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Monday, January 23, 2012

Top Ten...err Five Vacations for Book Lovers

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.

Two of my biggest passions in life are reading and traveling. Since this week's TTT is a freebie post, I decided to combine these two great loves of mine. After pondering for a while, I came up with the Top Ten Vacations for Book Lovers. Of course, this list is just my opinion! If you know of other bookish vacations, please let me know! I can never have too many vacations to pine over and plan for the future!

1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Orlando, FL
  Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an essential experience for all Harry Potter fans, both young and not so young. Where else can you actually tour the castle, buy candy from Honeydukes, taste authentic butter beer, visit Zonko's joke shop, choose a wand, and experience amazing rides all in one place?! I visited the Wizarding World on Thanksgiving day 2010, and it was MADNESS - pure MADNESS. Luckily, I was able to ride the key ride and walk around a bit, but I didn't get to tour any of the shops or get the full experience. I will definitely be going back!

2. New York City

There are so many amazing things for book lovers to do in NYC that I don't even know where to begin! 
-  If you want to rest in luxary while visiting the city, you might think about booking a room at The Library Hotel. Each floor of the hotel is based on a category of the Dewey Decimal System. 
- Stop by The Strand, an 18 MILE long bookstore! They have both new and rare books. I'd been to NYC twice before I learned about the strand. Now I want to go back ASAP so I can browse until I pass out.
- If you happen to visit the city in June and are a book blogger, you can attend Book Expo America ... and then tell me all about it!

3. Colorado Springs, CO 

Okay, so Colorado Springs doesn't actually have any major attractions for book lovers, BUT it is a gorgeous place to spend a weekend reading books. My boyfriend and I will be moving there next year, after I finish my master's degree.

4. London, England
  • Tour the Sherlock Holmes Museum
  • Stop by Shakespeare's Globe Theater
  • Visit Waterstone's Bookstore in Piccadilly Circus. They carry over 150,000 titles! 
  • Walk along Charring Cross Road, which is known for its wide array of used and specialty book stores. Sounds like the perfect street to me!
5. Prince Edward Island, Canada

Ah, Prince Edward Island - home of Anne of Green Gables, the famous children's series by L.M. Montgomery. I didn't know about this wonderful series when I was a kid, but the audiobooks got me through some tough times as an adult. The scenery described sounded absolutely beautiful, and I'd love to visit PEI someday and see the sights for myself. 
  • Visit Avonlea Village, a theme park or reenactment of sorts for fans of all things Anne
  • Tour the Anne of Green Gables Museum
  • Attend Anne of Green Gables - the Musical
  • Stroll along the lake of shining waters

There are so many bookish travel spots that I'd love to talk about, but my head is pounding and I need to put away the computer :( Have you visited any of the vacation spots I mentioned? If so, please let me know! 

All photos found on We Heart It

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tempest by Julie Cross

by Julie Cross
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: January 17, 2012
Source: Purchased
Challenge: 2012 Debut Author Challenge

The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.  - Goodreads

My Thoughts 

Are you looking for a book with three dimensional characters, action, romance, suspense, mystery, sadness, and more than a bit of science? Well then, Tempest may just be the book for you. Since Ms. Cross packed so much action into this 350 page thrill ride, I'm going to breakdown my feelings into different categories. I love categories and lists, you know.

Jackson - I freakin LOVED that the main character in Tempest is a college age guy. How often does that happen in YA books?! Jackson is a very complex character and is really struggling with his new ability to time travel. He feels lost and confused and doesn't know who he can trust with his secrets. This, and a couple of other issues that are explained later in the book, greatly affect how he interacts with his girlfriend Holly. The guy definitely has some emotional baggage and is afraid of vulnerability. That being said, Jackson comes into his own as the book progresses.  I loved reading  about his interactions with Holly and his twin sister, Courtney, in various time periods. Having the opportunity to read about them in different time periods gave me a better overall understanding of the characters.

Holly - Jackson's girlfriend; This girl is totally down to earth and has amazing gymnastics abilities. She's intelligent, brave, and won't take any BS from Jackson. I loved seeing the changes in her personality between 2009 and 2007. Her love for Jackson felt authentic, and I seriously just wanted to give her a hug and tell her they'd live happily ever after. I'd be friends with Holly in a heartbeat. 

Courtney - Jackson's twin sister and another character that I wanted to give a big hug (Is that creepy?). Some of the interactions between Jackson and Courtney made me shed a few tears. I don't want to say more for fear of spoiling the book for anyone, but suffice it to say that theirs is one my favorite sibling relationships ever. 

Jackson's dad - This man was an enigma throughout most of the book. I went back and forth on my opinion of him. The moments of tension that occurred between him and Jackson were palpable. So many emotions felt. I  saw many similarities, personality wise, between Jackson and his father. 

Adam - This guy is crazy smart. If I was a confused kid with the ability to time travel, I'd definitely want him on my side. Just sayin'. 

I'm not going to lie, at times the storyline was a bit hard to follow. This isn't because of Ms. Cross's writing skills, she's fantastic as far as I'm concerned. It was just difficult to keep up with which year we were in and which enemy we were facing in the particular moment. Who knows what about Jackson's abilities? Who does Jackson need to lie to in order to stay safe? Aside from these tiny nick pickings, I found the plot of Tempest to be intriguing and fast paced. The storyline was full of grey area. We never quite know who to trust or who is the real enemy. Maybe everyone is a bit of both?  Nevertheless, the ride to the future, past, and back is an exciting one for sure.
Holly and Jackson went through plenty of turmoil throughout the book, but I was really rooting for them to make it. I enjoyed seeing their established relationship in 2009 vs their blooming relationship in 2007. I feel like there was more steam and passion during the time they spent together as 19 year olds, but I also loved watching them get to know each other in 2007. Their story is one with many conflicts, and I'll be interested in seeing how it plays out in the next two books. 

There were many scientific explanations for the time travel that occurred. They were interesting, yes. Did I understand every single concept mentioned? Probably not. If you're a fan of science, you can totally geek out to the scientific details mentioned in Tempest. If not, sit back and enjoy the other great aspects of the book. 

Overall Impression
Tempest was amazing. I looked forward to reading it for months and am so glad I wasn't disappointed. There was truly never a moment of boredom while reading. My mind was constantly engaged with keeping up with the timeline and plot. I loved the characters and the relationships explored, both romantic and familial. I can't wait to see what happens in the next installment. 2013?! Hurry Please!!

This book has earned a spot on my "Favorites" shelf!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top Ten Authors I am BEGGING To Write Another Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish

This week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is Top Ten Authors I Wish Would Write Another Book. Y'all, this week's topic is right up my alley. Some of these are debut authors, and others have been around for as long as I can remember.

 1. Lorraine Zago Rosenthal - Ms. Rosenthal debuted in the YA world in 2011 with Other Words for Love, a fantastic coming of age story set in 1980's New York City. I hope she continues writing YA contemp, because her writing truly shines.

2.  Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book is the one of the best middle grade books I have ever read. I'm not sure when Mr. Gaiman will publish his next children's book, but I'll be preordering it when he does!

3. J.K. Rowling - I don't know if she can create another series as magical as the Harry Potter series, but damnit I hope she tries.

 4. Heather Dixon - Entwined, a retelling of The 12 Dancing Princesses, was a magical story that left me feeling all warm and fuzzy. More retellings, please!

5. Miranda Kenneally - I literally just finished reading Catching Jordan, but oh my gosh I want MORE. I never imagined I'd crave more books with sports themes. Ms. Kenneally is a talented woman. Good thing the companion to Catching Jordan will be released in October of this year. Squee.

6. Laini Taylor - Okay, I know Daughter of Smoke and Bone just came out last year and that the sequel will be released in fall of 2012, but Ms. Taylor's writing is gorgeous. When I think of "lyrical", I think of Laini Taylor.

7.  Judy Blume - I love her adult centric novels, especially Summer Sisters. I'm not sure whether she's planning to release more books in the future, but I'll be ecstatic if she does.

 8.  Kathryn Stockett - The Help was absolutely fantastic, and listening to it on audio really made the story come alive for me. Apparently Ms. Stockett is in the VERY early stages of writing her second book, which is supposed to be set in 1920's Mississippi 

9. Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games remains one of my favorite dystopian novels, and I'm curious to see what she'll come up with next.

10. Gayle Forman - If I Stay and Where She Went SLAYED me, and I need more of her gorgeous writing.

Which authors do you want another book from? Let me know :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

In My Mailbox (4) - Barnes & Noble Sale Edition

In my Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Barnes & Noble had a HUGE sale on teen books this week, so I decided to stock up :) 3 hardcovers for $25 isn't bad!

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler 
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini 
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Already read this one, but I wanted a finished copy for my bookshelf)

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
I Heart You, You Haunt Me - Lisa Schroeder
The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale 
The Unidentified - Rae Mariz
Hereafter by Tara Hudson
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Tangled by Carolyn Mackler
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah Maclean

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows 
Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Harry Potter Page to Screen by Bob McCabe

When She Woke by Hilary Jordan

Phew, I might have gone overboard on the book buying :/ What showed up in your mailbox this week? Let me know!

Friday, January 6, 2012

TGIF at GReads! (1)

TGIF is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReads! Each week she posts a new questions for her followers to answer.

This week's question: What are some of your reading goals for the new year? 

I have various reading and blogging goals that I'm hoping to tackle in 2012:
1. I want to read 100 books by the end of the year. I read 75 last year without really trying to meet a goal, so I think 100 will be attainable. 

2. I need to learn how to schedule posts. I mean, I technically know how to do it. I'm just terrible at planning what I'm going to post in advance. With grad school starting again in two weeks, I have to be more organized.

3. Get to know other bloggers. I've been blogging off and on since June, but I still don't feel like I know any other bloggers very well. I'm hoping to change that this year. I'm shy though, so we shall see how that goals.

4. I want to meet my goals for the Debut Author Challenge, Completely Contemp Challenge, and the Sophomore Reading Challenge. You can read about those on my Challenges page.

Those are the major goals I'm planning to accomplish this year. Do you have any reading goals that you're trying to tackle? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Catching Jordan
by Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: December 1, 2011
Source: Purchased
Challenge: 2012 Completely Contemp Challenge 

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate  - Goodreads

My Thoughts 

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am NOT a football fan. Because of this, I was hesitant to pick up Catching Jordan. I'm SO glad I gave the book a chance though, because it ROCKED. Guys, believe me when I tell you that you don't need to be a fan of sports to enjoy this book. Football does play a role, but I'd say this is more of a character driven story.

  The characters in Catching Jordan were three dimensional. I felt like I knew them by the time I finished the book yesterday. I loved Jordan, the protagonist for oh so many reasons. She's an amazing quarterback, loyal friend, isn't afraid to eat her weight in nachos, and can throw a punch with the best of them. Underneath all of the rough and tumble, she's just a girl trying to find her way in the world. Sure she's a football player, but she struggles with the same insecurities that most girls face during their teen years, including how to deal with guys. I wish Jordan was real, because she is one girl I'd freakin love to be friends with. 
I enjoyed reading about the dynamic that Jordan shared with the guys on her team. All of the guys were awesome, from sensitive Carter to protective JJ. Also, let me just say that the love triangle between Jordan and certain guys on the team was fantastically written. I swooned for sure. I'll leave it at that though. I want you to experience the swoonage for yourselves :)
I also want to point out how big of a role that Jordan's family played in the story. Not many YA books have such a strong parent-teen dynamic these days. I loved Jordan's parents, especially her dad. He, the great NFL star, acted like an asshole throughout a good portion of the book. He didn't support Jordan and hurt her badly, but despite appearances the man has heart. I had such a better understanding of him by the time I finished the book, and that level of character growth is really what reading is all about. While Jordan's dad was my favorite, her mom and brother were pretty great as well. Her mother's support made me smile on more than one occasion and her big brother was always there to talk when she needed him.

Have y'all noticed that I spent most of this review talking about the characters? Well, that's really what this book is all about: Characters. Relationships. Growth. Love. Finding humor in everyday situations. If you are looking for a feel good book with a relatable protagonist and a fantastic cast of secondary characters, I wholeheartedly recommend Catching Jordan. I grinned from ear to ear when I finished this book and I'm grinning from ear to ear now. I will DEFINITELY be reading this one again in the future! 

Favorite Quotes

"The day I hear JJ talking about his feelings is the day I'll run to a nuclear fallout shelter and pray for my life." - Page 22

"Ty better appreciate how hard I've woed to make myself attractive for him this morning, because I am fucking spent." - Page 40

"Love hurts worse than getting slammed by a 250 pound linebacker" - Page 154

This book has earned a spot on my "Favorites" shelf!
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