can find themselves a bit bored. Towards the end of the novel, I found myself skipping a paragraph here or there when it came to Thomas More in the Tower and such. (Not really spoilers...) However I was hooked from about page fifty onwards. 

My favorite part of this novel is that it is a detailed telling of Thomas Cromwell's life presented in novel format. It gives us a rare insight into his life, and for those of us who had been taught that Thomas Cromwell was a ruthless bully and an all-around terrible person, this novel proves all that wrong. (Spoilers, I suppose..) He was abused as a child, and seeked to build a family throughout his entire life, taking in those who needed a home and nurturing them and making sure they had good lives. He was intelligent, wise, and even soft at times. I think that this book is a must-read to any one who loves British history, especially the Tudor era. It is a good book to challenge yourself with. I understand why it won the Man Booker prize. I also understand why some may not like it.

I do plan on reading the sequel, but I have some other books to read first, including Netgalley ones.

“[Thomas Cromwell] thinks, I remembered you...but you didn't remember me. You never even saw me coming.”  Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

I would certainly recommend this book.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Other Books By This Author: Hilary Mantel has written over a dozen books, such as A Place of Greater Safety and Beyond Black, and nearly all are part of the literary and historical fiction genre. They all have high ratings on Goodreads.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #3

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.

These books fall under the same category as the one two weeks ago. As in, I got them within the 6 months up to a year...with a few exceptions.


Yes, this story is in french hey, I'm sure it will catch someone's interest. It did mine. My french teacher is letting me borrow it, and it is supposed to be pretty phenomanal.


My mum got this for me a while back and it looks rather fascinating. Plus its yellow. And has a smiling bat!

I actually read this several years back and adored it, and so I wanted to go back and read it again because I don't quite remember it.

Ooooh man. This book is going to be awesome sauce, I can tell. It's written by Vicki Vantoch, who is Misha Collins's wife and she is super smart and sexy and amazing and just a fantastic human being. :)

This book was actually written by my mentor, Mr. Wilkey. Also its probably below my age range since Mortimer is still in middle school I believe. However I believe in giving books like this a chance, and I want to support a fellow independent author and my mentor. :)

Look it's a shorter list than last time!! Whoo! There will be another post next week too, because I am awesome and actually bought some books recently. Until next week!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review of My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger


Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction, LGBT, Humor, Coming of Age


"That was my life until ninth grade, my most excellent year. And then I got drop-kicked by a six-year-old kid and the girl of my dreams." 

There are only three great loves in T.C. Keller's life: the Red Sox, his father, and his best friend and unofficial "brother," Augie. But ninth grade is the year when he falls head-over-cleats in love with Alé Perez. She’s pretty, sassy, smart, and a great dancer. Alé is so busy playing hard to get that she doesn’t realize that she just might be falling head-over-tap shoes for T.C.’s Boston accent, too. Meanwhile, T.C.’s best friend, Augie, is falling in love as well, but with a boy? It may not be so clear to him; but to the rest of his family and friends, it’s totally obvious that Augie, who loves musicals and old school screen sirens such as Judy Garland, is head-over-heels in love with Andy Wexler.

Told in alternating perspectives, this is the story of their most excellent year, where these three friends discover themselves, love, and that a little magic and Mary Poppins can go a long way.


I was leant this book by my best friend, who knows a good book when she reads one. So I didn't have a lot of doubts I would enjoy this. However I did have a few concerns.

 The biggest one was that the main characters were nearly four years younger than me- they were high school freshmen. And I tend to find high school freshmen immature and sometimes (often) annoying. Another concern was making Augie, who is gay, a stereotype and not developing him as a character. Lastly, I didn't want a book solely about mushy gushy romance. I'd just come from nearly a year of abstaining from romance novels, though not particularly by choice. However I wasn't ready to jump into the deep end after sitting on the pool side for so long. Since the synopsis only mentions T.C., Augie, and Alé's feelings and romantic agendas, I was surprised by the introduction of several plots that wound into the romance beautifully.

This book was a joy to read, truly.  My worries were appeased quickly. All the characters were really well develloped, and even when there were large family gatherings (such as at Thanksgiving), I never got confused over who was who. The three main characters were mature and did not act as I have come to associate 9th graders, especially in respect to caring for Hucky. However this could also be a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. I think that maybe they were a bit too mature for their age. I mean, no 9th grader I know could do what T.C. did with Hucky. (And that's where I'll end that.)

Augie was not stereotypical at all, even though he loved musicals and celebrities and what you think would be an easy stereotype to create. The only downside was I had no idea what he was referring to most of the time as my knowledge of Broadway is basically 0%.

This novel was hilarious, sassy, sad, heartfelt, and all around beautiful. A small piece of my heart will forever belong with T.C., Augie, Alé, and Hucky. (And Mary Poppins) I believe that only happens with the best of stories. 

“Never, ever stop believing in magic, no matter how old you get. Because if you keep looking long enough and don't give up, sooner or later you're going to find Mary Poppins.” -T.C. Keller, My Most Excellent Year

I would 100% recommend this to anyone and everyone.

Other Books By This Author: Steve Kluger has written 8 books, including Last Days of Summer and Almost Like Being in Love. However I have heard that many of his novels are aimed at an older reader than MMEY was. Also, his books tend to have one thing in common- baseball and the Boston Red Sox. Just something to keep in mind.