Wow. It’s been awhile since anything has been posted here. I haven’t forgotten about it, nor have I decided to stop reading and reviewing.

To be honest, I’ve been battling MRSA, a very bad lung infection, for the last year. I’ve talked a little bit about it before, but it keeps popping up in life. And when it does, I don’t have the energy for anything, including reading. 

It started giving me problems again in April, and I went back on IV medication. I had enough reviews saved that I wasn’t worried about not having something to post. But then two weeks became four, and four weeks became six. And then I was finally off IV antibiotics, but they had made me feel run down. I wasn’t fighting the infection anymore, but I still wasn’t back to normal.

I went through June and only read a couple books. That’s extremely strange for me. And now I’m back on IV medication, this time for a different infection. But I’m feeling better than I was before, and that’s good.

I will get back to posting reviews. I’m getting back to reading and it feels great. I’m planning on doing some work on the blog in July, and getting reviews back up in August. I’ve missed this part of my life and I’m glad to be getting back to it. 

Happy reading, everyone!

As One Year Ends…

2013 was an interesting year. It began with me in the hospital and it’s ending with me in the hospital. In between, I read some amazing books, worked on my own writing, and faced challenges I ever thought I’d have to face.

I haven’t been able to read much in the last couple of months. I’ve been sick and haven’t had the energy or drive to read. I’m hoping the new year brings a new start and I’ll get back to what I love. A piece of me has been missing, wrapped up and stored somewhere in my boxes of books.

2013 was still a good reading year, though. I managed to read 107 books for a total of 40,139 pages. I’ve fallen even more in love with some authors and discovered new ones that made an impact on my life. 2014 promises to be yet another amazing year for books.

The end of this year has been rough, I can’t lie. But 2014 will be a great year. I know it.

Can’t Wait for Mondays: Crash into You by Katie McGarry

When I read Pushing the Limits, I wasn’t really sure it was going to be for me. I can be picky when it comes to teen romances with drama. Sometimes there’s just too much that goes on that’s either unbelievable or cringe-worthy. Instead, I found myself completely drawn in and loving McGarry and her writing.

The same thing happened when I read Dare You To. I knew McGarry could write a contemporary teen novel that didn’t stray into the overly dramatic, but I was still just a little hesitant. I had absolutely nothing to fear. Dare You To was even better and gave my heart even more flutters.

And now to round out the trio of friends’ stories, Isaiah gets to tell his love story. And I really, really can’t wait. From everything I’ve read, it is even more glorious than the first two novels.

From the book description:

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

That sounds like a book that is going to get my heart racing for more than one reason. And those are the books I love. They get me involved and caring and then something comes along to make me catch my breath.

Crash into You is available for pre-order and will be released on November 26th. Be sure to get your copy as soon as possible. McGarry isn’t an author you want to miss.

Book Talk: Companion Novels

Companion novels can be a tricky thing. They can either enhance the original novel and make the story feel complete, or they can take away from the original novel and make the series feel dry and overdone.

I’m the person that doesn’t need to know everything about what happens in a novel. I don’t need every question answered or every perspective given in order to enjoy a story. I like being able to guess and fill in the pieces with my own thoughts. This is why I’m usually a little cautious when it comes to reading companion novels.

Sometimes, companion novels just aren’t needed. The original story does such a great job of saying what needs to be said, that there isn’t anything else that needs to be voiced. When these novels get a companion, I usually avoid it. I don’t want to know anything else because I don’t need to know anything else. Others might need to know the other side of the story, and that’s fine. It’s just not for me.

Companion novels also run the risk of being repetitive. If all a companion novel does is rehash what happened in the original, it can be boring and dull. A companion novel needs to be its own story. It needs to be able to stand on its own without the aid of the original novel. That’s not to say the two novels can’t work together, but they need to be unique. If a companion novel can stand by itself and yet enhance the overall story, it’s a success. Those are the companion novels you want to read.

So how do you feel about companion novels? Good or bad? What are some that you think have worked?

Can’t Wait for Mondays: A Radiant Sky by Jocelyn Davies

The Beautiful Dark series is one that I fell in love with from the very beginning. I’ve always been interested in the battle between light and dark, good and evil, and the Beautiful Dark deals with that topic in a gorgeous way.

If A Beautiful Dark and A Fractured Light  were about Skye trying to decide if she’s light or dark, A Radiant Sky is about her deciding she doesn’t have to be one or the other. She can chose to be neither and follow her own path.

As taken from the book description:

Since the night of her seventeenth birthday, Skye has been torn between two opposites: light and dark, the Order and the Rebellion, Devin and Asher. But in a shocking decision, she chose neither.

With the help of her friends, Skye now forges her own path, setting out to gather an uprising of Rogues. The elusive half-angels may be the key to maintaining the balance of fate and free will. But completing the mission her parents left unfinished is more difficult—and dangerous—than she could have imagined. And doing so comes at a cost: her greatest love may now be a lethal enemy. Because it’s not just the Order that sees her as a threat who must be eliminated. The Rebellion does, too.

Dark days lie ahead, and if Skye is to survive, she’ll need to rely on her extraordinary powers and the strength of her will. Because she has a future—and a love—that’s worth fighting for.

That has me extremely excited. I can’t see how this series might end and I’m so grateful I don’t have a clue. It sounds like there is going to be drama, romance, action…everything I love in a book. I’m sure my heart is going to be in my throat at times, but I have faith that Davies will end this series in the most beautiful, wonderful way possible, whatever that may be. I’m not even sure I know what I want to happen. I’m really looking forward to the surprises that are about come.

A Radiant Sky will be released in just a few short weeks, on September 24th. I’ve got my copy pre-ordered and can’t wait to start reading.

Can’t Wait for Monday: Everneath Series by Brodi Ashton

On my to-read shelf, there are a couple of series waiting to be read. I got tired of reading a book and having to wait a year for the next one, followed by another year for the last one. So I decided to wait. The Everneath series is one that I have been watching and waiting for and finally it’s almost complete.

I love mythology and modern retelling of myths, so Everneath seemed like it would be my cup of tea. The Hades and Persephone myth is one that I’ve always found fascinating. Half the year, Persephone can do as she pleases, go where she likes, be who she wants to be. The other half of the year, she must remain by Hades and look over the Underworld, even though that wasn’t her choice.

I’ve been (not so) patiently waiting until the final book of the series is released so I can sit down and binge read. Evertrue is set to be released in January and you can be sure I will be buying my copy of Everneath, Everbound, and Evertrue  before locking myself away and not surfacing until I’ve read my way through them.

Book Talk: Recommendations

Since you’re reading this blog, I’m assuming you’re like me and are always on the lookout for good books. When it comes to book recommendations, it can get interesting. My book tastes are vastly different from the people around me. When I love a book, they might not. When they love a book, I might not. Recommendations can be a tricky thing.

This is not to say that I don’t recommend books. Obviously I do. If I love  book, I want people to read it. But I also know that sometimes I have to recommend books I don’t like. I think it’s important to be able to look at a book somewhat objectively and be able to see when it works for a person and when it doesn’t.

I am a huge historical fiction fan. I love me some history, no matter the form, and when I find a good historical fiction novel, I wish I could get the world to read it. However, I know that not everyone loves the genre as much as I do. I would never recommend a historical fiction novel to, let’s say, my sister. I just wouldn’t. She wouldn’t love it and she’d probably think I was crazy for telling her to read it in the first place.

Then there are the books I don’t love. That doesn’t mean someone else can’t love them. If I read a book, even if I can barely make it through the book, I look for the good things. I know there is a book out there for everyone, but in order to see that, you have to be able to take a little bit of the emotion out when telling someone to read a book. If I’m telling someone to read a book I didn’t love, I make sure to tell them that I didn’t enjoy it, but because of reasons A, B, and C, they might have different feelings on it.

Book recommendations are a tricky thing. I want everyone to love the books I do, but I know that’s not possible. So when someone asks me what to read, I try to look objectively at my reading list before sharing my ideas. What about you? How do you go about giving book recommendations to your family and friends?

Book Talk: Hurts So Good

Sometimes I need to talk to other book lovers in order to be understood. It’s hard to convey what you mean when you say a book hurt you to your soul and yet you love it. Some people just don’t understand that those are the good books; those are the books that leave a lasting impression.

Like I’ve said before, some people watch movies in order to get that out of body experience. They need the visual to be transported away to another world where their heart is free to be messed up and put back together again. Sometimes these people get it and sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes you read a book that you know is going to crush you. You just know the book is going to rip your heart out, do an Irish jig upon it, and then boil it into a stew. Weird visuals, but you’ll know what I mean. Those are the books that leave you choking and crying and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

One such book for me was How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo. I knew going into the book that it was going to completely screw with my emotions. Everything was set up for a volatile, emotional roller coaster.  Yet I continued reading because I knew it would be worth it. I knew every tear that welled up was going to serve a purpose.

The books that hurt so good are some of the best. It’s hard to shake that lasting impression that the sweet pain leaves long after you read the last word. What are some of your “hurts so good” novels?

Can’t Wait for Mondays: Champion by Marie Lu

The Legend series is one that kind of came out of nowhere and hit me in the face. I really hadn’t meant to read Legend, but a friend gave me the book and told me I should read it. I trust her judgment, so I picked the book up and read. Thank god I did. Legend hooked me right away, pulled me into the world of June and Day, and made me care. Then Prodigy came out and I had to have it right away. I needed to see what was going to happen next. And then I finished it and thought I would have to wait a year until getting my hands on the final book.

So imagine my surprise and joy when Lu told the world the final chapter in the Legend series would be released in November. I think the smile stayed on my face for a couple days and I had to explain that it was over a book being released earlier than I thought. Only true book lovers understood why that would etch a smile onto my face that wouldn’t leave.

Copied from the Champion book page:

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

Let’s be real, with a description like that, the sooner it can be released, the better. There’s only so much my heart can handle and I am certain Lu is going to push, bend, and break it in all the right ways before hopefully putting it together again. There are so many possibilities within this book that just thinking about what might be coming gets overwhelming.

Champion will be published on November 5th, 2013 by Putnam publishers. Let me know if you’ll be joining me as a midnight reader!

Can’t Wait for Mondays: Deception by C.J. Redwine

I was given Defiance to read last year and since finishing it, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Deception. Redwine has created an extremely interesting world that got my heart pumping. The long wait is almost over, but it’s still so far away.

As taken from the Back Cover:

Baalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander’s whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father’s death, needs Logan more than ever. With their ragged group of survivors struggling to forge a future, it’s up to Logan to become the leader they need—with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival Carrington’s army, which is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group decides to abandon the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland.

But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone—possibly inside their ranks—is sabotaging the survivors, slowly killing them off. The chaos and uncertainty of each day puts unbearable strain on Rachel and Logan, and it isn’t long before they feel their love splintering. Even worse, as it becomes clear that the Commander will stop at nothing to destroy them, the survivors begin to question whether the price of freedom may be too great—and whether, hunted by their enemies and the murderous traitor in their midst, they can make it out of the Wasteland alive.

In this daring sequel to Defiance, with the world they once loved forever destroyed, Rachel and Logan must decide between a life on the run and standing their ground to fight.

I mean, come on. With a description like that, these last final weeks are going to feel so stretched out, time moving through molasses, until the 27th of August finally gets here. Then my plan is to read it and not stop until I’m done, maybe get a little food, and then give it another read.